Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
July 7, 2024 ·  9 min read

16 of the World’s Most Underrated Islands You Should Add to Your Bucketlist Right Now

In a world where popular tourist destinations often hog the limelight, there’s something special about discovering the hidden gems that remain off the beaten path. While iconic islands like Bali and Santorini are undoubtedly stunning, there are lesser-known paradises waiting to be explored by intrepid travelers seeking a unique experience. Here are 17 underrated islands that deserve a coveted spot on your bucket list.

1. Rodrigues Island, Mauritius: A Tranquil Escape

Rodrigues island
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Nestled in the Indian Ocean, Rodrigues Island is a secluded paradise that offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Unlike its more famous neighbor, Mauritius, Rodrigues retains an untouched charm with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rugged terrain. On this underrated island, visitors can indulge in a variety of activities, from snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs to hiking through lush forests teeming with wildlife. With its laid-back atmosphere and genuine hospitality, Rodrigues Island promises a rejuvenating retreat for those seeking serenity.

2. Isla Holbox, Mexico: A Bohemian Haven

Isla Holbox
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Tucked away on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Isla Holbox is a bohemian haven that captivates visitors with its unspoiled beauty and relaxed vibe. This car-free island boasts stretches of powdery white sand beaches, where hammocks sway gently in the breeze and colorful fishing boats bob in the turquoise waters. Here, time seems to slow down as travelers immerse themselves in the island’s natural wonders, from swimming with whale sharks to exploring the nearby Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. With its vibrant street art, fresh seafood eateries, and breathtaking sunsets, Isla Holbox offers a slice of paradise for the free-spirited traveler.

3. Flores Island, Portugal: Nature’s Masterpiece

Flores Island
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Located off the coast of Portugal, Flores Island is a hidden gem of an underrated island waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls. Known as the “Island of Flowers,” Flores enchants visitors with its dramatic landscapes, lush vegetation, and cascading waterfalls. Hiking enthusiasts will delight in exploring the island’s network of scenic trails, which wind through verdant valleys and along rugged coastlines offering breathtaking views at every turn. From marveling at the iconic Rocha dos Bordões rock formations to marveling at the azure hues of Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Flores Island is a nature lover’s paradise waiting to be explored.

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4. La Digue, Seychelles: A Slice of Paradise

La Digues
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While the Seychelles archipelago is renowned for its luxurious resorts and pristine beaches, the island of La Digue remains a hidden gem cherished by discerning travelers. With its idyllic beaches framed by giant granite boulders and lush tropical forests, La Digue exudes an otherworldly charm that is simply mesmerizing. Visitors can spend their days cycling along sandy paths, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or simply unwinding on secluded beaches untouched by mass tourism. From the iconic Anse Source d’Argent to the tranquil shores of Anse Cocos, La Digue offers a slice of paradise that feels worlds away from the ordinary.

5. Taveuni, Fiji: The Garden Island

Taveuni Island
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Dubbed the “Garden Island” of Fiji, Taveuni is a verdant paradise teeming with natural beauty and adventure. From this underrated island’s emerald rainforests and shimmering waterfalls to its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, Taveuni offers a wealth of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. Dive enthusiasts flock to the famous Rainbow Reef, where technicolor coral gardens and a kaleidoscope of marine creatures await beneath the surface. Meanwhile, land-based adventures abound, with opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring hidden caves and waterfalls scattered across the island. With its untouched beauty and warm hospitality, Taveuni beckons travelers to immerse themselves in the wonders of the South Pacific.

6. Panarea, Italy: A Romantic Haven

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Just off the coast of northern Sicily lies the Aeolian gem of Panarea, a picturesque island that seems straight out of a postcard. With its whitewashed buildings adorned with fuchsia bougainvillea and charming narrow lanes perfect for leisurely strolls, Panarea exudes romance at every turn. The island is car-free, adding to its idyllic ambiance as visitors are only passed by golf carts, Motorino electric bikes, and Italian three-wheelers. During the day, explore the island’s caves by barca and indulge in refreshing granita at Bar Del Porto. In the evening, dine at the trendy Da Pina restaurant, savoring plates of octopus salad, eggplant gnocchi, and branzino al cartoccio con agrumi (sea bass baked with zesty oranges and lemons), before toasting with Sicilian vino at the family-run Trattoria da Paolino.

7. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil: An Ecological Wonderland

Fernando de Noronha
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Tucked away in the Atlantic Ocean, Fernando de Noronha is a pristine archipelago celebrated among naturalists and ecologists for its unparalleled biodiversity. With strict regulations in place to protect its fragile ecosystem, only 420 tourists are permitted to visit this underrated island at any given time, ensuring an intimate experience with nature. Pousada Maravilha, an intimate hilltop retreat with panoramic views of the island’s rugged landscapes, offers an ideal sanctuary for eco-conscious travelers. Explore the area’s rich marine life by snorkeling in Baía dos Porcos, where encounters with turtles, stingrays, and whales are common. Afterward, savor a spicy bowl of octopus, shrimp, and lobster stew at Ecologiku’s, immersing yourself in the flavors of the region amidst the chef’s garden.

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8. Gozo, Malta: Homer’s Odyssey Come to Life

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In the heart of the Mediterranean, the verdant island of Gozo awaits, offering a tranquil escape reminiscent of Homer’s Odyssey. With its rural fishing villages, idyllic bays, and breathtaking landscapes, Gozo exudes a timeless charm that transports visitors to another era. Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz provides a luxurious retreat in the traditional countryside village of San Lawrenz, complete with oriental hammam and ayurveda center. Indulge in authentic Gozitan cuisine at family-run restaurants like Ta Karolina, where local cheese and fish platters precede hearty mains like thyme and rosemary braised lamb shank. Work off generous meals with hikes around Dwejra Bay, soaking in the island’s natural beauty at every turn.

9. Palawan, Philippines: Paradise Found

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Nestled in the western Philippines, Palawan beckons with its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and untouched natural beauty. Apulit Island Resort offers the ultimate retreat, with overwater bungalows stretching out into Taytay Bay, providing a secluded haven for travelers seeking tranquility. While El Nido serves as the gateway to Palawan, the real culinary scene awaits in Puerto Princesa, where bamboo-shaded restaurants like La Terrasse offer locally favored dishes. Outdoor activities abound, from hiking and diving to island-hopping, with highlights including the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Skopelos, Greece: The Aegean’s Hidden Gem

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Amidst the iconic Greek islands, Skopelos stands out as a serene sanctuary among underrated islands, offering unspoiled coastline, charming tavernas, and Byzantine-era monasteries. Adrina Resort & Spa provides a private villa experience with terraces overlooking the cerulean Aegean Sea, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the island’s tranquility. Skopelos Town boasts romantic garden restaurants like Perivoli, serving up traditional Greek cuisine amidst terracotta-tiled buildings. Meanwhile, the quaint village of Glossa offers breathtaking vistas at Agnanti, where cliffside dining complements classic Greek dishes like kleftiko and stifado.

11. Nevis: The Caribbean’s Hidden Gem

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Tucked away in the Caribbean, Nevis charms visitors with its postcard-perfect beaches, mountainous coastlines, and relaxed Caribbean culture. Four Seasons Resort Nevis offers luxury accommodations nestled at the base of Mount Nevis, providing a picturesque setting for a tropical getaway. Botanical gardens at Montpelier Plantation & Beach and historic sites like the Museum of Nevis History offer insights into the island’s rich heritage. At sundown, plantation-style dining at Bananas Bistro & Art Gallery provides a perfect ending to a day filled with exploration and relaxation.

12. Culebra, Puerto Rico: The Caribbean’s Best-Kept Secret

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For a nearby escape that feels worlds away, look no further than Culebra, a sleepy island just 20 miles east of Puerto Rico. Club Seabourne offers canary-yellow cottages overlooking Fulladoza Bay, providing a tranquil retreat amidst lush wildlife preserves and untouched beaches. Playa Flamenco beckons snorkelers with its pristine waters teeming with sea turtles and tropical fish, while beachfront shacks serve up Puerto Rican street food favorites like pinchos and alcapurrias. Zaco’s Tacos offers a taste of the island’s culinary delights, with pork belly and seared tuna tacos paired perfectly with a hibiscus margarita.

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13. Azores, Portugal: Europe’s Hidden Gem

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While tourists flock to the Canary Islands, the Portuguese Azores remains a remote paradise among underrated islands, offering a low-key vibe and rugged landscapes reminiscent of Hawaii. Quinta do Mar and Terra Nostra Garden Hotel provide inviting accommodations on the main island of São Miguel, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the island’s wild beauty. From whale-watching tours to hiking hydrangea-lined paths, São Miguel offers a wealth of outdoor adventures. Sample traditional Portuguese tapas at Mané Cigano and organic cuisine at Quinta dos Sabores before enjoying live music at Arco 8, a hybrid art gallery and café.

14. Brač, Croatia: The Adriatic’s Hidden Treasure

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Out in the Adriatic Sea, the island of Brač beckons with its white-pebble beaches, enchanting resort towns, and proximity to Split. Villa Giardino and Hotel Bol offer stylish accommodations in Bol, providing a perfect base for exploring the island’s scenic beauty. Konoba Kopacina serves up Brač specialties like lamb cooked on a spit and fresh skuta, offering a taste of Dalmatian Coast cuisine. Don’t miss the iconic Zlatni Rat Beach and a visit to Škrip, Brač’s oldest settlement, before bidding farewell to this Adriatic gem.

15. Formentera, Spain: Ibiza’s Tranquil Neighbor

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Next to its vibrant sister island, Ibiza, Formentera offers a laid-back alternative with hidden beaches and local charm. Gecko Beach Club provides stylish accommodations with a boutique resort atmosphere, offering a perfect retreat after a day of exploration. Hike to secluded coves like Calo des Mort, indulge in squid-ink paella at Can Forn, and sip sundowners at Can Carlos and Chezz Gerdi. Formentera’s tranquil ambiance and pristine beaches offer a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of

16. Ile de Porquerolles, France: The French Riviera’s Hidden Gem

Ile de Porquerolles
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Nestled along the Côte d’Azur, Ile de Porquerolles remains a well-kept secret despite its luxurious surroundings. This little island, one of three comprising the Iles d’Hyeres, offers a serene escape for those seeking tranquility along the Mediterranean coast. Villa Sainte-Anne, a historic guesthouse dating back to 1911, provides an elegant retreat for visitors, offering a glimpse into the island’s rich history. From delicate beaches like Plage de Notre Dame to charming village squares where locals play pétanque, Ile de Porquerolles offers a laid-back atmosphere perfect for unwinding. Indulge in seafood-centric menus at tapas-style restaurants like Le Pelagos, savoring grilled squid and seared tuna steak against a backdrop of azure waters.

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