Here are the best pure islands for natural, environmentally friendly island travel. ISLANDS experts ranked these destinations from No. 1 to 10 in the April/May 2010 issue, available in the ISLANDS Store. Excerpts from the article are below. Agree with this top 10 ranking? Disagree? This is the chance to cast your vote in the poll at right -- or leave a comment for the ISLANDS editors at the bottom of this page.
3. Papua New Guinea
4. San Blas Islands, Panama
5. Tasmania, Australia
6. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The UNESCO World Heritage List calls this mostly uninhabited chain of 19 islands a “living museum and a showcase of evolution,” citing land iguanas, giant tortoises and assorted finches among the countless varieties. Eleven-day cruises from $5,695. abercrombiekent.com
7. Socotra, Yemen
You may never make it to Socotra. Situated amid political turbulence and only modestly equipped for tourists, the Yemenese archipelago is inaccessible at best. And that’s a large part of its purity. So even if you only hear legends of dragon’s-blood trees, you can rest assured they’re actually there. For rates, e-mail email@example.com.
8. Madeira, Portugal
The Madeira Laurisilva Forest is the largest surviving area of its kind and a glimpse into the type of ecosystem that used to cover much of Europe. Spend your days hiking through the national park, spying endemic, long-toed pigeons. Then head back to Quinta del Bela Vista, a resort in Funchal. Rates from $230. belavistamadeira.com
9. Lanai, Hawaii
Everywhere on the isle feels like another step back in time, from the plantation-era Lanai City (no traffic lights, no high-rises) to the natural wonderland at the Kanepuu Preserve (home to 48 species of native plants) to Hotel Lanai, a beautiful cottage resort that was built in 1923 by James Dole. Rates from $99. hotellanai.com
10. Channel Islands, California
Here the biggest star is a Pacific gray whale and the foxiest character is, well, an island fox. See Southern California as it once was on a day trip to one of the five islands with Island Packers, one of only a few certified tour operators allowed in the park. Day trips from $45. islandpackers.com
ISLANDS considered and ranked these pure islands based on the efforts to preserve culture and ecology with UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks and sustainable opportunities for responsible travelers. Research came from firsthand insight by ISLANDS editors, along with Sustainable Travel International, local tour operators and ISLANDS readers.