Tropical destinations often involve a lot of island-hopping. Take Kenya’s coast as an example. The trip would not be complete without a tour of Mombasa, Old Lamu, Manda, Chale, Pate, Wasini, and Kisite islands. These different stops have an allure you cannot find in another. For example, dolphin sightseeing in Kisite differs from the historical tours in Old Lamu or the lovely seafood experiences in Wasini. As such, most people opt to tour all the islands.
Kenya is not the only destination that offers amazing island-hopping adventures. As we will cover in this article, you can experience this thrill in almost any tropical destination. But before you start booking any trips, you should ensure your passport is valid and in good condition. If yours does not meet these criteria, you can always look up the current U.S. passport prices and processing timelines to plan your travels accordingly. Note that some destinations also require valid visas.
So, what’s island hopping all about, where can you do it, and what do you need for this adventure? Let’s get into it:
The Thrills of Island-Hopping
Island life is enticing. People love just how laid-back it feels. After all, waking up to nothing but sand, sun, and sea is the dream for most people. Couple this with fresh seafood, lovely local music, and cultural experiences, and you have everything you need for the perfect trip. So, why would you interrupt this by heading to another island?
We have some compelling reasons:
- You experience more nature: Usually, tourists stay on the main islands as these have more amenities. But veering away from the standard spots allows you to experience hidden gems, such as lone waterfalls, beautiful beaches, and wild plants. You can get a close view of these natural species and elements that you would not have seen in the more inhabited places.
- You can enjoy unique activities more: In most countries, tour operators offer hour or day-long packages to nearby islands. For example, if you are in Zanzibar, you can get on a boat to Pemba Island for a day tour. While this allows you to experience the other side of Zanzibar, this stay may be so limited that you cannot enjoy the island fully. Island-hopping allows you to take your time with visiting the nearby islands as you will not be on a time crunch.
- You get to see more things in one trip: The standard travel mode is to stay on one island and experience it to the fullest. This option often works great for people who just want to relax by the beach, enjoy local cuisines, get massages, and unwind. The other travel mode is island-hopping. This option helps you discover more places in one trip. For example, you can go fishing on one island, scuba diving on the other, and snorkeling on the next – you do more and can keep your adrenaline running on a high.
- You interact with more people: One of the best parts about traveling is meeting new people. You get to enjoy different perspectives and can learn a lot from others. Island-hopping allows you to amplify this effect by meeting many people from different places within a short time. Who knows? They may even join you on your adventure!
And lastly, you can cross off more items from your bucket list by expanding your scope. The benefits are just incredible!
Where to Go Island-Hopping
Any place that features several islands paves the way for island-hopping. But if we’re being honest, some destinations hold more water than others. So, which ones should you consider?
Some destinations offer travelers a couple of islands. But Indonesia outdoes itself with a selection of more than 17,000 islands. Even if you were to spend each day traveling from one island to the other, you would not cross off the islands in a year or even two. You would need 46 years to cover each island per day! This variety makes this country one of the best island-hopping destinations.
The deal gets even better with the unique options on each island. Some have magical temples, others have exotic animals, others have breathtaking views, and others have fantastic cultural experiences. Often, people stop at Bali as it has quite a great reputation. But when in Indonesia, be open to the smaller, less-known islands, e.g., the Gili Islands, and you will not feel disappointed.
If the island variety in Indonesia feels a bit much, why not try the Philippines? The number of islands averages 7,000, though this can change based on the tide. So, what makes this destination a hot spot? The unique diversity!
Travelers can choose to explore caves, indulge in historical tours of fortresses, jump off cliffs, snorkel in the beautiful waters, immerse themselves in the local culture, or spend days lying by the sea. And these options barely scratch the surface of what you can do on the islands. So, once you have had a taste of Coron and El Nido, don’t hesitate to see what the other options have to offer.
If unspoiled nature calls to you, the 800 islands on this archipelago will wow you! Most of them barely have any population and boast remote yet beautiful spots that will make your visit even more worthwhile. Since most of the islands are not easy to access, tourists have an easier time booking sailing trips that allow them to cover almost all the spots in one trip.
What can you expect on this voyage? Beauty – this word sums up the whole experience. From the boat, you can feast your eyes on the white sandy beaches, which contrast the lovely turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and other relaxed water activities. And when you are not traversing the waters, you can always stop at one of the islands for a cultural experience that will leave you feeling fulfilled.
4. The Bahamas
Many people vacation in the Bahamas, and for a good reason – like the other destinations on this list, it offers variety. You can explore the 30 inhabited islands or can opt for the lesser-known spots for a daring adventure. People often choose to do both. After all, you can enjoy a relaxed pace in the less inhabited islands where you can embark on different water activities and culinary experiences. And when you want some pampering, you can move to the islands with bustling activity and book yourself into a luxurious hotel.
The Bahamas wins when it comes to balance, as it allows you to have the best of both worlds. One minute, you can be enjoying drinks with strangers by the beach. And the next, you can be sailing on a boat to a remote island that boasts white sandy beaches with coconut trees providing cool shade. Its proximity is also a win as you can tour it by cruise and stop at all the best spots.
5. British Virgin Islands
When people think of the British Virgin Islands, they think of the four main ones – Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. But how about exploring the lesser-known ones? After all, they are more than 50 and allow you to embark on an adventure-filled journey! These islands boast beautiful cool waters set against clean white beaches under the bright sun. By visiting each option, you can experience different foods and cultures. The outdoor activities also vary from snorkeling to cliff explorations to scuba diving. And as a plus, you get many opportunities to buy varied souvenirs instead of going with the usual options.
Essentials for Island-Hopping
Before setting sail on any islands, you must ensure you have the correct paperwork. These documents include passports, visas, and travel insurance. Some regions, like Myanmar, do not allow tourists to visit uninhabited islands without permits, and you must ensure you meet these criteria to avoid legal issues.
Other considerations include:
- Suitable clothes: You should carry light, breathable fabrics for day wear, warm clothes for windy and cold nights, and waterproof clothes for wet hikes and water activities.
- Sun protection: Include sunscreen and aloe vera gel in your packing.
- Adequate electronics: Remote islands often lack connectivity. Carry power banks and charged phones to keep you entertained.
- Offline maps: You can use physical options or go with navigation software to find your way around the islands.
Also, always follow the safety precautions in your destination.