10 Incredible Hidden Paradises from Around the World
Beat the tourists to these secret gems
It’s hard to find a genuinely secret travel destination nowadays. But here at Plum Guide, we've pulled together 10 paradises that remain relatively off the radar - and you can trust our judgements. We are travel experts after all. Paradise may mean different things to different people, but for us, it's a truly idyllic place, with a bit of solitude thrown in. So no, these aren’t all tropical islands - sometimes a mountain or a forest can be just as heavenly as a beach. So if you’re looking to stray off the beaten path and impress your friends with a gem they’ve never heard of, it’s time to take note. Read on for our expert guide to the finest hidden paradises of the world.
Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK
You might find this a surprising choice when it comes to a guide to the finest hidden paradises of the world, but in the UK, the Isle of Anglesey is about as secret as you can get. Wales's largest island is found on its northern tip, and is beloved by the Royal Family as a secluded escape. You'll discover miles of dramatic coastline, empty beaches, and significant historical sites. The Isle of Anglesey is steeped in history, too - according to Celtic folklore, the Roman invaders of 60AD were scared away by the island's Celtic druids. Visit the ruined church on Llanddwyn Island, once home to Saint Dwynwen, or visit Wales' last built castle - despite not being finished, what remains is an incredible feat of human design.
Ladakh, India's last frontier, is a region slowly drawing in the tourists. But this paradise remains hidden, thanks in part to the spectacular jagged peaks surrounding it. The 'Land of High Passes' is wedged between Pakistan, Tibet, and Xinjiang Province, in one of the most breathtaking areas of the Himalayas - this un-touched hidden gem has snow-capped peaks, fresh air, and mountain monasteries. You will find red-robed monks and Buddhist prayer flags beneath big blue skies. Escape the modern rat race in an area that relies on self-sufficiency and ecological sustainability. You can't expect to move fast here - you need at least a week to acclimate to the altitude and navigate some terrifying roads.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Most holidaymakers make a beeline for Mexico's Caribbean coast, but they're missing a trick. As the Earth's second-longest peninsula, Baja California has stretches of untouched coastline - it's the perfect hidden place to catch the waves without the crowds. Due to a lack of public transportation and tourist infrastructure, this area of the world remains relatively unvisited, so opt for the slow life here. Drive the iconic Highway 1 to the Northern tip, and discover empty beaches and sleepy fishing villages. If you're looking for a quiet place to swim, we recommend Bahía Concepción. But shhh, don't tell anyone else.
Enter a moody and mist-filled corner of Instagram, and you'll find countless pictures of the Faroe Islands. But these islands manage to remain a secret gateway, because they're quite complicated to reach - it's worth the fuss, though. The best way to reach the islands is via Copenhagen, as this North Atlantic archipelago is actually part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroe Islands are the definition of paradise if you're looking for solitude, remoteness, and breathtaking scenery. Torshavn, the capital, is home to just over 20,000 inhabitants - you're guaranteed not to meet anyone when hiking the mountains. But it's always best to let people know when you head out, as the weather is temperamental here (better safe than sorry, right?). These islands will cast a spell on you - there's nothing more mesmerising than the towering cliffs, circling seabirds, and tumbling waterfalls into the ocean.
If you accidentally stumbled upon Sardinia, you'd be surprised to discover that it sits in the Mediterranean Sea - this is as close to a hidden island paradise as Europe gets. It would be a perfect choice if you want to be marooned on an island for a week. Sardinia has the whitest white-sand beaches, clear waters, and rocky coves, but it doesn't have the crowds of the more popular Mediterranean destinations. Explore the island's long southern beaches if you want to enjoy topless sunbathing with no one around.
The Congo Basin
The Congo Basin often gets sidelined by The Amazon Rainforest. Yet, as the Earth's most important wilderness area, it undoubtedly makes the list of our favourite secluded paradises. This biodiverse rainforest spans nine countries, from Tanzania to Cameroon. Visit this hidden gem to spot endangered wildlife like the world's most enormous gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. Odzala National Park, one of Africa's oldest, is a great undiscovered spot from which to base yourself - this park protects an expense of forest covering 13,600 square kilometres, and habitats include forests, marshes, rivers, and swamps.
Setubal Bay, Portugal
Portugal is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. While the less-discerning traveller will head to The Algarve to soak up some sun, sand, and sea, or Lisbon for a culture fix, we're heading to Setubal Bay. The bay is located within the limits of a National Ecological Reserve, and is home to some unique habitats beloved by wildlife, including the River Sado Estuary - one of Portugal's most important wetlands. The cove is also home to a colony of bottlenose dolphins, a unique sight to behold. The beautiful Praia dos Galapinhos has been named one of Europe's Best Beaches, but keep that a secret - we don't want it to stop being a hidden gem.
Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
If you're looking for a secret gateway, look no further than Havelock Island. This tropical island has everything, from empty white-sand beaches to lush rainforest and aqua waters. Despite the bamboo beach huts being replaced by resorts, much of the island remains untouched - so much so that you might even be sharing the beach with a large and unexpected guest (guess how Elephant Beach earned its name). This beach is ideal for snorkelling, but if you come in early enough in the morning, you'll find something more surprising than fish - elephants splashing off the night's antics in the water. While Havelock Island has some of Asia's best beaches, don't neglect the jungle interior - get lost on a hiking tour.
Finnish Archipelago, Finland
With so many secluded spots, we would be remiss to not include Finland in our list of the top 10 hidden paradises of the world - it boasts the world's largest archipelago, with tens of thousands to choose from. The Archipelago of Finland stretches across western and southwest Finland, where you'll find wild and unruly forested islands, secluded inlets, and quaint villages. Explore this paradise Huckleberry Finn style, and opt for a sailboat or kayak. Forage for your dinner by picking berries or catching fresh fish - you might even discover an unclaimed island.
Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
If paradise for you means going off-grid and hiding in nature, then Great Barrier Island is your destination - the 1000 inhabitants of the island rely on renewable energy resources, and the collection of freshwater to survive. This island takes roughly 4.5 hours to reach by ferry from Aukland City, and feels like the ultimate secluded escape. Over 60% of the island is a protected conservation park, so you can easily get lost in the wilderness. The island is covered in pristine forest, where you'll encounter natural hot springs, deserted sandy bays, and unique plant and bird species.