The world is more connected than ever before, which means few places escape the footfalls of tourists, colonists, and wandering entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, sharing is the name of the game, and the desert island is an antique notion, but there are still wonderfully remote spots that evade the hordes of leisure lovers. The catch? You can only get there by chartering a boat and braving the waves. If you’ve got the sea legs and the budget for it, light out from the mainland to one of these eight untouched and unforgettable destinations on the water.
A grotto of many names, this remarkable cave on Hawaii’s Na Pali coast deserves a careful description. Known to some as the Sacred Water Cave and to others as the Double Door Cave, Waiahuakua is a remote tropical scene reserved for intrepid travelers with impeccable timing. If you can catch a boat to the spot in the summer months, you’ll witness a waterfall tumbling through a hole above, lit bright white by the sunshine overhead, and a swirling green sea sending up effervescent calcium deposits.
Marble Cathedral, Chile
Hovering over the striking blue waters of Lago Carrera, the wondrous Marble Cathedral is a lesson in light and perspective. Caverns of swirled marble arch over the surface of the second largest freshwater lake in South America, clear as glass and painted blue by finely ground glacial silt. The light reflects off the still surface of the water and the twisting pillars of marble to create an unearthly atmosphere. It takes a long journey to reach this reflective treasure, beginning with a flight and ending with a long ride in a small boat to the remote corner of Chile.
Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands
This little outcrop in the Cook Island chain is a national park overseen by countless birds – and two people. Otherwise uninhabited, it’s all you’d want in an isolated desert island, from the fruitful reef and the six kilometers of white sand that surround it, to the legend of buried treasure and the remnants of the life of Tom Neale (“the hermit of Suwarrow”) amid the palms and coconut crabs. To get to this little tropical paradise, you’ll have to catch one of the rare boats that make the journey from neighbouring Rarotonga.
Navagio Beach, Greece
Locally known as Shipwreck Beach and Smuggler’s Cove for the famous beached ship, this little pocket in the Ionian Islands is a delightful contrast of sheer stone cliffs, powdery white sand, and glassy turquoise water. Though it’s not unknown to tourists, the beach can only be accessed by boat from Porto Vromi, Cape Skinari, and Zakynthos City. Reclining on the picturesque beach, you can expect to see ships dotting the sea and a thrill seeker or two diving off the cliffs (Navagio is a coveted destination for base jumpers).
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands
Off the island of Tortola sits the impossibly lush Guana, one of the last private islands in the Caribbean and only seen by a lucky few with access to a boat and a reservation. Scientists say that Guana may very well have more species of flora and fauna than any other island of its size in the world, and the 850 acres of untapped nature is the ideal backdrop for your sojourn here. If you rent the whole island, you’ll have access to all seven of its white sand beaches and acres of jungle; a less extravagant option is to book a stay at the sole resort on the island.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
One of the world’s finest eco-friendly beaches, Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday Island off the coast of Australia is known for its purity. Ribbons of virgin forest and intensely white sand cut through the little island, creating lots of tranquil coves. Not surprisingly, it’s a hot spot for divers and snorkelers; the 20 surrounding reefs offer plenty of underwater wonders. As the name suggests, it truly is a haven of nature and beauty.
Hidden Beach, Mexico
Within the string of volcanic islands 22 miles off the shore of Puerto Vallarta, in the protected belly of Banderas Bay, sits a magical island known as Hidden Beach. Since it’s firmly cut off from the rest of the island chain, you’ll have to work to experience this unique speck of paradise in the Pacific. After a two hour boat ride from the mainland, prospective visitors must swim through a rocky tunnel to the secret beach and ultramarine waters cradled in the shallow pit of a secluded cave, but the effort is worth it, especially if you’re a fan of marine life.
Deception Island, Antarctica
It’s not exactly a tropical paradise, but then again, it’s not so far off. Deception Island may be in the frigid territory of Antarctica, but it has a sheltered port, and more significantly, a geothermal hot spot that warms the pools of water to tantalizing temperatures. The island is actually the caldera of an active volcano, and with the barren snow-capped rock and deep blue ocean as a backdrop, it’s a perfectly primitive experience like no other on earth. You’ll have to head all the way down to the tip of South America, then navigate the Drake Passage to set foot on the island.
The biggest draw to these spots is also the biggest drawback: they’re far away. That means travel time is long, and the journey will be tiring and expensive. However, with sacrifice comes great reward – why not jump in with both feet and travel like history’s great explorers?