Island destinations rate high on travelers’ wish lists of places to escape to in the summer, causing overcrowding in popular places like Greece, Spain, Italy, and Mexico.
This has caused tourists a range of issues to contend with, from increased pricing and additional visitor taxation to flight cancellations and travel delays.
While many are prepared to brave the crowds regardless, others are on the hunt for the best underrated island destinations to explore in order to escape the crowds.
HomeToGo, a holiday booking platform, recently conducted a study of underrated island destinations and ranked them based on four main points: traveler demand, standing as a local secret, lack of social media hype, and overall awareness.
The study found that these are the top 5 underrated destinations to visit this summer that most Americans don’t know about:
The Wadden Islands, also known as The Frisian Islands, are a string of five islands located in the North of the Netherlands.
When most people think of the Netherlands, they picture historic towns, the canals of Amsterdam, and cultural museums. However, The Wadden Islands are one of the area’s best-kept secrets
They are adored by locals for many reasons: the extensive beaches, unique wildlife, scenic bike routes, and the high number of sunny days for the region.
The Wadden Islands are situated within the largest tidal flats system in the world, and the area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the most popular activities is to go Mud Flat Walking, whereby a guided group goes out at low tide to walk across the seabed and see the local fauna.
Other activities for visitors include: visiting the sand dunes on Texel Island, taking a boat ride to see the seals and beaches of Vlieland Island, going surfing on Ameland Island, wandering the wartime museums on Schiermonnikoog Island, and hiking the nature trails on Terschelling Island.
Summer is undoubtedly the best season to visit The Wadden Islands and partake in all these outdoor activities they have to offer.
If you haven’t heard of Quadra Island yet, then you’re in for a treat, as this underrated destination is stunning.
Situated off the coast of British Columbia in Canada and 124 mi (200km) north of Vancouver, the island is the largest in the Discovery Island chain.
Quadra is a location of natural beauty and is home to seals, wolves, bald eagles, and whales. Visitors can explore beaches and sheltered coves, hike through forests, kayak along the shores, book a sailing trip, and swim in a number of lakes.
One of the most favored things to do on Quadra Island is to visit Rebecca Spit Provincial Park.
The spit is home to a sandy beach within a sheltered bay and has stunning views of the coastal mountains. It’s the perfect spot for unwinding and beachcombing for seashells.
For those that aren’t the outdoorsy type, there are year-round farmers’ markets to explore, community festivals, cultural exhibits, amazing sunrises and sunsets, a heritage lighthouse, a winery, and an array of local artisan shops.
Another popular place to go on Quadra Island is Herons, a slightly upscale restaurant that overlooks a bay and is attached to an apparently haunted hotel.
It’s the perfect spot to grab a seat on the patio, eat some delicious seafood, and watch the sunset.
Quadra Island is blessed with a temperate climate, stunning landscapes, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it the perfect island destination for summer.
The Magdalen Islands are a small archipelago of 8 islands located in Quebec, Canada.
The islands offer some of Canada’s most scenic secrets, from rolling green pastures to red sandstone cliffs, golden dunes, and plenty of sandy beaches.
The area has been steadily growing in popularity with Canadians but is still largely unknown on the international scale.
While the islands may be small, there is much to discover. All but one island are linked by road, and it only takes 90 minutes to drive the entire chain of islands, making it easy to explore all the best spots.
One of the most popular things to do is to climb a ‘butte’, a small grassy hill that offers stunning views of the entire Island chain. The best one is said to be on Entry Island, as it is the highest viewpoint on the islands and allows for 360-degree views.
A second must-do when visiting Magdalen is to get out on the water and partake in a kayak tour along the red sandstone cliffs and natural caves.
If outdoor activities aren’t your cup of tea, you can also visit the historic site of La Grave on Havre Aubert Island. The site is said to be the birthplace of the Islands and contains a collection of old fishing buildings that now house restaurants, boutiques, cafes, galleries, and a theatre.
Of course, a visit to the islands wouldn’t be complete without touring the local artisan food producers, crafts makers, and most importantly, the beaches. Head to Dune du Nord for a long sandy beach and lagoon or to Dune du Sud for its intricate sandstone cliffs and caves to explore at low tide.
This underrated island destination is the perfect summer escape. It’s a place to slow down, enjoy the beauty of nature, and savor some delicious seafood.
Isle of Portland
The Isle of Portland is one of the U.K.’s hidden gems and home to one of Europe’s best and largest beaches: Chesil Beach. It’s an ideal destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle to unwind.
Located in Dorset County and part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area was granted status for its geology showcasing 185 million years of Earth’s history and numerous prehistoric remains.
Although not technically an island, as it is connected to the mainland by a barrier beach, it offers all the charm of any seaside town. There are dramatic limestone cliffs, secluded coves, picturesque lighthouses, and plenty of history and culture to explore.
One of the best things to do on the Isle of Portland is also free: walking the South West Coastal Path. The hike covers over 392 mi (630 km) of unique coastline, allowing visitors to take in some of the best attractions the area has to offer.
You can stop at Pulpit Rock, an eroded formation, or Church Ope Cove, the perfect spot for swimming and diving to see shipwrecks.
Other local activities include a visit to Portland Castle for its panoramic views, learning about WWII at the Portland D-Day Center and The Verne High Angle Battery, or partaking in a variety of water sports.
Travelers can also visit the famous Portland Stone Quarry, whose limestone rock was used in the construction of well-known buildings like St.Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
This summer is the perfect time to visit this quaint little town most Americans don’t know about before the U.K. changes its entry rules next year.
The Egadi Islands are often touted as Italy’s best-kept secret. Although extremely popular with Italian tourists during the summer, these islands are still largely unknown by outsiders making it one of the few off-path places left in Italy.
Located off the coast of Sicily, Egadi is comprised of three islands: Favignana (the largest and most popular), Levanzo, and Marretimo.
Each rocky island offers the ideal Italian charm, beautiful Mediterranean waters, and laid-back atmosphere you would expect from any Southern European town.
Favignana is a sleepy island that forces visitors to slow down and take a break from the stressors of everyday life. It is home to quiet whitewashed streets, an old tuna factory museum, and numerous swimming spots.
You can visit Bue Marino for its towering rocks and caves or Cala Rossa for its crystal clear waters and protected cove.
On Levanzo island, you can see the famous prehistoric cave paintings at Grotta del Genovese or hike to the top of Marettimo for stunning views. The island has only one small town meaning time there is best spent on a boat or wandering along the shores.
Marettimo is the most remote of the islands and the least inhabited. The name means “sea thyme” due to the numerous thyme bushes that give off a pleasant aroma throughout the island.
Because of this, the best thing to do on this island is to go for a walk, visit the castle of Punta Troia, see the wild beaches, and snorkel the underwater shipwrecks and sea life.
It is always claimed that locals know best, and in the case of this underrated island destination, the Italians really do know best. The Egadi Islands are a destination everyone should be adding to their summer travel plans.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com