There’s a little bit of Robinson Crusoe in all of us, so why not pick a tropical island for a once-in-a-lifetime paradise experience.

In our quest for the world’s most inspiring yet also accessible tropical islands, we imagine ourselves to be like the maritime explorers of old and follow their course across the seas, comparing the various island paradises each ocean has to offer as we search the globe for the perfect island escape.

Bali, Indonesia Rather larger than the other islands on our itinerary, Bali requires little introduction, for its virtues as a tourist destination are well documented. Even so, few will know that this beautiful corner of South East Asia so popular with Australian, American, European and Far Eastern tourists is in many ways unique within Indonesia.

This stems mostly from the fact that the vast majority of the population is Hindu, with an ancient culture that stretches back into classical times.

The cultural mix of Bali is therefore an enticing one, blending Indonesian heritage with the kind of temples, festivals and Hindu traditions that you would expect to see in India.

Beautiful resorts line the gorgeous coastline, where they cater to tourists alternatively looking for tropical sunshine, water sports, spa retreats, romantic escapes, culture, enlightenment or simply youthful beach-and-club partying.

Above all a surfer’s paradise, the importance of Bali’s uniquely rich ecosystem is increasingly recognised by local, national and international government agencies in an effort to protect the environment from overdevelopment in tourism, agriculture and industry, as well as from overpopulation.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

As beautiful as it is, Bali is too big to qualify as a private island escape, so off to the Whitsunday Islands we go. Located off the coast of Queensland, they form part of the Great Barrier Reef, and hold true to its famed natural beauty.

Unlike Bali, this is a sparsely populated area, originally inhabited by Aboriginal tribes and now largely a designated nature reserve. It is very much a water world paradise loved by yachters, scuba divers and kayakers, yet those who like to stay on land have beautiful tropical beaches and largely unspoiled hills draped in lush vegetation to choose from.

Though there are stylish resorts both large and select, the area is also a popular hiking and camping destination, but you would have to be a dedicated lover of the great outdoors to forego the pleasures of some of the simply stunning modern resorts on offer overlooking azure waters, clear blue skies, lush tropical vegetation, coral reefs and sweeping sandy bays.

As island escapes go, the Whitsunday Isles are very much the real thing, albeit within a shout from the Australian mainland.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil Now this is a place you are not likely to know of, but hearing it is part of Brazil you might assume it to be a coastal island not far from the samba of Rio or the tropical shores of Pernambuco.

The island named after a Portuguese merchant is in fact part of an archipelago of 21 islands that is situated in the mid-Atlantic some 350 kilometres northeast of Brazil. Mariners of old would have welcomed it as a place to draw fresh water, hunt for birds and frolic in the waters of its sandy bays…

Words Michel Cruz

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