Travel Nav

7. Penghu Islands, Taiwan
If Taiwan is the other China, then the Penghu islands are the other Taiwan. Administered from Taipei, the 90 islands of the Penghu archipelago are known - within Taiwan at least - for their glorious scenery and "touching nostalgia", which translates to unspoiled traditional Taiwanese culture. Outside of the capital, Makung, is a land of ox-carts, fish-traps, stone-walled fields, basalt cliffs and ancient temples dedicated to the sea goddess Matsu. If sun and sand are more your cup of shochu, the beaches and windsurfing are pretty impressive too.

From May to October, Penghu's beaches are a nesting ground for endangered green turtles - locals leave turtle-shaped offerings at temples across Penghu as part of the Lantern Festival, 14 days after the New Year.

8. Bay Islands & Hog Islands, Honduras
Forget Pirates of the Caribbean - the sand-dusted islands that float off the coast of Honduras are the real deal. In their heyday, the islands of Roatán, Utila and Guanaja were home to 5000 cutthroats, brigands and buccaneers, including the infamous Henry Morgan (aka Blackbeard). These days, the Bay Islands are better known for their beaches, diving and laid-back tropical vibe. You can turn the volume down ever further at the nearby Cayos Cochinos (Hog Islands) - 13 languorous coral cays and one secluded resort in a sea of brilliant blue.

The driftwood Plantation Beach Resort ( is the Hog Islands' only accommodation, but camping can be arranged on uninhabited islands.

9. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
Another prison-turned-paradise, the Con Dao islands were home to the most notorious penal colony in Indochina, and continued its grim work until the end of the Vietnam War. Now preserved as Con Dao National Park, the 16 islands are a natural wonderland of dense jungles, jade-coloured waters and white-sand beaches, home to dugongs, dolphins, turtles and spectacular coral reefs. For now, tourist developments on the islands are limited to a single dive shop and a handful of resorts in Con Son township.

Timing is everything with Con Dao - the islands are lashed by squalls from the west from June to September and squalls from the east from September to January.

10. Ssese Islands, Uganda
Why would a landlocked African nation appear on a list of desert islands? Thank Lake Victoria. The Ssese Islands tick all the right boxes for an island paradise - golden beaches, whispering palm trees, exotic flora and fauna - they just happen to be in the middle of Africa's largest lake. Most of the 84 islands in the Ssese group are undeveloped, but a handful of resorts and beach camps grace the sands of Buggala, Bukasa and Banda. Aside from basking in the sun, the main activities are combing the jungle for exotic creatures and canoeing across the lake.

Boats run daily to Kalangala on Buggala island from Entebbe, Kasenyi and Bukakata on the mainland.

Page 2 of 2     First | < Previous | 1 | 2 | Next > | Last
© Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The world’s best secret islands’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

Follow us on

Best of Travel

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.