Bulletin – European Island Idylls

Last week Grant Schapps said that he would like the traffic lights system for international travel to distinguish between mainland and islands.  This provides real hope for countries like Greece, where the mainland is experiencing a third infection wave, but many of its islands have fewer cases and in the case of smaller islands the whole population has been vaccinated.  So this week we take a look at some of Europe’s islands, looking at lesser known alternatives to popular destinations.  With coastal England pretty much booked up for the summer, a trip to Europe may be your best bet if you have yet to book your summer holiday.  But bear in mind the testing requirements covered in my previous two bulletins.  

As we go to press there are also reports that the Foreign Office will not automatically align its advisories with the green and amber lists.  This means that a country could be on the green list for international travel but the Foreign Office will still advise against travel there.  This is important because most travel insurance policies will be invalidated if you travel to a destination against Foreign Office advice.  We hope there will be very few cases where these advisories and the traffic light system don’t match, but it does mean further confusion for holiday makers.  Shearwater Travel plans to provide clear guidance as soon  as detail on international travel plans is announced.  

Greek islands – Paxos
A vaccination programme in Greece named Eleftheria (Greek for liberty) aims to vaccinate the entire population of islands which have less than 1000 residents.  And whilst mainland Greece is seeing a surge in cases similar to the rest of Europe, many of its islands are relatively unaffected.  If the UK does take an island approach to the traffic light system, then islands which have their own airport will be a good bet for a holiday. As will smaller islands accessed by ferry from an island airport.  For example if Corfu is on the Green list then you can holiday in Paxos, personally one of my favourite islands.  A small island which you can walk the length of  in one day.  But it is covered in scented pine and cypress trees and criss-crossed with many paths which in spring and early summer are bordered by wildflowers.  The nicest accommodation on the island is in self-catering villas, cottages and apartments. There are also a couple of lovely stylish boutique hotels. 
Canaries – La Gomera
If the Canaries make it onto the Green List then consider the tiny island of La Gomera instead of its busier more developed neighbours.  This pint sized island is just fifty minutes by ferry from Tenerife but a whole world away in terms of scenery and atmosphere.  It is a laid back island with traditional time warped villages, deserted rocky beaches, ancient rainforest, breathtaking ravines, green terraced valleys and some of the best walking in the Canaries.  One third of the island is protected by UNESCO.  It is simply stunning. Click here to read more about La Gomera

Sicily – Aeolian Islands
If you like islands, and at Shearwater Travel we do, then you’ll love these islands just off the north coast of Sicily.  Named for the god of the winds, Aeolus, they are a popular place for Italians to holiday during Sicily’s sweltering summer.  But they are also a lovely destination from April through to October.  The landscapes here are unspoilt, the beaches pebbly or black and volcanic, the Tyrrhenian Sea azure blue and sparkling and the sea food delicious. Click here to read more about the Aeolian Islands

Balearics – Formentera
In Spain’s Balearic Islands we love the dramatic scenery, cuisine and walking trails of the Tramuntana mountains in Mallorca.  But if you are looking for more of a beach vibe and want to try something different then holiday in Formentera, Ibiza’s baby sister.  The smallest of the group, Formentera is a distinct contrast to hedonistic Ibiza despite being just half an hour away by speedboat. Pristine beaches, Caribbean blue seas and sleepy fishing villages.  You can walk or cycle fantastic trails in the countryside, swim in tranquil coves, take mud baths at Espalmador or dive the impossibly blue waters. Click here to red more about Formentera

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