Hidden Escapes and Quiet Luxuries

Nick Nomi

Senior Contributor

The reality of a heavily globalised world and a travel economy that values cultural experience is that travel is ever more accessible and increasingly desirable. In the real world, this translates to full beaches and cities stuffed with visitors. But as landmarks overflow and advanced AIs learn who to remove from your holiday snaps to create the idealised empty escape aesthetic, in-the-know travellers strive instead to find those hidden corners that the masses have yet to reach. Each of these islands represents this ideal, a space that is yet free of well-trodden paths, each an azure-wrapped gem of unique beauty hidden amongst archipelagos and as dots in the oceans, perfect as solitary honeymoons, interludes from the tourist trail, and as quiet luxuries for those who value the privacy and solitude that a genuinely luxurious getaway provides.

Thinking Aloud: on Coolcation in Kalso, Faroe

A shift in thinking took place in recent years: travellers choosing colder climates over the intense heat often found in traditional destinations— a newfound love for the so-called Coolcation. For the most part, it is destinations like Finland and Iceland that tempt travellers north but for intrepid adventurers seeking a spot of quiet beauty, we suggest those locales that lay almost untouched by tourism: destinations whose extreme charm is matched only by their relative obscurity.

One such place is Kalso in the Faroe Islands, quaint by typical island standards, with its modest houses poking up from dramatic inclines in emerald cliffs, but so exceptionally stunning. Kalso’s lengthy landmass is a far cry from the luxe castaway vibes one usually associates with island escapes, instead offering an ideal backdrop for contemplation and chilly evenings wrapped in blankets with a book. Walkers are well suited to Kalso, with stunning Atlantic Vistas witnessed from hikes across narrow ridges soundtracked by crashing waves, while visiting Puffins take advantage of the striking cliffside, adding countless tiny rainbow beaks to those magnificent views.

To break up the long journey, make a stop at the exquisite two-Michelin-starred Koks restaurant on Streymoy Island (Faroe’s main island) to experience a singular Faroese menu of local seaweeds, vegetables and meats, and witness the breathtaking views over Lake Leynavatn from Koks’ grassy-roofed fermenting hut.

The Island Retreat: North Island, Seychelles

North Islands’ rustic aesthetic, a rugged world of open-walled villas, thatched roofs, glass pendant lights and vintage furnishings, belies the exceptional experience that awaits. An entirely private proposition, every moment here is an exercise in anonymous luxury with a collection of only 11 villas, each conscientiously designed to not distract from the landscape, making it ideal for guests who appreciate intimate silence flicked by the burn of a torch, and a sky full of stars.

Days here are winsome with a choice of indulgences: diving and lunches curated by your butler, giant tortoise-spotting on the beach and view hunting on tranquil walks, while nights are serenaded by the hum of a sea breeze and tropical birds singing from the treetops, with food expertly matched to your taste profile. Often hailed as the ultimate honeymoon destination, North Island is as stunning as it is private, as such, the only way to arrive is by helicopter from Mahé.

Sailing Porte Cros, France

French islands don’t enjoy the renown of others in the Mediterranean. Still, if one finds their sails fluttering in the Mistral Winds along the Côte d’Azur, craving something a little less hectic than the usual ports of call, then a detour to Porte Cros is in order. It’s a small island, explorable only by foot, but there are various anchorages and a charming little port.

On land, 30km of walking trails merge the sea and forest airs, illuminating the wildest and hilliest of the Hyères islands’ with distant views appearing as breathtaking dioramas of passing wildlife and fleets of yachts anchored in crescent-shaped bays. The island is a part of France’s first marine national park and boasts stunning fauna and flora below the water. Explore it via the snorkelling trail, marked by five buoys between Palud Beach and idyllic Raskas Rock island, before returning to your yacht for a sunset sail enhanced by a bottle of wine from nearby Porquerolles.

A Convenient Interlude, Koh Kood, Thailand

Finding a quiet spot in Thailand usually means scouring mountain villages clinging to Myanmar in the north or sailing to the islands speckled close to the Malay Peninsula in the south. But Koh Kood has been something of a whispered luxury for a while now and, perhaps surprisingly, for those who rush south when in Thailand, it’s a quick hop from Bangkok. The beaches here are slender and pretty, all white sands and palms hunched over in the midday sun, but where Koh Kood shines is in nighttime meanders when the relative lack of people becomes apparent.

Bungalows are tucked back politely from curvaceous bays between fishing villages but resorts like the heavenly Soneva Kiri boast private villas set into tropical gardens with pools and all the solitude and space one could desire. Nearby Koh Chang is a fast commute by yacht, but Koh Mak, set between the two, is a far better proposition for quiet days hidden from the crowds.

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