There’s something about an island that’s synonymous with adventure. Whether it’s childhood dreams of palm trees and buried treasure, or grown-up fantasies of white-sand beaches and azure waves, islands offer a sense of freedom and isolation, as well as excitement.

So it’s no surprise that an island hopping holiday is an attractive prospect for many. But which archipelago is best for you? Do you want to kick back on tropical, sun-drenched beaches, or explore wild, windswept landscapes? Do you like to visit islands with all the amenities, or would you rather feel like an intrepid explorer, trekking through remote or uninhabited isles?

The good news is that there’s an archipelago for everyone, no matter the type of holiday you’re dreaming of. So, to get you inspired, here are 10 of the best destinations for an island hopping adventure.

1. The Greek islands

The Greek islands

With over 6,000 islands, Greece is one of the most popular island-hopping destinations. The three main island groups are the Dodecanese, which includes Rhodes, Kos, and Patmos; the Ionian Islands of Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Paxos; and the Cyclades. All offer something different, but the Cyclades may be the best place to start. These are the Greek islands of your dreams: whitewashed villages, blue domed churches, shady tavernas, and cascading bougainvillaea.

These islands, which include Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Naxos, offer picture-perfect Greek island charm. Here, you’ll find snow-white cubic houses that seem to tumble down cliff sides, deep blue seas (and even bluer skies), sun-bleached ruins, rocky seaside landscapes, and some of the best Mediterranean sunsets. As you hop from island to island, you can make the most of the excellent culinary scene, sampling local delights like tomato fritters and saganaki (fried sheep’s-milk cheese).

If you’d like to visit the Greek islands but would rather venture off the beaten track, you might want to check out our article; 10 of the best Greek islands to visit (that you might not have heard of).

2. The Azores, Portugal

The Azores, Portugal

For an outdoor adventure, why not head to the Azores? Located almost 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal, these nine volcanic islands remain one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Their position – strewn across the meeting point of the European, American, and African tectonic plates – means this mesmerising landscape is like nowhere else. Quite simply, this is a land of staggering natural beauty.

Here, you’ll find ancient forests, bubbling mud pools, deep blue crater lakes, and mystical caverns, while the towns have a lovely old-world appeal. The main island, Sao Miguel, is a good base, while its neighbour, Santa Maria, boasts the four-day Grande Trilho hiking trail. The central islands – Pico, Faial and Sao Jorge – are easily combined and offer whale watching, shipwreck diving, canyoning, mountain biking, paragliding, and superb sunsets.

3. St Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

St Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

The Caribbean has a reputation for being expensive, but you don’t need buckets of cash or a yacht to hop across these dreamy islands. Located between St Lucia and Grenada in the southern Caribbean, St Vincent and the Grenadines enjoy warm turquoise waters, powder-white sands, and gently swaying palm trees. And, thanks to an excellent network of local ferries, island-hopping here is easy, inexpensive, and authentic.

Mountainous St Vincent forms the head of this tadpole-like archipelago, and here you’ll find low-key tourism and black-sand beaches. However, the 30-odd islands of the Grenadines scattered below offer the best adventures; trek over dramatic peaks, snorkel in crystalline waters, go sailing or kitesurfing, or relax in lazy beach bars. Ferries connect St Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, and Mayreau, and they’re a great way to meet people and get a glimpse into authentic island life.

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4. Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Island hopping may conjure up images of tropical islands and sun-soaked beaches. But if you’d prefer to visit wilder, more windswept destinations – or stay closer to home – why not visit the Outer Hebrides? Scattered along Scotland’s west coast for 130 miles, there are 15 inhabited and over 50 uninhabited islands to explore. And, as soon as you arrive, you’ll see that this remote region is unlike anywhere else in the UK.

This wind-battered archipelago is a Gaelic heartland, and because the islands are interconnected, you can do most of your hopping on foot. The Hebridean Way spans almost 200 miles and connects 10 islands, which is ideal for hiking. Foodies can follow the Eat Drink Hebrides Trail, which links pubs, restaurants, distilleries and farm shops. And, along the way, you’ll find ancient standing stones, snow-white beaches, and sparkling cerulean seas.

5. Balearic Islands, Spain

Balearic Islands, Spain

Spain’s Balearic Islands have long been a popular holiday spot for Brits – but rather than staying on one island, why not explore all four? Lying off the eastern coast of Spain, this sun-kissed archipelago has four main islands: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. Whether you’d rather sail around the islands yourself or use the frequent local ferries, getting around is easy. Plus, every island offers something different.

Mallorca is the largest island and, away from the busy south shore, you’ll find small mountain towns, secluded resorts, and aqua seas. Menorca is quieter and more laidback, with sandy beaches, rocky bays, and historic towns. Meanwhile, Ibiza might be best known as a party island, but it has hidden beaches, rustic towns, and a charmingly hippie vibe. And, finally, tiny Formentera has Caribbean-like white sands and glimmering azure seas – and, at12 miles across, can be explored in a single day.

6. Thailand

Thailand

If you’re looking to travel further, why not go island hopping in Thailand? Famous for sweeping golden beaches, warm turquoise waters, technicolour coral reefs, and jungle-swathed mountains, Thailand’s islands are a tropical paradise. A flight from Bangkok to Phuket is the usual gateway to island hopping in Thailand, and after you’ve explored Phuket, you can take the ferry to Koh Phi Phi; a chain of six small islands in the Andaman sea.

The beaches here are breathtakingly beautiful and, if you’re into diving or snorkelling, you’ll be captivated by the diverse marine life. There are various accommodation options too, from deluxe resorts to basic beachfront cabins. From Koh Phi Phi, you’re ideally placed to explore the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay. Or, head back to the mainland to take a ferry to Koh Samui, where you’ll find dreamy coconut groves, palm-fringed beaches, and sultry rainforests teeming with life.

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7. The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is home to historic towns, sand-and-shingle beaches, and gin-clear waters. Plus, there are more than 1,000 islands scattered through these aquamarine seas. Private charters offer full control or you can island hop via ferry or traditional wooden gulets. However you get around, most trips begin from a port close to Dubrovnik, so you can enjoy exploring the elegant, red-roofed old town before setting sail.

Also on the mainland is the UNESCO-listed Roman coastal town of Split, which is a must-visit, while Brač island is another top spot. Here, you can swim in Bobovišća Bay, kick back on secluded beaches, and explore quaint mountain villages. Hvar is for you if you like glitz and glamour, while Korčula is known for its pine forests, olive groves, and vineyards. If you want to hike, the remote islands of the Kornati Archipelago are lined with empty yet spectacular trails.

8. Malta

Malta

This Mediterranean island of Malta might be best known for its diverse history, compelling culture, glorious beaches, and astonishingly blue waters, but it’s also a great destination for island hopping. The smaller, inhabited islands of Gozo and Comino are easily reached from Malta and, combined, they make the ideal low-key island-hopping trip. These islands may be small, but they’re packed with culture, history, and unique traditions.

Malta’s capital Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and history buffs can admire the ornate 16th-century building and intricate cathedrals. The fortress town of Mdina and the Megalithic Temples are also must-visits, while, in Gozo, you’ll find the islands’ best beaches, ancient capital Victoria, and the Marsalforn salt pans. Tiny Comino can be explored in a day, and its famous Blue Lagoon can’t be missed. The waters here are so clear and blue that you might think you’re in a dream…

For more inspiration, check out our article; 10 places to visit and things to do in Malta and Gozo.

9. Hawaii, USA

Hawaii, USA

Located 2,400 miles west of the USA, cast adrift in the Pacific, Hawaii is a popular bucket list destination. Home to palm-fringed beaches, thundering waterfalls, smoking volcanoes, spectacular sunsets, and lush rainforest, these islands are the stuff tropical dreams are made from. While Hawaii has hundreds of islands, visitors usually hop between the four main ones: Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii (also known as the ‘Big Island’).

You can get ferries or flights between islands, and each island is incredibly different. The Big Island has an unusually diverse climate, boasting barren deserts, tropical forests, and snow-capped volcanoes. Romantic Maui has arguably the best beaches, as well as Haleakala National Park, which is packed with beautiful pools and waterfalls. Kauai – the Garden Island – is the most lush, while Oahu is home to the capital, Honolulu, and the famous Waikiki beach.

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10. Canary Islands, Spain

Canary Islands, Spain

Another Spanish archipelago makes the list – but the Canaries are very different from the Balearic Islands. Located less than 70 miles from the African coast at their nearest point, these eight islands enjoy year-round sunshine. Plus, they’re only a four-hour flight from the UK, so if you’re dreaming of a winter island hopping escape, they’re an excellent choice. The diversity of the landscape means you can tailor your holidays to your style, while ferry connections make it easy to plan an itinerary.

Tenerife is the largest island; in the south, you’ll find huge resorts and seemingly endless beaches, while inland there are traditional villages, rugged mountains, and the world’s third-largest volcano, the unearthly Teide. Diverse Gran Canaria boasts sweeping beaches, soaring cliffs, rugged gorges, and shady forests, while Lanzarote is home to golden coves, vibrant resorts, and Timanfaya National Park. On quieter Fuerteventura, you’ll find the best beaches, rolling sand dunes, and historic towns.

For more ideas on which Canary Islands to visit, check out our article; 7 of the best things to see and do in the Canary Islands.

Final thoughts…

If your sights are set on an island hopping adventure, we hope this article has inspired you. From the sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean to the wind-battered isles of West Scotland, these 10 destinations all offer something different – but each one promises adventure, beauty, and charm.

If you’d like an island hopping holiday with a side of history, Malta might be for you. Or, if you’re looking to discover a land utterly unlike our own, Portugal’s Azores tick the box. For a bit of everything – history, culture, beauty, and cuisine – the Greek and Spanish Islands are always a safe bet.

Wherever you choose to go, an island hopping holiday can feel like the ultimate escape – a chance to move as the mood strikes you and feel an almost limitless sense of freedom.

Have you been island hopping before? Do any of these destinations particularly excite you? We’d love to hear about your travel dreams and experiences in the comments below.