Strung like pearls across the Pacific, the Mamanuca Islands are the ultimate desert-island escape, as seen in the film Cast Away. Sugar-white beaches, swaying coconut palms and coral reefs swirling with fish live up to the brochure’ promise.
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Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as locals call it, is an enigma of an island. Marooned thousands of miles from anywhere, this near-treeless island is famous for its mysterious maoi, monolithic ancestor statues that have stood in silent testimony to the ebb and flow of the Pacific for some 1,000 years.
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Ko Phi Phi’s limestone outcrops rearing above the turquoise Andaman Sea, white sand bays and tangled jungle interior were captured in the movie The Beach. Slip into the island rhythm on a longtail boat ride, swaying in a hammock in front of your waterside hut or snorkelling in crystal waters.
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Santorini is picture postcard Greece with its chalk-white houses and blue-domed churches spilling down sheer lava cliffs to the glittering Aegean Sea. The volcanic island is best appreciated from a bougainvillea-clad terrace, enjoying a cold ouzo, hearing bouzouki music and watching the sun go down.
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Puffins perch on swell-battered cliffs and grey seals bask on the rocks of the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland. The islands’ rugged coastline fringes countryside in myriad shades of green that is flecked with lonesome stone cottages and mystical prehistoric standing stones.
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The azure Indian Ocean laps the ivory sands and gigantic granite boulders of Praslin in the Seychelles, one of the top 10 islands in the world. A favourite among honeymooners for romantic hotels and dreamy views, the island’s secluded beaches skirt a jungly interior bristling with coco de mer palms.
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Sculpted into rugged glory by volcanic eruptions, Maui is a shape-shifting Hawaiian island. One minute you’re hiking jungle trails to misty waterfalls, the next you’re spotting humpback whales or stretching out on a crescent bay. Take in the island’s finest scenery by negotiating the hairpins of the Hana Highway.
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Many islands boast about never-ending golden beaches, but few can compete with those of Fraser Island. This UNESCO-listed island is the world’s biggest sand bar, famed for its coloured sand cliffs, towering dunes and 75-mile beach. Beyond the beach, a 4WD takes you to mangroves, freshwater lakes and lush rainforest.
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A boat speeds you across from Italy’s Amalfi Coast to the chic island of Capri in the Bay of Naples. Cave-riddled cliffs plunge down to deep blue water and tiny coves on the coast, while the interior’s fragrant lemon groves are studded with villas. Take the lead of locals with an evening passeggiata (stroll) to a trattoria serving Mediterranean-fresh fish.
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The conical Pitons peaks rise from an impossibly blue sea in St Lucia, where mountains roll down to powdery bays and bubbling hot springs. Feel the groove of the Caribbean in lively towns where brightly painted shacks serve rum punch and pulsate to soca rhythms.
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