Fancy escaping reality for a moment? Us too. Lockdown lows might have reached their trough a few weeks ago, but now the world is starting to open up again and we are beginning to regain some sort of normality in our lives. In this new normal, all of those daydreams about far-flung exotic destinations are beginning to feel a little more tangible. If your wanderlust has reached fever-pitch and you are thinking of a dream getaway, somewhere exotic and away from everyone else - Robinson Crusoe style - we have got you covered. Here our favourite exotic hideaways, for the best remote island holidays.
The Andaman Islands
The beaches of the Andaman Islands tick all the boxes for remote and exotic. 177 miles off the coast of Burma they are a collection of pearls in the shimmering turquoise waters of the Bay of Bengal. Sun-toasted, sugar-white beaches are fringed by glossy-green jungles, creating a picture-perfect exotic escape and earning them the title of one of the world's best island destinations. Above the water, you have pristine beaches and untouched jungle to explore, and beneath the waves the diving and snorkelling is incredible.
San Juan Islands
Their name might conjure up images of a sunny Caribbean isle, but you'll be heading north, rather than south, for a remote island holiday to the San Juan Islands. This nebulous archipelago lies off the north-west coast of the state of Washington, close to the Canadian border. Wonderfully remote, they are perfect for a cosy island hideaway. Out of a collection of 172 islands, there are four main hubs to explore - San Juan Island, Lopez Island, Orcas Island and the tiny Shaw Island. As with any excellent holiday destination, the journey to these islands is as much fun as the destination. Jump on a ferry or a seaplane and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, harbour seals, Dall and harbour porpoises, Steller and California sea lions, a variety of marine birds, and (hopefully) orcas. Hop your way around the four main islands for fishing, whale-watching, sailing, kayaking, cycling, hiking, cycling, paddling, crabbing, and psychedelic sunsets. The atmosphere is laid-back and sleepy in the best kind of way and the farm-to-table food and wine are sublime. Convinced yet? We thought so.
The Spice Islands
After a 'yours are the only footprints on the beach' kind of trip? Why not try the Spice Islands, just off the coast of Tanzania. The lesser-known islands of Tanzania are home to icing-sugar beaches, bordered by Eden-like greenery and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean - we are talking a castaway-style island escape. The islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia are fantastically unique from one another. You've got Mafia Island (south of Zanzibar), which is home to some of the richest coral reefs in the world and Tanzania's first Marine Park, meaning the snorkelling and diving is stunning. A scattering of hotels and less than 1,000 visitors a year make this the perfect place to get away from everyone. Pemba Island is for those after the ultimate Robinson Crusoe trip; with only three hotels on the island, it might as well be your very own private island escape. As far as remote island hideaways for an exotic holiday go, these islands might take the crown - come for the castaway vibe and stay for the water sports, amazing marine life (including whale shark sightings) and laid-back lifestyle.
Sao Tome and Principe
Bobbing in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea the two-island nation of Sao Tome and Principe is home to incredible landscapes of Lost World-esque jungles and beaches, plus it boasts some impressive eco-credentials. Principe is the stand-out option of the two islands, with its unspoilt landscapes and population of just 7,000. The island is blanketed by a thick canopy of green jungle, broken by pillars of primordial rock reaching skywards. The beaches are wild and untouched, and the waters offer incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities. Nicknamed the 'Galapagos of Africa', the islands boast a wealth of endemic species and indigenous plants, and the waters off the coast play host to the migratory routes of many marine species including giant leatherback turtles and humpback whales. It's a dream destination for wildlife and adventure lovers, anyone after a remote escape and champions of eco-tourism.
The Fijian archipelago is home to 333 islands, some of which are considered the beautiful islands in the world - making it the perfect destination for an island escape. We are talking white beaches that run into gin-clear waters, lush interiors akin to a prehistoric paradise and a languid laid-back ambience; these islands are the right kind of easy. The beaches are the poster children for paradise, but that's not all that Fiji has to offer. The calm waters belie the riot of life happening beneath the waves, with endless dreamscapes of reefs playing host to myriad gem-coloured fish and other colossal creatures of the deep - you won't want to miss the diving and snorkelling. Sonsoma is generally considered the best diving spot, with Wakaya and its pristine reefs taking the title of the next best. If you can drag yourself away from the water, explore Taveuni - known as 'The Garden Island' thanks to its verdant interior, or enjoy the trackless, lack of roads on the island of Kadavu - both islands are a nature-lovers dream. Wonderfully out-of-the-way and exotic, Fiji is perfect for your next remote holiday.