7 Small Islands Worth Adding to Your Travel Bucket List

Best small islands: Grand Manan IslandPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada

While you won’t find any palm trees here, Grand Manan still offers a relaxed pace. Connected to mainland New Brunswick by ferry, the small island is home to charming villages, the vertiginous Southwest Head sea cliffs, and the idyllic Swallow Tail Lighthouse—the second-most photographed lighthouse in all of Atlantic Canada. Take a whale-watching cruise (minkes, finbacks and humpbacks all swim nearby in the summer months), do a little sea kayaking on the Bay of Fundy (home to the highest tides in the world), hike to picturesque Hole-in-the-Rock or along the beach at Dark Harbour, or just sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet. Here are 25 more essential experiences to add to your Canadian travel bucket list.

Best small islands: Cayo Guillermo, CubaPhoto: Shutterstock

4. Cayo Guillermo, Cuba

Until the Cuban government decided to develop it as a tourist destination in the early ’90s, this small island was known only to the hardy fishermen who plied its two-tone blue waters. Part of the Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King), a long string of keys that runs along Cuba’s northern coast, it now hosts a handful of five-star resorts. Cayo Guillermo in many ways still feels unsettled, with large areas of open space, virgin beaches, and a colony of pink flamingos. It was also one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite fishing spots, so much so that he actually wrote about it in his posthumously released novel, Islands in the Stream. Playa Pilar, which is often regarded as the top beach in Cuba and one of the best in all of the Caribbean, has been named in his honour—it now bears the name of Papa’s beloved boat, Pilar. While you’re there, don’t miss these top 10 attractions in Cuba.

Small islands: Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island, WIPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA

Located at the intersection of Lake Michigan and Green Bay, Washington Island is a fun, quirky place. Although it boasts fewer than 700 residents, the island is home to a replica Norwegian stave church, and Schoolhouse Beach (above), known for its crystal clear water and smooth, rounded limestone rocks—one of only a handful of such beaches in North America. Tour the island on the Cherry Train, climb the lookout tower, or rent a bike and cycle the miles of empty roads. Retire for the night at the regal Hotel Washington, a century-old landmark inn with a fabulous restaurant featuring fresh, local, organic fare and the opportunity to cook your own brick oven pizza.

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