16 Sep Five remote island adventures
Ask a dozen dedicated travelers why they love to travel and you will get a dozen different answers. However, there are some general themes that will show through time and again. One is the thirst for new adventures and to get first hand experience of different cultures. Another, from a less gregarious perspective, is the concept of wanting to “get away from it all.”
Now in the interconnected world of 2019, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. As former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters put it, they’ve got Pepsi in the Andes and McDonalds in Tibet. Add to that the ubiquitous virtual world that is only ever a touchscreen away, and you might start to wonder if there is anywhere left on the planet where you can properly escape humdrum everyday life.
If we turn to the world of movies and TVs for an answer, we might get a clue. The Tom Hanks character Chuck Noland managed it in Cast Away, as did the passengers on flight 815 in the TV series Lost. There’s nothing else for it, if you really need to get away from it all, only a remote island will do. Here are five to put on your shortlist.
We start in the Pacific Ocean, and specifically, in the French Polynesian Marquesas Islands. Any and all of the 15 inhabited islands in the group are worth a visit, but Tahuata is singled out as both the smallest and most intriguing.
It is located around four kilometers from the main island of Hiva Or, with a total area of around 61 square kilometers and a population numbering about 650. Keeping that in mind, it seems incongruous to find a substantial Catholic church on the main (and only) street in the principle village of Vaitahu. Made entirely from local wood, it includes breathtaking stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes but in a decidedly Polynesian style.
The closest airport is on the island of Hiva Or, although it is also possible to travel to Tahuata using the Aranui 5 cruise ship, which makes routine stops there. There are no hotels as such on the island, although some locals are willing to offer basic accommodation.
A downside to those islands in the South Pacific is the searing temperatures and the preponderance of mosquitos that are forever trying to consume unwary travelers. That is certainly not a problem that you will face in Atka. Situated to the west of Alaska, the island has a population of less than a hundred, almost all of whom live and work in the city of the same name.
Unsurprisingly, fishing is the number one industry, but while the residents of Atka work hard and long, they also know how to enjoy themselves. As you enter the tiny city, you could be forgiven for thinking you are hallucinating when you encounter the Atka casino. Regularly cited as being one of the most remote casinos on the planet, it is the perfect place to relax, warm up and get to know the locals. And who knows, you might even end up a winner. If you’re a regular player of casino games online, keep in mind that bingo is the game of choice here. However, there are also a handful of table games like roulette and blackjack where you can try your luck.
Atka has a single hotel that can accommodate four guests, so booking ahead is advisable as this is no place for sleeping under the stars. As for getting there, the only way on or off is by plane, and while local carrier Grant Aviation flies a regular service from Alaska, delays and cancellations are common.
There are no such problems gaining access to the next island on our list. Located off the South Coast of Sri Lanka, it is so close to the mainland that the easiest way to get there is to wait for low tide, roll up your pants legs and walk. Ordinarily, we would not be thinking about private islands owned by the idle rich. However, Taprobane is such an unusual case that it is worthy of a mention.
The tiny outcrop contains just one residence, an octagonal villa that was built in the 1920s by the eccentric landscaper and inventor Maurice Talvande. His stated intention was to create a private Eden, and who is to say he didn’t succeed?
Over the years, the island has welcomed numerous celebrity guests, including singer Kylie Minogue, who was so taken with the place that she was inspired to write a song in its honor.
It might be one of the better-known of the locations on our list, but Easter Island is nevertheless one of the most remote destinations on the planet. Most people associate it with the giant and mysterious stone statues that have stood sentinel over the island for at least 500 years, and possibly much longer. Believed to represent the lineage of the island’s inhabitants, the exact reason for and method of construction remains shrouded in mystery and has attracted some fairly wild and outlandish theories.
There is a daily flight from Santiago, and the journey takes around five and a half hours, so make sure you take a good book. In recent years, tourism has become the main trade on Easter Island, so you will have no problem finding somewhere to stay, eat and be entertained in the evening.
Lying 1,600 kilometers to the north east of Sydney, Norfolk island served as a penal colony in the 1800s, and the Bounty Mutineers, along with their families, were among the early settlers. Today, their descendants are among the 1,700 inhabitants.
Perhaps that history has something to do with the unique, bohemian atmosphere of the island. There’s a sense of “anything goes” that almost feels like being transported back in time to a more care-free era.
The natural geography means there are no ports or harbors on the island. There is, however, a small airstrip. Currently, there are four flights a week to and from Australia, and services between Norfolk Island and Aukland will start operating in September 2019.