Imagine waking up each morning to the sound of ocean waves massaging the shore, dining on a breakfast of fresh coconuts and spending the day waning away on your own secret island far from the hustle and bustle of over-stressed tourists and their under-disciplined kids.
Then, consider visiting one of the six most remote islands in the world. It may take you a day – or six – to get there … but in end, it’s worth it.
Ecuador has a banana-shaped island, the Dutch are building a tulip-shaped island and the US … well, and we have an aircraft carrier. Tern Island, located in the French Frigate Shoals is the remote atoll the U.S. Navy used as a stopover point during World War II.
This 30-acre coral island was a tad too small to safely accommodate a landing plane, so the Navy expanded the island with a steel wall.
Today, Tern Island is a safe-haven for millions of nesting seabirds, Hawaiian Monk seals and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.
Due of the sensitivity of the endangered animals, admittance to Tern Island is limited to biologists and researchers. However, if you are up for one of the most enchanting island experiences of your life and you’ve got at least four months to spare, you can consider a volunteer opportunity through the US Fish and Wildlife Services.
Tristan da Cunha Island
The most remote inhabited island in the world, Tristan da Cunha is a daunting six-day cruise from Cape Town, South Africa and is located approximately 1,350 miles from its nearest neighbor, Saint Helena. Located smack in the middle of nowhere, the Tristan da Cunha island group is composed of six islands that total 52 square miles, with the namesake island claiming 21 miles of coastline and a six-mile girth.
Queen Mary’s Peak, the highest point on Tristan da Cunha, is an active volcano that last erupted in 1961, forcing evacuation of all of the island’s 300 inhabitants. Most of the English-speaking residents returned to the island where they share a grand total of seven surnames. Note to the traveling wise … many a would-be Tristan da Cunha tourist has hopped on a fishing vessel and set sail for the island only to be turned away at the gates. All travelers must secure approval from the Island Council before they can visit.
What lengths would you go to for a little peace and quiet? In the early 1950s, New Zealander Tom Neale took drastic measures when he became a modern-day Robinson Crusoe and moved to deserted Suwarrow Island. For more than 15 years, Neale caught fish, dined on coconut crabs and raised chickens on Suwarrow, whose total land mass is a whopping 0.25 mile.
However, Neale wasn’t alone in his devotion to the island. Undoubtedly visited by pirates and privateers years before his arrival, Suwarrow is a real life treasure island that has yielded treasure chests full of gold and silver coins. Suwarrow was declared a National Heritage Park in 1978 and today the island and its reef are protected under Cook Islands law. Suwarrow is a breeding ground for seabirds and its reef is home to crabs, sharks, rare green turtles and the occasional humpback whale. Pacific Expeditions, Ltd plans one trip a year to Suwarrow with prices starting at $2,800 per person.
Boasting some of the best coral reef snorkeling in the world, the Surin Island National Park is made up of five islands, located 70 kilometers off of Thailand’s west coast. The two main islands – cleverly named South Surin and North Surin – are separated by a narrow channel. The islands are largely uninhabited but a few bungalows and campsites, as well as a small restaurant, are open between November and May. There are approximately 150 sea gypsies living in their boats in a bay on North Surin Island. On shore, a wooden sculpture marks the sacred area where the gypsies worship their spirits on the “15th day of the waxing moon” every April. The islands boast more than 200 coral species, such as fire corals, brain corals and ruby-red gorgonian sea fans. The best way to reach the Surin Islands are via the speedboat tours from Phuket.
Prefer a remote island where you can mingle with at least a few other people? Then, maybe the San Blas Archipelago in Panama is more your thing. San Blas is part of the Kuna Indian reservation in Panama and consists of a chain of almost 400 islands that stretch along the Caribbean coast. Small communities are spread throughout 49 of the islands where the indigenous people maintain their native language and culture.
The Kuna woman are distinguished by their colorful molas shirts, the richly decorated beads that adorn their wrists and calves and the bright red scarves, nose rings and face painting that complete their look. If you want to take a picture of one of these women, pull out your wallet – a $1.00 is expected. Accommodations on the island are rather rustic with most offering small cabins or huts – sans AC and hot water – for around $25. The easiest way to reach San Blas is by taking a domestic flight from Panama City.
One of the most mysterious remote islands in the world is located in the South Pacific between Chili and Tahiti and has a mysterious air and untold history scientists can’t wait to uncover. For millions of years, Easter Island was vacant, home to fleeting seabirds and marine life until a tribe of people called Rapa Nui arrived and claimed the land as their own. For centuries they thrived on the 64 square mile island – building homes, establishing flora and crafting moai, the gigantic volcanic rock statues we know today. At the height of their civilization there were between 7,000 and 9,000 residents. Today most of the island’s 3,000 citizens live in the town of Hanga Rea. Tourism on Easter Island is increasing – some say too quickly – and there is a large selection of hotels, restaurants and shops. The most reliable way to reach Easter Island is via airplane from Chile or Tahiti.
Read more about islands and hidden destinations:
- 7 Excellent Small Islands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
- Italian Islands: Choose the Best One for You
- 5 of the World’s Best Kept Secret Destinations
About the author:
Cherrye Moore is a freelance writer and B&B owner living along the sunny shores of Catanzaro, Italy. When she isn’t sunning on the beach or jogging along the coast in her teeny bikini, she’s cleaning bathrooms at Il Cedro B&B. Ahhh, the glamorous life. Read more about Cherrye Moore.