words Al Woods
Island vacations are one of the best types of getaways you can experience. Islands are popular due to their beautiful beaches, relaxing atmosphere and exotic vibe.
However, they’re more than just a tourist destination. They’re home to millions of locals that have their unique traditions and customs. If you’d like to take a meaningful vacation and learn about the people, too, here are five culturally distinct islands you need to visit.
Bermuda is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 650 miles east of the North Carolina coast. Bermuda is an archipelago made up of 181 islands total. Although it’s known as a British territory, it’s run independently. You’ll also find a lot of African influence displayed in both music and dance. Its proximity to the United States makes it a popular travel destination especially by way of scenic Bermuda cruises.
Bermuda boasts mild temperatures and beautiful turquoise beaches famous for their pink sand. The sand gets its color from tiny red sea creatures that are crushed with shells and other organisms by the tide, giving the sand its iconic rosy shade. Bermuda is also famous for its rich seafood as well as British dishes.
2. The Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959. Located in the South Pacific, Hawaii was settled by Polynesians from other islands scattered throughout the Pacific. It’s made up of eight major islands including Hawaii (the Big Island), Oahu, Maui and Kauai as well as many other tiny islands and atolls.
The Hawaiian Islands are known for their stunning beauty as well as active volcanoes, rainforest, coffee and pineapple plantations. If you visit Hawaii, make it a point to enjoy their beautiful beaches as well as traditional Polynesian food, music and dance.
3. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is a Greek island located about 120 miles southeast of the mainland. It’s likely the most visited of the Cyclades Islands and easily the most recognizable by its whitewashed buildings with blue roofs. Santorini is also the site of an ancient volcanic eruption thought to be one of the largest in history.
The friendly people of Santorini hold many musical festivals and religious ceremonies as you’ll find over 200 churches on the island. You can also visit colorful beaches with white, black or red sand.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Santorini, savor Greek delicacies such as souvlaki, spanakopita, gyros, baklava and other pastries. Also, don’t miss the iced frappuccino and freddo cappuccino beverages.
4. Galapagos Islands
If you’ve ever thought about visiting the Galapagos Islands, you’re probably a nature-lover. The Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador and are located about 600 miles off its coast. Many people don’t realize that there are residents on some of the islands. For example, Santa Cruz has about 20,000 Ecuadorian residents.
When visiting the Galapagos, you’ll be subjected to very strict rules in regards to the wildlife. This includes tortoises, reptiles, exotic birds and even Galapagos penguins! You’ll also get to experience delicious cuisine including seafood, stews, ceviche and tropical fruits.
5. Bali, Indonesia
The Island of Bali in Indonesia is another popular destination and what many consider to be the best island in the world. With a highly desirable climate and stunning white beaches, Bali is home to over 4 million inhabitants which is extremely dense for its size. The people of Bali are friendly and smile often, but research their etiquette before you visit. For example, know that it’s very rude to point and that it’s customary to take off your shoes before entering a home.
While you’re in Bali, you should visit beaches, markets, temples and hike to one of their lush rice terraces. You’ll also love dining on tropical fruits, salads, noodles and pork dishes.
When planning your next island vacation, take some time to investigate the interesting culture of your destination. Whether you pick Bermuda, Hawaii or Bali, you’ll get to experience local traditions, unbelievable nature and wonderful food.