Following BBC Earth's Tropical Islands
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Earth's Tropical Islands takes a unique look at the world's most isolated and diverse tropical islands, exploring the rich biodiversity and remote communities who have thrived there. With three episodes devoted respectively to the iconic Madagascar, Borneo and Hawaii, this immersive series is a journey into ancient worlds and ecosystems, beautiful island havens that have evolved in relative isolation over time. Although this incredible series aired in January 2020, it's still available to watch on BBC iPlayer if you missed out.
BY Emma Hookway
Luxtripper Travel Editor

I absolutely loved watching this series and have been astounded by the beauty of Madagascar, Borneo and Hawaii. 


The oldest island in the world, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent approximately 88 million years ago, its isolation allowing for unique plants and animals to evolve. Earth's Tropical Islands seeks to explore this vast island; for it is indeed vast, about 2.4 times bigger than the UK!

When watching the programme, what particularly fascinated me was learning in more detail about Madagascar's two distinct terrains: one of arid desert, one of lush rainforest, separated by a domineering mountain range that prevents warm clouds from the Indian Ocean moving to the west of the island. Despite the variation in climate and terrain, Madagascar's most iconic native primate, the lemur, has evolved into 32 different species who live across the whole of the island, from the the otherworldly Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park to the northern tropical island of Nosy Be.

Where to Stay?

Madagascar is diverse, and a holiday here should be treated as a journey instead of settling in one fixed place. Les Soleil Des Tsingy Lodge makes for the perfect place to stay when visiting Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, its sustainable ethos meaning that its minimalist Bungalows and facilities beautifully incorporate the unique natural environment into their design. 

Whilst Madagascar only has a small number of luxury hotels, Time and Tide Miavana has set the precedent for private-island exclusivity, considered to be the first 5-star eco-luxury resort in Madagascar. Set on the paradisaical island of Nosy Ankao, this stunning resort only has 14 villas and is nestled on a beach worthy of the Maldives, the ideal place to conclude a holiday in Madagascar. 


Until 2.5 million years ago, Borneo was connected to mainland Southeast Asia, part of a large land mass known as Sundaland. As glaciers melted, sea levels rose, thus turning Borneo into the island we know today, its surrounding shallow waters home to mesmersing coral reefs. 

Cast adrift from the rest of Southeast Asia, Borneo has developed thousands of unique plant and animal species that have all adapted to live in its vast mountains, jungles and mangroves. Aside from the much-loved orangutan, one of these incredible native animals are the distinctive proboscis monkeys; what especially astounded me was how these daring primates jump into the crocodile-rich waters in the Kinabatangan River to get to the freshly-grown foliage on the other side. What the programme also did well to highlight was Borneo's beautiful coastlines, particularly the unique lives of the nomadic Sama-Bajau fishing community who live on the water. 

Where to Stay?

Although the Bornean rainforest may seem impenetrable to the outsider, it is in fact possible to stay alongside the Kinabatangan River. The eco-friendly Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World, is located 2 and a half hours by boat along the river, its secluded spot ideal for wildlife encounters and river safaris. 

A stay at Sukau is both thrilling and action-packed, so for relaxation and some 'down time', it's best to end a holiday in Borneo at Gaya Island Resorta luxury resort situated off the northern coastline of Kota Kinabalu. As well as beautiful beaches and replenishing spa treatments, the lodge also offers adventures in nature including mangrove kayaking and scuba diving. 


The world's most remote island chain, Hawaii is surrounded by nothing but the vast blue of the Pacific Ocean. Yet, despite its isolation, these volcanic islands (each created by a volcanic hot-spot on the ocean floor) are teeming with life, whether it's in the warm surrounding waters, dry canyons or lush rainforests.

Hawaii is the bearer of life for many marine animals; in the programme, it was incredible to see how humpback whales travel all the way from Alaska to give birth to their calves. What was even more incredible, however, was the Goby fish, whose remarkable evolutionary development means that they can climb 300-foot waterfalls to get to the safer water at the top! Although only 8 Hawaiian islands are inhabited, there are surprisingly 137 islands in total, each island eroding as it drifts further north, eventually being transformed into sandbanks. One of these remote island sandbanks is in fact home to hundreds of albatross, ocean-faring birds with impressive wing-spans of over 3 metres!

Where to Stay?

Hawaii really is on the other side of the world, so to make the most out of your stay, it's best to visit a few of the islands. Starting on Oahu at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spathis is the place to experience Honolulu's vibrant nightlife, laid-back surf culture and an eclectic range of culinary choices. 

Flying to Hawaii's Big Island, Fairmont Orchid provides that much needed 5-star elegance, its unique 'spa without walls' concept ideal for properly unwinding and relaxing. With luxurious accommodation and a beautiful beachfront, the resort's extensive facilities mean there will be plenty to see and do. We do recommend, however, visiting the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for landscapes that are simply out-of-this-world. 

Feeling Inspired?

If you feel inspired by this incredible series and would love to visit these beautiful destinations for yourself, get in touch with one of our Luxury Travel Specialists who can organise your dream tropical island getaway. 

Hotels in this article
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Oahu, Hawaii
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa sits proudly along Honolulu’s iconic Waikiki Beach, boasting breathtaking views of glittering aquamarine waters, endless blue skies and soft glimmering sands while offering guests exceptional world-class service, exceptional facilities and luxurious comfort. The resort
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Time and Tide Miavana
Africa, Madagascar
Miavana’s dazzling location on one of Madagascar’s pristine reef-protected islands makes it the perfect destination to experience the thrill of exciting wildlife viewing paired with the shimmering white sands and turquoise waters of a paradise escape. The resort features just
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Gaya Island Resort
Asia, Malaysia
Malaysia holidays are nothing if not astounding, and this fabulous resort proves this. Nestled within a gorgeous marine park amidst protected mangroves and on top of pristine white sands, the Gaya Island Resort is truly breath-taking to behold. The 4.5-star
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