There is something almost indescribably mysterious and beautiful about islands. Unmoored from any large land mass, they seem to float amidst the seas, many of them with their own unique landscape and identity. Frommer’s was on to something recently when it published the book 500 Extraordinary Islands, which profiles some of the most fascinating islands in the world. As a preview, they covered 10 of these 500 destinations on their website. Here is an excerpt from that feature, with their descriptions of two of the planet’s most beautiful islands.
Bora Bora – Nothing says “ultimate honeymoon” quite like Bora Bora. The word is out — and has been for some time — about this French Polynesian island’s extraordinary natural beauty, and Bora Bora’s remoteness and high prices have kept the island’s luxurious mystique intact. Enchanting Bora Bora belongs to the exclusive, “so-preposterously-gorgeous-it-doesn’t-seem-natural” club of travel destinations. Even the most jaded globe-trotter duly drops his jaw when confronted with the spectacle of the lagoon and the iconic silhouette of Mount Otemanu in the background. Many visitors, in fact, never get farther than that perfect tableau of paradise, but excursions to the main island and its lofty interior are how you’ll get to the real heart of Bora Bora.
Mauritius – Isolated in the Indian Ocean, 1,243 miles east of mainland Africa, Mauritius may be tiny, but there’s never a shortage of things to do. With a coastline ringed by coral reefs, and calm, clear, shallow lagoon waters, the island is ideal for all sorts of water sports; the unspoiled interior offers sights of spectacular natural beauty as well. Tourism on Mauritius is a relatively new phenomenon, however, and so far it’s definitely geared toward the higher-end traveler. Mauritius today is an amalgam of Creole, Indian, Chinese, and French peoples (there was never an indigenous population), with Creole and French the dominant flavors. Its most famous resident, however, may have been the flightless dodo bird, a rare species discovered here by the first Dutch visitors and soon driven to extinction by the settlers’ wild pigs and macaques.