Shrouded in secrecy, these islands are utopias waiting to be unveiled by the most daring of travelers. Go off the beaten track and explore these mysterious lands with the same excitement and curiosity as Alice in Wonderland. No matter how well-traveled you are, tucked away in the hidden corners of the world, little slices of paradise are awaiting you. Here are four European islands you’ve probably never heard of; it’s time to add them to your bucket list!
Head to the Svalbard where you’ll find yourself outnumbered by fluffy white polar bears. Located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, somewhere between Norway and the North Pole, the Svalbard Islands mesmerizes all with its wild, natural landscape. Take in the icy tundras, visit old mining towns, and best of all, look out for the polar bears! Many polar bears have taken refuge at Svalbard, increasing the number of sightings to as many as 38 polar bears on an individual trip. Witness the beauty of nature, as the protective mama bear keeps a watchful eye on her playful cubs frolicking in the snow. A once in a lifetime opportunity, get to watch up close as a polar bear stalks its prey, and makes its kill.
For those who can’t handle the cold, you’ll be happy to know that Svalbard has a relatively mild climate in comparison to other areas. If you visit in the summer, it can rise to warm 6°C, and in the winter, it can be a freezing -14°C. Brave the cold to see the Northern lights, and feel the wind in your face as you enjoy a sled ride, pulled by a team of adorable huskies.
Svalbard has also been certified as a Sustainable Destination, working to reduce the negative impact of tourism. Two-thirds of the surface of Svalbard is now protected, consisting of nature reserves and wildlife parks. Visit Svalbard and fall in love with the mesmerizing landscapes and extraordinary wildlife of the Arctic. Learn more about melting ice caps and global warming; we hope you’ll join in the fight for the conservation of these endangered polar bears.
Not for the faint of heart, the Stromboli volcano is a deadly active volcano has sent many tourists fleeing in fright, yet it still continues to draw hordes to visit its menacing crater. The ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”, the volcano has been erupting for the last two thousand years. Each year, tourists come from every corner of the globe to watch its small eruptions that occur as frequently as every 10 minutes or so. Of course, don’t be worried, tourists can choose to watch the eruption of lava and gas plumes from a very safe distance. Watch streaks of fiery red brighten the night sky as the lava spurts into the air, a stunning display of nature’s own fireworks.
Calling the daredevils and explorers of the world, the bubbling crater of Stromboli awaits you. Climb up the volcano under the watchful eyes of an official guide and arrive at dusk after a five-hour hike, just in time to watch Stromboli’s fantastic display of pyrotechnics. With only a limited number of people allowed to visit the crater each day, make sure to book in advance during the peak of tourist season.
Isle of Tiree, Scotland
Only 12 miles long and three miles wide, Tiree is rather small, yet has a magnetic charm. After all, it has an adorable nickname that makes the island simply irresistible; it’s also affectionately known as the Sunshine Island. As dreary, cold and wet weather in the United Kingdom can be, it’s hard to imagine a place that’s actually full of sunshine. The sunniest place in Scotland, lounge on the pristine white beaches of Tiree and get a golden tan you’ve been looking for. Forget about that fake spray tan and infuse a healthy glow to that pale skin from the winter months with a dose of Vitamin D, summer’s truly here!
The second-largest island out of Azores’ group of nine islands, this volcanic island is named after the highest mountain in Portugal. Standing at a towering height of 7,713 feet, Mount Pico has been successfully scaled by the most determined tourists and many experienced hikers in a single day! Nicknamed the gray island, Pico is an island of basaltic rock. This gothic wonderland offers fertile volcanic soil for agriculture. Try out the wines in Pico, developed from the Verdelho grapes that grow on the black basaltic rock of the island. The result is a distinctively rich and flavorful wine that all wine connoisseurs will enjoy. A local produce, the wine can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Why not enjoy a glass of wine at the famous Cella Bar, it’s a great way to spend your evening.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to go whale watching and swim in the ocean with a pod of wild dolphins! The Azores is one of the best spots to catch a glimpse of these magnificent marine animals. More than 20 species of whales and dolphins call the Azores their home, making it one of the largest whale sanctuaries in the world. Although Pico offers the best chances to spot the whales breaching, sometimes it simply depends on your patience or just plain bad luck. It’s certainly not an everyday occurrence so don’t be too disappointed! You can always catch sight of the whales moving around beneath the rippling water surface, or friendly dolphins playing around the boats. Why not bring along a cute float to chill on as you try your luck at making some marine friends? We love this great selection of pool floats, maybe the dolphins will be attracted to a float of their own kind?
If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, here’s to hoping you become an explorer of the world. These gems on the ocean await your arrival. Travel to the nooks and crannies of the globe, and set foot on these majestic creations of nature. Broaden your horizons and experience the world in a new light and soak in the vastness of nature in these last few untainted paradises. There is so much to see! Step out of your comfort zone and join us on this unforgettable adventure.