Getting There: Not Half the Fun

Medjumbe Island, Mozambique Getting to Africa in general requires a long haul out of Atlanta or New York. At 17½ hours to Cape Town, these are among the longest direct flights in the world. It makes flying to Australia from the West Coast seem like a piece of cake. After a seemingly never-ending six-hour layover in Cape Town, it's another few hours of flight time up to Mozambique, where I hang around a dusty airport for half a day and catch an even smaller plane out to Medjumbe Island. But all this schlepping is sure worth it when I arrive at sunset after 48 hours of travel, am handed an icy caipirinha and gaze out at the wild Indian Ocean. — JD

Kandui Surf Resort, Mentawai Forty-plus hours of travel includes a three-hour boat ride aimed at an island-free horizon. Teenagers navigate some of the journey without a compass, smoking cigarettes as gasoline swishes around on the floorboards. Even wilder: how surfing one frothing wave in Mentawai washes away memories of the arduous journey there. — EP

Matavai Resort, Niue There's only one flight a week that leaves from New Zealand and arrives in Niue, and it lands in the middle of the night. Next up is a jitney ride in pitch-black darkness; then I'm led to my room by the resort's lone employee, who carries a single kerosene hurricane lamp. It's even more dramatic when I wake up the next morning to a stunning coastal view of bone-white sands and dramatic cliffs. — DL