1. Deception Island, Antarctica
Why it’s worth it. North of the Antarctic Peninsula, there is an island so surprising that Jules Verne might have made it the mysterious secret base of the Nautilus in the seminal sci-fi novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. With its protected interior port, the island is the partially submerged caldera of an active volcano. Despite its name, it has long provided a safe harbour for sailors being tossed about in stormy seas. Here, geothermally heated water makes it one of the few places in Antarctica that you can enjoy in your swimsuit.
Don’t miss. Exploring the remains of Hektor Whaling Station and the largest cemetery in Antarctica—both protected as Antarctic Treaty Historic Sites.
2. Easter Island, Chile
Why it’s worth it. Although it's widely known and treasured, Easter Island is incredibly remote. The biggest tourist attractions here are the giant moai monoliths and, despite the island’s extreme geographic isolation, they’ve been calling to travellers for centuries. But the iconic statues on this UNESCO-protected island are only the beginning. Here, you can camp under the Polynesian stars, meet and interact with the inhabitants of the world’s remotest populated island, and explore its natural treasures on foot and by bike.
Don’t miss. Easter Island’s caves—the flow of the lava towards the sea formed channels that, when cooled, turned into caves. They were used by the Rapa Nui as shelter and places to perform rituals.
3. Urumqi, China
Why it’s worth it. Once an important stop on the Silk Road, Urumqi has become a major commercial hub. The city holds the remarkable record of being the most remote from any sea in the world; it is 2,500km (1,554 mi) from the nearest coastline. Cyrillic signs and kebab stands lend the city a decidedly Central Asian feel; however, the majority of the city’s residents are Han.
Don’t miss. An overnight in a yurt with the local Kazakh minority in the nearby Tian Shan Mountains. This area looks more like the Swiss Alps, with towering snow-capped mountains and turquoise lakes, than somewhere in the middle of China. Spend time hiking, horseback riding, or just relaxing and soaking in the views.
Why it’s worth it. Alright, it’s the fourth largest island in the world. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a wilder, more biologically diverse place. Wild landscapes, village culture, beaches—Madagascar might be an island but there’s nothing small about it. From endless jungles filled with endemic plants, rare birds, and endangered animals, to the white-sand beaches of the Malagasy islands and limestone karst formations of Ankarana, the island is an explosion of nature at each turn. Cut off from the African mainland 165m years ago, Madagascar evolved in isolation, leading to many unique and endemic species.
Don’t miss. The hands-down superstars of this wild performance are the endangered lemur, of which 90 per cent of the surviving global population is found only here.
5. Lake Baikal, Russia
Why it’s worth it. Located in south-central Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border and surrounded by mountains, forests and wild rivers, Baikal is an immense and breathtaking area of natural beauty. It’s the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake, containing roughly 20% of the world's unfrozen surface fresh water. In fact, it contains more water than all the Great Lakes combined. It is also among the clearest of all lakes, and thought to be the world's oldest at 25m years.
Don’t miss. The lake is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals. Two-thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world, like the earless nerpa—one of the world's only freshwater species of seal.
6. Svalbard Archipelago, Norway
Why it’s worth it. From close-up encounters with icebergs and glaciers to the region’s plentiful wildlife, the Svalbard Archipelago is best explored by ship, on foot and via Zodiac. Roaming polar bears, lounging seals, grazing reindeer, and colonies of birds all co-exist in this harsh land most dare only to explore a few months of the year. Svalbard is so remote, it’s home to the Global Seed Vault, which provides a safety net against accidental loss of diversity in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe.
Don’t miss. Polar bears usually top the list of must-see animals, but the islands abound with reindeer, arctic fox, walrus, and extensive seabird breeding colonies.
7. Perth, Australia
Why it’s worth it. A city of close to two million, Perth might seem an outlier among its peers in this list; however, it offers up remoteness and beauty in spades. Perth is Australia’s (and many say, the world’s) most isolated city, almost 4,000 km from Sydney by road, a four-hour flight from the east coast and in a different time zone (Western Standard Time) to the rest of the country. That said, Perth's pristine parkland, nearby bush, and river and ocean beaches (there are 19 within the metropolitan area), make it a perennial favourite of "world’s most liveable cities" lists. So it’s worth the effort!
Don’t miss. Kings Park and Botanic Garden is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. Enjoy sweeping views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges to the east. It’s rich in Aboriginal and European history, and contemporary culture.