Compiled By NAN Travel Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 5, 2016: Ever wondered what the most underrated islands in the Americas – the Caribbean and Latin America are? Jetsetter magazine recently released its list of the top 15 islands that have remained blissfully a secret and five are in the Americas. Here they are according to Jetsetter.
1: Fernando do Noronha, Brazil
Fernando de Noronha is located in a volcanic archipelago about 350 kilometers off Brazil’s northeast coast. This island is only 10.04 meters big with just over 3,000 people. It’s named after its largest island, a protected national marine park and ecological sanctuary with a jagged coastline and diverse ecosystems. It’s renowned for its undeveloped beaches, and for scuba diving and snorkeling. Sea turtles, rays, dolphins and reef sharks swim in its warm, clear waters and according to naturalists and ecologists, it is an under-the-radar archipelago and one of the most fiercely protected natural environments in the world. Only 420 tourists are permitted to visit at once. You can stay at Pousada Maravilha, an intimate hilltop retreat with five bungalows, an infinity-edge pool and panoramic views of the island’s rugged landscapes and then snorkel in Baía dos Porcos for the chance to glimpse turtles, stingrays and whales. Afterwards, chow down at Ecologiku’s.
Nevis is often overshadowed by its larger sister island St. Kitts as it is the smaller of the two Caribbean islands comprising the nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. It’s known for its superb beaches, including palm-fringed Pinney’s Beach and sheltered Oualie Beach. Booby High Shoals is a popular offshore dive site sheltering sea turtles and stingrays. The island’s capital, Charlestown, is filled with Georgian-style buildings and other British colonial relics. Despite its petite size, Nevis is home to the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, flush with three infinity pools, cabana-style accommodations and wraparound verandas, all resting at the base of Mount Nevis. During the day, visitors can check out the botanical gardens at the Montpelier Plantation & Beach or brush up on the history of Nevis’ sugarcane industry and the life of Alexander Hamilton (it’s his birthplace) at the Museum of Nevis History. At sundown, follow the torch-lit path up to the plantation-style Bananas Bistro & Art Gallery which is tucked away in the palm gardens of Hamilton Estate or grab a drink at Sunshine Bar right on the beach.
3: Culebra, Puerto Rico
Isla Culebra is an island-municipality of Puerto Rico located approximately 17 miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland, 12 miles west of St. Thomas and 9 miles north of Vieques. It is just 11.62 square miles and home to over 1,800. If you are looking for a nearby escape that feels far-flung then this sleepy isle may be a good choice. Culebra has ten untouched beaches, lush wildlife preserves, and the tiny town of Dewey. The canary-yellow cottages at Club Seabourne by Fulladoza Bay is a good place to stay. From here, hit the crescent-shaped shore of Playa Flamenco to snorkel with sea turtles and tropical fish, before feasting on Puerto Rican street food like pinchos, chicken kebabs and alcapurrias (fried plantain stuffed with crab or beef) at the beachfront shacks. Originally called Isla Pasaje and Isla de San Ildefonso, Culebra is also known as Isla Chiquita (“Little Island”) and Última Virgen (“Last Virgin”, due to its position at the end of the Virgin Islands archipelago).
4: Jicaro Island, Nicaragua
Jicaro Island is a tiny isle in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, just off the coast of Grenada. This is the place you go to unplug, unwind and get off the grid entirely. Paddle out with a guide to explore the surrounding the freshwater lake and look for howler monkeys, lake turtles and many of the area’s 87 bird species. Or zip line through the jungle canopy using harnesses and pulleys as high as 100 feet above the forest floor. The Jicaro Island Ecolodge is a sustainable retreat with a lakeside spa, yoga classes and organic dining. All 9 rooms provide free WiFi, furnished balconies, and pillow menus. Ceiling fans, laptop-compatible safes, and showers are among the other amenities that guests will find. Jicaro Island Ecolodge offers complimentary round-trip boat transfers to/from the town of Granada’s Marina Cocibolca Port on arrival and departure dates but guests must contact the property in advance to arrange for the boat transfer by using the number on the reservation confirmation. Pets are not allowed.
5: San Andrés, Colombia
San Andrés is a Colombian coral island in the Caribbean Sea that is just 10.04 square miles but home to 75,000. In 2000, it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, named “Seaflower Biosphere Reserve,” which not only includes the islands but also about 10 percent of the Caribbean Sea, amounting to a vast marine area of 300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi).
The purpose of this declaration is to ensure that the ecosystem, which is rich in biodiversity, is well preserved and conserved. The official languages on San Andrés are Creole, Spanish, and English. This is a duty-free shopping zone, making it a favorite travel destination among Colombian city-dwellers. It’s glittering white-sand beaches and the area’s unique Raizal culture, best known for its reggae and calypso music are great attractions that attracts over 300,000 per year. Fisherman Place, a lively, open-air restaurant serves the local catch every day at noon and the nearby Sharky Dive Shop can arrange diving lessons at one of the island’s more than 35 dive sites. Or simply park yourself in a poolside hammock at Sunset Hotel, a colorful oceanfront hideaway with 16 bright guestrooms and a casual eatery with local-inspired bites. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport has flight services offered by Avianca, LAN Colombia, Copa Colombia, Viva Colombia, TACA and Satena to Bogotá, Medellín, Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena, San José (Costa Rica) and Providencia and Copa offers flights from Panama City. There are also charter flights offered by Air Transat from Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport during the winter months.