10 Geographically Remote Places to Get Away From It All
Luxury travelers are increasingly heading for resorts on secluded, hard-to-reach peninsulas and islands to escape the world for a few weeks, perhaps for the illusion of safety in these turbulent times.
However, for more intrepid adventure types, getting off the beaten track means consulting maps, crunching data, and undertaking long and complex journeys to get to the ends of the Earth.
We've found 10 super-remote places, some hard to get to, others with bold and unusual geographic claims, but all offering a healthy dose of nowhere in particular.
Easter Island, South Pacific
Most famous for its 887 huge stone monoliths called moai, this Polynesian outpost of Chile is one of the furthest inhabited islands from any other permanently inhabited place. Home to just 5,800 residents, Easter Island’s mostly rocky beaches and calm waters are fringed by lava formations, with the moai on ceremonial platforms facing inland from every beach. Little is known of the indigenous Rapa Nui culture that spawned them; Easter Island had no contact with the outside world for 600 years before succumbing to deforestation, civil war, raids by slave ships, and disease. There are daily domestic five-hour flights from Santiago, Chile.
Central Idaho, United States
The middle of nowhere is a place. A study by data scientists has identified the area of the contiguous United States that could be regarded as the middle of nowhere from a database of roads, airports and settlements. The 'winner' was central Idaho, largely thanks to its vast Sawtooth National Forest and Salmon-Challis National Forest. However, this area—and Idaho Falls in particular—looks set to receive thousands of travelers on Aug. 21, 2017, when a Total Solar Eclipse sweeps across it for a couple of minutes.
You’ve not done Tokyo until you’ve seen the tiny remote volcanic island of Aogashima, 200 miles to the south in the Philippine Sea. Administered by the Tokyo city government but rarely visited, the community here is about 160 strong, making it one of the smallest in all Japan. Aogashima is most easily visited by helicopter, which runs daily from Hachijojima, another island to the north that's connected to mainland Tokyo by plane or a 10-hour overnight ferry. Aogashima’s classic caldera last exploded in 1785.
The highest mountain on Earth? It may “only” be 20,564 feet above sea-level, but the summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador's Cordillera Occidental range is taller than the 29,029-foot-high Mount Everest. How can that be? It's thanks to our oblate spheroid of a planet being chubby around the equator, which runs through Ecuador. And at 3,966.8 miles from the Earth's center, the top of this extinct volcano is the furthest you can get. Forget the “because it's there” cliche of mountaineering, and try this reason for size: You climb Chimborazo to get as close as possible to Mars (if you time it right). Andes Trek Expeditions runs trips.
Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility, China
Every continent has a Pole of Inaccessibility—defined as the place on the continent that is farthest from any ocean—but Eurasia’s is the most remote. Found in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert in the far west of China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the EPIA (grid reference 46°17′N 86°40′E) is 1,644 miles from an ocean. Suluk is the nearest village about 7 miles east.
Welcome to the Empty Quarter. It may have a deliciously exotic name, but capital city Ulaanbaatar is not the highlight of Mongolia. This is one of the world’s truly empty places, and one of the very best countries to get far off the beaten track and adventure in a vast off-grid zone. It's also the least densely populated country in the world. The remote, dramatic Zavkhan province 1,100km/683 miles from Ulaanbaatar is where to head for horse-trekking among desert, steppe and snow-capped mountains. Mongolia Trips runs tours.
Faroe Islands, North Atlantic
A sparsely populated archipelago of 18 volcanic islands about halfway between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands is one of the most remote places in Northern Europe. Thanks to some fantastically expensive undersea tunnels, all you need is a rental car to get to gems like Gásadalur, a tiny cliff-top village of just 18 people and a jaw-dropping waterfall, while a dramatic helicopter ride to the island of Mykines—home to one of Europe's biggest puffin colonies—costs just US$20. Vágar Airport brings in most visitors from London and Copenhagen, but Smyril Line also runs a 36-hour ferry from Hirtshals in Denmark, which stops by on its way to Iceland.
Whichaway Camp, Antarctica
The world’s most remote hotel, White Desert’s Whichaway Camp in the Dronning Maud Land region in Antarctica, only opens in the warmest months—November, December, and January—and it’s just had a luxury makeover. Each of its six pods are run on solar power. 4x4s run the 12 guests to Whichaway Camp from a nearby runway, which connects to Cape Town in South Africa.
Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic
There are more remote islands on the planet, but no inhabited island is as far from another as Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean. The island—population 70—belongs to the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and can only be reached by boat. These are also the breeding grounds for the Northern Rockhopper penguin, which can be viewed during Oceanwide Expeditions’s Atlantic Odyssey cruises.
Awarding the title of the world’s most remote big city depends on the rules you use. Perth, Australia wins on having a population over a million and distance from another city with a population above 100,000. However, its reputation for having the most sunny days in all Australia is just as alluring. So too the Swan Valley vineyards and the port-side suburb of Fremantle, though it’s the 8,000 curious, tame cat-sized marsupials called quokkas on the tiny nearby Rottnest Island that make Perth really worth the trip. You can fly in, but it's best visited on the three-day Indian Pacific from Sydney via Adelaide, which crosses the vast Nullarbor Plain.