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Monday
Feb062012

Into the Wild: Distant Islands

This week on Into the Wild it’s island week and we're asking what the future holds for Earth’s islands. Today we’re setting off to discover the top ten most remote islands on our lovely planet. These islands couldn’t be further removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Falkland Islands:

Photo courtesy of Liam Q

Sitting in the South Atlantic, 300 miles east of Argentina are the Falkland Islands. These islands will probably be most well known for the 1982 Falklands war between Britain and Argentina but are now popular among tourists seeking to enjoy the quaint rural life style and spectacular wildlife. The islands are home to five species of penguin, four species of seals, albatrosses, petrels, geese, hawks, falcons, the Falkland Flightless Steamer duck and the Johnny Rook – a rare bird of prey found only on the Falklands Islands and some islands off Cape Horn. With such a unique array of wildlife on offer – conservation work on the Falklands is very important with many flora, fauna, bird and marine species on the islands being heavily protected.

Cocos Islands:

Photo courtesy of anja_johnson

559 miles from Christmas Island we find the Cocos Islands harbouring in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Also known as the Keeling Islands, these islands are largely unspoilt with their transparent lagoons, hibiscus and lofty Calophyllum trees. Deemed a ‘nature and water lover’s paradise’ these as s flat low lying coral atolls are packed with activities to keep visitors amused from cultural tours to coastal diving. The Cocos Islands host a number of unique and thoroughly entertaining events from the Cocos Olympics to the annual lagoon swim where competitors swim from Home Island across the lagoon to West Island.

Galapagos Islands:

Photo courtesy of David Berkowitz

604 miles off the coast of Ecuador, scattered around the equator sits the over 60 strong archipelago of the Galapagous Islands. Shot to fame by Darwin these islands are home to thousands of endemic species and are a biodiversity hotspotAmongst the wildlife to enjoy are land and marine iguanas, various bird species, including the famously studied Darwin’s finches, as well as Lonesome George – an 80 year old saddle back tortoise. Unfortunately he is the last male of his kind, and conservationists are trying to breed to keep his sub species going. Considered one of the most important and precious habitats on Earth, 98% of the Galapagos Islands have now been designated as a National Park – which carries out important conservation work. 

Attu Island:

Photo courtesy of born1945

Nestled at the western end of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska we come across Attu Island, the most eastern point of the United States. This remote outpost, 1,100 miles away from the Alaskan mainland, is home to a rugged landscape of volcanoes and valleys and an extremely volatile climate which results in all year round fog and storms. Despite the harsh conditions a small number of people do inhabit the island living at the Attu Station. An interesting fact about Attu Island is that it was the site of the only battle fought on US soil during World War II. Attu is a bird watcher’s dream and offers many amazing and unforgettable bird watching experiences and opportunities. Susceptible to Pacific Ocean swells and harsh weather conditions Attu can be inaccessible at times.

Xisha Islands:

The Xisha Islands is a collection of 45 islands located just south of the Tropic of Cancer, 205 miles from China’s Hainan Province in the South China Sea. The waters surrounding the Xisha Islands are crystal clear and have a visibility of up to 40 meters - perfect for extensive coral reefs off the islands’ shores. Originally a stop off on the “Silk Road of the Sea”, a common trading route of ancient times the Xisha Islands are now known for their stunning tropical beauty. The unique environment of the Xisha Islands is home to some of the world’s rarest birds many of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. With an annual average temperature of 26 degrees, amazing scenery and barely anyone else around this is the perfect tropical island paradise.  

Saint Helena:

Sitting 1,200 miles from the coast of South Africa and 1,800 miles from the coast of South America, the island of Saint Helena is pretty dam remote. This was probably the main reason why the island was chosen as the exile location for Napoleon Bonaparte. Saint Helena claims to be the second oldest British colony and is truly a tropical paradise with its crystal clear waters, rich vegetation and abundance of wildlife.

Easter Island:

Photo courtesy of Ndecam

Easter Island sits 1,290 miles away from the shores of Chile however with regular flights heading to this destination this remote island isn’t all that difficult to reach. Dotted about the volcanic landscape the large stone Moai statues, ancient ruins and petroglyphs are certainly an amazing sight whilst surfing the warm Pacific waves is a good way to pass the time. The massive and immense stone heads have perplexed visitors for centuries and it still remains a mystery exactly how the past inhabitants of Easter Islands managed to erect these spectacular monuments. 

Pitcairn Islands:

Photo courtesy of Archmage01

These four volcanic peaks rise up out of the Pacific Ocean 1,350 miles from the coast of Tahiti, the Pitcairn Islands is Britain’s most isolated dependency. Only the largest of the islands is actually inhabited consisting of a single settlement at Adamstown which is famed to be populated by the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers.  With no port or harbours the inhabitants must be rowed in on old longboats from larger ships stationed offshore. The landscape of the Pitcairn Islands is stunning with the jagged cliffs and rugged coastline.

Kiribati:

Photo courtesy of KevGuy4101

Kiribati is an island nation scattered around the equator, 1,650 miles southwest of Hawaii. This archipelago comprises of one raised coral islands called Banaba, and 32 atolls - a coral island or islands that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. Kiribati is home to the world’s largest protected marine reserve – which covers an area approximately the same size of California. Based on the 1995 realignment of the International Date Line, Kiribati is now the eastern-most country in the world with the Line Islands being the first area in the world to enter into the New Year. It was for this reason that in the year 2000 Caroline Island was renamed Millennium Island due to it being the first land mass to enter the Millennium.

Tristan da Cunha:

Photo courtesy of Michael Clarke Stuff

Placed midway between South Africa and Argentina amidst the Atlantic Ocean- Tristan da Cunha is the world’s remotest island. The only inhabited island of a remote volcanic archipelago, Tristan da Cunha is home to a mere 270 people. The island, positioned 1,750 miles away from South Africa, was first discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese but did not become a permanent settlement until 1810. Tristan da Cunha’s people embrace its isolation and immigration is strictly prohibited. In contrast marrying your relatives is widely accepted probably because it is rather slim pickings when there are only 80 families and a total of 8 surnames to choose from.

By Hannah Jones

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Reader Comments (1)

wow , these photos are breathtaking! i wanna go abroad on a boat and know all these paradisiacal islands!!

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterann louise

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