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17 hidden island escapes loved by Wanderlust readers

From far-flung crowd-free outcrops to wildlife-strewn archipelagos, we asked you to tell us about the world’s most wonderful, well-hidden islands. And you certainly delivered…

Salt Spring, British Columbia, Canada (Shutterstock)

1. Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia (Shutterstock)

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia (Shutterstock)

“My top ‘hidden island’ tip is Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia. To reach it you need to take a boat from Sihanoukville. There are no roads, just makeshift sandy streets. The small beachfront is the main hub of the town, where a handful of shops, guesthouses, and cafes ply their trade. While it is expanding fast, it still has the quiet, uncrowded quality of a hidden gem.”

- Chris Brookes

2. Gozo, Malta

Gozo, Malta (Shutterstock)

Gozo, Malta (Shutterstock)

I love Gozo. You can reach it easily by ferry from Malta. The local bus service will take you to all the best sights and there are some fantastic coastal walks. The food is great too – seafood and gelato galore!

- Lisa Wilkinson 

3. Lismore, Scotland

The Isle of Lismore, Scotland (Shutterstock)

The Isle of Lismore, Scotland (Shutterstock)

The Isle of Lismore in Loch Linnhe, Argyll and Bute, is a quick ferry trip from Port Appin. Only about 15km long, the island has limited cars, no petrol station and fewer than 200 inhabitants. A peaceful, historic place that’s perfect for a bike ride.

- Libby Watson

4. Taveuni, Fiji

A waterfall on Taveuni Island, Fiji (Shutterstock)

A waterfall on Taveuni Island, Fiji (Shutterstock)

“Taveuni Island in Fiji is truly off the beaten track. When the sun goes down, make sure you turn your eyes skyward: the stars are incredible. Taveuni also officially straddles the International Dateline so you can simultaneously stand in two days (I had my birthday twice)! Don’t miss the Blue Lagoon, the Bouma Falls or a trip to the top of the volcano on horseback.”

- Katherine Clifford

5. Santa Cruz, USA

An island fox in Channel Islands NP, USA (Shutterstock)

An island fox in Channel Islands NP, USA (Shutterstock)

“Santa Cruz Island, off the California coast, is about an hour from Ventura by boat. It is the largest isle in the Channel Islands National Park and is home to endemic species of plants and animals, including one of the world’s smallest canids, the island fox (which is pretty cute, but certainly not shy). It is possible to visit on a day trip or you can camp on the island overnight.”

- Joel Rawlings

6. Naoshima, Japan

A temple on Naoshima Island, Japan (Shutterstock)

A temple on Naoshima Island, Japan (Shutterstock)

“I visited Naoshima Island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea during the island’s arts festival. It is an incredible place. We walked around many interesting galleries. The architecture is amazing and we saw lots of outdoor artwork, too, including the famous brightly-coloured pumpkins. The beaches are also worth visiting.”

- Hazel Beadle

7. Herm, Guernsey

The coast of Herm (Shutterstock)

The coast of Herm (Shutterstock)

“I love the Island of Herm in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It is truly idyllic. The beaches are beautiful, the scenery spectacular and the real icing on the cake is that there are no cars. You can arrive and switch off: a great place to escape from the mania of modern life.”

- Victoria Brouard

8. Genovesa, Ecuador

Frigatebirds on Genovesa Island, Ecuador (Shutterstock)

Frigatebirds on Genovesa Island, Ecuador (Shutterstock)

“Genovesa Island is a shield volcano in the Galápagos archipelago, in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is home to varied breeding colonies of birds, including frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and mockingbirds.”

- Carol Hayes

9. Great Barrier, New Zealand

Great Barrier Island, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Great Barrier Island, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

“Seek out the Great Barrier Island in New Zealand. It takes a bit of a journey to get there, but once you do, you’ll pretty much have the entire island to yourself. With beautiful sweeping beaches where you can relax or swim, and gorgeous, shady forests to explore, it’s certainly big enough to keep you on your toes!”

- Nicola Gray

10. Lord Howe, Australia

Lord Howe Island: Snorkeller's paradise? (Shutterstock)

Lord Howe Island: Snorkeller's paradise? (Shutterstock)

“The plane to Lord Howe Island, off Australia’s east coast, is so small that you have to be weighed before you’re allowed on it! Once you get to the island, you will find loads of cycles, virtually no cars and some great snorkelling spots. It is easy to enjoy the nature here away from the crowds as they don’t allow too many visitors to come at once.”

- Ineke Jones

11. Havelock, India

A traditional-style boat on Havelock Island (Shutterstock)

A traditional-style boat on Havelock Island (Shutterstock)

“My pick is Havelock Island, one of the Nicobar and Andaman Islands, which is part of India and located off the coast of Thailand. It has beautiful turquoise waters, untouched golden sand and tropical rainforest.

- Emma Ballard

12. Gavdos, Greece

The lighthouse on Gavdos Island, Greece (Shutterstock)

The lighthouse on Gavdos Island, Greece (Shutterstock)

For someone seeking solitude, I recommend Gavdos, a small island off the south-western coast of Crete, available by ferry which tends to be very flexible in its sailing times. There is just one taverna, a lighthouse and very few people. It's an ideal place to get your head together. It's also an opportunity to visit one of Europe's most southerly areas.

- Peter Watson

13. Bardsey, Wales

Bardsey Island: Small, but perfect, with seals,too! (Shutterstock)

Bardsey Island: Small, but perfect, with seals,too! (Shutterstock)

My favourite island is the small but perfect Bardsey Island, off the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula in northern Wales. Groups of seals welcome arrivals via small boat from the town of Pwllheli. The rest of the island is quiet, peaceful, enchanting and always close to the sea – perfect for wandering. For a slightly more strenuous activity, you can climb to the top of the 167m-high Mynydd Enlli, and enjoy its gorgeous views back to the mainland.

- Keith Ruffles

14. Lopud, Croatia

Lopud, Croatia (Shutterstock)

Lopud, Croatia (Shutterstock)

“Amidst turquoise sea and just one-hour by ferry from Dubrovnik, Lopud is one of the largest of the gorgeous, green Elafiti Islands. The only settlement is a village of 220 inhabitants and there are no cars. Lopud is home to some of the loveliest seascapes in the world, and has some of the finest beaches in the region. One of them – Sunj – has powdery white sand (extremely rare in Croatia) in a sheltered horseshoe bay.

- John Kilkenny

15. Clare, Ireland

An abandoned cottage on Clare Island, Ireland (Shutterstock)

An abandoned cottage on Clare Island, Ireland (Shutterstock)

Clare Island in the Republic of Ireland is a small island off County Mayo. It is a quaint island, covered in rolling hills and surrounded by tranquil views. It can be accessed by boat, if you can face the bracing Irish seas. If you are lucky, you might even see a pod of dolphins en route. It has bike rentals so you can cycle across the island, taking in the fresh sea area and gorgeous views before stopping for a picturesque picnic.

- Charlotte Brill

16. Salt Spring, Canada

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada (Shutterstock)

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada (Shutterstock)

“You should visit Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. We spent a few days on this delightful island last year. It is a definite foodie destination – there are wineries, cideries, breweries, cheesemakers, and more! We took a food and drink tour, guided by a local, and had a wonderful time. There is a real community spirit on the island. The coastline is beautiful, too, offering plenty of great walks. A lovely place to visit.

- Page Munro

17. Uoleva, Tonga

A traditional house in Uovela Island, Tonga (Shutterstock)

A traditional house in Uovela Island, Tonga (Shutterstock)

“I'd recommend Uoleva Island, Tonga. You can only get there via small boat or by walking across at low tide from Lifuka Island in the Ha'apai Group. On my first visits in the 1980s and 1990s, it was uninhabited, but now I hear there's a small resort. A runner-up would be Ofu Island in American Samoa – the most beautiful island in the world in my estimation.

- Deanna Swanney

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