Island Hopping

Islands appeal to most of us. The idea of a secluded spot, away from the hustle of mainland and mainstream life, just says total escapism. Whether it’s the dramatic crash of waves colliding into rugged coastal cliffs or sluicing white whispers against the sand, the sea is a constant companion for island life – but you don’t have to be a beach Barbie to enjoy it.

Here’s our pick of the best island hopping encounters around…

SICILY’S WINDY ISLANDS

Sicilian Coast Sicilian Coast

Genuine Sicilian lemonade is at its most refreshing drunk upon return after a day spent trekking across the blackened, surreal expanses of the Aeolian (windy) islands. Not many know that the isle of Sicily has its own archipelago off the North Eastern shore, seven islands that surged out of the sea due to volcanic activity.

A short hydrofoil whisks you between Lipari, Vulcano and Stromboli, three windswept wonders sculpted by the frisson in the Earth’s core. Sun-kissed black sand beaches fringe the volcanoes, smouldering craters and blazing eruptions dot the horizon and lava flows carve the landscape.

On the main island Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, is never far away from trekkers thoughts and a 4WD excursion on its slopes is a fitting end to this island hopping trek.

Taking you there: 
Sicilian Volcanoes

DARWIN’S ENCHANTED ISLES

Volcanic rock of the Galapagos Volcanic rock of the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands have enchanted many more people than just one renowned biologist. Kept safe from meddling human hands by a lack of fresh water, these islands were discovered relatively late but have since been hailed as an ecological wonderland, a haven for wildlife large and small.

Get acquainted with aquatic life from the deck of one of our three boats, carefully chosen as low-impact vessels that respect the fragile ecosystem of the islands, or take the plunge snorkelling with inquisitive sea lions, turtles and small sharks. Soak up the sun beside marine iguanas surrounded by frigate birds and blue footed boobies, or try trekking across the lava flows on some of the larger islands. There is so much here to captivate any naturalist.

Taking you there:
Galapagos Photographic Charter with Stig BrondboGalapagos: In Darwin's Footsteps | Galapagos Wildlife Cruise | Galapagos Islands

THE GREEK ISLANDS

Santorini Santorini

Take the Cyclades at a stroll on this leisurely walking week. Each island retains its own idiosyncrasies – from the well-known whitewashed walls and blue domes of Santorini to the lesser-visited shores of Naxos and Paros. The walks here are short but spectacular: no more than four hours on easy terrain but presenting coastal panoramas and pretty villages otherwise easily missed. Share the ferry with the locals as you skim the waves between islands, travelling the way any Greek would when faced with the same journey.

Finish each day with a finale feast, dining on simultaneously simple yet extravagant dishes focussed on local flavours – crisp golden calamari from the surrounding sea, wilted wild greens plucked from the mountainside, chargrilled lamb cutlets or grilled halloumi with homemade fig chutney. Food is served mezze style, with the opportunity to try any number of succulent dishes, so you can hop between the culinary delights as well as the landmasses.

Taking you there:
Walking On The Greek Islands

 

THE AZORES

The dolphin population near the Azores is impressive The dolphin population near the Azores is impressive

A unique chain of nine volcanic islands protruding out of the inky depths of the mid-Atlantic, an air of tranquillity reigns around the Azores, despite the geological turbulence that gave birth to this archipelago. Often referred to as “Europe’s best kept secret”, the Azores are remote enough to keep them well away from the beaten tourist trail but, now with direct flights from London, close enough for a week-long island hopping adventure without jet lag! The plummeting waters around these verdant isles teem with life; spotted dolphins frolic in the surf, Sperm whales (year-round residents here) fluke their tails as they dive for squid and ghostly calls of the Cory’s Shearwaters reverberate around the coastal cliffs at night.

Nature lovers are in for a real treat; on Pico, vineyards undulate between walls of black volcanic rock with Mt Pico looming in the background, Faial, the famous Atlantic crossing stop-off point, is the hub for dolphin and whale watching boat trips while Sau Miguel is studded with blue hydrangea crowned craters, shimmering green and blue lakes and geysers that splutter and spurt around the village of Furnas.

Taking you there:
Azores: Whale & Dolphin Watching | Walking In The Azores

EASTER ISLAND

Moai statue, Easter Island Moai statue, Easter Island

Cast out over 2,500 miles into the Pacific Ocean lies a mysterious, sea-battered landmass called Rapa Nui. However, because European explorers discovered this remote aquatic enclave on Easter Sunday, it soon became better known as Easter Island. Despite its isolation in the middle of the world’s largest ocean and meagre size at just 16 miles across, Easter Island is surprisingly rich in history and culture. The UNESCO listed Rapa Nui National Park bears witness to the origin of early Polynesian civilization. Delve into this fascinating history lesson as you walk in the shadows of volcanoes and amidst the 900 haunting Moai statues carved from the triangular island’s unique bedrock.

Taking you there:
Easter Island Extensions

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