Purveyor of Dreams
Welcome to Island Holidays, a personally run, specialist tour operator which I've been operating since establishing it in 1987. We offer relaxed special-interest holidays for small guided groups and also, using our superb network of contacts worldwide, offer independent birding, wildlife and natural history holidays.
For many years we have offered a high number of tours. Now we have decided to specialise in certain areas - notably the South Atlantic Islands with southern Africa and the Polar Regions - the Arctic and Antarctica. But there are so many wonderful places which we still want to offer now and again and these are found in our 'Featured Favourites' section.
NewsSt Helena Airport Delay The opening of the new St Helena Airport has been delayed from February to May 2016. First Landing at St Helena's New Airport Calibration flight from Angola touches down. Final Voyages of the Royal Mail Ship A new airport opening on St Helena will see the end of an era with the Royal Mail Ship being withdrawn from service in 2016. View all Island Holidays news…
Latest tour updates
- Ascension & Falklands 2017dates, itinerary & prices now available
- Scilly Isles 2016 date & prices now available
- New Spitsbergen Cruise Cleaning Shores & Polar Bear Special
- South Atlantic Odyssey 2017 dates & cabin prices now available
- Bulgaria 2016 Black Sea coast birding & wine-tasting
- Greenland Cruises 2016 all the latest date & itinerary changes
Located where the Arctic meets the Atlantic, Greenland is the world's largest island is also the world's largest National Park. Here Musk oxen are still hunted by wolves and seals by man. The scenery has to be seen to be believed with big pointy mountains reflected in narrow fjords, icebergs of unbelievable colours and the countless greens, greys and oranges of mosses, liverworts and lichens with patches of bright flowers.
Throughout the summer our trips change their emphasis from whale-watching further south to watching for the Aurora Borealis in the far north. As well as scenery and wildlife, there's a fascinating culture and heritage to explore.
Isles of Scilly
No islands feel more like islands should than the scattered rocks of the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off Land's End. They combine the roughest of seascapes, looking out to the famously dangerous lighthouses on the Wolf Rock and Bishop Rock, with sheltered spots where sub tropical plants thrive and spring flowers are the main crop.
The five main islands, separated by almost lagoon-like shallow water which turns turquoise in the spring sun, have a mild but windy climate. Although so close to touristy West Country resorts, they have maintained a strong island character. Visitors return year after year and the best accommodation is often fully booked months in advance – one good reason for joining an Island Holidays group!
For us, the Isles of Scilly offer a destination which combines an old fashioned break with an opportunity to pursue your current interests. There is certainly nowhere in the British Isles where you are more likely to find oddities among the avifauna, wanderers far adrift from their normal migration routes.
There's a tiny dot in the Atlantic Ocean, just 7 degrees south of the Equator which represents an island of far more significance than its size implies. Over the centuries Ascension Island has been strategically important and, during the Cold War years, it became a hub of secrecy and intrigue. Probably it still is, it's just that we don't know about it! But that's not the reason we go there. Ascension is a fabulous island with fascinating history and natural history. Nesting Green Turtles, wonderful seabirds and extraordinary scenery combine to offer the visitor a unique experience.
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The Falkland Islands
January 2013 saw the 25th anniversary of the date when five intrepid travellers set out for the Falkland Islands in the company of Bobby Tulloch. It was Island Holidays' first ever tour, the business having been set up in August 1987. And what a success it was. Everyone was amazed by what they found, most especially by the fact that birds and animals seemed to have no fear of man and the more curious would come to inspect us.
Much has changed in the islands from those early days but the warm hospitality and the attitude of the wildlife to people remains unspoilt, as does the landscape and atmosphere.
The islands are much in the news lately - the people are more British than the British and proud of it. That's the message they're trying to get across to certain South American countries who think it should be otherwise!
The most southerly of the Inner Hebrides, Islay is an island of varied and attractive landscapes with a beautiful coastline of sea lochs, spectacular cliffs and long, wide, deserted sandy beaches. Inland you will find upland heather moors and hills, actively worked peat bogs and freshwater lochs, while gentler views are produced by mature sheltered woodlands and extensive areas of farmland.
In winter, Islay is the place to be, particularly if you're wild about geese! Here tens of thousands Barnacle and White-fronts, interspersed with a handful of Brent and Red-breasted Geese, arrive from their northern breeding grounds to winter on an island where farmers and conservationists have worked together to protect their habitat.
There's plenty more in the way of birds to be seen including raptors and waterfowl, and the island also has a fascinating history which we'll not be ignoring – as well as eight whisky distilleries!
Our brand new Crete holiday still incorporates our love of birds and flowers but also reflects our love of the island and its people. It's a beautiful balance between natural history, ancient history and local traditions giving a wonderful all-round experience in this very special island at what we think is the best possible time of year.
Our 10-night holiday is timed to coincide with the peak of bird migration when the olive groves are resonant with birdsong and resident populations of Griffon and Bearded Vultures are joined by such Eastern Mediterranean specialities as Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles and Red-footed Falcons. Over the ten days on Crete we would expect to see around 100 species of bird plus lots of orchids and other wild flowers, whilst not ignoring the archaeological heritage and the traditions of this most wonderful of islands.
At last this amazing, remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean is to become more accessible. An airport is opening in February 2016 and the wonderful Royal Mail Ship St Helena will be withdrawn from July of that year. The whole experience will be completely different.
One thing which won't change is the fascination of this incredible island. Historically it was a vibrant port on the trade routes with more than 1,000 ships calling every year. It was strategically important and had a large British garrison. Later it became famous when Napoleon was sent there in exile for the last five years of his life. He was not the only one to have the island imposed upon him – later there were two Boer prisoner of war camps.
It's not just the history. Scenically St Helena is spectacular and it boasts many endemic plants and one endemic bird – the Wirebird which is listed as endangered. Off shore a resident school of around 400 Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins delight visitors, as do the occasional Whale Sharks and, of course, the seabirds. The people are wonderfully welcoming and, all in all, it's terrific that more people will now be able to enjoy this extraordinary destination with weekly flights from South Africa and the occasional charter from the UK.
Island Holidays currently offers an escorted and guided tour (maximum of 12 clients) on RMS 237 and RMS 240.
Please note that between now and April 2016 there is only very limited accommodation available on the ship for independent travellers. Let us know your preferred dates and we'll discuss options with you.
It's never too early to start planning for what is undoubtedly the trip of a lifetime. Antarctica is a place of incredible icescapes and rich wildlife. If you're a penguin enthusiast this is the place to go! The regular programme takes in the Falklands, South Georgia, Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula. We also offer a fantastic Antarctic Odyssey which starts in at the southern tip of South America and ends in New Zealand taking in such iconic places as the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ross Sea and the World Heritage Site of Macquarie Island.
Upcoming holidays in 2016