Really, really want to get away from it all? Try visiting one of world’s most remote islands!
By Lora O’Brien
It seems the modern world can be overwhelmingly hectic for many of us. Whether you’re dodging germs on the daily commute or run ragged raising kids, we all need to hit the pause button from time to time. But often a holiday doesn’t give us the respite we need, especially with social media often along coming on vaycay with us. The compulsive need to post pics and scroll our social media feeds means that we never really shut off, but sometimes, that’s the very thing we all need!
Here, I’ve found 1- of the most remote islands in the world. These are places where you can delve deeply into nature, clear your mind and get in touch with your innermost self. These are not easy places to visit, for the most part. Thank god, right? Their remoteness has preserved their beauty. These are places where local flora and fauna is still intact, and where tourism is still minimal – or even restricted.
You may not actually ever be able to visit even one of these places, but personally, just knowing they exist is somehow comforting! So whether you’re looking for golden beaches, lost civilisations or a remote mountain terrain, here are some of the world’s most remote islands that we can at least all dream about seeing one day.
10 Of The World’s Most Remote Islands
It’s hard to believe that one of the world’s most remote islands is actually in Europe, but there it is!
São Miguel is the largest island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago, and is best known for its breathtaking volcanic scenery and rich marine life. With only 5-10% of the islands built up, the rest is left to nature. Since there’s a relatively small area to cover, taking a day trip around São Miguel is probably the best way to experience everything this stunning island has to offer.
From bubbly geysers that are thousands of years old, to the winding roads, volcanic hikes and natural thermal pools, São Miguel is a haven for lovers of the great outdoors. To the northwest lies the twin crater lakes of Sete Cidades, where you can explore the different coloured lakes; one green, one blue. To the east, Furnas has fumaroles and hot springs to visit.
What to do: Why not have your dinner cooked for you by Mother Nature? Furnas, a volcanic hotspot of São Miguel, also serves as an oven to locals who bury pots of food in the potholes in between steamed vents and mud pools. It takes around six hours to cook a meal, but why not take a hike while you wait?
If you’ve just returned from a long walk and need to cool off, grab your snorkelling gear and visit the Vila Franca Islet, the best bathing site in the whole of the Azores. With barely any waves, it’s kid-friendly, too! From diving, massages up a mountain and tasting Europe’s only tea plantation, one thing is for sure – fun excursions in São Miguel are plentiful!
Tasmania offers warm balmy days that linger into the evening, adventures to be had at every turn, and plenty of special memories ready to be made. There are two sides to this treasured part of the Land Down Under: the towns, and the wilderness. You can choose to immerse yourself in the perfect isolation of Tasmania, or enjoy the fab festivals, sensational food and drink and intimate beauty that this Australian island has to offer.
Home to only 500,000 people, Tasmania is located 241 km south of the continent. It is the only place where you can find the loud, stinky, fierce Tasmanian devil, a kind of marsupial that’s now endangered, and it’s also home to the stunning Knyvet Falls, which looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings movies!
What to do: Thanks to Tasmania’s diverse and ancient landscapes, there is plenty to do and see. Hire a bike and go mountain biking, or drive off the beaten track to discover a fascinating world of caves, or if you prefer, head to the water for a great kayaking or rafting adventure. Love beachy holidays? You won’t want to miss Wineglass Bay, whose vanilla sand beaches and azure seas rank it as one of the best beaches in all of Australia.
3. Maui, Hawaii
Nicknamed ‘The Valley Isle’ due to the great valley that lies between its two major volcanoes, Maui is famous for its natural beauty. Whether you prefer to delve into the unique local culture or go in search of off-the-beaten-path adventures, there are lots of unique and eye-opening ways to spend your time in here.
A popular honeymooning destination, this romantic island is the perfect place to soak up the sun on the sparkling sands of Kaanapali Beach, inhale the fragrant fields of the island’s many lavender farms, or take a gastronomic tour by staying at one of the many B&Bs situated on local organic farms.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking in the lush Iao Valley and discovering the rich flora and fauna thriving in Haleakala National Park.
What to do: A trip to Maluaka Beach is a must! Lovingly referred to as ‘Turtle Town,’ the beach is known for being home to lots of Hawaiian green sea turtles. And if you choose to visit in February or March, you’ll be able to join in the Maui Whale Festival, where you can join a ship to catch a view of these incredible mammals during peak humpback whale season. Looking for a more spiritual connection to nature? Trek into the lush rainforest and bamboo trees to discover seven sacred pools set amongst a series of cascading waterfalls.
Not all island holidays are about the beach! For example, Sakhalin is Russia’s largest island, and is a 1,000-kilometre-long strip of land off the east coast of Russia, just north of Japan. Instead of swimming in tepid waters, most visitors here prefer to hit the slopes! Visit local ski resort, Gorny Vozdukh, to enjoy the 600-meter altitude that Mount Bolshevik has to offer. The resort’s highest point is covered in snow during winter and is situated next to the city centre, which makes for some spectacular city views during the descent.
Looking to really explore? A 12-hour, overnight train ride will link you to the south side of the island, where most of the population live. Never a tourist hotspot, Sakhalin is usually overshadowed by its better-known destinations such as Kamchatka, but the Russian island has a range of truly unique experiences for those visiting. From its long stretches of unspoilt nature to the amber-strewn shores of the Starodubskoye beaches, it’s perfect for thrill-seekers looking for an unconventional getaway.
What to do: From museums to monuments, there is plenty of culture to be soaked up in Sakhalin. Visit Cape Giant and explore the grottoes created by wind and sea waves. View the giant, a huge rock remnant that resembles the profile of a warrior from afar, where the Cape got its name.
Like many places in Russia, this island is drenched in dramatic history, and those interested should pay a visit to the modest yet informative Sakhalin Regional Museum, where you can learn all about the people who have called Sakhalin their home since prehistoric times.
More of an adrenaline junkie? Go skiing and snowboarding in winter, or sky-diving and mountain biking in summer at Gorny Vozduh. It’s well worth it for the ride on the funicular, which provides breathtaking views of the city.
Being the 10th largest island in the Philippines, Bohol isn’t short on ground to cover! Best known for its jungle life, you’ll find lots of activities in the center of the island where you can spend your vacation snapping your Instagram-worthy jungle adventures. If the thrill-seeking adventures require a little respite, there is lots of history to be learned on the island, too. Everywhere you look you can find traces of historic events, such as the Spanish Colonization, Japanese occupation and U.S. intervention. South of the island you can recline on white-sand beaches with a cocktail and tiki straw in hand. Or if you’re really looking to get to know Filipino culture, why not venture up north to mingle with the locals – who still aren’t used to seeing tourists!
What to do: Hire a bike and navigate the winding roads and cultural sights along the way to The Chocolate Hills; a popular tourist attraction where lay hundreds of symmetrical green mountainous hills. Or if you’re wanting to get your adrenaline flowing, visit the Bamboo Hanging Bridge where you’ll walk across a seemingly delicate (yet safe!) bamboo-weaved bridge over a slow-flowing river.
Most famous as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking works on evolution, the Galapagos lie 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Consisting of 13 main islands and hundreds of smaller islets, all created by volcanic activity starting over 4 million years ago, the Galapagos remained in glorious isolation from human interference until the 16th century. Because of this, the islands gave rise to a great number of unique endemic species, including the famous Galapagos Giant Tortoises, marine iguanas, and the wonderful blue-footed booby, to name but a few.
The remoteness of the islands and their unique nature makes visiting a true adventure, and lends itself to a luxurious “trip of a lifetime” experience, and only 5 of the Galapagos islands have been permanently inhabited, but human activity and introduced alien species have meant that the native animal and plant life across the entire area has come under huge pressure, with many species now being critically endangered.
Recognising the fragility of this unique place, the Ecuadorian government made the whole archipelago a National Park in 1959, and the world’s second largest marine reserve in 1986. Today, in order to protect and preserve the Galapagos as much as possible, the National Park authorities place restrictions on the numbers of tourists and the sites that may be visited.
What to do: Of course, the main thing here is seeing wildlife in its most natural state! So be sure you find a good guide to explain what’s what. Everyone who visits here must be accompanied by a qualified National Park guide, and strict biosecurity measures are enforced for all travellers coming to Galapagos. Marvel at the size of the giant tortoises, gape at the scarlet plumage of the Frigate birds, and giggle at the sweet penguins you’ll encounter.
This far-flung destination is one of the world’s most remote islands – and one of the most mysterious! Of course, it’s best known for its 900 towering stone statues, or Moai. It’s theorised that these date at between 1100 and 1600 AD, but some believe they may be much, much older. These monoliths are believed to represent the different lineages of the original population, later decimated by slave-raiders, smallpox and apparently, cannibalism. Despite the long flights from Chile or Tahiti, visitors still flock there to explore and experience the ultimate in seclusion.
What to do: Reflect on the lost society of this place, and contemplate how fragile all civilisations truly are. This is truly, physically, one of the world’s most remote islands – soak in that feeling of being well and truly away from it all.
Just off the shores of touristy Cartagena lie vast crystalline waters teeming with colourful fish, a rainbow of coral and white sandy beaches. The islands are mainly visited as part of a day trip from the mainland, but there are increasing numbers of small B&Bs opening up to tourists who wish to spend a bit more time here.
What to do: Snorkelling here opens up a glorious underwater world that most can only see in Jacques Cousteau documentaries! You can also order a deliciously fresh fish based lunch at any of the local canteens.
This is about the remotest – and most gorgeous – island on the list! The lushly verdant volcanic Marquesas lie 1400 kilometres north-east of Tahiti in the Paciﬁc Ocean and 4800 kilometres from Mexico. TahuAta is the smallest of the inhabited islands, so it’s a shock to find a magnificent church there. Apparently, it was opened by the Vatican – demonstrating just how long the reach of the Catholic church is. The church is stunning though, and boasts gorgeous wooden carvings, even though it is a bit sad to see this foreign influence in this tropical paradise. Of all the world’s most remote islands, this is the one I’d most like to visit!
What to do: Play Robinson Crusoe on any of the many stunning beaches here. Pick tropical fruits right off the trees, and be amused by the many monkeys playing in the foliage above.
Yep, another of the world’s most remote islands is in Australia! This one is located 1600 kilometres north east of Sydney, and you can get there in just under 2.5-hours from Air New Zealand. This is actually the home of The Bounty mutineers – and now their descendants. It’s a culture all its own. Boasting rolling green hills, expansive national parks, paradisiac beaches and a much simpler way of life, get here before there’s a huge tourist boom!
What to do: Go for long nature walks, or visit one of the many museums dedicated to local flora and fauna, or the historic mutiny on The Bounty
All images via Pixabay except last three, via Wikipedia