Top 4 Islands
A selection of the Journey Latin America team’s favourite islands from across South and Central America.
“It’s half the size of the Isle of Wight, shaped like a three-cornered hat and surrounded by more sea than you can imagine. And those gigantic heads… In the afternoon of our first day, we took a two-hour guided walk and arrived fifteen minutes before sunset to find two canvas chairs facing one of the moai (head statues), his back to the ocean; and two big glasses of chilled white wine. Somewhere beyond his shoulder was the International Date Line, and today’s sun dropping into tomorrow.”
Jamie Swan, Product, Operations and Tour Leader Manager
“The uninhabited island of Espíritu Santo in the Sea of Cortés, Baja California, has the most intact ecosystem in the region. The waters surrounding the island support coral reefs, resident colonies of sea lions and five hundred species of tropical fish. The west coast boasts some of the most immaculate white, sandy bays you can imagine, while the east coast has enormous towering cliffs, bizarre rock formations and fascinating caves.”
Nigel Vaughan, Former JLA staff
3. Ilha Grande, Brazil
“Once a notorious pirate lair, then a prison island until 1994, Ilha Grande is a laid-back travellers’ paradise that is located a short ferry ride from the Costa Verde (two hours’ drive west of Rio). Backed by the towering Pico de Papagaio, sleepy Abraão is the picturesque ‘capital’ with sand streets, no cars and a good range of homely guesthouses. Base yourself here, slow down and explore the island’s 106 tropical beaches by boat, kayak or on foot along jungle trails, looking out for howler monkeys and parakeets along the way. Don’t miss the sweeping white sands of Lopes Mendes, voted the best beach in Brazil by the Brazilians themselves!”
David Nichols, Product Manager
“Until a little over ten years ago, the most commonly used form of currency in the Kuna Yala islands was the coconut. Formerly known as San Blas, this chain of over 300 islands is an autonomous zone run by the indigenous Kuna, who are determined to preserve their traditional way of life. The Kuna are outgoing, friendly and very happy – unsurprisingly perhaps, as they live in a tropical paradise. Even with the blissful natural environment to enjoy, it’s the privilege of being welcomed into their fascinating culture that leaves the strongest impression.”
Laura Rendell-Dunn, Press Manager
“Staying on Suasi Island is all about the experience. A couple of days’ rest and relaxation in the middle of a busy itinerary around Peru is a blessing. Taking a motor launch across Lake Titicaca, you arrive at your private island in time for a three-course lunch, followed by walks, kayaking on the lake, a spa treatment or simply relaxing with a book and a priceless view.”
Isabelle Mazille, Product Manager
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Alex Walker - Travel Expert
A globetrotter since her childhood, Alex spent a year studying abroad in Guadalajara and has returned to Latin America countless times since then.
Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert
Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert
Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.
Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert
Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.