10 Remote Islands Around the World for a Secluded Vacation
When it comes to island vacations, a few destinations seem to get all the attention. From Oahu to Bali, and St. Thomas to Jamaica, a handful of popular isles around the world draw throngs of travelers year after year—and for good reason. Frequent flights from major hubs make it easy to get there, and a slew of hotels and resorts offer a range of accommodations at every star level. It’s no wonder these destinations have earned a spot on so many top travel lists. But what if you’re seeking somewhere that’s a little more off the beaten path?
For those looking to skip the crowds and truly venture off the grid, there’s no denying the appeal of a remote island vacation. To be sure, getting to these far-flung locations will take some work. But upon setting foot on these serene stretches of shoreline without another soul in sight, it’s instantly clear that the spoils are worth the long journey. When you’re ready for an island getaway that’s truly remote, here are 10 of our favorites around the world to add to your list.
Nearby Maui is certainly a stunner. But for a truly Hawaiian experience you won’t find elsewhere in this often-traveled island chain, head to Molokai just across the Pailolo Channel. As Hawaii’s fifth-largest island, it isn’t technically remote since it sits directly in the center of the archipelago. But as the least visited island in the chain, it certainly feels a world away. Just 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, Molokai offers white-sand beaches that lead out to an astonishing continuous reef system—all set beneath some of the highest sea cliffs in the world. Whether you visit for a day, or stay at one of the island’s charming oceanfront inns, this remote island is worth the trip.
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands consists of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, plus a smattering of around 50 smaller islands. And while all of them are indisputably lovely, there’s something special about Guana—one of the few remaining islands in this chain that are still privately owned. With 850 acres of lush tropical forestland, a variety of snorkel-worthy reefs, 12 miles of trails that provide ample hiking opportunities, and seven sparkling white-sand beaches, Guana Island feels like your own private slice of BVI paradise. The Guana Island Club makes it easy to castaway by day, then enjoy first-rate meals and accommodations come sundown.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland
On a list of remote vacation islands, Canada may not be the first place that springs to mind. But this sleepy fishing village has more than a few surprises for visitors who make the trip. At once a quiet coastal community that’s steeped in maritime history, Fogo Island is also home to a buzzing (though small) artistic awakening. It’s proud to host a handful of artist studios and museums, along with an infusion of unexpectedly modern architecture and design. As the largest island in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore chain, it’s an ideal escape for those who like their seaside vacations served with a side of authentic regional culture.
Caye Caulker, Belize
The active adventures on Ambergris Caye draw visitors year-round, but the destination’s less-traveled sister island of Caye Caulker is more than worth a detour. The petite, 5-mile-long island is made of limestone coral, giving the low-lying landscape an abundance of sandy beaches and biodiverse mangroves to explore. And with its proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, there are also vibrant snorkeling sites along the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. Some say the tiny island’s motto is “go slow,” and the laid back pace of life here truly lives up to that promise.
La Gomera, Spain
When it comes to Spain, the more populous (and popular) Tenerife draws an abundance of visitors from around the world, and particularly from Western Europe, each year. But just an hour-long ferry away, petite La Gomera offers a quieter slice of Spanish island life. Part of the Canary Island chain—the second-smallest, in fact—this tiny isle is just shy of 12.5 miles long. But its rugged, black-sand beaches offer a picturesque backdrop for sunbathing and (in season) even whale watching. There’s something here for hikers, too, with a tangle of over 400 miles of trails that weave through the mountainous terrain.
Inis Meáin, Ireland
With Ireland itself being an island just off the coast of England and Wales, it’s easy to overlook the lesser-known Aran Islands that sit in Galway Bay—but don’t miss them. These three rocky and windswept isles are home to an incredible wealth of Celtic and other ancient sites, along with spectacular seaside views. And with a permanent population of fewer than 200, Inis Meáin (also known as Inishmaan, meaning “the middle island”) offers a truly remote island experience. At 2.5 miles long by a little more than 1.5 miles wide, you can easily cover most of Inis Meáin on foot, and the cliff walk is a photo-worthy choice that provides views of the famed Cliffs of Moher back on Ireland’s jagged County Clare shoreline.
Villingili, Republic of Maldives
Part of the Addu Atoll, this Maldives retreat packs a punch with numerous outdoor activities on water and on land. True, many islands and atolls in the Maldives provide the postcard-perfect scenery of your island dreams (think: overwater bungalows with thatched roofs, blinding-white sandy beaches, and turquoise and cerulean shallows that beckon you to dive in). But there’s something extra special about Villingili. While getting to Male, the Maldives capital, in the first place will take some serious travel time, this miniature isle is just a short ferry away—making it relatively easy to access, though it feels a world apart from everything once you’re there.
Should you find yourself in the Tanzanian archipelago known as Zanzibar, and feel in search of an even more remote spot to spend time, here’s some good news: extraordinary Mnemba is just under 2 miles offshore. Shockingly small at just under a third of a mile in diameter, Mnemba is the stuff of castaway dreams. Its roughly triangular shape is rimmed in wide, white-sand beaches, and you’re likely to find yourself all alone on them, no matter when you venture out. As for snorkelers and divers, this Indian Ocean retreat also offers an abundance of incredible underwater sights despite the modest size of the isle itself.
Palawan, Republic of Philippines
The archipelagic country known as the Philippines is composed of over 7,600 islands and atolls. And while this country is among the least visited of the Asian island nations, it offers a wealth of beaches that are every bit as picturesque as the more traveled nations of Indonesia, Malaysia and others in the Java and South China Seas. The Province of Palawan is the largest island in this chain, and home to crystalline waters surrounding dense, verdant forests. Whether you’re seeking a five-star overwater bungalow experience or a more low-frills vacation rental on the beach, you’ll find a range of accommodations here. And with so many beaches and coves, and so few visitors, you’re likely to find plenty of remote island time no matter where you stay.
The Faroe Islands
Hiding in plain sight in the North Atlantic Ocean, just between Iceland and the Shetland Islands, you’ll find the Faroe Islands. This cluster of 18 volcanic isles (17 of which are inhabited) shares more than a few jaw-dropping topographic features with its neighbors. From soaring cliffs and mountainous terrain, to dazzling waterfalls and sleepy coastal villages, the Faroe Islands may remind you of elsewhere in Northern Europe—and yet nowhere else you’ve ever seen. With a total population of right around 50,000, you won’t have to worry about fighting the crowds here. The biggest challenge you’ll face on this remote island vacation, is simply deciding which of the stunning Faroe Islands to explore first.