The Top Ten Island Hikes - Page 2

Gorp.com
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Man silhouetted on beach, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
#3: Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia  (Jochen Schlenker/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

5. Trinity Falls, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Tucked into a deep volcanic canyon, the trailhead to this 90-minute round-trip hike sits just off the Leeward Highway near Richmond Beach. During the wet season (from June to November), expect the narrow trail to be very slippery. But the opportunity to see tropical flora and fauna, as well as cacao and banana trees, will help reward any tentative footing. Trinity Falls is the ultimate payoff. Located at the turn-around, the pool below this 40-foot waterfall in the Wallilabou River is perfect for dipping your feet into before retracing your steps to the trailhead. (Swimming is not advised due to swift currents.) Live it up by staying at Young Island Resort, on Young Island (a nearby isle that contains only this hotel). It's where Johnny Depp stayed while filming Pirates of the Caribbean.

4. Madeira Island, Portugal
One of only two inhabited islands within an archipelago that is closer to the coast of Morocco than Portugal, Madeira Island is an autonomous nation within Portugal that's affectionately referred to as "the pearl of the Atlantic." Spend time here and you'll see why. Its tallest peak is 6,100-foot Pico Ruivo, but you can also climb to the top of Cabo Girao, a 1,930-foot sea cliff that's one of the tallest in Europe. Quinta do Alto de Sao Joao may be the best of the island's hotels, boasting Mediterranean-style décor and a luxe swimming pool alongside an on-site working farm. Be sure to sample Madeira's fortified wines, which come in varieties from dessert to table (try the tinta negra mole or a "Torcaz" blend of verdelho and ansburger). Madeira is serviced by scheduled and charter flights from various mainland European hubs, including Lisbon, London, Frankfurt, and Paris.

3. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Tofino is one very cool, very laid-back surfing town on Vancouver Island. It boasts its own master chocolatier at Chocolate Tofino, and the culturally inclined can take in Roy Henry Vickers' landscape art at Eagle Aerie Gallery. In lieu of staying in a hotel, consider taking a multi-day hike through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (open from just mid-March to mid-October since it's in one of North America's rainiest climes). The 43-mile West Coast Trail, one of the park's three "units," was initially built as a means for rescuing shipwrecked sailors. Today, it's a challenging journey that takes, on average, five to seven days to complete. Focal points along the way include rocky shorelines and temperate rainforests. You can also see the Vancouver Island ranges of the Insular Mountains. Or just opt for a shorter hike in the Long Beach unit, such as the 1.5-mile Nuu-chah-nulth Trail that leads to Florencia Beach. The Inn at Tough City is not only a cool place to bunk before or after the hike, but there is a sushi bar downstairs offering a menu stocked with local fish choices.

2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
One of the most rugged hot spots in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Halape Campground, an eight-might hike from the equally stunning Halina Pali Overlook. Start by driving to the overlook, which sits at 1,500 feet and boasts staggering views of the ocean. Then head downhill and trek over a hearty landscape of non-native grasses to a small, remote sandy beach with swaying coconut trees. Stay overnight and you may have the park to yourself—just pack in water and confer with park rangers on trail conditions when you pick up the required backcountry permit from the Kilauea Visitor Center. Remember to pack a headlamp for a likely encounter with volcanic fog, or "vog." When you return to civilization, take a 90-minute drive to Pau Hana Coffee Plantation. This five-acre working coffee farm—which produces Kona coffee so good that it's been featured at the Bellagio in Las Vegas—provides overnight lodging and a little bit of pampering.

1. Isle of Skye, Scotland
At 50 miles long and five to seven miles wide at various points, this hilly island off the west side of Scotland is the largest in the Hebrides archipelago. Some of the hikes here are easy, but others—like the Black Cuillins—are pretty rugged. Bring your hiking boots and expect boggy conditions. The five-mile Quiraing Trail affords the most dramatic scenery, including rock formations, cliffs, and an acre of flat grassland (for a short siesta?). Hit The Three Chimneys for a memorable post-hike dinner in a picturesque 120-year-old cottage. Then check into the contemporary Tigh an Dochais, a bed-and-breakfast with views of Broadford Bay and an amazing hot breakfast (with locally made sausages, haddock, and cheeses) served in a lounge on the house's top floor. After a good night's rest, rent a kayak and launch from the house's garden area or head out for another traipse across Skye's rugged spine. Skye is accessible via a toll bridge from the mainland or regular ferry services from Mallaig.

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