10 of the Smallest Islands in the World
Proof that bigger isn’t always better.
It’s a big mistake to overlook these small islands
Jetting off to an idyllic island sounds pretty perfect at any time, but perhaps even more so right now. With everything that’s going on in the world, the idea of escaping to a virtually hidden spot with a leisurely pace, fresh air, and an absence of crowds is more appealing than ever. As many people start reframing the way they think about the future of travel, the words “small” and “remote” are becoming positives. From far-flung specks in the vast ocean to domestic-tourism darlings, these tiny islands prove that big things (aka memorable vacations) come in small packages. Scroll on to get inspired for future trips.
Corvo Island, Azores
Approximately 1,000 miles west of mainland Portugal in the mid-Atlantic sits a chain of nine islands known as the Azores, which has gained the attention of travelers in recent years. To the north of São Miguel, the largest and most populous island in the archipelago, lies a ruggedly beautiful, serene, and isolated destination that revels in its relative obscurity. Corvo Island is a 7-square-mile spit with just 400 inhabitants, three restaurants, and five accommodations. Despite its small scale, Corvo Island delivers ample adventure, and the verdant, rolling, volcanic landscape invites endless exploration. Fishing, swimming in freshwater lakes, bird watching, and crater hiking number among the pilgrimage-worthy activities. It’s also a lovely place to relish some well-deserved solitude and introspection. For a different type of secluded escape, check out 20 of the most remote places on earth.
Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands
Floating in the South Atlantic Ocean, 185 nautical miles away from the southeast tip of Argentina, the Falkland Islands are the definition of remote. One of the southernmost settlements in the distant archipelago, Sea Lion Island is a prime spot for wilderness tourism. Designated as a National Nature Reserve in 2017, this 3.5-square-mile dot boasts an abundance of wildlife—including five species of penguins, sea lions, elephant seals, giant petrels, and killer whales—and only a handful of permanent residents. It requires a minimum of three flights to reach Sea Lion Island from the mainland. (Thankfully, there’s a cozy lodge to spend the night.) Alternatively, it’s possible to plan a guided excursion from nearby East Falkland or take a multiday cruise.
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
Rising from the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean, four miles west of the Isles of Scilly, Bishop Rock is the most southwesterly point in Britain. Measuring a measly 0.000736 square miles, Men Epskop (as it’s known in Cornish) held the title of the “smallest inhabited island” until its famous iron lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and the last keeper left in 1991. These days, Bishop Rock isn’t without accolades. It’s still the “smallest island with a building on it,” according to Guinness World Records. To satisfy the ongoing public interest, the St. Mary’s Boatmen’s Association runs regular trips during peak season. Closer to home, these are the most beautiful lighthouses in America.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Sitting ever so calmly at the convergence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Isla Mujeres (Spanish for “Island of Women”) feels blissfully removed from the hustle, bustle, booze-fueled debauchery, and hard-partying antics of nearby Cancún. This sleepy little isle trades nightclubs that blare techno music for breezy beach bars and a low-key yet vibrant downtown area. Isla Mujeres also promises sandy shores, casual seafood eateries, local artisan shops, excellent snorkeling, and a turtle sanctuary. Since it’s only five miles long and half a mile wide at its widest point, a car isn’t necessary (or even recommended). The best way to get around? Golf cart, moped, bicycle, or your own two feet.
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Think you need a passport to go on a sylvan island getaway? A sliver of unspoiled paradise may be closer than you realize. Little St. Simons Island is a private 11,000-acre barrier island off the coast of the Peach State. Widely touted as one of the most beautiful and least developed of Georgia’s fabled Golden Isles, this domestic treasure tempts travelers with seven miles of unblemished beaches, giant cedar trees, and diverse wildlife. The sole accommodation, The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, has six quaint cottages. It also offers a wide array of naturalist-led activities, such as bird watching and guided nature walks.
Fox Island, Alaska
Located off the coast of Seward, Fox Island is widely regarded as the crown jewel of Alaska’s Resurrection Bay. Envision imposing mountains, pebble beaches, sheltered coves, and glimmering glaciers. The raw beauty of this 3.4-mile-long parcel has inspired many visitors. Of course, outdoor adventure comes with the territory, too. Fox Island’s legendary peaks beckon hiking enthusiasts. And sea kayaking, salmon fishing, and wildlife peeping are also popular pastimes—especially in late spring and early summer. Starting in mid-May, humpback whales feed on herring in Resurrection Bay for almost a month. Soon thereafter, pods of orcas claim the clear waters for mating.
Just Enough Room Island, New York
Part of the Thousand Islands archipelago, between New York and Ontario, Just Enough Room Island covers a mere 3,300 square feet—making it the “smallest inhabited island.” So, what could possibly fit on a plot that’s the size of a tennis court? Well, one-thirteenth of an acre seems to be just enough room for a cozy cottage, a tree, some shrubs, and an itsy-bitsy beach. While you can’t actually step foot on this privately owned patch (the Sizeland family purchased it as a holiday sanctuary back in the 1950s), ogling from a boat while cruising along the Saint Lawrence River is fair game. For a spot you can set foot on someday, check out these secret island escapes around the world.
Simping Island, Indonesia
Indonesia consists of a staggering 17,508 volcanic islands of various shapes and sizes. Simping Island (previously called Pulau Kelapa Dua), in the province of West Kalimantan, is the smallest with a total width of 0.5 hectares. At first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a mound of sand, stone, and several trees bobbing in calm waves. But its diminutive proportions haven’t deterred visitors from going there to pray and even erecting a shrine. To that end, the most intriguing and unexpected element on this otherwise unassuming skerry is a Chinese temple. A locally built pedestrian footbridge means easy access for worshipers and day-trippers alike.
Dangar Island, Australia
Situated just north of Sydney, Dangar Island is a 29-hectare stretch of land in the Hawkesbury River that’s almost entirely forested. Roughly 250 people live on this leafy little gem that’s beloved for its car-free roads, waterfront houses, beaches, aboriginal rock carvings, gorgeous views, and laid-back vibe. Though most residents would probably prefer the many charms of Dangar Island to remain under wraps, holidaymakers and urbanites have taken notice. As such, the number of inhabitants surges during peak season, when many folks hop on the ferry from the town of Brooklyn in New South Wales in an attempt to trade city life for more peaceful, pastoral pleasures.
Saba, Netherlands Antilles
The smallest island in the Netherlands Antilles, Saba measures five square miles and has a population of around 2,000, so it tends to fly under the radar. Unlike most of its Caribbean neighbors, Saba doesn’t have picture-perfect beaches. But what this pyramid-shaped isle lacks in size and sandy shoreline, it more than makes up for in lush rainforests. The chance to trek Mt. Scenery, a dormant volcano and the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is another major selling point. Favor aquatic adventures? Turquoise tides and colorful marine life provide incredible opportunities for scuba diving. If this sounds right up your alley, here are more of the least-crowded islands in the Caribbean.