For solo travellers, they’re a frightening final frontier: islands. Not because there’s anything wrong with islands, but they’re just not places that tend to be conducive to solo travel.
They seem to be couple places, or maybe mates’ places, or hen’s party or stag do places. I’ve been to Tahiti and felt like the island’s permanent third wheel. I’ve just been in Sicily and I’m pretty sure I was the only person there not either recently married or in the process of getting married.
For solo travellers, island holidays can be a little intimidating. After all, once you arrive, you’re stuck there. What if it’s full of hand-holdy couples or blokes on end-of-season footy trips? Too bad for you.
And then you’ve got single supplements to think about as well.
But that doesn’t mean that people travelling on their own can’t take island holidays. You just have to choose your island, and your accommodation, carefully.
Step one: avoid big family resorts. Unless you’re comfortable lying by the pool surrounded by hundreds of other people’s children, you may want to steer clear of anywhere likely to appeal to families. This includes big beach resorts and anything all-inclusive.
Instead, the more budget the accommodation, the more likely you are to find fellow solo souls with which to do some island bonding. Stay somewhere like Bounty Island in Fiji, where you can’t help but meet people because everyone is thrown together in budget dorm rooms and social eating arrangements. Or head to Thai islands like Koh Tao, Koh Pha-Ngan or Koh Phi-Phi for a cheap beachside bed and plenty of backpackers to hang out with.
Step two: do your research, and choose your island carefully. French Polynesia is stunning, but it really is better enjoyed with company. Instead, try a Greek island like Mykonos or Santorini: still beautiful, but populated by far more people like you.
Island-bound towns and cities always help. A deserted tropical island might sound good in theory, but if the only thing on it is your resort, you’re going to start going a bit stir crazy when you’re there by yourself and you’ve exhausted everything on your Kindle.
Instead, opt for islands with plenty to do besides just lie by the pool and get burnt. Malta has the perfect mix of beachside locales and interesting culture. You can laze by day and explore towns by night.
Zanzibar, too, is the ideal place for a solo traveller. There are postcard-perfect beaches if that’s your thing, or you can go on a dive trip, or a fishing trip, or get hopelessly lost wandering around the narrow streets of Stonetown. Then head to the harbourside markets for dinner – never a dull moment.
The other option for an island getaway is to go for something completely out of the box, somewhere that doesn’t even have resorts, or bars, or much of anything except animals and volcanoes. I’m thinking of the Galapagos.
You get sunshine and ocean. But for solo travellers you also get a boat full of people to hang out with, and probably the most amazing place in the world to explore each day. You also get all of your meals taken care of, which is a handy bonus.
But these options aren’t the complete answer.
The real secret for solo travellers who dream of an island getaway, and the key to having fun on any patch of sand and palm trees, is to embrace being on your own.
You need to be comfortable going to a restaurant solo. You need to be happy to sit at a bar with no company but a good book, and be cool with downing that pina colada alone. You need to be comfortable talking to strangers, and you’ll soon find that plenty of those hand-holdy couples and blokes on footy trips are actually keen to chat to you as well.
There are islands and accommodation options that make things far easier for solo travellers. But the real trick to the final frontier is to just embrace your singleness and go.
Have you travelled solo to island destinations? Which have been your favourites? What are your solo survival tips? Leave a comment below.