1. Cocos Islands
These islands, officially known as the Territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, lie midway between Australia and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. The nearest landmass is Christmas Island to the northeast. Only two of the 27 coral islands making up the two atolls of North Keeling Island and South Keeling Islands are inhabited, with a total of about 600 people. The islands boast the Cocos (Keeling) Island International Airport, with flights to Perth, Australia. There is also access by boat. But those who make the trip are rewarded with utterly empty beaches, calm blue waters and untouched nature. Most tourists come for the seclusion, and after arriving, enjoy the snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, kitesurfing, canoeing and quiet exploring of uninhabited tropical islands.
2. Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands is famous for the brief war waged over them by Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982. But today, it is experiencing economic growth and an increase in tourism. They are still, however, some of the most remote islands in the world. 460 km from the coast of mainland South America in the South Atlantic Ocean, this archipelago of 778 islands has had a tumultuous history for a place with only about 3,000 inhabitants. Getting to one of the two main islands - East Falkland and West Falkland - is easier than expected. But getting around once you arrive may require some off-roading or boat travel. There are plenty of outdoor activities, as well as shopping and dining, but lest you forget you are in a remote place, the penguins there outnumber the people!
3. Pitcairn Island
The centre of the southern Pacific Ocean is a pretty remote place, and the tiny Pitcairn Islands are several hundred kilometres from any other landmasses. The closest neighbouring islands are the Gambler Islands and Tahiti to the west. Pitcairn Island, the second largest of the four volcanic islands, is home to only fifty hardy souls. None of the other islands is inhabited. Many of them are descendants of crewmembers from the famous ship HMS Bounty, which played the starring role in the infamous mutiny in which the sailors overthrew their captain, burned their ship and decided to settle in this idyllic place. This island is truly remote - there is no airstrip anywhere in sight, so getting there requires catching a ride on a shipping boat from New Zealand. It can take up to ten days to arrive. This island is truly a unique place to live in modern-day society: there is no taxation. Instead, all able-bodied men and women undertake civil obligations when necessary.
4. Cook Islands
These 15 islands lie between New Zealand and Hawaii in the South Pacific Ocean. Among them, there are only a total of 240 square kilometres of land, but they are spread out over 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean. They are divided into the Southern Cook Islands and the Northern Cook, all formed by volcanic activity at different times. The quickest way to arrive on the Cook Islands is, of course by air. There is an international airport on Rarotonga, the youngest of the islands and also the capital. You can choose a more romantic route, however, and arrive by ocean liner. The white sand beaches and azure waters are what comes to mind when you think of paradise. While tourism attracts 100,000 visitors per year, you may not know it when you find yourself on a remote, uninhabited beach with crystal clear waters lapping at the sand.
5. Saint Helena
When someone is sent into exile, it is usually to a remote place. Thus it was for Napoleon Bonaparte when he was sent to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. His home for the last years of his life, Longwood House, has been turned into a museum. The port on Saint Helena was a welcome respite in the vast kilometres of ocean for the ships of the East India Company on their way home. This volcanic island measures 16 by 8 kilometres and has a population of a little more than 4,000, mostly descendants of the original British settlers. Step onto the island and you are 2,000 kilometres away from the nearest major landmass. Being so remote and with no commercial airport, a ship is the only way to get to this island. The RMS Saint Helena will continue to make runs between the island and Cape Town, South Africa until the planned airstrip is completed. Saint Helena, named for Saint Helena of Constantinople, is Britains second-oldest remaining colony (overseas territory).
6. Easter Island
Easter Island is best known for its 887 monumental statues, called moai. The statues were created on this Polynesian island by the early Rapanui people. Located in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island got its name when the first recorded European visitor arrived on Easter Sunday in 1722. It is a volcanic island with three extinct coalesced volcanoes, whose nearest inhabited neighbour is that other extremely remote place - Pitcairn Island. Aside from the stern-looking maoi that seem to watch over the island, there are also more than 4,000 petroglyphs, or rock carvings located on Easter Island. Getting to Easter Island is half the adventure, with only one airline making the trip from Santiago, Chile. If youre looking for a remote island with a visible history, Easter Island is worth the trip. You certainly wont find any crowds there - there are only 23 inhabitants per square kilometre.
7. Galapagos Islands
1,000 kilometres west of Ecuador lies an archipelago of volcanic islands that are distributed around the Equator. The Islands and surrounding waters form and Ecuadorian province, a biological marine reserve and a national park. These pacific islands are best known for the studies of endemic species done by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle and which contributed to the theories of evolution and natural selection. The group of islands consists of 15 main islands and three smaller ones and remain an astounding natural habitat. Many of the species are unique to the islands, and visiting is like stepping into a wildlife time machine. The only way to get there from the mainland is by plane from the Guayaquil or Quito airports, and no one-way tickets are allowed. The islands get their name from the famous Galapagos tortoise, which can be found there. These islands are so far from any other land that many insects even evolved to have shortened or non-existent wings since they had nowhere else to fly.
This island nation, officially called the Republic of Kiribati, is made up of 32 atolls and one raised coral island. With a population of 100,000 people, it may not sound so remote. But note that the islands and atolls are spread out over 3.5 million square kilometres, crossing the equator and, at its easternmost point, bordering the International Date Line. Thus, the sun rises first in Kiribati. It is considered one of the least-developed countries in the world, and getting there can be prohibitively expensive. Most travellers make it first to Fiji instead of trying to get directly to Kiribati. Be prepared to rough it on this remote island, with a limited variety of food and sleeping accommodations ranging to the "indigenous" with electricity provided only at night.
9. Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is the main island in a remote, volcanic group of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. It holds the claim to being the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, situated 2,816 kilometres from the nearest land, South Africa. The name comes from the Portuguese sailor Tristão da Cunha. Even though he was unable to land because of rough seas, he named the islands after himself when he first encountered them in 1506. The 98 square miles of Tristan da Cunha Island are inhabited by about 275 people. The other islands in the group - the Nightingale Islands and the wildlife reserves of Inaccessible Island and Gough Island - are uninhabited. This is another remote area that can only be reached by sea, as there is no airstrip. This island has 80 families living on it and is so remote that there wasnt even television until 2001!
10. Attu Island
The Aleutian Islands form a long chain to the west of Alaska. Attu Island is the largest and also the farthest west, making it the westernmost point of land relative to Alaska and the United States. The only inhabited area on the island, Attu Station, has a population of 20, most of whom are coastguardsmen and -women. Prior to World War II, Attu Station, then Attu Village, was inhabited by native Aleuts. Attu Island was the site of many deaths as it went back and forth from U.S. to Japanese occupation because of its strategic location. Today, however, it is one of the most remote places on Earth, with terrible weather and little human life. This island is visited only by the most adventurous travellers.
Greg Pearson on 13 Feb 2012
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