Island vacations are the quintessential destination for many looking to relax for a week, leaving the stress of work (and life in general) behind for a bit. But what if sitting in an all-inclusive resort on some undoubtedly beautiful, beach isn’t enough of an adventure for you? These destinations offer many of the perks of an island vacation along with multi-destination options for those looking to see, learn and experience more. From the Florida Keys to the Faroe Islands, these seven archipelagos are perfect for island-hopping adventures.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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The 115 islands that make up the Seychelles have more to offer than you could probably see or do in a single trip, but by hopping between a number of the country's inner islands you can certainly see a lot. The Seychelles are located off the coast of eastern Africa in the Indian Ocean. Warm waters, pristine beaches and year-round hot temperatures make it a popular destination. The Seychelles are home to the world's second largest coral atoll, Aldabra, which stretches for more then 20 miles. Vallee de Mai, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site on Praslin, is a must-visit for its natural beauty. The Seychelles aren't lacking in top-notch resorts either, like the Raffles on Praslin. Ferries, catamarans and even helicopters can get you to and from most of the inner and outer islands.
Photo by Jean-Marie Hullot, CC BY 2.0
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The Faroe Islands, where sheep reportedly out number people by around 20,000, is a verdant archipelago located halfway between Norway and Iceland. These 18 scenic islands are home to steep mountains and rugged coastlines, along with an abundance of other forms of natural beauty. It's considerably easy to get between the islands, a bridge and undersea tunnels connect the larger of the islands, while ferries can get you between the smaller ones. Don't miss Rinkusteinar on Eysturoy, where two boulders remarkably sway with the ocean despite their large size.
Photo by Hans Juul Hansen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The Florida Keys and its more than 1,500 islands are a slice of tropical paradise and the southernmost destination in the continental United States. Traffic pending, the Keys are easy to get to by car from Miami via U.S. Highway 1 and the famous Overseas Highway. As a whole, the destination is predominantly visited for its beaches. This coral cay archipelago also has top-notch scuba diving and snorkeling options just off its coast. Key West, in particular, has a happening bar scene and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is worth a visit as well.
Photo by Giggs Huang, CC BY-ND 2.0
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The Gili Islands are conveniently located between Lombok and Bali, making it a great stopover for anyone traveling between the two. Each of the three islands that make up this Indonesian archipelago has a slightly different vibe. Gili Meno and Gili Air are relaxed and offer a nice contrast to a night or two on the lively Gili Trawangan, known for its nightlight and abundance of beachfront bars. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all three islands, but bikes and colorful horse-drawn carriages will get you around the islands, while chartered boats and organized tours can transport you between them.
Photo by Mikaku, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Just over 60 miles off the coast of Morocco sit Spain's Canary Islands. Each of the seven major islands in this archipelago offers a unique experience from the next, making it worthwhile to visit as many as possible. Tenerife, the largest of the bunch, is popular for its beaches and the massive Mount Teide, which ranks as the world's third largest volcano on a volcanic ocean island. Gran Canaria, the capital of the Canaries, has no shortage of resorts and plenty to offer in the way of outdoor activities, including hiking, surfing and scuba diving. Lanzarote has a vibrant nightlife and its fair share of resorts as well. Nature lovers shouldn't miss a visit to La Palma where you can hike the Caldera de Taburiente. El Hierro, the smallest of the islands, is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. As for getting around, it's fairly easy to travel between the islands by boat or turboprop plane.
Photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video, CC BY-SA 2.0
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The Caribbean has no shortage of island-hopping destinations, but the British Virgin Islands (BVI, for short) is among its best. The territory includes some 60 islands, with Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke being the most popular among those that are inhabited. The British Virgin Islands cater supremely to those looking for Colonial-era architecture, postcard-perfect beaches and water activities like scuba diving and sailing. You can easily get between the islands by boat and accommodations like the Long Bay Beach Club on Tortola offer packages catered to exploring nearby islands by catamaran.
Photo by David Kirsch, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Fiji is about as close to the quintessential tropical paradise as you can get. A popular honeymoon destination, the 332-island nation sits in the South Pacific and has world-class resorts, white-sand beaches and an abundance of natural beauty. Because island hopping is so prevalent in Fiji, several tour companies offer passes that cover transportation between a number of the islands for a set price and over a specific window of time. Many visitors focus on one or two groups of islands, the northwestern Yasawa islands and the western Mamanuca islands.
Photo by Paul D'Ambra, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0