Travel. Is. Back. Global lockdown is becoming a distant memory (thank goodness), and now the most popular travel destinations are bursting at the seams. Even more reason to keep these off-the-beaten-path locales on your radar when planning your next international adventure. Travel-funded nature reserves, quaint Dutch villages and ancient cultures – what’s not to love about these sustainable island escapes? Even better, they aren’t at the top of everyone’s list, so that makes them some of the best places to travel in June.
Chumbe Island, Tanzania
The passion project of a German conservationist, Chumbe Island is Africa’s only privately owned nature reserve that is completely funded through ecotourism. Blending environmental and social impact, the reserve educates local school children about protecting the ocean, teaches native women to make biodegradable soap and employs 95% Tanzanians who are trained on the basics of reef ecology. With just seven palm-thatched bungalows, consider this your invitation to be one of the island’s 14 overnight guests.
With a landscape reminiscent of Hawaii, Portugal’s remote crescent of volcanic islands delights nature lovers and refined travelers alike. This is where a hike can lead to an azure crater lake, gushing waterfalls or a natural geothermal pool, while a bottle of Portuguese wine will set you back a mere €3. Although the Azores are undoubtedly starting to top travel bucket lists, the locals’ deep respect for nature means they will always prioritize sustainability over tourist dollars. Crowds tend to flock to Lisbon and the Algarve in the summer, making the less-visited Azores one of the best places to travel in June.
Stay at the eco-chic Santa Bárbara luxury resort on São Miguel. Rooted in sustainability, the property was designed to have minimal impact on the natural landscape, while enhanced by the use of local building materials such as the islands’ cryptomeria, exotic bamboo and domestic cork. An onsite organic farm, thermal energy and hydric efficiency all combine to make the property green on all fronts.
The Netherlands isn’t exactly known for beautiful beaches, but the Wadden Islands might surprise you. Located on the Wadden Sea (declared a UNESCO heritage site), between the Netherlands and Denmark, the islands are a test bed for sustainable development across Europe. Carefully designed to conserve their pristine beaches, mudflats and woodlands, they are not your typical island destination.
While each island permeates its own ambiance and dialect, Ameland is arguably the most wild. Less developed and less trodden than neighboring Texel, the island’s rugged shoreline surrounds four peaceful, distinctly Dutch villages. Climb the 200 steps to the top of the lighthouse and visit the picturesque villages and local farms. Try some of the local culinary specialties like rye bread, farm cheese, mustard and catfish and chase it down with a shot of Ameland’s authentic liqueur called Nobeltje. Settle in at the family-owned Hotel Nobel Ameland, where the family’s patriarch invented the local specialty Nobeltje!
Untouched by mass tourism, Micronesia is far from abandoning their indigineous traditions. Travelers who come for endless coral reefs and untouched beaches quickly discover that the archipelago’s true intrigue lies in its inadvertent display of history. If you’re interested in diving, stay at the family-owned Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers. For nearly 20 years, they’ve been practicing conservation, operating off of solar power and growing their own crops with a hydroponic system. From WWII relics to ancient basalt temples, Micronesia is a tropical enigma where past meets present. Get there before the rest of the world does.
SHANNON VALDES LEIDERMAN