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Island vacations: Peaceful escapes and family fun abound
Top Island Vacations in New England
New England is home to some fantastic and secluded island getaways, perfect for adventure seekers and families looking to have a memorable getaway. Perhaps your dream island vacation involves family outings, or simply walking in the fresh air along wooded hiking trails. Here are the best islands to live out those dreams:
1. Nantucket, Massachusetts
A small, compact island near Cape Cod brimming with glistening sand dunes. Here you'll discover a plethora of island activities for every taste. Take a whale-watching cruise, rent a bike, splash in the waves with the kids, and visit some of America's most iconic lighthouses.
2. Block Island, Rhode Island
Just south of mainland Rhode Island, Block Island is renowned for its casual, relaxed, and down-to-earth feel. To satisfy your island culinary cravings, you'll find some of the freshest seafood around at local lobster pounds. For others, catching a glimpse of some rare bird species is a big priority. Alternatively, renting a moped is a smart way to find more secluded areas off the beaten track for a cozy picnic or afternoon snooze.
3. Mount Desert Island, Maine
Home to Acadia National Park, Mound Desert Island is famous for its rugged cliffs and sparkling lakes. In nearby Bar Harbor village, you might through streets lined with galleries and gift shops whilst enjoying an ice cream. Whatever your destination, an inviting vacation rental is within easy reach to fulfill any fancy, ranging from complete serenity in natural surroundings to adventure-packed family fun.
Searching for an idyllic, relaxing retreat? The HomeToGo Hidden Islands Index is here to help travelers find the perfect under-the-radar spots for a relaxing island getaway.
The index features 20 islands in total from across the globe, shortlisted for and ranked according to four indicators of hidden gem status: comparatively low traveler demand, standing as a local secret, lack of social media hype, and limited overall awareness. The results show that travelers need not cross oceans this summer to find an idyllic island escape. Three of the top spots were snapped up by destinations in the U.S. and Canada, appearing alongside places across the Italy, France, Australia, Portugal, the Bahamas, the Philippines and French Polynesia.
Find out which islands travelers should visit before they become big holiday hotspots with the full index ranking - including total scores out of 40 - below.
Scoring: Hidden gem islands for summer 2023
Mapped: The top hidden gem islands for summer 2023
Learn more about the top under-the-radar islands for summer 2023
1. Wadden Islands, North Holland / Friesland, Netherlands
Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog are a collection of islands in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands. Head here for incredible nature (a third of Texel is a protected reserve), adventure sports such as kiteboarding and surf rafting, and peaceful beaches on which visitors can ride horses and practice yoga. For travelers in search of quirky activities, the pastime of mudflat hiking is a must-try.
2. Quadra Island, British Columbia, Canada
Quadra is one of the Discovery Islands, situated off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. It’s a location of breathtaking rural beauty, home to animals such as harbour seals, wolves, and bald eagles, with whale watching spots nearby. Visitors can immerse themselves in this amazing nature while hiking through forests to panoramic viewpoints, or canoeing on the island’s lakes and kayaking off its shores.
3. Magdalen Islands, Québec, Canada
An archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence characterised by golden dunes, rolling green pastures and red sandstone cliffs, the Magdalen Islands are some of Canada’s most scenic secrets. With 300km of beaches - one of which hosts the world’s largest sandcastle competition each August - there’s no shortage of seaside fun to be had. This destination is also acclaimed for its birdwatching and cycling circuits.
4. Isle of Portland, Dorset, England
Tied to the mainland by the 18-mile long Chesil Beach, the Isle of Portland is the southernmost point in the county of Dorset in England. Part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Isle of Portland’s dramatic limestone cliffs, secluded coves and lighthouses make it a particularly picturesque place to visit. Take in the sights on foot while following the Portland loop of the South West Coast Path.
5. Egadi Islands, Sicily, Italy
Located off Sicily’s western coast, this trio of islands is brimming with Italian charm. After soaking up the atmosphere on Favignana (the largest of the three islands), head to Levanzo to see prehistoric cave-paintings, or hop over to hilly Marettimo for hiking. The islands are surrounded by a marine reserve, with shipwrecks and underwater life waiting to delight snorkellers and scuba divers.
6. Camano Island, Washington, U.S.A.
7. Barra Island, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
8. Île-d'Aix, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
9. Mount Desert Island, Maine, U.S.A.
10. Isle of Bute, Firth of Clyde, Scotland
11. Île de Batz, Brittany, France
12. Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada
13. Maddalena Islands, Sardinia, Italy
14. Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia
15. Porto Santo Island, Madeira, Portugal
16. Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia
17. Harbour Island, The Bahamas
18. Rottnest Island, Perth, Australia
19. Siargao Island, Caraga, Philippines
20. Mo'orea, Windward Islands, French Polynesia
Popular islands on everyone's wishlists
For those who don't mind a bit of hype, here are some of the most popular and trending islands of 2023.
Following the popularity of the White Lotus 2, search demand for stays on the Italian island of Sicily have skyrocketed by +152% compared to last year.
Iceland, the land of the midnight sun where the hot springs flow, has more than doubled (+144% vs. 2022) in search demand for stays on HomeToGo this summer.
To produce this guide, HomeToGo used internal and open source data to create a global list of inhabited islands with developed tourism industries. HomeToGo search data was then used to identify the least-searched islands in this list.
To rank these destinations, HomeToGo used four data points: the number of global traveler searches via HomeToGo (traveler demand score), the percentage share of said searches coming from domestic travelers (local secret score), the number of Instagram hashtags for each destination (social media hype score), and search engine search volume for each island (overall awareness score). After obtaining the raw figures, each data point was assigned a representative numerical value between 5 and 10. The hypothetical "perfect score" would be 40 out of 40. The following equation was used in order to calculate this for every factor:
Score(i) = 5 · (x(i) - xmin ) / (xmax - xmin ) + 5
Traveler demand score: The island with the lowest number of traveler searches across all HomeToGo domains was awarded a score of 10, with the remaining islands assigned a score of 5 or higher according to the above equation.
Local secret score: The island with the highest percentage share of HomeToGo searches coming from domestic travelers was awarded a score of 10, with the remaining islands assigned a score of 5 or higher according to the above equation.
Social media hype score: The island with the lowest number of hashtags on Instagram was awarded a score of 10, with the remaining islands assigned a score of 5 or higher according to the above equation.
Overall awareness score: The island with the lowest search volume, as taken from Semrush, was awarded a score of 10, with the remaining islands assigned a score of 5 or higher according to the above equation.
Year-on-year trend insights are based on searches via hometogo.com carried out between 1st January 2023 - 14th May 2023 with a check-in date during summer 2023 (21st June 2023 - 23rd September 2023), in comparison to searches via hometogo.com carried out between 1st January 2022 - 14th May 2022 with a check-in date during summer 2022 (21st June 2022 - 23rd September 2022).
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