The Most Remote Places On Earth
If there is one thing that captures the imagination, it’s remote islands. From tales of inhabitants that have descended from shipwrecked ancestors to volcanic eruptions that have destroyed human settlements, each island has a unique story to tell. That they are hard-to-reach only adds to their intrigue.
1. Tristan Da Cunha
The Most Remote Inhabited Island On Earth
Possibly the most remote place on earth. Tristan Da Cunha is an exceptionally remote island located in the South Atlantic Ocean. Its nearest island neighbour is Saint Helena, situated 1467 miles to the north. The nearest mainland is Cape Town in South Africa, a whopping 1700 miles away, and there is no airport on the island. It’s a 5 day journey on a fishing boat from Cape Town and it is only possible to land on Tristan Da Cunha for eighty days each year due to the heavy seas and the fact there is no harbour to shelter landings. Now you can’t get more remote than that!
The island is home to 252 people. In 1961 a volcanic eruption took place and the population had to be evacuated. Thankfully the eruption ceased and caused little damage to the town. The Islanders returned the following year.
The above photos shows the nearest I ever got to Tristan Da Cunha. Unfortunately it was on one of the many days when landing wasn’t possible due to heavy seas and forty knot winds.
2. Bouvet Island
Photo credit: NASA
The Most Remote Uninhabited Island On Earth
If Tristan Da Cunha wasn’t remote enough, continue 1400 miles south across the savage open ocean and you will reach Bouvet Island which has been described as the loneliest place on earth. The island is surrounded by sheer glaciers and impenetrable cliffs with no natural harbours, making it exceptionally difficult to land on. Research vessels use helicopters as a way of getting ashore.
Bouvet Island has been claimed by Norway since 1977, and it’s home to an automated meteorological station on the island. The islands internet domain .bv remains unused. No one lives there, and probably never will. I have a feeling that it’s not a place the Norwegian tourist board promote.
I’ve yet to visit, but it’s certainly on my list.
3. Easter Island
The Most Isolated Island On Earth (The Furthest From Other Land)
A tiny dot in the middle of the endless Pacific Ocean. Famed for its mysterious stone statues called Moai, the island is situated an eye-watering 2,182 miles away from mainland Chile. The nearest neighbours are on the remote Pitcairn Island (population 50) 1,289 miles away, making Easter Island one of the most inhabited isolated islands on earth.
Unlike Tristan Da Cunha, Easter Island has an international airport, making it accessible to the world with daily flights to Santiago in Chile. Although it is one of the remotest places on the planet it doesn’t feel like that when you’re there. Drawn by the fascinating archaeology, tens of thousands of tourists visit every year, making this one of the most popular remote places on the planet.
4. Deception Island – Antarctica
A Remote Volcanically Active Island
Situated in the South Shetland Island chain in Antarctica, the Deception Island is formed from a flooded volcano. The name stems from the fact that the when the island is viewed from the sea it looks like a solid piece of land. An opening called Neptune’s Bellows allows ships to pass from the sea into the flooded caldera, which forms one of the safest harbours in Antarctica.
Due to the volcanic nature of the island it is possible to swim in the waters around the shoreline, which are significantly warmer than the surrounding seas. The volcanic activity does have its downside: in the 1960s, British and Chilean scientific bases were destroyed by volcanic eruptions.
It’s possible to visit Deception Island and see the remains of the bases along with a rusting, disused aircraft hangar. Watch out for fur seals that live on the black volcanic beach.
The Largest Island On Earth
An easy contender for the most remote place on earth, Greenland has a population of just over fifty-five thousand and a surface area of 836,330 square miles. It is the least populated place on the planet. This is largely because 80% of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet that is 1,500 miles long and 680 miles across at its widest point. The ice is so thick that at its deepest point that it measures 1.9 miles down. There is so much ice in Greenland that if it were all to melt it would raise the sea level around the world by 24ft.
Most of the settlements in Greenland are along the west coast. The east coast is home to a few remote villages which are cut off by the sea ice for most of the year. For such a large country, Greenland only has 90 miles of roads and only 40 miles are paved. Transport is carried out by boat, plane or helicopter. There are no buses, trains or other forms of public transport.
6. Elephant Island – Antarctica
The Remote Island With An Unbelievable Survival Story
An inhospitable and mountainous island situated 152 miles north from the Antarctic Peninsula and 550 miles to the south-east of Cape Horn. The name came from early explorers who sighted elephant seals on the shoreline, although the island itself also looks like an elephant’s head on a nautical chart.
Elephant Island is a famous landmark in the story of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole. After their ship the Endurance was sunk by the pack ice of the Weddell Sea, Shackleton managed to get his men as far as Elephant Island using only their small lifeboats. Realising rescue from this remote outpost was unlikely, Shackleton made a daring 800-mile crossing to South Georgia to get rescue.
Frank Wild was left in charge of the remaining men who waited 5 months through an Antarctic winter for Shackleton to return and rescue them. Remarkably they all survived, and now the place of their camp is named Point Wild, after Frank.
Read about my experience of visiting Elephant Island and Point Wild here.
One Of The Remotest Settlements In Greenland
Ittoqqortoormiit is nearer to Iceland than it is to any other human population in its own country. Hemmed in by sea ice for nine months of the year, the only way to reach the settlement is by flying to a nearby airstrip at Nerlerit Inaat and taking a short helicopter transfer across.
Ittoqqortoormiit means ‘Those Who Dwell In The Big Houses’. The town is home to just under 450 people and was founded in 1925 by settlers from Tasiilaq, around 500 miles to the south. Only two cargo shipments arrive the settlement every year due to the sea ice that blocks entrance for most of the year. The community relies on subsistence hunting to support their diet.
The Most Northerly Town In The World
Situated on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard high in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen is the most northerly town on the planet with a permanent human population. Situated just over 800 miles from the North Pole, it’s home to a university and the global seed vault which stores seed samples in case of disaster.
Living isn’t that easy here. It’s prohibited to leave the town without a gun due to the threat from polar bears that live all around. There is an average low of -20°C during January and you won’t see the sun for nearly three months during the winter. In 2015, an avalanche struck the town, killing one person and injuring nine others.
Svalbard features in my Top 5 Remote Places To See which you can download for free here.
The Most Remote Continent On Earth
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent on the planet, approximately twice the size of Australia. It is a desert, with 98% of its land covered by ice. Unlike any other continent, Antarctica has no permanent inhabitants or signs of any indigenous life. Although early myths did exist about a southern continent, Antarctica wasn’t even seen by humans until 1820, making it one of the last places on earth to be discovered.
It holds the titles of coldest, driest, and windiest continent. The lowest Antarctic temperature on record is an incomprehensible −94.7 °C. It is home to Mount Erebus, the most southern volcano in the world. The seas that surround the continent are home to an abundance of wildlife including penguins, whales, seals, orcas and albatrosses.
Antartica features in my Top 5 Remote Places To See which you can download for free here.
Remote British Overseas Territories
Throughout history, Great Britain explored the world by way of the oceans. Today a handful of territories still exist in the most remote corners of the planet.
10. Saint Helena
Napoleon’s Last Outpost
The small, volcanic, sub-tropical island of St Helena sits in the azure waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, a staggering 2500 miles away from the coast of Brazil and 1200 miles from the coast of Africa. Saint Helena was once a busy trading post serving ships sailing south around the Cape of Good Hope. However, the island’s fortune was to change with the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, which diverted shipping away.
Today the island has a population of just over 4,500 inhabitants known as the Saints. Unlike Tristan Da Cunha, its remote neighbour to the south, Saint Helena has roads, many of which are reminiscent of the English countryside. Whilst the lower parts of the island are predominately barren volcanic coastline, the interior of the island rises up into a lush green cloud forest.
The island is full of fascinating history. Napoleon was exiled here by the British until his death on the island. Today it is possible to visit his home at Longwood House which is now a museum.
It’s Britain’s second oldest territory after Bermuda. A walk through the capital Jamestown is a step back to a bygone era. Today it is possible to fly to the island from Johannesburg after a new air service started in 2017.
St Helena features in my free travel guide: Top 5 Remote Places To See which you can download for free here.
11. Ascension Island
Britain’s Desert Island
800 miles to the north-west of Saint Helena lays Ascension Island, an isolated volcanic island known for its orange lunar landscapes. The lower parts of Ascension Island are a rocky, barren desert that resembles the surface of Mars. The centre of the island rises 3000ft to form a lush peak called Green Mountain that has a man-made cloud forest surrounding its summit. By driving up the mountain you can be in two different climates within minutes.
Unlike its neighbor Saint Helena, Ascension Island has beautiful white sand beaches. Green Turtles swim over 2000 miles from the coast of Brazil to lay their eggs on Ascension’s beaches. The island is the second largest Green Turtle nesting site in the Atlantic Ocean.
Whilst the island has no indigenous population it currently has just over 800 people working on it and is home to various military bases and communication hubs. It is possible to visit the island as a tourist, however there is currently only one flight landing there per month.
12. South Georgia
Britain’s Sub-Antarctic Island
If you have seen wildlife documentaries showing tens of thousands of king penguins nesting on remote beaches, chances are it was filmed on the shores of South Georgia. Deep in the Southern Ocean and surrounded by tempestuous seas, it is far away from any human disturbance. Measuring a little over 100 miles long, it is the only land for hundreds of miles making it the perfect haven for wildlife to come ashore and breed. Stepping ashore it’s impossible not to feel part of a David Attenborough programme as you are surrounded by penguins, seals and albatrosses.
There is no permanent population, although thirty people live on the island during the summer months running a museum, post office and a scientific station at King Edward Point.
There are no roads or airstrips on South Georgia. The only way to get there is by sea. It’s possible to visit South Georgia on an expedition cruise. The remains of the whaling station are still visible today, including Stromness, the first contact Ernest Shackleton had with civilisation after his ship sank.
South Georgia features in my Top 5 Remote Places To See which you can download for free here.
13. Falkland Islands
Britain’s Penguin Islands
An archipelago of windswept remote islands situated 300 miles off the coast of Patagonia in South America. There are 778 islands in total, with 3,400 inhabitants mainly living on the largest island of East Falkland.
The islands were made famous in 1982 when they were invaded by Argentina, who still claim sovereignty today. The war claimed the lives of over 900 British and Argentine military personnel and three Falkland Islanders. Abandoned military equipment is still visible all over the islands.
Like neighbouring South Georgia, 900 miles to the south-east, the Falkland Islands are home to an abundance of wildlife. Five penguin species can be found here along with the largest breeding population of black-browed albatrosses in the world. Whales, dolphins, elephant seals and sea lions frequent the waters around the islands.
14. Pitcairn Island
Photo Credit: Make Make
Britain’s Treasure Island
Located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Pitcairn is a tiny island measuring just a couple of miles long. Its nearest neighbour is Mangareva in French Polynesia several hundred miles away.
According to the population census, the Pitcairn Islands are the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. Although there are four islands, it is only Pitcairn Island that is inhabited with a population of just 50 people. They can be traced back to descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty which occurred in 1790. Parts of the wreck are still visible in Bounty Bay today.
There is no airport and the only way to visit is by sea which takes several days. The island enjoys a warm climate with an average daily temperature between 19°C and 23°C. I have yet to visit but it is high on my list.
15. Chagos Islands
Photo Credit: Anne Sheppard
The Islands With A Sad History
The Chagos Islands, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), are a string of desert islands in the Indian Ocean. There are 7 atolls made up of over 60 tiny islands. The islands were inhabited by the Chagossian people. Between 1967 and 1973 they were evicted by the British government to make way for an American military base on the island of Diego Garcia. Today the Chagossian people are still fighting for their right to return to their homeland.
Visiting the islands today is very difficult as a special permit is needed. You would also need your own yacht and be able to sail the 700 hundred miles from the Maldives. Landing on Diego Garcia is restricted due to the military base. The sovereignty of the islands is still disputed by Mauritius.
Thank’s for reading. That’s all from the most remote place on earth guide. All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.
Hi, I’m Andy, a professional filmmaker and photographer travelling to the remotest places on earth.
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