Another South Pacific island group (see a pattern here?), the Cook Islands are pretty far off the map. OK, not too far, but they are considerably less visited than some of their neighbors. These tiny islands are named after James Cook, the intrepid man who discovered them. With few amenities, this is the best place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. The islands see similar weather to the rest of the area, with temperatures hot and humid all year round.
If the glitzy excess gets too much, escape to Fokos taverna for superfood salads and lamb chops, or Kiki's, an off-grid grill-shack overlooking Agios Sostis bay, where even Naomi Campbell has to queue for a table. Or cruise over to the tiny island of Delos, an archaeological sanctuary that once thronged with 30,000 sun worshippers (the temple is dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of light).
Domestic air transport grew in China at 15.5 percent annually from 2001 to 2006. The rate of air travel globally increased at 3.7 percent per year over the same time. In the EU greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87% between 1990 and 2006. However it must be compared with the flights increase, only in UK, between 1990 and 2006 terminal passengers increased from 100 000 thousands to 250 000 thousands., according to AEA reports every year, 750 million passengers travel by European airlines, which also share 40% of merchandise value in and out of Europe. Without even pressure from "green activists", targeting lower ticket prices, generally, airlines do what is possible to cut the fuel consumption (and gas emissions connected therewith). Further, according to some reports, it can be concluded that the last piston-powered aircraft were as fuel-efficient as the average jet in 2005.
Where to stay in Crete: Adults-only Casa Cook is a chic little number that breaks all the rules about package holidays (you’d never know it was created by Thomas Cook). The Marco Polo is a 15th-century mansion decorated like a pasha's harem, with an enchanting garden restaurant. Ottoman-style suites at Melenos Lindos have hand-painted ceilings and carved platform beds.
As you head south, high-rise resorts give way to stretches of golden sand, such as Glystra, Tsambika, and Fourni. Inland, you'll find alpine forests (Mount Attavyros), hilltop castles (Monolithos), faded frescoes (Agios Nikolaos Foundoukli) and ancient ruins (Kamiros). Marooned on the southern tip, Prasonisi is a powdery peninsula where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. One side is calm, the other choppy - a metaphor for this island of two halves.
Described as the Philippines’ last frontier, Palawan boasts not one but two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (don your dive gear), and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (climb in a canoe for a guided tour). Striking limestone formations like Ugong Rock and Karst Mountain Elephant Cave rise starkly from the rice fields of the interior. You can even find overwater bungalows on outlying islands, courtesy of El Nido Resorts.
Where to stay in Crete: A 300-year-old hamlet surrounded by olive groves, Kapsaliana Village Hotel exudes peaceful authenticity. On a sandy bay just beyond Chania, Ammos Hotel smartly combines Scandi chic with a child-friendly vibe. Blue Palace Resort & Spa beats the (stiff) competition in Elounda with its spiral stone Isola Beach Club, thalassotherapy spa, and boat trips to Spinalonga island, a national monument just across Mirabello Bay.
There are many picturesque villages to explore, and the beaches are always far from crowded. If you like walking, the lush vegetation and cliffs are ideal, while if you like to do some underwater exploration, there are many scuba diving and fishing opportunities, too. Additionally, Dugi Otok is home to one of Croatia’s best sandy beaches, Sakarun, which some compare to the beaches of the Caribbean, making it a great family spot.
Less than two hours from Athens, Hydra fills up with chic Greeks at weekends. . They come to disconnect and slow down, but also to see and be seen. Wily cats and weary donkeys patrol the back alleys, but all the action happens along the waterfront. Oh look! There's Olivia Palermo at The Pirate Bar and Chloë Sevigny shaking her tail feather at Hydronetta beach bar. Who cares if there are barely any beaches? You can always find a slab of sun-baked rock from which to leap rock from which to dive into the clearest water in the world.
I’m traveling to Greece for the first time, and I’m so fortunate to be staying for about 9 weeks (peak season, unfortunately, I’m an educator and it’s summer!). I have ample time planned in Athens, and the Peloponnese (with rental car). Here’s where I need some help and suggestions. I have 5 weeks saved for the islands and I’m still trying to figure out how to spend them. I’m not sure if I’d like to cover just a few islands and soak them in a bit deeper with longer stays…or to travel at a quicker pace covering several islands in each main area (the Cyclades, Ionians, Crete-Rhodes Dodecanese, Eastern Islands) I’m an easy traveler and enjoy diversity. I crave spending time with locals and interacting with families – home stays at times, I enjoy the water and I’m an avid diver, I like hiking and exploring. Also, want to perhaps relax a bit – food/wine tasting welcomed). I’m excited about the trip and my ideas are racing all over. Do you have some ideas and suggestions to share? A rough sketch itinerary for Greece? Thanks so much!