From the furthest flung corners of this world there are islands so remote and so distant from civilisation that you would struggle to find them on a map. Tropical beaches to ice-filled hell-holes, the reality of solitude is a lot different from the Robinson Crusoe or Castaways suggests. These terrifying landfalls can invoke fear but also a sense of adventure as modern western civilisation looks to escape from the grind of day-to-day. But don’t forgot to stay in contact with your loved ones back home, you know just to let them know you’re still alive.
Tom Neale is the twentieth century version of Robinson Crusoe, but unlike Crusoe and his Man Friday, Neale made the decision to live on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The island, or atoll, of Suwarrow was home his home on-and-off for 16 years. The low coral atoll is officially part of the Cook Islands, laying around 1,300 km south of the equator and 930 km NNW of the capital of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga. Neale wrote a book, An Island to Oneself, about his time on Suwarrow, perfectly capturing life on a remote island.
Tristan de Cunha is officially the world’s most remote inhabited island, located in the South Atlantic. Lying 2,816 km from South Africa and 3,360 km from South America, Tristan da Cunha is a group of volcanic islands, part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The island has a permanent population of just 275 people, a remarkable fact considering the islanders had to be evacuated 1961 after a volcano erupted. Most families were able to return two years later in 1963.
Bear Island is not only a remote island with an awesome name, it is also one of the most inhospitable places on earth, but that hasn’t stopped people trying to settle the island. Located in the western part of the Barents Sea, Bear Island is the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. Named after Dutch explorers, Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemkerk, stumbled on the island and spotted a polar bear swimming nearby. Bear Island has been commercial activates since its discovery, yet coal mining, fishing and whaling have all failed to provide a lasting settlement and the island is currently uninhabited.
North Sentinel Island is one place you don’t want to shipwreck on. Not because it’s a hostile land but because of the vicious nature of its inhabitants. As part of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the North Sentinel Island first came to public attention in 2004, in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The island is settled by the Sentinelese who number between 50 and 400 people, rejecting any contact with the outside world, they are among last people to remain untouched by modern civilisation.