Τρίτη, 17 Μαρτίου 2009

World's Best Awards 2008: Top 10 Islands

1. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador: This rocky archipelago 650 miles west of Ecuador offers travelers an experience unmatched anywhere in the world: the chance to gaze upon rare species such as giant tortoises, birds, iguanas and sea lions that have evolved without human intervention for millennia. Pack binoculars, a camera — and a sense of wonder.

2. Bali, Indonesia: This stunning island of active volcanoes, dense jungle and scenic beaches is an escapists’ mecca, long valued for its rich and ancient culture. Although this tranquil place was tragically disrupted in 2002 by a terrorist bombing in Kuta and incidents in nearby Jakarta, tourism in recent years has seen record numbers of visitors attracted by the beautiful resorts and picture-perfect beaches.

3. Maui, Hawaii: Called the Valley Isle, this paradise is a mere dot in the blue Pacific, but the island has an impressive array of attractions and amenities. Feeling active? Try snorkeling among tropical fish or hiking in the crater of Haleakala volcano. Want to relax? Recline on a beach like this one at Makena State Park, keep an eye out for vivid rainbows or drive on a quiet stretch of the famously scenic road to Hana.

4. Kauai, Hawaii: The "Garden Isle" is overflowing with lush tropical foliage — and activities for visitors who like to play outdoors. The adventure-seeker's checklist could include hiking to the top of a peak overlooking emerald valleys, flying by zip line past jungle waterfalls, and discovering a new water sport – such as kayaking along the island’s dramatic Na Pali coast.


5. Tasmania, Australia: Nearly 40 percent of this island state is protected as parkland or reserves, making it a paradise for walkers, hikers and bicyclists. Visitors will also find plenty of wineries to explore, as well as the bustling harbor town of Hobart, where you’ll disembark if you choose to take the ferry from the Australian mainland across beautiful Bass Strait.


6. Easter Island, Chile: Famous for the megalithic stone statues, or maoi, that are remnants of its Polynesian past, this island is one of the world’s most remote places. Travelers intrigued by its mysterious history are drawn here nonetheless, hopping flights from mainland Chile or arriving via cruise ship to experience the open-air museum firsthand. Called Rapa Nui by locals, Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


7. Big Island, Hawaii: Hawaii offers up a wealth of attractions, from white-sand beaches and alpine meadows to coffee farms and rumbling volcanoes. Kilauea is one of the world’s most active: Its current eruption has been going on since 1983. See the action up close at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where lava flows directly into the ocean

8. Santorini, Greece: Arriving at this island at the south of the Cyclades chain is an unforgettable part of any cruise among the Greek Islands. The town’s whitewashed houses are painted against a backdrop of pure blue ocean and sky. By foot, explore ancient culture at Akrotiri, a town destroyed by the volcano that also created the island’s bowl-shaped harbor, and indulge in classic Greek cuisine.

9. Great Barrier Reef Islands: Stretching from Queensland, Australia, to south of Papua New Guinea, the Great Barrier Reef is home to 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 species of coral—and the islands along it are paradise for vacationers keen on diving, snorkeling, beachcombing, bird-watching and boating.

10. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia: A Canadian island with a strong Scottish heritage, Cape Breton features dramatic coastal scenery, rocky headlands, thick woods and valleys. Not to be missed is the Cabot Trail, named after early European explorer John Cabot; the trail is now a scenic highway that runs 185 miles around the northern end of the island through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

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