#10 – Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket was once among the richest places in the USA, built on the proceeds of the whale oil industry. Even today in the yummy old city there are nice brick houses with silver mailboxes. Old-time sailors used to call Nantucket “The Little Grey Lady of the Sea.”
On a misty morning I first arrived there, I could understand why. A woman was riding a horse along the beach to the utter joy of her family aboard my post, and she bore a banner which said: “Crazy Aunt Rides Again.” It’s a special location.
#9 – Isles of Scilly, England
These are the outriders of England, a clutch of little islands off Land’s End, Cornwall, awash in the Atlantic and in a world of their own. Five are sparsely occupied, and countless more islets, skerries, and stones extend out to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse.
The next stop is America. Balmy Atlantic atmosphere supports the spring flower market. Part of the Duchy of Cornwall, the isles are owned by Prince Charles.
#8- Canary Islands, Spain
Europeans flock to the Canary Islands in winter seeking a little sun. Temperatures range between 70°F and 75°F through January and February. On Tenerife stands among Europe’s loftiest peaks, Mount Teide, snowcapped in winter against a deep blue sky.
You can watch whales or sail over to Gomera, which was the last stop Columbus made before he set out and found America.
#7 – Lord Howe Islands, Australia
Lord Howe is far out in the middle of the Tasman Sea, a two-and-a-half-hour aeroplane ride from Sydney. It takes days by ship. But you get there, the journey is worth it. Named following a British admiral, Lord Howe is the world’s most southerly coral island. About 350 people call it home, many descended from families that settled there in the 18th century.
#6 – Saba, Netherlands West Indies
During my years of island discovering, I’ve been to many places in the Caribbean– Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica, and lots of islands much smaller. However, the strangest is Saba, east of the U.S. Virgin Islands, climbing almost 873 meters (2,864 ft) above the sea. It’s home to 1,500 inhabitants, many of whom have the same family name: Hassell.
#5 – Fair Isle, Scotland
Fair Isle is the most isolated inhabited island in Britain. It’s home to only about 70 people, but hundreds of thousands of birds live here as well. The majority of the visitors to this wild and terrific place are bird-watchers. Sheep placidly graze on the steeply angled meadows.
#4 – Channel Islands, United States
Individuals rarely venture out to the Channel Islands in California, even though it seems just a stone’s throw away. The most accessible, and famous, is Santa Catalina, which I reached in 2 hours by ferry from the port of Los Angeles.
There I discovered a placid village named Avalon, a calm bay, and a famous prewar dance hall–around like a fortress–in which the big bands once played.
#3. Tahiti, French Polynesia
Nowadays, travellers will tell you that Tahiti is no longer a fantasy. True, it’s an international airport, and smart resorts rise within sight of the coral reef. I’ve seen the changes through time, yet the island is still beautiful and still rises unexpectedly green into the cloud-touched mountaintops.
At least in the sea, until you come too close, it is still possible to see Tahiti as Paul Gauguin saw it– in all its extravagance and love–when he voyaged there from France to paint.
#2. Islands of the Andaman Sea, Thailand
The joy is to see how these islands are changed by altering distances, by the sun, by clouds. On some, there’s a sliver of beach, just enough from that to swim; others are edged with small villages built on boards, the homes tied together.
All are tropical paradises: Koh Phi Phi, Koh He, Koh Racha, Koh Surin, Koh Dok Mai, to mention some of the favorites. Koh Phuket functions as a fantastic jumping-off point. After being devastated by the 2004 tsunami, these islands have made a comeback
#1. Capri, Italy
Capri is the only island I have ever seen that’s just as I imagined it would be. The lyrical tunes are only too correct. The city square itself takes some thinking. It is like a point, and not much bigger either.
There are coloured balconies all around and a beautiful campanile, where the clock divertingly chimes to not indicate the time but if it seems like it. From the highest point on the island, you can look across to the volcano of Vesuvius with the Italian shore stretched out over a shining sea.