From the world’s largest raised coral atoll to the world’s only underwater post office; from the heart–shaped to the boat-shaped; the home of seven seasons in one year, to the creepy resting place for toys that gives ‘The Valley of the Dolls’ a whole new meaning! These are some of the most unique and fascinating tiny islands in the world that must be seen to be believed.
If heaven isn’t this heart-shaped little slice of tropical goodness in the South Pacific, then I don’t want to know what is.
Located off the coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, and surrounded by a stunning coral reef that will take even the most hardened traveller’s breath away, Tavarua is sure to steal your heart.
This natural wonder is only 29 acres in size and boasts some of the best aquatic adventure sports Fiji has to offer. With world-class diving, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, and kayaking to keep you entertained, you’ll never want to stand on dry land again.
Tavarua is also a big wave thrill-seeker’s paradise. Located just a short boat ride away, you’ll find Cloudbreak, infamous throughout the surfing elite as being one of the most challenging, powerful and gnarliest waves in the world. Other renowned surf spots such as Restaurants, Swimming Pools, Kiddieland, and Tavarua Rights are also in the vicinity, so grab a board, say your prayers, and take a trip to surfing heaven.
Venture out to the most easterly province of Canada and you’ll find Newfoundland and Labrador, a fishing community in the Atlantic that is home to some of the friendliest people on the planet, affectionately known as ‘Newfies’.
If you continue just a little further off the northeast coast, you’ll discover Fogo Island; a remote island located just over halfway between the equator and the North Pole with a climate comprised of seven seasons. Yep, you heard me. Seven! Turns out there are more than just the four we know.
Divided into Winter (December-February), Ice (March), Spring (April-May), Trap Berth (June), Summer (July-August), Berry (September-October), and Late Fall (November) by distinct – and often extreme – weather patterns, Fogo Island is considered by some as one of the four corners of the Earth. With each season comes a range of activities that are suited to the climate, from caribou watching and snowshoeing in winter; to watching the Northern lights and berry picking in – yep, you guessed it – Berry season.
With breathtaking natural scenery, a thriving and vibrant arts community, and the most welcoming hospitality you’re likely to ever experience, Fogo Island is a nature lover’s paradise that will have you coming back for more each season.
Niue, South Pacific
One of the world’s smallest independent countries is actually found on the world’s largest raised coral atoll. With a land area of only 260km2, Niue (pronounced New-ay) is smack-bang in the middle of the ultimate tropical triangle, with Tonga to the west, Samoa to the north, and the Cook Islands to the east. Talk about some lovely neighbours!
Niue is made entirely out of coral limestone; the result of a coral reef growing on an underwater volcanic peak and then raised above sea level. Thankfully, the volcano on which Niue formed is extinct, so guests can breathe a sigh of relief. The unique topography of this spectacular slice of also means that there are plenty of coves, caves, and caverns all waiting to be explored.
For marine animal lovers, Niue has even more in store for you. Not only is this isolated island surrounded by breathtaking coral reefs and clear turquoise waters, it is also one of the few places in the world where you can snorkel with whales between July and October. And if whales aren’t your thing, then you can always swim with dolphins. Just sayin’.
In the heart of the Eternal City lies a tiny boat-shaped island that has been associated with healing since the days of the Roman Empire. Isola Tiberina, located on the southern bend of Rome’s Tiber River, measures only 270 meters long and 67m wide, but has long been regarded as a place of restorative energy and was once home to the Temple of Aesculapius, built in 291 BC to honour the god of healing and medicine.
Today, the remains of the temple have been destroyed and built over many times, but the hospital of the Fatebenefratelli (‘do-good-brothers’), built in 1584 and still in operation, remains as the only homage to healing on the island.
Home to the world’s only Underwater Post Office (yep, you heard me – that’s not a typo), Hideaway Island is definitely on the list of the coolest (and quirkiest) islands to visit.
Located within Hideaway’s marine sanctuary and sitting in about 3m of sparkling clear water, this unique post office allows divers and snorkelers a chance to post special postage paid, waterproof postcards to their loved ones, whilst enjoying the sights of the surrounding coral reef up-close and personal. If you’re not keen on diving down yourself, there is plenty of postal staff on hand that can do the hard work for you.
Once your aquatic correspondence has been dropped in, the scuba diving postman will emboss it with a unique waterproof location-specific cancellation device before it is delivered either locally and internationally. Guaranteed to be the most unusual postcard you’ll ever likely to send in your travels.
Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico
Okay, so this is pretty freakin’ creepy, but Mexico’s Island of the Dolls is one little landmass that has to be seen to be believed.
Just south of Mexico City, you’ll find a tiny island among the canals of Xochimico with a very sad history. Legend has it that a young girl lost her life in a tragic downing, and to appease the dead girl’s soul, dolls were collected and left on the island by the caretaker, Don Julian Santana. For 50 years, Don Julian continued to adorn the island with dolls, until he was found dead in 2001, drowned (apparently) in the same spot as the girl all those years ago.
Even today, various dismembered, decapitated, eyeless and hairless dolls hang from trees like macabre Christmas ornaments, and the collection continues to grow thanks to visitors and tourists. Either weathered by nature or by supposed possession by the dead girl’s spirit – people say their eyes follow you and heads have been known to move – this is one doll collection that’s not for your average little girl.
Featured image by stevetulk