From the white sand shores of the Philippines to the icy landscapes of Svalbard, here are 10 island destinations offering an adventurous travel experience.

I love travelling off the beaten track, and for me, the pull of a remote island destination has a certain romantic allure that I can never say no to. I’m not talking about well-trodden Greek islands or a beach holiday in Mallorca, but isolated archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean or ice-clad islands deep within the Arctic Circle. 

I’ve travelled to the southern shores of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, and a place that’s rarely visited by travellers. I’ve scuba-dived off the coral reefs of Roatan and endured the seriously rough crossing from Aberdeen to Shetland, the most northerly isles in Britain. And still, with almost a million islands found the world over, I’ve barely scraped the surface of what’s out there. 

To inspire you to travel out of your comfort zone, I’ve put together this list of island destinations that are perfect for an adventurous travel experience. Whether you hire a charter jet or travel by boat; these island destinations are sure to satisfy even the most intrepid of adventure travellers. Keep reading, to find out more.

1. Princes’ Islands, Turkey

    The Princes’ Islands have long been a place of exile and self-isolation. Byzantine emperors would send political foes to languish here, while Ottoman Sultans exiled Princes and unwanted nobles to this small archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. Now, the Princes’ Islands offer an adventurous escape from the crowded streets of Istanbul, which is just a short ferry ride away.

    The four main islands—Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada—are the most accessible, and with motorcars banned, the islands are ideal for exploration by bike or on foot. You can hike through pine forests, discover hidden coves, and explore historical landmarks like the Greek Orthodox monastery (one of the last of its kind left in Turkey) in Büyükada. 

    Princes’ Islands, Turkey. Photo credit:

    2. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

      Home to over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the perfect candidate for anyone searching for the remote. From the lush jungles of Sumatra to the tranquil beaches of Bali, each island presents a unique opportunity to get off the beaten track; but few Indonesian destinations can compare to Raja Ampat. 

      Raja Ampat is an Indonesian archipelago off the coast of West Papua, and it’s a veritable paradise for Scuba divers. Comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals, Raja Ampat is renowned for its stunning marine biodiversity. The coral reefs, considered some of the richest in the world, attract divers and snorkellers eager to explore underwater dive sites teeming with colourful fish, manta rays, and even sharks.

      Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo credit:

      3. Mindanao, Philippines

        Feeling daring? Then why not visit Mindanao, the second-largest, but one of the least visited islands in the Philippines? Here, you can explore Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, where challenging trekking routes lead to stunning panoramic views. 

        The island’s many waterfalls, such as Tinuy-an Falls and Maria Cristina Falls, provide scenic swimming spots, while Mindanao’s rich cultural heritage is evident in cities like Davao, which is famed for its smelly Durian. 

        For beach lovers, the pristine shores of Samal Island and Siargao offer world-class surfing, snorkelling and diving opportunities. In Zamboanga, you can hear the unique Chabacano language spoken on the streets, a language which is descended from an archaic form of Spanish, while Camiguin Island is home to giant clams, waterfalls and even a sunken cemetery. 

        Mindanao. Photo credit:

        Read more: How Many Islands In the Philippines? Everything You Need to Know.

        4. Shetland, United Kingdom

          Shetland is located off the northeast coast of Scotland, and it’s one of the most remote destinations you can visit in the United Kingdom. Only accessible by plane or ferry (trust me when I say the ferry is rough!), the archipelago’s dramatic landscapes, including rugged coastlines, sweeping moorlands, and pristine beaches, provide a perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures.

          You can explore the cliffs of Eshaness, with their stunning geological formations, or hike the challenging but rewarding trails of Hermaness Nature Reserve, home to diverse birdlife and seals. For history buffs, the ancient archaeological sites like Jarlshof and the Broch of Mousa provide fascinating insights into the islands’ Viking and prehistoric past. 

          Make your way to Unst, the northernmost island in the UK, and you can even visit a spaceport, the latest project hoping to put Shetland on the map!

          Shetland, United Kingdom. Photo credit:

          Read more: What is the United Kingdom? Everything You Need to Know.

          5. Okinawa, Japan

            With its high-speed bullet trains and ultra-sleek tech, Japan isn’t typically considered an ‘adventurous’ travel destination. Look a little further afield from the main islands like Honshu and Kyushu, and you’ll find that the Okinawa archipelago offers a very different travel experience.

            Located much further south than your typical Japanese destinations, Okinawa boasts a tropical climate, rich cultural heritage, and diverse marine life. You can snorkel or dive coral reefs in locations like the Kerama Islands, where colourful marine life and underwater caves await. 

            For those who prefer land-based activities, hiking through the dense jungles and mountainous terrain of northern Okinawa provides exceptional views and encounters with local flora and fauna. Historical sites, such as the UNESCO-listed Shurijo Castle, offer a glimpse into Okinawa’s Ryukyu heritage and an island culture that’s long been distinct from the mainland.

            Okinawa, Japan. Photo credit:

            6. Svalbard, Norway

              Svalbard is a remote Arctic archipelago located between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Offering an almost otherworldly escape for travellers in search of extreme experiences in one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, the stark, icy landscapes and unique history make Svalbard a fascinating destination for adventure enthusiasts.

              One of the main attractions is the opportunity to explore the archipelago’s rugged terrain through guided snowmobile tours, an exhilarating way to traverse glaciers, fjords, and ice-covered mountains. For those visiting in the summer, hiking and trekking through the remote wilderness of Spitsbergen, the largest island, offers the chance to encounter Arctic wildlife such as reindeer, Arctic foxes and polar bears.

              For history buffs, Svalbard offers a glimpse into the era of Arctic exploration. Longyearbyen, the main settlement, has several museums and cultural sites, including the Svalbard Museum and the historic mining town of Pyramiden.

              Watch out for Polar Bears in Svalbard. Photo credit:

              Read more: How Many Countries Are in Europe? Everything You Need to Know.

              7. Bay Islands, Honduras

                The Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras comprise Roatán, Utila and Guanaja, and they’re very different from the Central American mainland. 

                Roatán, the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands, is surrounded by extensive coral reefs, which are part of the wider Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The island’s history is fascinating, and you can visit Garifuna descendants of escaped slaves who were marooned here by the British Royal Navy in the 18th century. 

                Utila is one of the world’s best places to get scuba certified, and the island attracts divers from around the globe. The island’s laid-back atmosphere complements its adventurous spirit, with activities including whale shark spotting, kayaking through mangroves, and exploring hidden caves.

                Guanaja, the least developed of the three main islands, offers a more remote, and, some would say, tranquil experience. Hike through dense jungles to discover cascading waterfalls, dive among pristine reefs, and explore the island’s rugged terrain on eco-tours.

                Roatan, Bay Islands. Photo credit:

                8. Cape Verde

                  Cape Verde is a lesser-visited archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. Home to 10 volcanic islands, Cape Verde provides a mix of rugged mountains, sandy deserts, and pristine beaches.

                  On the island of Santo Antão, hikers can traverse dramatic mountain trails through verdant valleys and terraced hillsides, offering stunning views and a sense of remote wilderness. The island’s Ribeira Grande Valley is particularly famous for its challenging yet rewarding treks.

                  Fogo Island is dominated by its active volcano, Pico do Fogo, where you can undertake a thrilling hike to the summit for panoramic views of the island. The fertile slopes of the volcano also support coffee plantations and vineyards, adding a unique agricultural experience to any Cape Verde trip.

                  Cape Verde. Photo credit:

                  Read more: How Many Countries Are in Africa? Everything You Need to Know.

                  9. Palau

                    Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific Ocean, is home to over 500 islands, the vast majority of which are surrounded by crystal-clear waters and biodiverse coral reefs.

                    The Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are a highlight. These limestone islands offer opportunities for kayaking through turquoise lagoons, snorkelling in hidden coves, and exploring marine lakes. Jellyfish Lake, where non-stinging jellyfish migrate daily, is one of the most surreal snorkelling destinations in the world.

                    For divers, Palau is considered one of the world’s top destinations. The Blue Corner and German Channel are famous dive sites, offering encounters with sharks, manta rays, and vibrant coral reefs. The underwater visibility is exceptional, making it exceedingly popular with underwater photographers and marine enthusiasts who love remote destinations. 

                    Palau. Photo credit:

                    10. Saaremaa, Estonia

                      The Baltics aren’t exactly renowned for their island getaways, but then again, most people haven’t visited Saaremaa. Estonia’s largest island, Saaremaa offers Baltic Sea beaches, rugged coastlines and a fascinating history. 

                      The Kaali meteorite crater provides a unique glimpse into the island’s geological history, while Vilsandi National Park is perfect for hiking. Saaremaa’s cultural heritage is equally compelling, with historical landmarks like the medieval Kuressaare Castle, which houses a museum showcasing the island’s past. 

                      Saaremaa island, Estonia. Sorve lighthouse on the Baltic sea coast. Photo credit:

                      There you have it! 10 adventurous island getaways for your next bucket-list trip. Where will you be visiting first?