Travel for the Island Life

Palawan Islands
Photographer: Sean Hsu/Shutterstock

Cast ashore on tropical sands, count the bunnies in Japan or follow Jedi knights, jerk practitioners or Moomins to find your own wonderfully different island paradise

The Island 1
….that’s surrounded by a thousand more

The Philippines is a mapmaker’s nightmare: a country entirely made up of squiggly lines. Even in this intricate archipelago, Palawan stands out. With its supporting cast of smaller islands, it seems to dissolve into the sea, especially at its northern end, known as El Nido. Just offshore, the Bacuit Archipelago forms a landscape of forested limestone pinnacles. You can stay in a handful of places to snorkel and kayak among its coves and white-sand beaches (www.elnidoresorts.com). To see the area in traditional fashion, spend a few days island-hopping on craft such as a bangka (double-hulled outrigger) or a sail-fitted paraw .

Air Swift flies to El Nido from the Filipino capital Manila.

 The Island 2
….that’s also a bar

“There is only one place to eat on the island” – in other circumstances, this would be plan-ahead travel advice. For one speck of land off the coast of Zanzibar in Tanzania, it’s simple physics: The Rock is a restaurant that takes up every last inch of its mushroom-shaped perch). The eccentric dining spot off the Indian Ocean’s most legendary ‘spice island’ has become an Instagram star since its launch in 2010. At low tide, you reach it on foot across a short stretch of beach; at other times, diners are ferried in rowing boats. It’s mostly a hit for cocktails on its back terrace, but the Italian-leaning, seafood-rich menu is also of interest. Book ahead.

The quickest flights to Zanzibar from India go via Nairobi, Dubai and Addis Ababa; low season return fares start from  Rs. 40,000.

The Island 3
…where you’ll be outnumbered by rabbits

Two sounds tend to fill the air in Okunoshima: the thump of furry feet, and cries of “kawaii” (cute). This small island in Japan’s Inland Sea would be unremarkable if it weren’t for the 900-odd rabbits that hop around it. Visitors arrive by boat, armed with veg or bags of rabbit pellets, and prepare themselves to be mobbed – at least in the morning, while the rabbits’ appetites are still keen. It’s a strange departure from the island’s darker past as a WWII-era manufacturing site for poison gas, as documented in a small museum. Nobody is quite sure how the bunnies got here but they carry on, blissfully unconcerned. Away from the busy landing jetty and the lone hotel (www.qkamura.or.jp/en/ohkuno), it truly feels as though the place belongs to them.

The nearest big city is Hiroshima. Reach Okunoshima by ferry from Tadanoumi or (on weekends only) Mihara.

The island 4
….that’s on a clock

There’s a strange, melancholic charm about places you know might not exist a decade or two down the line, and the Assamese river island of Majuli seems to embody that better than any other. Although at the mercy of the River Brahmaputra that erodes chunks of its land in annual floods, it holds the Guinness record for the largest river island in the world. Centuries of tradition await on the island. Mask-making shops, manuscript-writing centres, weaving and pottery hubs, and cultural celebrations are on the menu. You’ll soon find yourself drawn into daily life and continuously craving the delightful fish curries and rice beer. Conveniently close to the mainland and still a world of its own, Majuli’s remarkable melange of experiences is a walk through a time portal that’s about to close forever.

Majuli can be reached via an hour-long ferry ride from Jorhat.

To know more about how to find your version of paradise island, travel this trip NOW, check out LPMI’s  August 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.