KDHamptons Travel Diary: Globetrotting Guru Lee Abbamonte Shares His Top 10 Island Destinations
Looking for a spectacular new travel destination this winter? KDHamptons checks in with my travel expert friend, Lee Abbamonte, who holds the title as the youngest American to visit every country in the world. I met Lee on a trip to Marrakech and have joined his legion of fans who follow his far flung adventures and extreme travel conquests around the globe. Abbamonte’s back story reads more like a Hollywood script: After working in corporate finance, energy and wealth management for eight years, the Wall Street vet decided to shed his custom suit to go run with the bulls, bungee jump over Victoria Falls, hang glide over Rio de Janeiro, dodge bullets in the Libyan civil war, and visit over 318 total countries. Learn more about Lee in this exclusive NEW KDHamptons Travel Diary and check out his list of the Best Islands in the World, below:
KDHamptons: Can you give our readers a “short list” of your most memorable travels?
Lee Abbamonte: Some of my extreme traveling highlights include trekking to the South Pole, conquering the world’s highest bungee jump in South Africa, tracking silverback gorillas in Rwanda, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, playing golf in Afghanistan during the war, going on safari in the Serengeti, and white-water rafting down the level-five rapids of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. Some of the more distant places I’ve been to include: Timbuktu; Madagascar; Qatar; Galapagos Islands; Syria; South Sudan; Bora Bora; Togo; Ras Al Khaimah; Congo; Samarkand; Laos; Azores; Cabinda; Abkhazia; Montserrat; Guinea Bissau; Lakshadweep Islands; Petra; Sri Lanka; Burundi; Ethiopia; French Guiana; Goa; Alaska; Bequia; Tibet; Aitutaki; Trans Dniester; Turkmenistan; Yap; Liberia…..
KDHamptons: What were the top three qualifications you based your “Best Islands” rating on?Lee: Beauty, my personal experience on the island, with the people, food, scenery, history and overall likability, and “Would I like to go back/recommend to others?”
KDHamptons: Which island would you be “okay” with getting exiled to alone?
Lee: I could live on Lord Howe Island in Australia alone for a long time! It is so beautiful, pristine and just plain perfect that I see nothing wrong with being exiled there!
KDHamptons: Okay, on which island would your “Swept Away” film fantasy happen?
Lee: I would go with the Cook Islands, especially the outer islands such as Aitutaki where you really get that swept away look and feel but there is still some infrastructure so you can move around. Many islands like that don’t have the accessibility so I’d go with the Cooks and Aitutaki specifically.
KDHamptons: Which upcoming 2015 travel adventure are you looking forward to most, and why?
Lee: I look forward to all my trips but right now it’s my North Pole adventure that I am most looking forward to. I just returned from the South Pole so I have to complete the set!
KDHamptons: Where does your insatiable case of wanderlust come from?
Lee: That’s a good question! My grandparents liked to travel after they retired but my parents never liked to travel. That said, I never liked that we didn’t travel as kids but I think I made up for it! I was always very adventurous and I guess a natural progression from jumping off cliffs and trees in Connecticut was traveling the world and having global adventures!
KDHamptons: Where can we see more footage of your adventures?
Lee: I appear regularly on Fox News, HLN, Bloomberg TV, Travel Channel, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, AJAM, ESPN and many others. I have also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Yahoo Travel, Discovery Channel, Today, Travel Zoo, Smart Money, Slate, OK! Magazine, Frommers, Peter and countless others. Check out my website: LeeAbbamonte.com and follow me @leeabbamonte on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
KDHamptons: Okay, let’s get to your Top Ten Best Islands list.
Lee: Here you go, enjoy the countdown….
5. Bermuda, UK