10 Charmingly Peaceful Islands from Around the World
From tranquil sandy beaches to awe-inspiring natural wonders, here are the best islands to unwind on
Islands conjure up images of paradise - places where you can escape everyday life and relax amongst palm trees, gazing out at remarkably blue waters. Speaking of, we here at Plum Guide are somewhat remarkable ourselves - we are the experts when it comes to all things travel, after all. We know all there is to know about travel, including the most coveted places to put your feet up and take it easy. We’ve rounded up some of our planet’s most attractive islands, from far-flung tropical shores in the middle of the ocean, to those that wouldn't look out of place in a fantasy novel. So without further ado, let our guide to the best peaceful islands around the world inspire you to book your next vacation.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
While it may not have white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, the Isle of Skye has its own charm in the form of lush valleys, toothy crags, majestic cliffs, and deep lochs. Its impressive scenery is the main attraction, so spend your days driving around the island stopping off at highlights like The Old Man of Storr, and Kilt Rock - with its dramatic Mealt Waterfall.
Head to Quiraing, a breathtaking spot where you can hike the winding trails for extensive views of the surrounding cliffs and lakes. If all that walking has made you hot and sweaty, why not visit the spectacular Fairy Pools at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountain range. The crystal-clear waters, crisp streams, and plunging waterfalls will entice you in for a dip (possibly…it is very cold). The best part about the Isle of Skye is that it’s rarely overcrowded - most of the time, it’s just you and the surrounding nature, making it ideal for those seeking relaxation.
The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao is a relatively under-the-radar destination, making it perfect for those seeking sun and solitude. Naturally, the beaches are going to be your first port of call, from the sheltered sands of Playa Lagun to the clear blue waters of Playa Kenepa. Catch a glimpse of the endangered green sea turtle at Shete Boka National Park, a well-known turtle nesting spot. When you’re not busy snorkelling, diving, or kayaking, hit the trails in Christoffel National Park for incredible views of the island - as well as wildlife like cottontails and rare deer.
Curaçao has plenty of cultural offerings, and the capital of Willemstad is a great place to start. The historically rich area of Otrobanda boasts elegant Dutch homes and pastel-painted terraces of Flemish-esque townhouses. If you happen to be visiting in spring, you may catch the Curaçao Carnival, where the streets fill with troupes of local samba shows, masquerades, and dance processions.
The Greek islands are very popular destinations, so it can be refreshing to find somewhere as calm and peaceful as Lefkada. It doesn’t see the same tourist numbers as neighbouring islands, so it’s an excellent place to relax and soak up the local culture. Lazy days on the sand are the main activity here, with dreamy beaches like Porto Katsiki, Egremni Beach, and Milos Beach featuring bright blue waters and magnificent scenery.
Venture inland to find sleepy mountain villages, olive groves, and vineyards, where local wines are enjoying a growing reputation. Why not pop into these vineyards for a tour (and tasting session)? In the north, where red wines are prevalent, you’ll find Karsanikos and Sifloko wineries - Lefkas Earth Winery in the south is where the white Vardea grapes grow best. If hiking is more your thing, take a scenic walk through citrus trees to the Dimosari Waterfalls. Overgrown with greenery, this slender waterfall plunges into a pale blue pool - the perfect spot for a refreshing swim.
Ever pictured yourself castaway on a tropical island somewhere? On the Cook Islands, you can live that dream. This nation in the South Pacific is made up of 15 peaceful islands, which are some of the most beautiful of all the Polynesian islands - think turquoise lagoons, palm-fringed beaches, picturesque waterfalls, lush jungle, and volcanic peaks. Rarotonga is the largest of the islands, and the main tourist centre. Pristine coral reefs surround its shores, creating a lagoon with excellent swimming and snorkelling opportunities. Aitutaki is the second most-visited island, and its sublime lagoon is the main attraction. Glittering in shades of blue, the lagoon is dotted with islets - you will be tempted to kayak to their shores. The other islands are more remote, so beachcomb, fish, snorkel, and swim to your heart’s content. If you need a break from the sand and sea, take a hike through lush jungle trails for breathtaking views.
Want a taste of Caribbean life? Barbados offers the perfect mix of culture, food, nature, friendly locals, and exciting attractions. It won't come as a surprise to hear that some of the best things to do involve the sea - snorkelling, diving, fishing, and water sports are all readily available, and there are countless sandy beaches for those days where a book is all you need. If you need a break from the beach (you poor thing), there are a wealth of attractions on the island. Bridgetown, the nation’s capital, is a great place to wander around, shop, and taste the local cuisine. For those interested in history, you’ll find historical sites like St Nicholas Abbey and the Sunbury Plantation Great House, where you can learn more about Barbados’ past. Alternatively, visit the famous Mount Gay distillery, which has been distilling rum for over 300 years. Expert tip: the Andromeda Botanic Gardens, the Flower Forest, and the Welchman Hall Gully are all lovely places for a breath of fresh air, if you overdid it on the rum tasting.
Skip the tourist crowds of Bali and head to eastern Indonesia, where you’ll discover the relatively undeveloped island of Sumba. Mother Nature is Sumba’s main draw, with attractions of the natural variety including untouched beaches, rolling green hills, sprawling jungle, and blue lagoons. The island has a surprisingly lively surf scene, but if you don’t plan on riding the waves, there are plenty of other ways to take to the water - try your hand at snorkelling, diving, or paddle-boarding. To appreciate the views, take a hike through the jungle to Matayangu Waterfall, also known as the Blue Waterfall, set in an idyllic valley. Alternatively, the ‘dancing’ trees on Walakiri Beach offer equally enchanting views. Sumba has held on to its ancient indigenous culture, so there are numerous ancient traditions you can witness firsthand - such as Pasola, which highlights the connection between nature and the spirit world. You can also visit local villages Ratenggaro and Waikabubak, famed for its striking thatched houses and local handicrafts.
Are you looking to find the most peaceful island in the world? Well, Kimitoön may just be the one. This island in the Archipelago Sea is a large coastal island with a rural landscape, typical of southern Finland - it's surrounded by the inner archipelago and outer archipelagos of minor islands. Kimitoön and its surrounding islands are a haven for nature lovers - you’ll want to spend most of your time outdoors. There is an array of paths and trails to take, showing off the very best of the landscape. With 40,000 islands and skerries in the Archipelago Sea, it would be rude not to take to the sea on a cruise. From the water, admire the many coastal villages, including Kasnäs. This is the ideal base, and when you’re not busy exploring, you can spend time relaxing at the marina, or strolling through the surrounding forests.
The picture-perfect archipelago of Seychelles is made up of 115 unspoiled, peaceful islets. Almost half the total land area is protected, with marine sanctuaries and UNESCO-listed nature reserves waiting to be explored. Naturally, the white sandy beaches and clear azure waters are the main draw - relax under swaying palm trees, or snorkel amongst pristine coral and colourful shoals of fish. It’s tempting to make this the only thing you do on holiday, but if you do decide to venture out, you'll be spoilt for choice. Enjoy island hopping around the outer islands - swim, fish, catch a glimpse of traditional island life, or even go wildlife watching to see giant tortoises and the endangered black paradise flycatcher. If you’re feeling active, head to the lush Morne Seychellois National Park. You’ll find some of the best hikes here, and pass villages and tea plantations providing spectacular views of the surrounding ocean from the mountain slopes - so whatever you do, don't forget your camera.
Set in the Adriatic Sea, the Dalmatian island of Brač is a fantastic place to unwind in true Croatian style. The main resort of Bol is known for its famous beach of Zlatni Rat, which moves according to winds and tides. But there’s much more to Brač than this iconic beach - you'll find culture, history, delicious food, and plenty of opportunities to get active. Those looking to spend most of their time in the crystal clear waters will enjoy diving, kayaking, kiteboarding, and windsurfing off the coast - you could even join a fishing tour, and admire the coast from the water.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, hit the hiking trails, or set off on a mountain biking adventure for jaw-dropping views around every corner. Gastronomes will be in their element on Brač, as the island is well-known for its lamb meat, sheep cheese, olive oil, and mandarins. Croatian cuisine is inspired by many different nations, and the country’s long coastline makes seafood a very popular ingredient. Wash it all down with a glass of local wine at a wine-tasting tour of the Stina Winery on Bol’s quayside.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Not all beautiful islands are found in the tropics. Way up north in the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands are known for their dramatic scenery, with jagged peaks and majestic rock walls towering above mirror-like fjords. Beneath these peaks, secluded beaches are tucked away with nothing but bright red fishermen’s cabins dotted around the postcard-esque scene. Each island presents interesting things to do - visit the Lofotr Viking Museum on the island of Vestvågøy, the beautiful village of Reine on Moskenesøy, the charming fishing village of Kabelvåg on Austvågøy, and the Glass Hut Vikten on Flakstadøya (don’t try pronouncing these names out loud). The Lofoten Islands are truly a haven for nature lovers, with plenty of ways to explore the outdoors. Popular activities include hiking, kayaking, boating, and surfing, and wildlife watching opportunities are rife - spot whales, seals, Norwegian moose, and a variety of birds, including sea eagles.