Planning some big-ticket travel when our quarantine-on-entry regulations are finally lifted?
Be inspired by Peter Sherwood’s partial list of most-favoured islands.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Pexels
I’m a creature of geography, at home in the mountains, and in love with islands. Dramatic, overpowering, dangerous, the attraction of big mountains is easy to explain. Islands are more subtle; enigmatic, mysterious and secretive, they invite romance and exploration. Islands fascinate me, perhaps because I was born on one, although Down Under they prefer the grand epithet of ‘island continent’. I’ve seen none of Australia’s islands, yet they spark imagination: Norfolk Island, Lord Howe and Tasmania remain interesting.
Bali in 1972 was intoxicating, when a busy evening on Kuta Beach was in the company of half a dozen whacked out hippies. Its culture remains the richestand most magical I’ve ever known.
The Greek islands all cast a spell, and none more than beguiling little Symi with the most pictureperfect tiny harbour on the planet. Gentrification has done nothing to spoil this movie set of a port and the exhilarating climb up 500 ancient steep stone steps to the high town. And nearby Santorini, almost too perfect, but not when heaving with cruisers.
I live on an island, Lantau, perfectly placed between mountains and sea, with delightful Peng Chau a 10-minute and 40-year ferry ride away. Hong Kong has 263 islands and like islands everywhere they offer the tantalising hope of something different, a separation from a wider and more frenetic world.
Who could not be drawn to the more than 700 Scottish isles? And Iceland, which looks like the moon but with exciting features. In North America, Vancouver Island is too big to be romanced, and a bit south lies Bainbridge, a 56-minute ferry ride from Seattle, with a view of majestic Mount Rainer that once upon a time kicked my butt. On the east coast, Fire Island off the New York coast, population 290, is sandy and enticing.
Hawaii of course, but mostly Kauai. Also volcanic, the Azores archipelago, a vast spread of nine islands in the Atlantic. Black rock emerging from a deep blue sea and rich green foliage arching up into the clouds. Magnificent ancient craters of turquoise water and jungle, and a beautifully preserved 500-year heritage of towns and villages. The good news? No beaches and few tourists.
Further south I missed Tristan da Cunha and Napoleon’s St Helena, but not 170km-long South Georgia, an obsession since childhood. I made it with a climbing group in 1998 to attempt my hero Shackleton’s epic traverse in 1916. Nothing I have seen comes close – impenetrable snowy mountains thrusting up 2,934 metres from a wild ocean.
If you have a decade to spare, try the embroidery of islands in the Beagle Channel at the sharp tip of Chile and Argentina, starting with Navarino and Puerto Williams, where my nephew’s sailing yacht limped in after an altercation with a massive rogue wave.
The Pacific? You’re spoilt for choice, but who could not be seduced by Tahiti? Need to get away from it all? Old Providence, a Colombian possession in the Caribbean, once a pirate hangout, and given the extent of the drug trade probably still is.
Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 20+ years. The former head of an international public relations firm, he is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.Tags: peter sherwood