Mailboats and More: Top Island Transport Picks

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Sorensen.Mailboats and More: Top Island Transport Picks
By Marie Javins, GoNOMAD TRANSPORTS GUIDE

Obviously, the way to get to an island is by plane, ferry, or cruise ship. Take a water taxi if the island is close to the mainland. But where there are mainland goods, there are other ways to get to your vacation paradise. Those cans of Coca-Cola and baked beans probably didn’t come on the Pacific Princess, so look around and see what alternate routes are available.

Sample the South Seas on the Aranui, an interisland trading ship that provides essential goods and services, as well as passage for islanders, on its 13 yearly runs throughout French Polynesia. Based in Tahiti, the 16-day voyage cruises through the Marquesas and Tuamotu chains. aranui.com

Easter Island is reputedly second solely to Antarctica in isolation, and only LanChile flies there, on an expensive stopover en route to Tahiti. Likewise, it’s pricey to fly with exclusive agents TAME or SAN to the Galapagos Islands. But if you want to go to either island by sea, you can hunt around for one of the rumored military sailings, or crew to both on a single voyage with the tallship Soren Larsen. sorenlarsen.co.nz

Be one of the few tourists to visit the British dependent territory of St. Helena, a 47-square-mile island in the middle of the South Atlantic. Napoleon spent his last years of life in exile here, unhappy with all save the local coffee.

The only way to St. Helena is by the occasional cruise ship or by the RMS St. Helena, a British mailboat plying the Cardiff to Cape Town route. Passengers are required to spend a week on St. Helena while the ship makes a side voyage to nearby Ascension Island. It’s not as bad as Napolean made it out to be. rms-st-helena.com

The Greek Islands are famous for cruising, but big ships can be hard on the wallet. Forge your own itinerary, using public ferries that go to Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, and loads of smaller islands. ferries.gr. Or if you want a cruise, but not a crowd, travel on a 10-cabin traditional wooden caique. Bookings are available from travel agents in Greece and from Adventure Center in the U.S. adventurecenter.com

When you’ve seen enough animals on safari in East Africa, catch a boat to Zanzibar, the Middle East-like “spice island” off the coast of Tanzania. You might manage to catch a dhow, a boat made of local wood–but it’s safer and easier to take a catamaran.

Touts will approach you, but all ferries now charge the same fee, so ignore them and go straight to the ticket agent at the port. Tickets $35. Boats run frequently and the trip takes about an hour and a half.. Catamarans and speedboats also make the trip. allabout zanzibar.com

Putter around Belize’s budget traveler’s paradise, Caye Caulker, in a golf cart. This 5-by- 1/2 mile island has fewer than ten cars, so the locals zip around in electric golf carts. Tourists can rent their own golf cart, for around $5 an hour. gocayecaulker.com
When it comes to Americans illegally traveling to Cuba, all transportation is alternative. If you’re a U.S. citizen who has chosen to fly to Havana, you can go from Mexico City on Mexicana aerocaribe.com and Cubana flies from Toronto and Montreal. Not all islands are tropical paradises.

Take an off-season trip to scenic Iceland for as little as $299 roundtrip on Icelandair. Off-season includes March, which is chilly but pleasant weather for geyser-viewing. Icelandair has great winter specials on travel to other non-tropical northern islands, like the UK. icelandair.com

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