Islands are a popular tourist draw. Especially islands located in warm climates with sun, sand sea. Islands in the Caribbean remain a popular tourist draw. However amazing sun, sand and sea are, islands offer much much more. In fact in big tourist crowds aren’t your scene, it might be worthwhile to check out some of the smaller or less well known islands that are off the beaten path and enjoy all that they have to offer.
Isle of Wight in England is actually a well known island for its delicious produce, maritime feel, famous music festival, and for being the favourite vacation spot of Queen Victoria at Osborne House. Isle of Wight is accessible by ferries from Southampton, Portsmouth, or Lymington to the north, east and west of the Island. the Island is roughly 389sq kilometres. There is lots to do but I recommend checking out Freshwater Bay with its stunning cliffs, beautiful beaches and tasty restaurants. Isle of Wight is home to many artisans and local pottery (my favorites!) and some of the best pubs in the UK. The pubs are often old, but clean (extremely so) and serve Delicious food and drink. Take a drive over to see Osborne House or just explore the island. Check out the Horse and Groom pub for a truly delicious meal. http://horse-and-groom.com/
The Ilse de Porquerolle is just a short 10 minute boat ride from Hyeres off the Cote d’Azur in France. Though the boat ride is expensive and the Island busy, it is beautiful and well worth it to visit this beautiful island with its clear Mediterranean waters. Ilse de Porquerolles offers lots to do. It does have the aforementioned beaches but also world class restaurants overlooking the harbor serving local ingredients and local wines because yes you can visit vineyards too!!! You can walk through forest, bike the hills or simply hang out and shop. After biking on Ilse d’Aix (more on that later) I thought myself an expert and was ready to bike on the Porquerolles. The Porquerolles are very hilly so if you aren’t an experienced biker, maybe stick to walking or as in my case drinking. Ether way the Porquerolles are beautiful and provided me with the best salad I have ever eaten, a tomato salad complete with poached egg, local ham and a from of forcaccia esque bread that I still dream of that bread. check out L’Orangeraie for its salad, views, wine and exceptional service. http://www.orangeraieporquerolles.com/
The Azore Islands really need their own blog post but because the are so underrated they get a mention here and their own post (coming soon) The Azore islands belonging to Portugal are about an hour or so plane ride from mainland Portugal. Located directly in the Atlantic, the Azore Islands are an Island chain, San Miguel is the largest. The Islands are well worth a visit (also a popular cruise ship port) for their food (cheese! milk! pineapple!) wine (multiple producers), gin, and tea (2 plantations). The scenery is stunning, ideal location for hikes, biking, and swimming or surfing ( I prefer to drink wine on the beach that surf and that is encouraged too!) make sure to tour the Islands (and or islands) enjoys the natural hot springs through out the island, visit the Cha Formosa http://www.chaportoformoso.com/ smaller tea factory with excellent service and vies. Visit the Quinta de Jardinete winery https://www.quintadajardinete.com/and eat the stew prepared in a volcano. Best places on San Miguel to eat was the Taberna Acor which is best for local amazing food with stellar service https://m.facebook.com/Taberna-A%C3%A7or-636639843115341/, Calcada do Cais with lighter options and amazing gin and tonics, https://www.facebook.com/calcadadocais Reserva Bar with an out of the world selection of wines highlighting but not limited to Portugal and the Azores, https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g189135-d3193030-Reviews-Reserva_Bar-Ponta_Delgada_Sao_Miguel_Azores.html and finally Boca de Cena, with the best tuna and chef who serves, cooks and makes sure you have an amazing meal. https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g189135-d1309662-Reviews-Boca_de_Cena-Ponta_Delgada_Sao_Miguel_Azores.html
Ilse d’Aix in the Atlantic is about an hour boat ride from La Rochelle in France. The island is small, no cars allowed. Accessible by boat, this is a island with a population of 600 and the perfect place to enjoy a laid back day away from the crowds, easily walk able with hiking baths, beaches and lovely restaurants, Ilse d’Aix offer bikes to see the island. Easy to ride with out worrying about traffic, you can get that baguette, cheese, and bottle of wine and bike with the wind in your hair to a beautiful spot to enjoy your very French picnic. The restaurants are small but good and you can enjoy some shopping for local goods too! Check out La Bar Beau Teint for some really delicious food. https://fr.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g608802-d4458947-Reviews-Bar_Beau_Teint-Ile_d_Aix_Charente_Maritime_Nouvelle_Aquitaine.html
Check out islands for a day trip or longer, the pace of life is often slower, and culture different than the mainland. Islands are a great way to enjoy, relax and really savor your getaway.