Ever heard of a place where a lot of people have never visited? There are certain bragging rights that come with being the first of your
friends to visit a remote destination, but it can be hard to find truly off-the-radar spots these days. That’s where we come in. We’ve rounded
up some of the most isolated and most uncrowded places around the world for the most adventurous travellers, from Australia to the Arctic.
Want to feel more like an explorer than a tourist? Consider planning a trip to one of these remote destinations whether it’s a secret island or
an underrated U.S. national park.
Socotra Island, Yemen
Much of the island of Socotra part of the Republic of Yemen, though 220 miles away in the Arabian Sea feels untouched by modern civilization. Perhaps nothing better conveys the island’s sense of otherness than its population of dragon’s blood trees, with their UFO-like tops and eerie, bright red sap (hence the name). The island has a population of about 60,000, with at most 3,000 people visiting per year.
How to visit: Socotra’s airport is technically operational, but it’s hard to find flights due to the war in mainland Yemen. Your best chance of visiting is by obtaining a permit from the UAE or waiting for eco-tourism companies to start offering tours to the island, according to National Geographic.
In the far northern reaches of Canada, Nunavut is as sparse as it is surreal. Roughly the size of California, Texas, Montana, Colorado, and Nebraska combined, the wild territory has a population of just 38,396 (and zero traffic lights). One of its greatest sites is Baffin Island, filled with stark fjords, crystalline lakes, polar bears, and narwhals.
How to visit: Travel specialist Marc Télio at Entrée Destinations arranges bespoke trips through the Canadian Arctic and can organize stays at the Arctic Watch Lodge in Nunavut. (From $10,000.)
Macquarie Island, Australia
Macquarie Island is no more than a speck of land in the Southern Ocean, taking up about 50 square miles (roughly the size of Nantucket) between New Zealand and Antarctica. Despite its size, Macquarie home to a million royal penguins and is the only place in the world where rocks from the earth’s mantle are exposed above sea level. (The latter earned the island a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997.) But seriously… a million penguins.
How to visit: Macquarie is administered by the state of Tasmania, and it’s a frequent stop on Antarctic cruises originating from Australia and Asia.
Marble Caves, Patagonia, Chile
Caves don’t always have to be dark and dingy. Case in point: The marble caves bordering General Carrera Lake, a remote glacial lake on the Chile-Argentina border. The swirling marble walls, formed by 6,000 years of crashing waves eroding the stone, are as vibrant and lovely as the surrounding azure water.
How to visit: Travel specialist Brian Pearson at Upscape can help arrange trips to Patagonia’s Aysén Region, where you can kayak around the caves and sleep near the edge of the lake.
Located on the eastern coast of Greenland, the small town of Ittoqqortoormiit might be one of the most remote inhabited areas of Greenland as if the island isn’t remote enough in and of itself. When the weather isn’t too unbearably cold, the town’s population of 450 is known to embark on dog sledging treks, as well as offer camping trips for tourists motivated enough to visit. If you do happen to reach Ittoqqortoormiit, you may also be rewarded with views of the Northern Lights during the winter months.
How to visit: Several cruises stop in Ittoqqortoormiit, including Readers’ Choice Award-winning Seabourn’s “Legend Of The Icelandic Sagas” voyage (from $14,999), Silversea’s route from Tromsø to Reykjavik (from (from $13,410), and Quark Expeditions’ Northern Lights sailing (from $6,695).
Anegada, British Virgin Islands
This “drowned island” (it’s barely above sea level) is rimmed with empty, beautiful beaches—in fact, you’d have to work harder to find a stretch of sand with another tourist than without one. Anegada claims a population of roughly 285, and extensive coastal reefs have made it harder to reach than the other British Virgin Islands, giving the island an irresistible castaway allure. If you do make it there, the coral reefs are excellent for snorkelling, particularly off the beach at Loblolly Bay on the northeast coast. (In case you were wondering, the isle was miraculously spared from the 2017 hurricanes.)
How to visit: Launched in 2018, the Anegada Express Ferry offers rides from both Tortola and Virgin Gorda four days a week. The ride takes about an hour each way and costs $50 round-trip.
Coober Pedy, Australia
The southern Australian town of Coober Pedy has about 1,800 residents 80 percent of which live in underground dwellings. It’s a tough place to visit, let alone live, thanks to its lack of trees and summer temperatures that rise well into the 120s. Its eerie, unearthly vibe was immortalized in 1985 by director George Miller, who shot part of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome there. Let’s just say it didn’t take much redressing to turn the town into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
How to visit: Coober Pedy is located on the Stuart Highway, which you can reach via a full day’s drive from Adelaide (about 518 miles), the Ghan Rail service, or the Greyhound-Pioneer bus service. (Yes, there are underground hotels once you arrive.)
Deception Island, Antarctica
Deception Island is a remote tourist destination in Antarctica’s freezing South Shetland Islands, famous for its deserted whaling and research station. The whaling station was abandoned many times between 1931 and 1969 due to volcanic eruptions, leaving behind the beached boats and rusting boilers you see today. You’ll have to take an Antarctic cruise to see the eerily beautiful site for yourself—if you’re lucky, you might even spot some chinstrap penguins and get to soak in a natural hot tub.
How to visit: Book a cruise with Readers’ Choice Award-winning Lindblad Expeditions to explore the deserted site for yourself.
Located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is one of the world’s most northernmost inhabited areas. Travel to the archipelago in the winter to see the Northern Lights, or during the summer for the elusive “midnight sun” (the sun doesn’t set at all between April 20 and August 22). Regardless of the season, a visit here lets you exist in the same habitat of some of nature’s most exciting animals, like polar bears, walruses, and narwhals.
How to visit: Norwegian offers three weekly direct flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen (the largest settlement on the island), while SAS offers daily flights from Tromsø.
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Gates of the Arctic is the second-largest and northernmost national park in the U.S., located completely above the Arctic Circle. It only received 9,591 visitors in 2018 (compare that to the Grand Canyon’s 6.3 million), but those self-sufficient travellers were lucky enough to enjoy some of the country’s most pristine mountain views, scenic rivers, and diverse wildlife, like wolverines, polar bears, and caribou. If you’d like to contribute to those visitor numbers, stick to travelling in spring and summer months, as temperatures linger around -20ºF to -50ºF from November to March.
How to visit: There are no highways leading to the park, so some visitors take the Dalton Highway to Wiseman and then hike the remaining five miles to the entrance. Another option is to take a chartered flight from Fairbanks to Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, or Coldfoot.
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The aptly named Door to Hell is a 230-foot-wide crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan that simply won’t stop burning. When Soviet scientists began searching for oil here back in 1971, they accidentally hit a methane reserve and the drilling platform collapsed, forming the crater and releasing dangerous gas into the air. The scientists decided to light the crater on fire to burn off the methane, creating a Dante-esque anomaly that has remained lit for the past 40-plus years. Recently, the crater has become more of a tourist attraction, but it’s still primarily a destination for adventurers.
How to visit: The Door to Hell has no roads, no protective boundaries, no buildings it’s literally just a burning hole in the middle of the desert. You can always try to visit on your own with an off-road vehicle, but your best bet is to book a guided tour with a recognized operator like Adventure (from $420).
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