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Island Hideaways

By Mike Boisvert.

Yes, there are corners of the world that haven't been overtaken by the vacationing hordes. Here are four hidden parcels of paradise.

Saba Island
Dutch Antilles, Caribbean

To call Saba gay-friendly is probably to understate matters. With a population of 1,500, Saba sends athletes to the Gay Games. The Director of the Saba Tourist Bureau, the knowledgeable and charming Glenn Holm, is himself gay.

Without beaches and resorts, Saba is an unusual island. Saba draws active, energetic tourists. Most tourists traveling to Saba go for the diving. The waters off Saba are generally regarded as providing some of the best diving in the Caribbean. With the recent decision to promote rock-climbing, the tourist board is working toward securing an eco/adventure reputation for the island. Two eco-hotels on Saba are helping the island strengthen its appeal to the adventure set. Saba also provides a range of hiking trails, which provide another draw for active tourists. 

Try tackling Mount Scenery -- at 2,854 feet it's the highest point in the region -- via 1,000 stone steps, flanked by wild orchids, that lead to the summit.

Hotels on Saba span the gamut from reasonable to extremely spendy. At the low end of the spectrum, there’s the charming eco-traveler haunt El Momo, with hillside cottages, stunning views, and a friendly atmosphere. The mood at El Momo is reminiscent of an organic grocery store cooperative, down to the tasty homemade banana rum available at the office desk. A double room with a shared bathroom at El Momo can be as inexpensive as $50 a night in high season. Queen’s Gardens and Willard’s crouch at the other end of the scale. The former, nestled on Troy Hill above the Bottom, offers spacious studios and hosts the Dutch royal family on their visits; the latter, off on its own on a steep cliff, provides stunning views. The least expensive double room in high season at Queen’s Gardens goes for $285 per night; the least expensive high season double at Willard’s is available for $400 per night. Toward the middle of the range there are a number of comfortable hotels, including the Gate House (from $130 for a double room), Scout’s Place (from $75 for a double room), the Cottage Club (from $118 for a double room), and the Eco-Lodge Rendez-Vous (from $85 per cottage per night). 

Saba Tourism Website

Ometepe Island
Nicaragua

It's best to keep a low profile at Ometepe Island. Nicaragua has a law by which anyone 'committing' anal intercourse can be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison. Homosexual activities are considered acts of sodomy.

From Lake Nicaragua, the same lake that the Spanish conquerors called the ‘fresh water sea’ because of its sheer size, rises the island Ometepe. The name Ometepe means ‘two hills’ in the native ‘náhuatl’ language. The island measures 276 square kilometers and it houses two majestic volcanoes connected through a small strip of land (5,282-foot Mount Concepcion is active). Ometepe is currently one of the destinations admired by both local and international tourists for its nature, hospitality, beautiful landscapes, the two volcanoes, a rich archeological background, relaxing beaches and its numerous natural reserves and forests that enjoy a high biodiversity. The hour ferry ride and protected-area status keep visitors at bay.

At the Charco Verde Natural Reserve, you can rent a kayak and paddle to the pristine Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde). The lagoon is surrounded by mangrove forest and lush vegetation. It is separated from Lake Nicaragua by a small strip of land. You can spot many local as well as migratory birds including herons, cormorants, and kingfishers.

If you're looking for a place to stay, check out Hotel Villa Paraiso's cabanas which are made of stone and overlook the beach (from $21). http://www.vianica.com/hotels/28/hotel-villa-paraiso

Ometepe Tourism Website

Yaukuve Island
Fiji

It's best to keep a low profile at Yaukuve Island. Fiji has a law by which anyone 'committing' gay sex can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison and 'attempting' up to 7 years. 

Not just a resort, but a lifestyle, Yaukuve Island Resort embodies Seclusion, Style and Serenity. Born of lava and ringed by teeming reef, Yaukuve Island is the quintessential private island retreat for those seeking luxurious privacy. This previously uninhabited island is flanked by four pristine beaches and crowned by a pocket of tropical rainforest on the southern summit of its 152 acres.

Try sailing to one of the 700-plus islands in Fiji that are still unpopulated.

Only twenty-four exclusive residences are available to guests in this pristine paradise, to create one of the South Pacific's most private and exclusive tropical experiences. Yaukuve's Solevu Restaurant & Lounge Bar and Malua-wai Pool & Bar are all located along the central mountain ridge, offering stunning 360 degree views... ... ... ... ... ... .... as breathtaking at dawn and dusk as they are when bathed in the tropical sun (from $1,350).

Yaukuve Resort Website

Moyo Island
Indonesia

Homosexuality has traditionally been an integral part of Indonesian culture, and many married men also maintain sexual relations with members of the same sex. 

Moyo Island, at the mouth of Saleh Bay, has a nature reserve with wild oxen, deer, wild boars and a great variety bird species. Visits are best made during the dry season from June through August. A few kilometers of the north coast of Sumbawa, the national park island of Moyo Island is probably the most rewarding destination in Sumbawa, surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and home to wild pig, monitor lizards, 21 species of bat, huge herds of native deer and hordes of crab-eating macaques. The best time to visit is in June and July, though the seas are clear and quiet from April.

Take a day trip from Amanwana to the center of the island and visit a waterfall for a swim. The limestone pools offer indiscriminate swimming. 

The luxury tents at the island's only resort, Amanwana, face the ocean or the jungle (from $650). 

Amanwana Resort Website  

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