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Islands with a Difference - Part 8 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

BUCCANEER ARCHIPELAGO, AUSTRALIA

They are only 50 sq km in size and have a population of exactly zero.

This is the West Coast alternative to Queensland’s Whitsundays. It’s not easy to reach the Buccaneer Archipelago. This uninhabited scatter of around 1, 000 islands is strewn off Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast which itself is fairly inaccessible. You don’t accidentally pass through the Kimberley. This is the end of the road and the Buccaneers are beyond it. Consequently, they are almost flawless, fringed by white sands and mangroves and teeming with animals from crocodiles to fish, bats and birds. There has been some human interference, however, treks onto the islands will reveal Aboriginal rock art daubed on cave walls and the burial sites of the pearlers who used to work these waters.

Before you leave there are certain things you should try and do such as taking a dip at Silica Beach or shooting the horizontal waterfall in Talbot Bay which is the result of some of the biggest tides in the world. Also try collecting and shucking oysters’ fresh from the rocks while keeping a lookout for dolphins and whales. The dry season is May to October but the waterfalls are fullest in April and May, just after the wet season, with July to September being the best time for spotting humpbacks. Cruises and sea safaris which operate from Broome and Derby in Western Australia are the best way to get here. Scenic flights also run from Derby and Helicopter or float plane charters are possible.

CHANNEL ISLANDS, USA

These islands with a size of around 900 sq km have a very low population of about 4, 000.

These are California’s answer to the Galápagos. You can dive with sea lions, watch humpbacks breach, snorkel through kelp forests and train your binoculars on the birds which including ten endemic species. The Channel Islands are eight low lying isles stretched along California’s Pacific Coast. This largely uninhabited and largely protected haven is a place where wildlife can flourish. Their relative isolation has allowed a rare coastal Mediterranean-type habitat to develop, encompassing 790 types of plants.

However, it’s in the water that things get more exciting, with a diversity of dolphins, seals, whales and more drawn here to feed and breed. Whale spotting boat trips will often yield humpbacks, orca, fin, grey and blue whales. If you have the time stay longer as each of the five islands within the national park has a campsite, from where you can make forays on foot, kayak or boat.

The islands are open year round with summer and autumn being best for snorkelling, diving, kayaking and swimming. Grey whales are present December to April; blues and humpbacks from April to September.

Flights in small twin-engine planes run to Santa Rosa Island from Camarillo which is 100 km north-west of LA and take 25mins. Boats leave from Ventura which 140 km north-west of LA and this is a cheaper if longer way to get there.

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Page added on: 1 June 2020
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