It's what every 9-to-5 employee fantasizes about doing someday - taking a vacation to an island paradise. Sandy beaches, calm waters, exotic cocktails, and the shade of palm trees make for an alluring idea for many travelers, but how do you make that fantasy a reality? There are actually plenty of options for amazing island vacations, and you're guaranteed to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in pretty much all of them. So how do you choose? When planning your luxury holiday on a desert island, there are a few basic things to consider that will help you narrow down your options. A little research can help you make your trip exactly how you always imagined.
1. Who are you bringing?
If you're planning a romantic getaway for two, you might be more drawn to skinny dipping in Aruba or eating dinner on the sand in Bora Bora. But if you're bringing along the kids, you might find more family-friendly options in places like Maui or Heron Island, Australia. Your vacation destination needs to appeal to everyone in your party, and there are definitely some island destinations that are more geared towards families than others. You don't want the kids to be sitting around the hotel room bored while you're trying to enjoy some exotic relaxation time, so plan to head somewhere that will get them excited, too.
2. Where are you staying?
Most people dream of traveling to places like the Maldives or Fiji and staying in one of the luxury resorts that draw in thousands of tourists every year. Island resorts offer easy access to fine dining, spa treatments, and even casinos. But if it's within your budget, many travelers prefer a villa holiday, where they can rent their own property and vacation away from the tourist trap environment that resorts sometimes bring to mind. If you're traveling on a budget, you might want research more obscure islands and areas, where both luxury resorts and villas can actually be quite affordable.
3. What kind of activities do you enjoy?
You may want to spend your holiday relaxing on the beach, but there are plenty of activities available on a desert island that many tourists also love. Whether it's snorkeling, cliff diving, boating, shopping, or experiencing local island life, you want to head somewhere that offers opportunities for more than just getting a tan. Places like Bali are known for their amazing markets and bargain shopping, but somewhere like Antigua is more geared towards art galleries than souvenirs. In the Maldives, tourist resorts can be very isolated from the island locals, but in Tahiti, the opposite can be true. If you're into scuba diving, surfing, or sailing, you'll likewise want to find a holiday spot that caters to these pastimes.
4. How remote should your destination be?
If you're interested in exploring sparsely-populated, far-off islands like Galapagos or Easter Island, you might have an adventure getting there as well as staying. Those kinds of trips can be filled with ancient ruins, giant volcanoes, and exotic biking routes. But visiting a much more populated island region can be just as exciting in a different way. If you're interested in local festivals, nightlife, or the chance to take day trips to different regions and explore other cities and towns, you might want to vacation somewhere closer to civilization. It all depends what you're looking for when you book your tickets.
5. How tight is your budget?
Even if you've saved up to be able to splurge on an island resort or villa, you should have a good idea of how much your costs will be and how far you can stretch your budget. Ways to save money include looking for less popular islands or resorts or going during off-season months. Many islands have a rainy season that scares off some travelers, but on most desert islands, the climate is warm all year long and even the rain only lasts a couple hours a day. It might be worth it for a cheaper luxury holiday. If you can find package deals where the cost of your flight is included with your hotel, it can cost a lot less than buying them separately.
Some people think of island vacations as being out of their reach, but there are so many different ways to travel to them that almost anyone can find an option that fits their needs and their budget. There are a wide variety of island paradise destinations for travelers who want to see exotic sights or just lie on the sand. It's a voyage everyone should make at least once in their life, and if you've always dreamed of relaxing by clear blue waters, there's no better time. Get online and make some real plans to go to a land where palm trees sway.
Karen Boyarsky is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @boyarskykareni.