Ambergris Caye, Belize Caye
Ambergris Caye, pronounced /æmˈbɜrɡrɨs/ am-bur-gris, is the largest island of Belize located northeast of the country in the Caribbean Sea. Though administered as part of the Belize District, the closest point on the mainland is part of the Corozal District. The Caye (pronounced as “key”, meaning an island, derived from Spanish: cayo) is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) long from north to south, and about 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) wide. It was named after large lumps of ambergris which washed ashore here.
The Belizean island, where it has not been modified by man, is mostly a ring of white sand beach around mangrove swamp in the centre.
A Maya community lived on the island in Pre-Columbian times, and made distinctive polished red ceramics. San Pedro Town is the largest settlement and only town on Ambergris. There are also a number of small villages and resorts. Captain Morgan’s and Mata Chica resorts north of San Pedro played host to the first season of Fox’s Temptation Island in 2000, aired in 2001. The availability of skydiving during the winter has become a draw for tourists.
Tourism development of Ambergris Caye began in the early 1970s and grew considerably in the later years of the 20th century. The main attractions are the Belize Barrier Reef and its beaches. That barrier reef is the second largest in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The caye has a small airstrip serviced by Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, and can be reached by plane from Belize City as well as by numerous fast sea ferries. In the meantime Ambergris Caye can also be reached by ferry from Chetumal in Mexico and Corozal Town in Belize.
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. John (Spanish: San Juan ; Dutch: Sint Hans; French: Saint-Jean ; Danish: Sankt Jan) is an island in the Caribbean Sea and a constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. St. John is located about four miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory’s capital, Charlotte Amalie, and four miles southwest of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. It is 50.8 km² (19.61 sq mi) in area with a population of 4,170 (2010 census). Because there are no airports on St. John, the only access to the island is by boat. The ferry service runs hourly from St. Thomas and daily from Tortola; regular ferries also operate from Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. Approximately 60% of the island is protected as Virgin Islands National Park.
Bora Bora, Society Islands
Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The island, located about 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the centre of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 m (2,385 ft).
Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The major settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra. According to a census performed in 2008, the permanent population of Bora Bora is 8,880.
San Juan Island, Washington
San Juan Island is the second-largest and most populous of the San Juan Islands in northwestern Washington, United States. It has a land area of 142.59 km² (55.053 sq mi) and a population of 6,822 as of the 2000 census.
Washington State Ferries serves Friday Harbor, which is San Juan Island’s major population center, the San Juan County seat, and the only incorporated town in the islands.
Scheduled seaplane services via Kenmore Air operate regularly in and out of Friday Harbor and originate from Seattle’s Lake Union and Kenmore, Washington.
Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sadoˈrini]), classically Thera (pron.: /ˈθɪrə/), and officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]), is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.
Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The caldera being 400m deep makes it possible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a newly built marina in Vlychada on the southwestern coast. The principal port is called Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a small presence of hornblende.
It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.
The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.
Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Island of Women) is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. Most of the municipality is located on the mainland in the northeastern corner of the state. Its municipal seat, also called Isla Mujeres, is a small town situated on the island from which it takes its name, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northeast of Cancún in the Caribbean Sea. It is the easternmost municipal seat in Mexico. The island is some 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and 650 metres (2,130 ft) wide. In the 2010 census, the town had a population of 12,642 inhabitants.
Moorea, Society Islands
Moʻorea (Tahitian pronunciation: \ˌmō-ō-ˈrā-ä, ˈmō-ō-ˌrā-) is a high island in French Polynesia, part of the Society Islands, 17 km (roughly 9 mi) northwest of Tahiti. Moʻorea means “yellow lizard” in Tahitian. An older name for the island is ʻAimeho, sometimes spelled ‘Aimeo or ʻEimeo (among other spellings misunderstood by early visitors with no knowledge of the language). Early Western colonists and voyagers also referred to Moʻorea as York Island.
Koh Tao, Surat Thani Province
Ko Tao (also often Koh Tao, Thai: เกาะเต่า, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ tàw], lit. “Turtle Island”) is an island in Thailand located near the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It covers an area of about 21 km². Administratively it forms a tambon within the district (Amphoe) Ko Pha Ngan of Surat Thani Province. As of 2006 its official population is 1,382. The main settlement is Ban Mae Hat.
The economy of the island is almost exclusively centred around tourism, especially scuba diving.
Ko Tao was named by its first settlers after the island’s turtle-like geographic shape. Coincidentally, the island is an important breeding ground for Hawksbill turtles and Green turtles. Development of tourism has negatively impacted the health of these grounds but a breeding programme organised in 2004 by the Royal Thai Navy and KT-DOC, a coalition of local scuba diving centres has reintroduced hundreds of juvenile turtles to the island’s ecosystem.
Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
Polynesian people settled on Easter Island in the first millenium CE, and created a thriving culture, as evidenced by the moai and other artifacts. However, human activity and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources, which caused the demise of the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island’s population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from a high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. In recent times the island has served as a warning of the cultural and environmental dangers of exploitation. Diseases carried by European sailors and Peruvian slave raiding of the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, down to 111 in 1877.
Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited land (50 residents) is Pitcairn Island at 2,075 kilometres (1,289 mi), and the nearest continental point lies in central Chile, at 3,512 kilometres (2,182 mi). Easter Island is a special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888. Administratively, it belongs to the Valparaíso Region and more specifically, is the only commune of the Province Isla de Pascua. According to the 2012 census, it has about 5,800 residents, of which some 60% are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
Nosy Be, Antsiranana Province
Nosy Be [ˌnusʲ ˈbe] (also Nossi-bé) is an island located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Nosy Be is Madagascar’s largest and busiest tourist resort. It has an area of 312 km2 and its population was officially estimated at 36,636 in 2001.
Nosy Be means “big island” in the Malagasy language. The island was called Assada during the early colonial era of the seventeenth century. Nosy Be has been given several nicknames over the centuries, including “Nosy Manitra” (the scented island).