Above: The chalk cliffs of Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight.
For those who like to mix their island idylls with some insular adventure, these six treks are guaranteed to put a spring in your step
By Angela Leenhouts
Yakushima Island, Japan
Forests of old-growth cedars and close encounters with red-bottomed macaques and loggerhead sea turtles make the southern Japanese island of Yakushima a nature-lover’s paradise. While you can choose to traverse this World Heritage– listed wilderness on your own while staying at the auberge-style Sankara Hotel & Spa (81-997/473-488; sankarahotel-spa.com; doubles from US$748), another option is to book a Yakushima Adventure with Walk Japan (walkjapan.com; from US$2,427, all-inclusive), which includes tours of Kagoshima on nearby Kyushu and two days of walking on Yakushima itself, visiting Shiratani Unsuikyo gorge and the 1,831-meter summit of Mount Kuromidake.
Isle of Wight, England
Named for the great Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who moved the Isle of Wight in the 1850s, the Tennyson Trail (iwight.com) meanders along a ridgeline from Carisbrooke Castle to the western coastal town of Freshwater. The 23-kilometer stone track can be challenging, but views from the crest of Brighstone Down, or out to the chalk-white outcrops of the Needles, are well worth the effort. Other highlights along the route include Bronze Age burial mounds and a five-meter-tall sandstone megalith known as the Long Stone.
The Bay of Fires guided walk (bayoffires.com.au; from US$2,065) is your ticket to east-coast Tasmania’s most well- heeled trekking tour. The all-inclusive four-day hike starts at Stump Bay in Mount Williams National Park and follows a string of boulder-strewn beaches peppered with ancient Aboriginal middens. The pace is set by the group, whose efforts are rewarded nightly with gourmet feasts, a selection of fine Tasmanian wines, and exclusive camp- or lodge-style accommodation.
Southeast Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula is all about drama—towering headlands, imposing fjords, whale sightings, even the occasional iceberg. You can take this all in from the 540-kilometer East Coast Trail (eastcoasttrail.ca), which links dozens of historic communities where hikers can spend the night. Day trips across this rugged peninsula are common but, for the more adventurous, walking from town to town is possible with or without the help of a guide.
Hong Kong, China
Though Hong Kong is better known for its towering skyscrapers, there is a whole other side to the island that is removed from the urban bustle. The nine-kilometer Dragon’s Back trail winds through shady groves of bamboo and verdant woodland, providing glimpses of Nine Pins Island, Big Wave Bay, Tai Tam Harbour, and Stanley before emerging onto exposed hillsides blanketed in wild azaleas and rose myrtle. From here, the rugged ridge—said to be shaped like a dragon’s back—undulates through Shek O Country Park before dropping down to the coast.
The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Majorca is steeped in history and natural beauty; its central mountain range, the Serra de Tramuntana, has been declared a UNESCO Human Heritage Site. In 1867, Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria visited the island and was so enraptured by its vistas that he built a bridle path, complete with shelters and lookouts. Today, Mallorca Hiking (mallorcahiking.com; from US$39) runs a six-and-a-half-hour trek along the Archduke’s Bridleway to the top of Mount Teix, which towers above the picturesque towns of Valldemossa and Deià.
Originally appeared in the June/July 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Walk This Way”)