As the finale of Channel 4’s The Island with Bear Grylls approaches, we see tears, tantrums and desperate bids of survival. After four weeks on Las Perlas, an island just off Panama in Central America, the finalists are more than ready to pack their bags. But island life isn’t always that bad, especially if your shelter has built-in rain showers and four gourmet restaurants to choose from. So, we’ve rounded up our top five island escapes. And, best of all, some are just a four-hour flight away…
1. Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Get a slice of island life in Phu Quoc, a beach paradise lined with untouched jungle. Don’t worry, though, the only thing you’ll have to forage through here is a cocktail menu. Check out the swim-up bar at Novotel Phu Quoc Resort, for example. Or, ditch the pool and get tropical with a visit to Phu Quoc National Park. There are 31,000 hectares of forests, mountains and waterfalls – not too mention a small army of monkeys who’ll happily pose for a selfie or two.
2. Formentera, Balearics
Formentera is probably the Balearic’s best-kept secret. Just like The Island itself, you’ll need a boat transfer to get there. Luckily, there are frequent sailings from its big sister, Ibiza – so you’ll never feel like Robinson Crusoe. All-in-all, it’ll take you less than four hours to get here. Not bad for a trip to paradise. On arrival, you’ll be greeted by Blue Flag beaches whose turquoise waters make the Caribbean jealous. Pick between cosy coves, long spits of sand and wild dunes. Or, have it all with a beachfront bungalow at Insotel Club Maryland.
3. Khao Lak, Thailand
If you’re just as keen on wildlife as you are beaches, Khao Lak’s perfect – it’s got three world-class National Parks. Spot flying lemurs and Asian bear cats among the cast of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park, or head to Thai Muang Beach – a famous nesting spot for turtles. If you’re lucky, you might even spot them flipper their way from sand to sea. Once you’re done auditioning as the next David Attenborough, cool off in one of four pools at Moracea by Khaolak Resort.
4. Dominican Republic, Caribbean
Searching for footprint-free sands and palm-lined beaches? The Dominican Republic fits the bill. When, or if, you’re all beached-out, there’s El Salto Del Limón – a gorgeous rock pool at Samaná Peninsula. It’s even got a 150 feet waterfall you can take a quick shower under. You can forget the drama of Channel 4’s The Island, too. Cool Caribbean vibes are guaranteed, whether you’re sampling the local rum or relaxing in Bayahib – the location of the famous Bounty bar adverts. Don’t worry about dinner either, your biggest issue which will be which of the four gourmet restaurants to dine in if you stay at Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa.
5. Brac Island, Croatia
One thing’s for sure – there are no mobile phones allowed on Bear Grylls’ island. It’s lucky, then, that you can do what you want on your holiday, because Brac Island is an Instragrammer’s heaven. Snap away on Zlatni Rat Beach – formed like a fishtail with two pebble-and-shingle arms to choose from. Or, choose pin-drop quiet villages in Bol, a gorgeous harbour town. If you feel the need to seek civilisation, hop on the great ferry network that’ll whisk you away to the hustle and bustle of Split and Hvar in no time.