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most remote islands

7 Mysterious Islands You Never Knew Existed

Accessing the world’s most remote islands

Do you dream of getting off the grid and escaping to a tiny, secluded island? Check out some of the world’s most remote and mysterious islands. Some of these, like the beautiful Suwarrow Atoll in the Cook Islands, are very visitor-friendly, though hard to get to. Others, such as the snake-infested Ilha de Queimada, should definitely stay off your list.

1. Skellig Michael (Ireland)

It was once a sleepy little blip on the tourist scene. All that has changed since the beautiful, rugged island starred as Luke Skywalker’s iconic hideaway in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Prior to becoming a famous filming location, Skellig Michael was home to a Gaelic monastery, founded somewhere between the 6th and 8th centuries. It was abandoned around the 12th or 13th centuries for reasons that remain unknown. The speculation is that the monks of Skellig Michael were driven away by the cold climate, harsh storms, and continual Viking raids. Skellig Michael finally became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Should you go?

You can definitely visit Skellig Michael, though the number of people and visiting seasons are strictly limited to help protect the history and natural environment of the island.

2. Socotra (Yemen)

Strange trees and endangered plants give the island of Socotra a landscape unlike any other place in the world. Dragon’s blood trees and cucumber trees appear to be planted upside down. Besides these alien-like trees, Socotra is home to nearly 700 other endemic species (or species found nowhere else).

Should you go?

In the past, Socotra was a unique island destination for adventurous visitors. Unfortunately, the logistics and safety concerns expressed by many travel experts suggest that travelers should avoid this island for the time being.

3. Vulcan Point (Philippines)

Vulcan Point is pretty tiny and insignificant in itself. But describing where exactly it is located is what gives this little island its notoriety. Try to wrap your mind around these directions. Within the archipelago of the Philippines, there is an island called Luzon. On this island is a lake called Taal Lake. Within Taal Lake is Taal Volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines. Within this volcano is a crater lake. Finally, within this smaller lake, is the tiny, rocky Vulcan Point. This unusual occurrence is referred to as a third-order island. If you’re a little confused, check out the pictures here.

Should you go?

There are many tour operators that can help you view the island and surrounding scenery. Many will take you first by boat, then horseback up the volcano. It will certainly make a fun story to tell your friends back home!

4. Ilha da Queimada (Brazil)

From the safety of your boat, this little island may look lush and inviting. However, step on shore and you will find yourself in a living nightmare. Ilha da Queimada, located off the coast of Brazil, is overrun by an extremely poisonous species of pit viper called the golden lancehead. Estimates place the snake population at one snake for every square meter. No mammals live on Ilha da Queimada. The snakes feed off of the migratory birds that stop to rest.

Should you go?

Do you really want to? The Brazilian government heavily restricts visits to this deadly island, and approved visitors must be accompanied by a physician. It does, however, have 4 stars on Google reviews and you should totally read through the comments.

5. Svalbard (Norway)

Located about halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a beautiful but cold island. A little over 2,600 residents and about 3,000 polar bears inhabit Svalbard. Although it is small, the island has a hospital, primary and secondary schools, a university, library, hotels, and museums. Due to the immense population of these bears, any person traveling outside of a settled area is required to carry a firearm.

Should you go?

Yes! If you’re looking for a taste of the Arctic while still being within reach of civilization, this is a great option. Get more information on travel to Svalbard here!

6. North Sentinel Island (India)

The Sentinelese people inhabit this island in the Bay of Bengal. They are said to be the most isolated people group in the world. Most attempts to contact them are met with a barrage of well-aimed arrows. Since the majority of the island is hidden by a thick canopy of trees, little is known about their way of life.

Should you go?

The Sentinelese have remained extremely isolated for much of their known existence and it seems they prefer it that way.

7. Suwarrow Atoll (Cook Islands)

This uninhabited atoll in the northern Cook Islands was once the home of survival enthusiast, Tom Neale. He spent a total 16 years hunting, fishing, and foraging on Suwarrow between the years of 1952 – 1977. He lived here in a tiny shack with a few cats and a brood of domesticated hens to keep him company. Tom feasted on a steady diet of fish, eggs, breadfruit, and coconuts he gathered from the island. Although he welcomed occasional visitors, Tom spent most of this time happily to himself. To read more about Tom’s castaway island experience, check out this New York Times article from 1972.

Should you go?

Pacific Expeditions Ltd. hosts a single tourist expedition to this island each year. Prices start at $2,800.

More island mysteries

If remote destinations fascinate you, check out Judith Schalansky’s, Atlas of Remote Islands. This book might make a fun conversation piece for your coffee table or the lounge area at your office!

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.

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