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8 of the best island hopping cruise destinations

Cruise Advice

There's something special about arriving by sea at a small island, just as the great explorers have done for hundreds of years. Remote or romantic, a sunshine island is, as they say in the Bounty adverts, 'a taste of paradise'.

On a small ship cruise, you are able to reach some wonderful islands all over the world. The choice is endless, so to inspire you we have identified our top eight island hopping cruise destinations...

1. The Grenadines

Certain islands in the Caribbean lack that 'taste of paradise' feeling, over-run by duty free stores and tacky t-shirt shops, seething with visitors. Alternatively, you could visit the Grenadines on board SeaDream, travelling with just 100 other guests to tiny bays and pretty harbours, swimming off the back of the ship, snorkelling in crystal clear waters, and hiking through perfumed forests.

Canouan island, St Vincent & The Grenadines

2. Greece

Closer to home, we love the Greek islands, and we recommend exploring the Cyclades and Dodecanese with Windstar Cruises. A single voyage covers thousands of years of civilisation's greatest feats, alongside leisurely fish lunches in tiny village squares, deserted beaches and breath taking scenery, from dramatic mountains to medieval cities.

Agios Savvas monastery on Kalymnos, Greece

3. Seychelles

In the Indian Ocean, one special island group boasts a living museum of natural history and a sanctuary for some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth. National parks and reserves abound to support the varied ecosystems of the Seychelles. If you thought it was just beaches, think again as you explore on board the tiny 62 guest Crystal Esprit.

Giant tortoise in the Seychelles

4. French Polynesia

The huge expanse of the South Pacific is dotted with remote and enticing island groups, with a culture and heritage all their own. Our favourite is French Polynesia, the region that bijou cruise ship Paul Gauguin has called home for over fifteen years, affording her a warm welcome wherever she visits, as well as exclusive beach visits and great trips ashore.

Paul Gauguin Cruises in French Polynesia

5. Indonesia

For a truly remote south east Asian paradise, fly to the magical island of Bali to join the lovely tall ship Star Clipper as she sails the isolated islands of Indonesia to see the terrifying Komodo dragon, explore the lovely beaches of Lombok and meet the gentle people who will introduce you to their unique blend of culture and religion.

Sunrise over Mount Rinjani, Lombok

6. Hawaii

Enjoy the magic of Aloha on board the expedition ships of UnCruise Adventures as you hop among the Hawaiian islands to watch for whales; "talk story" with locals; explore a sacred valley; and enjoy time at play with paddle boards or kayaks, or maybe hiking the volcanic peaks or snorkelling off black sand beaches. Find out more about UnCruise Adventures from our sister company, Mundy Adventures.

Napali coast, Kauai, Hawaii

7. Andaman Sea

For true adventure off the beaten track, visit the Andaman Islands and Mergui Archipelago with Silversea's Silver Discoverer on a one-off cruise to a region virtually unknown to the outside world. The Mergui Archipelago, with only a few of its 800 islands sparsely populated, is a place to swim amongst colourful reef fish and hike in lush jungle.

Fishermen in the Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar

8. Galapagos

The ultimate island group has to be the Galapagos, where you will come face to face with an abundance of fearless wildlife as you explore under the auspices of expert naturalists from the national park, in the company of serious scientists and photographers who will ensure your experience is extra special. We recommend visiting the islands with Mundy Adventures on board Lindblad's National Geographic Endeavour.

Blue footed booby on North Seymour Island, Galapagos
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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