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Santorini

Santorini

What you likely know: Santorini is one of the most breathtaking and romantic islands in the world. What you probably don't: It's actually a group of islands in the southernmost part of the Cyclades, the largest of which is the crescent-shaped Thira. When you step into the mythical village of Oia, on Thira's northernmost tip, with its whitewashed cubist buildings atop multicolored cliffs it's no surprise Cousteau once searched for the lost city of Atlantis here. Relax in a chaise lounge on the colorful sands of Santorini's famous Red Beach or taste assyrtiko, a dry white wine on a winery tour of the island, both byproducts of having endured one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. 960 1280

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Mykonos

Mykonos

The most popular island in Greece, Mykonos has all the trappings you'd expect that attract the Jet Set: glamorous shops open until midnight, trendy galleries, rollicking nightlife and plethora of water sports off Psarou beach. What's not lost, however, are winding, white-marble streets, the quaint windmills of Kato Myli, hidden, blue-domed churches and charming, small museums. The south shore boasts the best beaches whether you're looking to spend time with family (try Ornos), relax (find a quiet cove at Agrari) or party (see what all the fuss is about on the hedonistic Paradise beach). Expect crowds and high prices during the high season, but the quintessential town of Hora is still worth a visit. 960 1280

Digital Vision / Getty Images  

Paros

Paros

What Paros lacks in large crowds, it makes up for in traditional Cycladen architecture and unrivaled natural beauty. In past lives it was best known for its marble (in which the Venus de Milo and Napoleon's tomb were carved) and central location in the Aegean Sea (it's a major ferry hub for nearby Naxos, Santorini and Mykonos). The charming capital of Parikia is home to the 6th century Panayia Ekatontapyliani, which roughly translates to the "church with one hundred doors." To the north, the old port of Naoussa manages to be equal parts quaint fishing town and nightlife hub. Beautiful Golden and New Golden Beaches in the south east are ideal for sunbathing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. 960 1280

Look / Getty Images  

Hydra

Hydra

Hydra's picturesque harbor in the Saronic gulf is full of open-air cafes, artful shops and chic boutiques -- where the owners are as charming as their wares. There are no cars or scooters on the island and everything is generally moved by donkeys up the steep mountain slope. Climb the tiny, marble lanes for views of the beautifully-preserved architecture or sunbathe on the large flat rocks and watch gutsy tourists attempt to jump off cliff tops. Once a popular hideout for celebrities such as the Rolling Stones and the Onassis family -- the nightlife won't disappoint either. Watch the sun set over cocktails or a white-tablecloth dinner at the aptly named Sunset Restaurant, just 2 minutes around the corner from the main port. It's second only to Santorini in its beauty. 960 1280

Aurora / Getty Images  

Corfu

Corfu

With stately cypresses, shimmering olive groves and rugged mountains you'll find Homer's "beautiful and rich land" off the west coast of Greece. While Corfu's stunning coastline has attracted areas of dense tourism, it remains one of the greenest of the Greek Islands. Much like the other Ionian islands, the beautifully preserved Old Quarter -- A UNESCO world heritage site -- has Venetian influences including a 15th-century fortress. 960 1280

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Ios

Ios

Beware of "the season" on Ios. Every July and August the island becomes a youthful party destination, with beach parties stretching from midday into the wee hours in Mylopotas, while shoulder season (from mid-April to mid-June) draws older travelers and families looking for a quieter pace. 960 1280

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Jacques Cousteau put Sipadan on map with his film Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle (1989): “I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now, no more. Now, we have found again an untouched piece of art…” 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem off the island of Sipadan. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Channeling Charlie’s Angels, Jen, Holly and Amanda get pumped for their underwater adventure. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Always be respectful of the underwater world. One of the most amazing feelings is to be able to swim alongside a Barricuda or see a shark up close. But you have to remember that you are in their world now, and to not touch the fish you see, you don’t want to hurt yourself or the wildlife.” -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

If you plan to dive off Sipadan, stay in the handful of dive resorts in Mabul. Tourists are not allowed to sleep on the protected island of Sipadan, and the government allows only 120 passes to the island a day (which you should secure prior to traveling from a dive resort). 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The Lost Girls dove with Borneo Divers, the original operators for the region who first introduced ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau to Sipadan, which then turned the area into a world-famous diving destination. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

When diving Sipadan, you’ll see turtles everywhere, dining on the sponges and algae, or lounging on the wall ledges. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

The camouflaged crocodilefish found hiding in Sipadan waters is much tamer than its lookalike reptile. 960 1280

  

The best-known snorkeling and dive islands are Mabul and Sipadan, located at the southern end of the archipelago. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

Sipadan draws divers from across the globe, with famous dive sites such as Barracuda Point where you can swim alongside a school of circling barracuda in a tornado-like formation. 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“The second I took that giant stride from the boat into the water, descended down to about 30 feet, I looked up and saw the entire sky above me. It was this incredible, open, free feeling of floating in the water. “ -- Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“Scuba diving for me, no matter where I go and how I dive, is always a new experience.” -- Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“I live so much of my life in automatic pilot, and I love that diving puts you in that mindful mode, like yoga, where you focus on your breathing -- you’re living totally in the moment. “ -- Holly 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“With any sport, scuba diving takes practice. If you are interested in learning to dive, I recommend what I did a few years ago. I fully immersed myself in diving by going to an all-inclusive dive resort, which helps you to hone your skills and be more comfortable as a diver. “ – Jen 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

“No matter where you go in the world, you’ll always find other people who love scuba diving, too. It’s like a secret club that you will be a part of the second you get your scuba certification. If you go to Borneo or Mexico or anywhere in the world where there’s great scuba diving, you’ll find this incredible group of people to share the experience with.” – Amanda 960 1280

Budd Riker, lightinthesea.com  

New Zealand

New Zealand

Don't be put off by the name of Cape Kidnappers in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand. The country actually has very friendly residents to go along with its awe-inspiring scenery. 960 1280

Chris McLennan  

New Zealand

New Zealand

Solo travelers who are fans of the Lord of the Rings movies are sure to find like-minded tourists at Hobbiton in Matamata. 960 1280

Sara Orme  

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam gets kudos as one of the most female-friendly travel destinations in Southeast Asia. The views are nothing to sneeze at, either. Case in point: the "Cave of Awe" in Halong Bay. 960 1280

Nicholas Reuss/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Vietnam

Vietnam

Admire the rice field terraces and surrounding mountains in Sapa in northern Vietnam, and then head into town to browse the markets. 960 1280

Bucketlistly.com  

Iceland

Iceland

When it comes to stunning natural attractions and safety for solo travelers, Iceland can't be beat. There's certainly no shortage of magical spots for contemplation, including Kirkjufell Waterfall. 960 1280

Schroptschop/E+/Getty Images  

Iceland

Iceland

Make friends with the puffins and other birds that live on the cliffs at Latrabjarg, the westernmost point of Iceland. 960 1280

Win-Initiative/Getty Images  

Morocco

Morocco

The seaside city of Essaouira is one of Morocco's most laid-back and beautiful destinations. 960 1280

  

Morocco

Morocco

Solo travelers will never be bored in Morocco, especially with all the souks, or markets, like this one in Fez. 960 1280

Des/Room/Getty Images  

India

India

Despite the horror stories, India can be — with some careful planning and research — one of the most rewarding destinations for solo travelers. Stroll through the streets and markets of cities such as Jodhpur. 960 1280

Xavier Arnau/E+/Getty Images  

India

India

Explore the cultural riches and deep spiritual roots of India at sites such as the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful wonders of the world. 960 1280

Douglas Pearson/The Image Bank/Getty Images   

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