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Island Getaways

There are islands dotting the Atlantic, Pacific and elsewhere -- and each has its own vibe and personality. All these destinations offer unique experiences, but all leave you not wanting to leave them. With so many islands to visit, trying to figure out which ones to visit can be a chore. So, to aid you in your search for the ultimate islander experience, here are highlights from various islands from around the world. With options for every vacation type and price, you can chase your dreams of an island getaway.

The Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii has multiple islands where visitors can experience various aspects of natural beauty and culture, and go out on adventures.

Oahu is home to the capital, Honolulu, and is the most urban island. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have a more rural, natural area. The North Shore epitomizes this side, with it’s amazing water and big waves that pro surfers flock to on Sunset Beach.

Maui is famous for its beaches, of course, but also offers other unique natural landmarks, such as the Iao Valley, and the dormant volcano, Haleakala and its surrounding national park. Also, don’t miss out on viewing migrating humpback whales during the winter months.

Kauai is known as the “Garden Island,” and is home to tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls, and with areas so remote, they are only accessible by sea or air! Outdoor lovers and sightseers alike will love traversing the Kalalau Trail and hiking Waimea Canyon, while the Na Pali Coast welcomes photographers with its gorgeous ocean vistas.

The Big Island's geography varies greatly, with black-sand beaches, lush rainforests, and multiple volcanoes. From the molten magma flowing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Maunakea, the island of Hawaii is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.

Greek Islands
The Greek Islands are known for beautiful waters and architecture. We lay out what makes each one unique so you can make the perfect choice for your Mediterranean getaway.

Is an island of contradictions, with bustling modern cities share coastlines with centuries-old structures. With authentic Greek cuisine, charming oceanfront villages and excellent beach weather, it is an ideal place to visit. The streets are lined with architecture mirroring the styles of the Minoans, the Venetians and the Ottomans, as well as contemporary Greeks.

Cyprus is its own island country with a history that spans 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the Mediterranean. Known for honey-colored beaches, forested nature trails, wine routes, and a healthy dose of religion and culture. Enjoy some magnificent coastal views and archaeological ruins in the city of Paphos – the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite.

The Thai island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea has marvelous natural beauty with white sand beaches with aquamarine waters and limestone cliffs and mountainous rainforests. With fabulous affordable accommodations, and modest prices for everything from spa treatments to boat tours, take this chance to indulge yourself. There is also plenty of fun to be had, with a rollicking nightlife scene in Patong, flavorful cuisine, and a rich culture that is heavily influenced by Buddhism.

This Indonesian island is filled with forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. Enjoy luxurious spa treatments, decadent cuisine and lazy sunbathing, or interact with Sumatran elephants. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats. For the more party-inclined types, the town of Kuta boasts more riotous pleasures in its bars.

The islands' of Bali are ideal for lovebirds. With its location being so remote and separate from other countries, it affords a wonderful feeling of seclusion. Fantastic scenery is to be had all over: the white sand beaches, the volcanic Mamanuca Mountains, snorkel with the island's colorful fish and coral reefs.

Enjoy the clear turquoise waters and powdery sands when you find a quiet beach where you can relax and do nothing. Go diving in the shallow reefs along the coast to take in the beautiful waters and sea life, or take a glass-bottom boat on a tour around the island. This island off the Yucatán Peninsula does tend to get congested with cruise ship passengers, but if you venture downtown after they clear out, you can listen to live music at the plaza and get a real feel for this little island.

With more than 70 percent of Guadeloupe protected as a natural reserve, it is a perfect, unspoiled paradise. With sparkling white -and black- sand beaches and calm, cerulean waters, it is perfect for relaxing. Also check out the La Soufrière volcano, and stunning scenery in Guadeloupe National Park. Quaint villages have centuries-old distilleries and remote sugar plantations to explore too.

St. Lucia
This tropical Eastern Caribbean island offers visitors the opportunity for both adventure and relaxation. From the gorgeous beaches to hidden treasures like the Diamond Botanical Gardens, there is just so much to explore. Challenge yourself to a hike up Gros Piton, or zip line through the Chassin region's rain forest. In the springtime, check out the St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Or just unwind on one of the island's chalky beaches and soak up some sun. The stunning twin mountains are perhaps the most well-known and most photographed spot on the island.

Curaçao's main attraction is its beaches, with beautiful bays and coves with turquoise waters and powdery white sand. Snorkel or scuba dive in the reefs and the exotic marine life. Gentle trade winds keep temperatures comfortable all year. Make sure to check out historic settlements, like Willemstad, or the brightly painted Dutch colonial buildings by the St. Anna Bay. Outside the city, the landscape shifts to a desert scene, with cacti and limestone cliffs.

Key Largo
Stick to the continental US, and visit the first of the Florida Keys, and self-proclaimed Dive Capital of the World. Key Largo is known for being home to the world's largest artificial reef, made up of the 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park, and the African Queen. Dive, snorkel, or take a glass-bottom boat to explore the clear waters of the Marine Sanctuary. Fishing, kayaking and swimming with dolphins are also popular activities. Or take this opportunity to just relax with a tropical beverage and watch the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

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