UK Travellers‘ most popular island destinations
Wednesday 4, August 2010
Hotel price comparison site www.trivago.co.uk has brought together a list of the ten most popular islands in the summer of 2010 among British travellers. Featured in the top ten is the Channel Island of Jersey, several of the Canary Islands, and more exotic destinations such as Key West in Florida and O’ahu in Hawaii.
Island resorts are a popular destination for British travellers during the summer. The lure of sea, sand and sun is almost impossible to resist, and the thought of exploring exotic landscapes has British travellers leaving the cities in droves.
Here are the UK’s ten most visited island destinations for the summer of 2010:
1. Tenerife, Spain
Tenerife, the number one destination for British travellers, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands, and also Spain’s busiest resort – the island receives 10 million visitors each year. The island’s crowning glory is the Pico del Teide, the third largest volcano in the world, which rises 3718 metres from the base of the island. From its peak, travellers have a remarkable view of the island’s 350km of coastline, tropical vegetation, volcanic craters and lava formations. Tenerife’s wild nature is undoubtedly the island’s best feature, but the island is also well known for its beautiful beaches. The island has a rich birdlife, and many travellers consider the bird park „Loro Parque“ a mandatory stop. The Carnival of Santa Cruz – one of the world’s largest carnivals – takes place every year in February.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterannean Sea, and while many associate its name with historical and political divisiveness, millions of tourists visit the island each year for its spectacular sights and attractions. As a result of its turbulent history, Cyprus has evolved into an intriguing and alluring blend of Greek and Turkish identities. The Tomb of the Kings, a network of underground tombs dating back to the 4th Century BC, are one of the island’s most prominent attractions, and the island’s many medieval forts and citrus groves are beautiful to behold. The Karpas Peninsula is also renowned for its breathtaking beaches.
3. Majorca, Spain
Majorca is part of the Balearic Islands archipelago and is one of Europe’s most popular island destinations. The island is well known for its nightlife and numerous clubs and bars, particularly in the town centre of Playa de Palma and El Arenal. Visitors are drawn to the island’s turquoise blue bays, pristine sandy beaches, antique ruins and historical buildings, such as the Cathedral La Seu and the Palacio Real de la Almudaina in Palma. It pays to escape the island’s touristic heart and venture out into the wild, however; those who do will discover the true essence of Majorca, in the form of idyllic villages, local markets and the traditional Majorcan way of life.
4. Gran Canaria, Spain
Located 125 miles off the coast of West Africa, the Spanish island of Gran Canaria is often referred to as a mini continent, due to its many different climates. In the south, the climate is tropical and dry; in the north, it is subtropical and dry. The result is a glorious diversity of plant and animal life, giving nature enthusiasts plenty to explore during their stay. Hikers will also appreciate the 2,000 metre high Pozo de las Nieves mountain in the centre of Gran Canaria, which attracts climbers from around the world. Another of the island’s main attractions is the dune beach, located near Maspalomas, a town in the south of the island. Culture lovers should visit the capital Las Palmas in the north of Gran Canaria which has magnificent buildings, such as the Cathedral Santa Ana. Another highlight is the old fortress Castillo de la Luz that is currently used as a museum.
5. Jersey, Channel Islands
Jersey is a British Crown Dependency and the biggest of the Channel islands, located just of the coast of Normandy. Its proximity to the UK makes it a prominent destination for British travellers seeking a relaxing holiday closer to home. The island’s bays and long sandy beaches present many opportunities to do just that, while gentle valleys and towering cliffs in the north allow for some truly remarkable hiking trips. Jersey’s seafood cuisine is highly appreciated, and freshly caught mussels, oysters, crabs and lobsters play an important role in the local gastronomy. Visitors will want to visit Elizabeth Castle, which contains a holy site dating back to the 12th Century, as well as the Jersey Lavender Farm, where the extensive purple fields are a striking sight. Numerous churches and convents are also well worth the visit.
6. Madeira, Portugal
The island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal, was first discovered between 1418 and 1420 by Portuguese sailors driven off course during a storm. Madeira is famous for its wines and flowers, and its verdant shores are a popular destination for cruise ships travelling between Europe and the Caribbean. Visitors to Madeira should not miss the opportunity to walk along the ‘levadas’ – water channels that crisscross the island and its contours – for these walks are sure to provide spectacular vistas. Another key attraction is the lush beauty of Funchal’s semi‐tropical botanical gardens, which are kept in full bloom all year round and contain many exotic flowers and plants originating from all over the world.
7. Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, a tiny island only 6.5 kilometres long and 3 kilometers wide, is located at the very southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. The island’s original name – Cayo Hueso, meaning “bone key” – is attributed to the discovery of numerous skeletons on the island’s shores by early explorers; today, this name is still commonly used by the island’s residents and the Spanish‐speaking American community. Travellers visit Key West for its beaches, bars and laid‐back atmosphere, though some find the imprecision of ‘island time’ vaguely unsettling at first. The island’s azure waters are a haven for snorkel, diving, and watersports enthusiasts, while others will enjoy the town’s delectable cocktails and cuisines.
8. O’ahu, Hawaii, United States
O’ahu, meaning ‘the gathering place’ in Hawaiian, is the third largest island of Hawaii and is formed from the conjoining of the two shield volcanoes, Wai’anae and Ko’olau. The island played a key role in world history when Pearl Harbour (located on the island’s north‐eastern side) was invaded, triggering the beginning of the Second World War. Today, O’ahu is better known for its many world‐ famous beach resorts, such as Waikkiki and Honolulu, which attract thousands of tourists every month. The island is a dream come true for fans of water sports: surfers will love the waves of North Shore, while snorkelers will relish the chance to swim in the old volcanic crater of Hanauma Bay.
Lanzarote is the fourth largest island in the Canary Island chain, and was the first of the islands to be settled in 1100 BC. At first glance, Lanzarote’s sparse, volcanic landscape may seem bleak, but for those willing to look a little closer, many amazing attractions are to be found. Lanzarote’s beaches are particularly well noted, and visitors to the Timanfaya National Park can witness the otherworldly beauty of the island’s volcanic craters and lava fields. Unique experiences abound; guests will certainly enjoy the park’s El Diablo restaurant, where food is cooked directly over a volcanic vent, or a trek through the ‘Tunnel of Atlantis’ – the world’s largest submerged volcanic tunnel.
The island of Crete is probably best known for its legends ties to Greek legends such as the Minotaur and the tragic tale of Icarus and Daedalus. The ruins of the Minoan palace of Knossos, of Venetian fortresses and former trading ports all point to the island’s rich history and cultural legacy. Yet this ancient island has much to offer the modern world as well: Cretan art, literature and music styles (typically performed with a lyre) are very distinct, and have contributed greatly to the diversity and evolution of Greek culture. Visitors to Crete would be remiss if they did not explore the island’s many ruins and heritage sites, and the island’s fresh produce and Mediterannean cuisine will provide a tantalizing treat for the senses.
The ranking is based on the analysis of hotel requests for destinations made by British travellers through June and July 2010 on www.trivago.co.uk.
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