By: Adam Lapetina
"Unspoiled." The word itself conjures up images of chaste fawns lapping up crystal-clear waters in a lush valley while a harpist plays minuets in the background, or something. The places on this list aren't like that, though, because that place most likely doesn't exist. Also, we might've just described Bambi.
Instead, these are 14 tourist-friendly islands where civilization hasn't yet fully ruined everything. If you do end up going, try not to be the one who ruins everything.
Credit: Flickr/Maria Cartas
Any island that's named after its sheer abundance of flowers has gotta be a serene place to be, and Flores certainly lives up to that assumption. Flores' volcanic geography and relative isolation in the middle of the Atlantic make it a place of stark contrasts between the sea and sky, and the food that the locals pull out of the ocean (and raise on the land -- volcanic soil means great stuff for cows!) is absolutely sublime. And -- I reiterate -- the flowers! So many flowers!
There are three Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, and on each of them, cars and motorbikes are banned. That means a few things: 1) there's very little background noise here, 2) people from Los Angeles will be extremely confused, and 3) there's VERY LITTLE background noise here. The islands each have their own distinct character, but all of them -- from Air to Trawangan to Meno -- are laid-back, covered in thatched huts, and wonderful spots to go diving. In fact, sea turtles, reef sharks, and even shipwrecks are common sights in the waters around the islands.
Ilha Grande, before it was a tourist destination, was a leper colony. Then it housed a prison for violent criminals and political dissidents. But all that stuff's gone now! The government demolished the prison in the '90s, and while the island was always a lush paradise, now the people who go there can actually enjoy it. It's become a go-to destination for backpackers and young people, and even though the island's main settlement has become a bit more bustling, most other parts are still serene. Make sure to hike out to Lopes Mendes Beach, widely considered to be one of the best in the world.
Isle of Skye
The first thing you'll notice as you step off the ferry onto the Isle of Skye is how green it is. I mean, just look at that! The island is almost constantly wrapped in mist, which'll make the moment when it retreats to reveal dramatic monoliths, cliffs, and waterfalls all the more dramatic. The second thing you'll notice is the amount of Gaelic being spoken here -- about a third of the island still speaks the language. The third thing you'll notice is the whisky, particularly the world-famous distilleries on the island. You will probably notice the whisky many more times.
Isle Royale is the third-largest island (with an area of 206.73 square miles) in the contiguous United States, but you might not have heard of it. That's probably because the people who go there often -- to escape their bosses and coworkers, wander through the peaceful forests, and not have to talk about Bachelor in Paradise for once -- are trying to keep its existence a secret. A narrow strip of National Park land in the middle of Lake Superior, it's far enough away from everything that you have to take a ferry to get there, but once you do, it's all wildlife, foot trails, and canoeing. And nobody is allowed to live there. Not even Chris Harrison.
Credit: Flickr/Matthew Fuentes
Wine. Kangaroos. Lots of beaches. No, that's not how Jerry Bruckheimer originally pitched Kangaroo Jack. It's actually a fairly accurate description of Kangaroo Island, a pseudo-sanctuary for marsupials located southwest of Adelaide. There are lots of vineyards on the island, but it's really most famous for its abundance of kangaroos and its natural formations, such as the aptly named "Remarkable Rocks," which will almost certainly cause you to... remark.
Ko Yao Islands
Thailand has a growing reputation for being a tourist hotspot where Hangover sequels are filmed, but that particular word of mouth hasn't reached deeply into the Ko Yao Islands, a pair of quiet mangrove-covered paradises that probably haven't even witnessed the antics of Zach Galifianakis. Here, fishermen get up each morning to wade into crystal-clear waters, and it's not uncommon to see more water buffalo than people. Climb the mountainous interior or shuffle along the bungalow-dotted shores -- this place is nothing like Bangkok, and it's bound to stay that way for quite some time.
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