Maybe you’re up at 6am for a spot of yoga before hiking all day, or perhaps you just want to roll out of your beachside cabana straight onto a sunbed. Whatever your holiday style, we’ve found an island paradise made for you.
For active adventurers – visit Tenerife, Canary Islands – fly from £47
Tenerife gets a rep as a resort island, but you’ll find so much more than a bunch of Brits roasting themselves by the pool. If you’re looking for a heart-pumping, active adventure, head beyond the beach and try rappelling in the canyons, paragliding over the tree tops and hiking through the island’s jungles and mountains.
Every road leads to the central Teide National Park, where you’ll be able to hike among craters, ancient rocks and petrified lava flows. The trail to the summit of the 3,718m dormant volcano starts at the foot of Montaña Blanca, but you’ll need to be organised and apply for a permit in advance to hike up it. For lusher surrounds, swap the sulphur-scented volcanic landscape for walking trails through laurel forests in the sharp peaks and ravines of the Anaga Mountains. Day tripping? Hop on a ferry to nearby La Gomera. The elevation and humidity mean the second smallest Canary Island is filled with mist-shrouded cloud forests to explore.
Stay: at Hotel Nautico for around £41 a night. Set north of Santa Cruz, it’s close to the coast and a great base for exploring the Anaga Mountains.
For water babies – visit Koh Tao, Thailand – fly from £444
There’s no better place to dive or strap on a snorkel than the little island of Koh Tao in Thailand. First off, the name means ‘turtle island’ and if that alone isn’t enough to sell it to you, then perhaps the affordable PADI courses and excellent diving schools will be. The island’s clear, calm waters and diverse marine wildlife attract scuba newbies and pros alike. If you’re more of a floater than deep diver, there’s great snorkelling to be had too. Head for Mango Bay in the north, Aow Leuk in the south-east, or catch a water taxi to Koh Nang Yuan (pictured), three tiny islands joined by spits. To get to Koh Tao, fly to Koh Samui from Bangkok and then catch the ferry.
Stay: in the north of the island at Mango Bay Boutique Resort, for around £36 a night. The reef starts right outside the hotel, and they have all the gear if you didn’t BYOS (that’s bring your own snorkel). There’s also a transfer to whisk you out to nearby Koh Nang Yuan, too.
For partiers – visit Hvar, Croatia – fly from £65
For a buzzing atmosphere and up-all-night antics, party-lovers should head to Hvar. Dubbed the Ibiza of the Adriatic, a trip here thankfully comes without the eye-watering price tag of its more famous, Balearic counterpart.
Fly into Split (it can be cheaper than Dubrovnik, and it’s closer too), hop on the ferry to Stari Grad, then make a beeline for Hvar Town. Start the night at Kiva – the dancing kicks off early at this little bar and when it gets packed, revellers spill out into the narrow streets. Then, it’s time for cocktails at hotspot Carpe Diem Bar, before sashaying into one of the free taxi boats docked outside. You’ll be whisked away to the nearby Carpe Diem Beach on the Pakleni islands for a colourful beach party with famous DJs and dancing till dawn.
Stay: close to the action at Hostel Villa Skansi for around £46 a night. They offer cheap cocktails, free pizza every night and a free bar crawl, too. What more could you want?
For beach bums – visit Antigua and Barbuda – fly from £404
Read any article about Antigua and it won’t be long before you discover the claim that this small Caribbean island has a beach for every day of the year. But the best bit? Each of these 365 beaches is open to the public (even the ones in front of fancy hotels, score). Pitch up at Ffryes Beach for serene turquoise waters and warm, silky sand. If you get bored of sun worshipping, you can hire a jet ski or grab a bite to eat from Dennis restaurant at the north of the beach. For a day trip, take a boat to Great Bird Island. Here, you’ll find pretty, no-frills beaches surrounded by butterflies, lizards, fish and, unsurprisingly, lots of exotic birds.
Once you’ve had your fill of Antigua’s beaches, head to the country’s second island Barbuda – there’s a ferry service to transport you from A to B. There you’ll find plenty of secluded beaches, some with Instagram-worthy, pink sand beaches thanks to the candy-floss-coloured shells that wash up on shore.
Stay: These Caribbean islands can be pretty expensive. But for around £125 a night, the adults-only Ocean Point Resort & Spa is one of the best value-for-money options around.
For foodies – visit Santorini, Greece – fly from £84
The elegant, whitewashed buildings of Santorini have long drawn jet-setters. But the beauty of this island goes way beyond rich sunsets and Instagrammable breakfasts on a terrace. It’s a must-stop for gastro-inspired island hopping, with plenty of unique options for discerning foodies to sink their teeth into.
For upscale dining (and there’s plenty on this pricey island), it has to be Selene. Tucked away in the small village of Pyrgos, surrounded by farmland and vineyards, expect delicious, modern fare using local ingredients. Sample the island’s fresh seafood with dishes like black Aegean codfish, octopus with orzo gnocchi and smoked mackerel with a white bean broth. There are affordable choices, too, if you know where to look. Head to any number of cheaper tavernas to taste tomatokeftedes – deep-fried balls of Santorini’s famous cherry tomatoes. For more local flavour, try the island’s sweet white aubergine or a fava bean dip scooped up with warm pittas. Then, wash everything down with a glass of crisp Greek wine. Yamas!
Stay: Money no object? Splash out at the luxury Katikies Hotel and dine in their candlelit terraced restaurant, Mikrasia. For a more budget-friendly option, you can find rooms at Platia in Thira for under £100 a night. It’s close to several tavernas for affordable dining and scored a whopping 9.8 rating from Skyscanner reviewers.
Discovered your perfect paradise island? Guess it’s time to browse for flights…
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 6 August 2019.