Top 5 Islands
As our journey begins to near its end we are becoming increasingly reflective over these past few years. We’ve decided that a great way to cap off our journey and our travel blog will be to post a series of top 5 lists. We stole the idea from our friend The Gentleman Adventurer Chris Liberty. Over the next few weeks we will sporadically post these lists. We hope you enjoy them.
Here is a list featuring our top 5 favorite islands from the journey:
1. Maui, Hawaii:
We LOVE Maui. It’s not exactly a budget destination but it’s one we were lucky enough to spend a total of 3 months in over these past two years thanks to my amazing parents who frequent this incredible island each winter. Some of my best memories from the trip occurred here. These include; hiking into and spending the night camped out on the floor of a volcano, watching the sunrise from above the clouds, snorkeling with sea turtles and out-rigger canoeing with humpback whales. Maui is an incredible island of unparalleled beauty. There is truly something for everyone here and I can’t imagine there is a single person who wouldn’t love it as much as we do.
2. Koh Phangan, Thailand:
We just capped off a five week stay on this island and we already miss it terribly. It is fantastic not only because it is stunningly beautiful but also because it is an excellent island to visit on a budget. You can stay in a beachfront bungalow for the equivalent of twenty dollars a night. That is a steal! If you’re not too crazy about baking in the hot Thai sun all day there is plenty of jungle to explore on Phangan. There are also a million delicious and affordable restaurants and food stalls and lots of adventure activities from elephant riding to the super-fun “wipe-out” course. Koh Phangan is a great place to relax on the beach, eat out and party your face off.
3. Santorini, Greece:
Santorini is magical. It is unlike anywhere else we’ve been with its towering seaside cliffs and caldera views. The island was formed by a volcano and it is truly stunning. Santorini is a great place to experience history, natural beauty and beach fun all in one. Although it is a favourite of the cruise ship crowds, it remains an easy place for the independent budget traveller to explore. For a few euros a day you can rent a quad bike to explore the many facets of this incredibly romantic island. Everyone who has the opportunity should experience a visit to Santorini once in their lives. The sunset from Fira town in particular is not to be missed.
4. Rarotonga, The Cook Islands:
Rarotonga is the largest island in the Cook Islands group. We spent nearly three weeks here and we had a fabulous time. Although it might be a bit of an impractical destination for North Americans (it is only a few hours flight from New Zealand), it is well worth the journey. The beaches here are all but deserted and are amongst the most beautiful we have seen on our travels. The sand is pure white and very soft and the water is a crystal clear light turquoise color. Palm trees line the beaches for good sun coverage and the beaches we frequented were cut off from the open ocean by a reef making the water very calm and warm to swim in. Muri beach in particular is stunning and you can swim to a small island just off shore to spend the day. Rarotonga is a small place. It only takes 45 minutes to circumnavigate on a rented scooter so it is a great place to meet people and get to know all that the island has to offer in a short amount of time. It is also a good place to visit on a budget. They use the New Zealand dollar so your money goes further.
5. Moorea, French Polynesia
Ahhh Moorea. We only spent two days on this small French Polynesian island a twenty minute ferry ride from Tahiti but they were idyllic. I think I will always remember them as some of my happiest days. Unfortunately we didn’t explore as much of the island as we would have liked since there is only one bus and nobody seemed to know it’s schedule but the small guesthouse we stayed in in Cook’s Bay was stunning beyond belief. French Polynesia is not at all a budget destination but if you have the cash or are able to couch surf for the majority of your time like we did, you will find all of your south pacific dreams coming true.