Uninhabited tropical paradises, unspoiled beaches, unique flora and fauna, blue lagoons, and crystal clear waters welcoming you all year round. Who doesn’t dream of escaping to such a paradise? Islands are perhaps the most coveted tourist destinations. For those of you who simply cannot picture themselves spending their holidays in an all-inclusive resort, here’s the alternative: a selection of paradisaical islands, more or less lost and deserted, that you’ll wish you were stranded on.
Desert islands have always been the inspiration behind many novels and movies like Cast Away and Lost. Who hasn’t read Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, based on the true story of a sailor who shipwrecked on a desert island where he lived for four years? These pristine destinations are the last paradises on Earth, completely cut off from the world. What makes these getaways luxurious? For starters, it is incredibly difficult, sometimes even dangerous to reach them, and there are only a handful of operators offering tours, which gives them the upper hand when it comes to setting the price range. These sort of desert island vacations for the adventuresome travelers and hopeless romantics will most likely leave you with empty wallets.
Be advised that getting to and from these islands is not easy. If it were, they wouldn’t still be uninhabited. It is a real-life cast away experience. Do you have what it takes to survive on a deserted island? Are you up to the challenge?
10. Auckland Islands
The Auckland Islands lie to the south of New Zealand and are known as the subantarctic Islands. Due to their extreme southern latitudes and lack of any nearby land, they are permanently in the way of howling winds blowing relentlessly at high speeds. They may seem inhospitable, but it is their isolation, jagged mountains, and extreme weather conditions that allowed unique species of birds to call this place home. Auckland Island is the largest of five islands that make up this small archipelago formed by dormant volcanoes. The islands were discovered in 1806 by a group of whale hunters. In the 19th century, several attempts were made to colonize the island, but none lasted more than a couple of years.
9. Tando Island
Boasting the longest pristine beaches on the planet, Tando Island in Indonesia is still inhabited by a native tribe, which makes the whole experience even more exciting. The tribe, scattered across the center of the island, lives today just as it did centuries ago, completely cut off from the world. This means that you are faced with the unique opportunity to stay in one of the tribe’s traditional huts while on the island. This is as close to Robinson Crusoe as you can possibly get, as you probably remember that he too discovered he was not alone on the island he was stranded on. Tando Island guarantees an epic surfing experience. Although remember that it is an overnight ferry ride from the nearest facilities, so you’d better arrange your emergency evacuation in advance.
8. Mamanuca Islands
An impressive volcanic archipelago of 20 islands, Mamanuca is a barefoot paradise. When the tide is high, there are only 13 isles, so you can understand why most of them are uninhabited. Mamanuca Islands are one of the most popular getaways in Fiji, with their white sand beaches and luxury resorts, such as Beachcomber, a snorkeling and scuba diving paradise. The crystal clear waters offer great swimming and water sports opportunities, while the fine sand beaches enclosed by palm trees make for great sunbathing. Many of the islands in the archipelago are uninhabited due to lack of freshwater. Such is the case of the most spectacular of the Mamanuca Islands, the Monuriki Island, where most of the 2000 movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks was filmed.
7. Mu Ko Ang Thong
A lovely archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Ang Thong means Bowl of Gold, while Mu Ko means Group of Islands. Could they have come up with a lovelier name? These impressive limestone formations are covered in tropical forests and seem to miraculously rise up directly from the turquoise waters, offering a dramatic, yet magnificent backdrop. You can explore deserted white sand beaches and go snorkeling through the coral reefs all year round, thanks to the warm weather and abundant sunshine. Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because the islands were the setting of The Beach, the 2000 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
6. Phoenix Islands
A group of eight atolls and two coral reefs in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Phoenix Islands are located halfway between Hawaii and Fiji in the South Pacific, and boast an unspoiled ecosystem, with vast bird colonies and coral reefs that have yet to be touched by man. Kanton Island is the largest, and there are about two dozen people living on it. Except for that, the small archipelago is completely deserted. Several attempts have been made to colonize the islands, but all failed, mainly due to their isolation. The southernmost island of the group is Nikumaroro, formerly known as Gardner Island. It is believed to be the place where American aviators Amelia Earhart and Freed Noonan crashed their plane in 1937, in an attempt to circle the Globe aboard a twin-engine plane.
5. Cocos Island
Covered by a vast tropical jungle, Cocos Island is a famous scuba diving destination, mainly renowned for the treasures believed to have been buried here by pirates. The richest of them would be the Inca gold stolen from Lima in the 19th century by pirate Benito Bonito. Most of the island is still uninhabited, and tourists are only granted access as far as the shore. Also known as the northern Galapagos, Cocos Islands lays isolated in the Pacific Ocean, some 340 miles off the western coast of Costa Rica, and boasts an unusual stable population of deer, pigs, rats, and cats, most likely introduced on purpose or accidentally by humans. However, no human settlements survived here for long, despite the abundant freshwater. All clues indicate that Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park, the novel not the movie, was actually Cocos Island.
4. Rock Islands
Chelbachev, or simply Rock Islands, are ancient relics of coral reefs forming 300 islands in the Southern Lagoon of Palau. Most of the islands are uninhabited and are renowned for their unusual shape and their fine white sand beaches, but especially for their turquoise water lagoons. They are the home of the celebrated Jellyfish Lake, where millions of golden jellyfish live, harmless to humans. The Rock Islands became famous as the venue for the Survivor Palau, the 10th season of Survivor, the American reality show. The limestone and coral islands are heavily forested, and their lagoons and lakes shelter unique species. It’s hard to imagine how a place as beautiful and fertile as Palau’s Rock Islands is still uninhabited today.
3. Tetepare Island
The largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, one of the Solomon Islands, Tetepare Island boasts a rugged coastline and uneven grounds supporting unique lowland rainforests. The original island natives used to live here in scattered villages. For unknown reasons, they decided to flee the island some 200 years ago, and Tetepare remained uninhabited ever since. On the one hand, this is great news for the adventuresome traveler in search for pristine beaches and untouched ecosystems. On the other hand, one can’t help but wonder what determined them to leave such a paradise behind. Known as “the last wild island,” Tetepare is protected by the natives of the Solomon Islands, and offers amazing snorkeling along the colorful coral reefs abounding in marine life.
2. Aldabra Island
One of the last unspoiled paradises on Earth, Aldabra is an island in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, and is the second largest atoll in the world. It has been known for centuries, but due to its isolated location and difficult access, the island is virtually untouched, and is generally acknowledged as one of the wonders of the world. Aldabra lies 700 miles from Seychelles’ capital Mahe, and 265 miles off Madagascar. It is the place where the largest giant turtle population on the planet roams free, counting over 150,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoises. It is also home to a great number of almost extinct species like the coconut crab, the world’s largest land crab, the hammerhead shark, manta rays, and the barracuda, which can all be seen up close if you are brave enough to sail these treacherous waters by boat.
1. Maldive Deserted Islands
The Maldives are an archipelago of no less than 1,190 islands and reefs, grouped in 26 coral atolls. Only 200 are inhabited, out of which 88 have been transformed into luxury resorts, but only five have a population of over 3,000. Most offer deserted island holidays for those of you who, if only for a little while, wish to live like Robinson Crusoe. The picture perfect destination in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are perhaps the most recognizable deserted islands, as they are often featured in posters worldwide, with their thin lines between land and water exquisitely blurred, a “special effect” you will not encounter anywhere else on Earth. A rich oasis of wildlife and tropical beauty, their existence hangs by a thread in the face of Global Warming, as the maximum altitude above sea level is a mere seven feet, and the average is only five feet. So go ahead, get stranded on one of the deserted Maldive Islands before it becomes too late.