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6 Extraordinary Island Hopping Adventures (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/28/2012 9:05 am

There comes a point where every good globetrotter, jetsetter and backpacker finds themself thinking "been there, done that." If you are an avid traveler and find yourself feeling landlocked, these extraordinary island hopping ideas from the Destination Experts at Kensington Tours might just be the inspiration needed to kick off your next great adventure.

From the seal covered beaches of the Galapagos, headhunting tribes of Papua New Guinea and the Neolithic stone circles of Orkney to Antarctic shores awash in penguins, floating cities made by the ancient Incas or diving WWII shipwrecks, time spent exploring these often overlooked isles is guaranteed to satisfy your wanderlust, no matter how bad the itch. Whether you opt to discover them on dugout canoe or by private yacht, sleep in a 5-star boutique hotel or on the beach under the stars, these island hopping experiences promise to be truly out-of-the-ordinary!

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  • <strong>Where: </strong> Papua New Guinea <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> Head-hunter tribes, forbidden cannibal rituals, tree climbing kangaroos and birds of paradise, the islands of Papua New Guinea are still light years away from the 21st century. With hundreds of ethnic groups and over 800 indigenous languages, intrepid explorers will feel like they’ve stepped into a century old issue of <em>National Geographic</em>. Dance with indigenous warriors of the highlands, cruise the backwaters in a canoe, dive unmapped coral reefs and witness mysterious ceremonies, this is a true eye-opener for the most adventurous of travelers! <strong>How To Island Hop:</strong> Since there’s little tourism infrastructure, island hopping in PNG needs to be done with care but is well worth the effort. With the safety of a trusted guide, one can hitch a ride with a local on a dugout canoe to some of the more remote islands, catch one of the very few flights, explore in a Zodiac or try to hop on someone helicopter. Privileged yachties can cruise their way around but need to be prepared – the locals are sure to paddle over in hopes of trading handicrafts for fishing lines, t-shirts, hand tools, hats and laundry powder! <strong>Quick Travel Tip:</strong> Visit the island of Bougainville to see Admiral Yamamoto’s Mitsubishi bomber wreck. Yamamoto was the infamous mastermind behind Pearl Harbor – a quick stop sure to appeal to history buffs! <strong>The Trip:</strong> <a href=" " target="_hplink">Papua New Guinea Expedition Cruise</a>

  • <strong>Where:</strong> Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> The high altitude of these magical isles only enhances what many would describe as a “time travel effect.” Nestled in the roof of the Andes Mountains in sacred Lake Titicaca, the man-made Uros Islands have been home to the pre-Incan Uros people for over 500 years. Life on these floating villages made of buoyant totora reeds hasn’t changed too much in the past centuries. Travelers can listen to the mystical legends of the “Lupihahe ques” (Sons of the Sun), learn ancient fishing techniques, feast on grilled carachi and quinoa, weave reed handicrafts, sing with the locals and much more. <strong>How To Hop: </strong>From the folkloric lakeside capital of Puno, it’s just a short cruise to the floating islands of Uros. For the most authentic island hopping experience rent a rowboat made out of reeds to help you hop from one floating island to the next. <strong>Quick Travel Tip:</strong> Go beyond a quick half-day tour and extend your stay in the Uros with a night at one of the lakes many home-stays! <strong>The Trip:</strong> <a href=" " target="_hplink">Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca </a>

  • In The Wake Of Vikings

    <strong>Where: </strong>The Faroe Islands, Denmark <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary: </strong>Ranked by <em>National Geographic Traveler</em> as one of the “world’s best islands,” the cool climate and rugged beauty of these 18 scenic isles are a contrast to the warm welcome you’ll receive from the residents. Hike the steep cliffs, fish with the locals, brave the cold Atlantic on a diving tour and dine on skerpikjøt. Don’t be surprised by a sudden change of weather, the Faroes are one of the places on earth where you can experience four seasons in a single day! <strong>How To Island Hop: </strong>Voyage from isle to isle via ferry, charter a boat, grab a ride from a friendly fisherman, fly in a helicopter or drive through the Norðoyatunnilin, (a sub-sea tunnel with artistic multicolored lights). <strong>Quick Travel Tip:</strong> Visit from June to late August a.k.a. the festival season in the Faroes. Many of the islands have their own unique celebration such as the Summer Festival, Faroe Islands Regatta and the Olavs Festival! <strong>The Trip: </strong><a href=" " target="_hplink">Iceland and Faroe Islands Highlights</a>

  • Lochs, Moors & Megaliths

    <strong>Where:</strong> The Orkney Islands, Scotland <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary: </strong> The Orkney Islands are steeped in Viking lore, buried treasures and mysterious age-old wonders. Made up of over 70 islands and rocky islets, its dramatic landscapes are mainly low lying with gently rolling moors, sweeping beaches (some even home to seals). Immerse yourself in ancient Neolithic marvels such as the Old Man of Hoy, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae. <strong>How To Hop: </strong>Rent a sail boat, take advantage of the hop-on-hop-off-ferry or take the world’s shortest flight – it flies from Westray to Papa Westray in just 90 seconds! While on the islands nothing beats leisurely taking in the sights from the seat of a bicycle. <strong>Quick Travel Tip: </strong>During extremely low tides, walk “across the Atlantic” to the tidal island of the Brough of Brirsay and visit the remains of a Viking village. <strong>The Trip: </strong><a href=" " target="_hplink">Scotland and the Orkneys</a>

  • Volcanoes, Reefs & Beaches

    <strong>Where:</strong> Fiji, South Pacific <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary: </strong> There is no end to Fiji’s exotic allure. Made up of 333 islands it claims all the prerequisites needed for tropical paradise status. Porcelain sands, palm fringed beaches, dolphins, smiling locals, first-class diving, lip-smacking cuisine, aquamarine ocean and over-water bungalows, this South Pacific island utopian list of attractions could go on and on. Adventurous types can trek the mountain trails to uncover hidden waterfalls, hike up volcanoes, go on river cruises and explore sacred caves. Bula! <strong>How To Hop:</strong> Hop by helicopter, catamaran cruise or charter a local boat. Those on a budget can opt for the inter-island ferries that run daily. Active travelers can explore the smaller islands, hidden lagoons and empty beaches by kayak and canoe. <strong>Quick Travel Tip:</strong> No trip to Fiji is complete without experiencing a Kava ceremony. It may not be the best tasting drink, but learn to go with the flow as refusing to drink Kava can be seen as rude. <strong>The Trip: </strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Family Fiji Islands By Helicopter </a>

  • The Gateway To Antarctica

    <strong>Where: </strong> The South Shetland Islands, Antarctica <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> The South Shetlands mark the gateway to the Great White Continent and there’s just as much to do there as down at the South Pole. Made up of 11 major islands and several minor ones, these frigid islands are home to a wealth of penguin species such as Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie and Maraconi. If these tuxedo clad birds aren’t quite to your fancy, explore abandoned 19th century whaling stations, visit international research centers, relax in Port Foster’s volcanic hot springs, kayak alongside icebergs and hike polar mountains. <strong>How To Hop: </strong>The only way through the South Shetland Islands is by sea. Embark on an expedition cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina. Ships will usually stop at the major isles such as King George, Livingston and Deception. Zodiac excursions through waters full of humpback whales allow you to visit some of the minor islands to see penguin rookeries and if you’re lucky, a rolling iceberg! <strong>Quick Travel Tip:</strong> Head up to the control bridge and watch as the captain skillfully maneuvers the vessel through blockades of massive glaciers – a truly heart-stopping experience. <strong>The Trip: </strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Antarctica and South Shetland Islands Cruise </a>

  • <strong>Where:</strong> Queensland’s Islands, Australia <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> The islands of Queensland are the perfect place to cool off after a trip to Australia's outback. Go wild on a Fraser jeep safari, relish in the champagne sunsets of the Whitsundays, watch turtles nesting on Lizard Island, cuddle koalas on Hamilton or simply pick an island with a hammock and do nothing at all. Whether you’re after O-worthy opulence, eco-friendly lodges or plan to pack your tent and sleep under the stars, there is an island for every style of traveler! <strong>How To Hop:</strong> Fly above the islands in a seaplane for the best aerial view while stopping whenever you wish to find the best diving and snorkeling. Hop on a glass-bottom boat to see aquatic life on the Great Barrier Reef. For a more convenient way to get about, catch a ferry service to take you from your island resort to popular dive sites or board a small luxury cruise or private yacht to visit various islands in style! <strong>Quick Travel Tip: </strong>After island-hopping make sure to stop by Daintree to visit the oldest rainforest in the world. <strong>The Trip:</strong> <a href=" " target="_hplink">Queensland Islands & Rainforests</a>

  • British & French Fusion

    <strong>Where: </strong> The Channel Islands <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> Wedged between Britain and France these self-governing islands are simply exquisite. Discover haunted castles, eerie reminders of World War II, Victor Hugo’s house of exile, white beaches and iconic lighthouses. There are also breathtaking hikes, surfing lessons and delectable seafood to be enjoyed! As the last remnants of the Dukedom of Normandy, immerse yourself in distinct Channel Island culture and stay cozy in storybook B&B`s. <strong>How To Hop: </strong> Private boats and ferries offer the most ideal way to travel. Hop on a bike and pedal your way around Guernsey where everything’s always in bloom. Travel back in time, unplug and explore the car-free island of Sark on a tractor - but watch out as horses always have the right of way on these unpaved roads! Retreat to the peaceful and tranquil islands of Alderly and Herm for a well-deserved break, perfect for unwinding after touring Europe. <strong>Quick Travel Tip: </strong> When visiting Sark in the spring, make sure to explore Gouliot Cave and its hidden water holes. The entrance of the cave is only accessible during the low tides of spring. <strong>The Trip:</strong><a href=" " target="_hplink">London and Jersey Signature </a>

  • In the Footsteps of Darwin

    <strong>Where: </strong> The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador <strong>What Makes These Islands Extraordinary:</strong> In the Galapagos Archipelago every day is a photo shoot, yet the A-listers being photographed aren’t pop stars or Hollywood hunks. Play paparazzi and capture wild celebrities such as sea lions, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, flamingos and blue-footed boobies with your camera. So wild that these 14 isles inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, you’ll find that these animals have little fear of mankind and have no problem getting up close for their headshot. <strong>How To Hop: </strong> Nothing compares to experiencing in the magic of the Galapagos from a small ship expedition cruise. Disembark your floating hotel for hikes and creature encounters with certified naturalist guides. For those who prefer to sleep on dry land, stay at safari camps or eco-lodges. Zodiac excursions allow you to zip from isle to isle accompanied by dolphins, whales and white-tipped reef sharks. <strong>Quick Travel Tip: </strong>For those wishing to visit the Galapagos during December make sure to book as early as 6-8 months in advance as expedition cruises fill out quickly. <strong>The Trip: </strong> <a href=" " target="_hplink">Galapagos Premium </a>


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