Take a mental vacation.
  1. Providencia, Colombia
    Do you like rides on tiny old planes or three-hour catamaran journeys? Then Providencia, 55 miles north of San Andrés in Colombia, might be the island for you. These are the only two ways to get to this tiny slice of tropical perfection in the Caribbean, a limitation that also ensures that you won’t have to share it with the usual tourist crowd. Here, trade all-in resorts for cabanas and cottages (or posadas), and taxis for the back of pickup trucks, which are the local alternative.
  2. Floreana Island, Ecuador
    It’s been just over 180 years since Charles Darwin first arrived on Floreana, then called Charles Island (named for the King of England, not the King of Evolution). One of the Galápagos, an archipelago that spans the equator (Floreana is to the south of it), Floreana’s population is still only approximately 100 people, who live with some of the world’s most interesting species.
  3. Ko Adang, Thailand
    Of the 52 islands in Thailand’s Tarutao National Marine Park, Ko Adang is one of but a few where you can spend the night. So pitch a tent seaside, where a wealth of coral reef life awaits just offshore. Be sure to pack away your snacks with care though, as the local monkeys have been known to show tourists no mercy when it comes to their supplies.
  4. Tarawa, Kiribati
    Tarawa is the main island of the Republic of Kiribati, geography fans. The nation has 260 square miles of land, but its marine territory, 32 atolls and a coral island, cover an area the size of India, straddling both the South Pacific and both the equator and the International Date Line. Tarawa is one of these atolls, and by far the most developed; though most of the population live in thatch huts, cars and the internet have recently appeared.
  5. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
    This archipelago of 21 islands off the coast of Brazil takes its name from the 16th-century merchant whom it was given to in 1504, on a day when Portugal’s King Manuel I must have been feeling particularly generous. One can’t imagine wanting to part with land whose waters are home to so much marine life, or that boasts such a rich panoply of coastal beauty, much of which still exists today thanks to the Marine National Park status it was awarded in 1988.
  6. Dominica, Caribbean
    As an island in the Eastern Caribbean, Dominica is predictably home to cartoonishly gorgeous stretches of beach and exceedingly rich diving spots. What sets it apart from its island neighbors are its volcanic mountain landscape and dozens of geothermal hot springs—the most notable being Boiling Lake, in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
  7. Panglao, Philippines
    The Philippines suffers no shortage of paradisal real estate, but—as it is with many a worthwhile destination—Panglao is an island that requires a bit of work to find. After flying into Bohol, you’ll have to brave a half-hour drive on a 19th-century causeway before being faced with the tough decision of jumping into the clear, blue water or simply gazing upon it.