Top 10 island escapes from big cities
Need a break from the big smoke? These cities have their own getaway islands, giving you a chance to double-dip on your next holiday.
1. AUCKLAND: WAIHEKE ISLAND
With its gorgeous sandy beaches, our very own Waiheke makes the list. Along with some of the country’s most acclaimed wineries, Waiheke also boasts a thriving art scene. Start with Connells Bay Sculpture Park, in the island’s south-east, then take your pick of the many studios and galleries. And Auckland is just 40 minutes away.
2. HONG KONG: LAMMA ISLAND
There are more than 250 islands off Hong Kong, but we love Lamma. Twenty minutes from the city, this car-free island is covered with tropical jungle cris-crossed with hiking trails and fringed with long, sandy beaches. Chill out in one of the beer gardens in the main village, Yung Shue Wan, or head to Sok Kwu Wan for super-fresh seafood.
3. HOBART: BRUNY ISLAND
Wildlife and wilderness, or a feast of fine food? At Bruny Island, you can enjoy both. Just 30 minutes from Hobart, with pristine bushland and beaches, it is the spot to spy echidnas and penguins. The flourishing food scene alone is worth a trip, with oysters, cheese, chocolate and smoked goods all must-tries.
4. ISTANBUL: BUYUKADA
Istanbul’s chaotic, kaleidoscopic bustle is part of its charm, but even locals need a break. That’s when they take the ferry to the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara. Buyukada, the largest island, boasts grand wooden villas and the Greek Monastery of St George is well worth the hike.
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5. SYDNEY: COCKATOO ISLAND
Sydney’s best views are enjoyed by the glampers who stay on the World Heritage-listed Cockatoo Island, in the middle of the harbour. Start by exploring the convict ruins – the prisoners had to build the barracks, as well as forge the bars. Then move on to the island’s industrial history, particularly the mammoth Turbine Shop, once the largest building in the southern hemisphere.
6. LOS ANGELES: CATALINA ISLAND
Catalina Island has hosted smugglers, soldiers and even the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who used to train here. Now it is a favoured escape for stressed-out Angelenos. It doesn’t take long to explore the little town of Avalon; after that, hiking and swimming are the main attractions.
7. ADELAIDE: KANGAROO ISLAND
Kangaroo Island attracts a mixed bunch of visitors. Some come for the wildlife: as well as roos, there are koalas, sea lions and echidnas. Others come for some upmarket foraging, with produce including honey, cheese, gin and wine. A must among the island’s 18 wineries is Islander Estate.
8. ATHENS: HYDRA
It is hardly news that the Greeks have a way with islands, but some gems the Athenians like to keep to themselves. Hydra, 45 minutes away by hydrofoil, is one of Greece’s most scenic spots. Its tiny harbour is surrounded by elegant neo-classical stone villas; cars are banned and donkeys remain the main form of transport. Leonard Cohen and Mick Jagger enjoyed their time here; you will too.
9. PERTH: ROTTNEST ISLAND
Pack your snorkel, grab a bike and get set to explore Perth’s favourite playground. Keep an eye out for the wildlife: cute quokkas, fur seals, dolphins and, during migration season, whales. Want to stay longer? There are a number of heritage places to stay, including the old lighthouse keeper’s cottage.
10. MONTREAL: SAINT HELEN’S ISLAND
With its neighbouring Notre Dame Island, Saint Helen’s Island is home to Montreal’s most appealing outdoor space: the 200-hectare Parc Jean Drapeau. In summer, people flock to this verdant park for the beaches, walking and biking; there is also an amusement park, a biosphere and, in winter, an ice hotel.