While most travel (especially further afield) is still somewhat of a pipe dream for many of us, there’s definitely no harm in being inspired by some spectacular destinations around the world. With the vaccine rollout ongoing, many countries are planning on opening up to tourists once again in the upcoming months. While travel might not be completely back to normal, we can always find incredible places to tick off our bucket list.
The following destinations include some of the most secluded in the world, as well as some underrated gems that you might not have thought of as a place for your next holiday. From a remote volcanic island in the South Atlantic to the largest island in the world, here are four beautiful destinations ideal for a socially distanced vacation.
Located 300 miles off the Argentinian coast, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas in Spanish) is an archipelago made up of more than 700 islands. East Falkland – home to the capital, Stanley – and West Falkland are the two main islands in the archipelago, and other popular islands to visit include Pebble Island, Carcass Island, Sea Lion Island, Saunders Island and Bleaker Island.
King penguins, seals, albatrosses, and sea lions – there’s no shortage of animal life here.
So, how can you reach the Falkland Islands? There are two main ways to reach the archipelago. The first option is to take one of the twice-weekly flights from RAF Brize Norton, which goes via Cape Verde for a refuelling stop. While the lengthy 18-hour flight is predominantly for members of the armed forces and their families, there are tickets available for civilians.
The other main option is to fly from Chile or São Paulo with LATAM. The islands are also a popular stop on cruise ships travelling the region or going to Antarctica, but you will definitely want more than a day or two to experience everything this area has to offer.
The Falkland Islands are ideal for nature lovers, with incredible amounts of fauna abundant on the islands. From king penguins to seals and albatrosses to sea lions, there is no shortage of animal life here. Take a helicopter to Volunteer Point to see the largest king penguin colony in the Falklands or watch gentoo penguins on the beach on Bleaker Island.
Of course, no visit to the Falklands would be complete without learning more about the history, in particular the Falklands War in 1982. A battlefields tour is the best way to learn more about the war and how it affected the people living on the islands at the time.
While a trip to the Falklands isn’t a budget holiday, it will definitely be a trip you remember for years and years to come.
Fly to Mount Pleasant from Santiago de Chile (from £700 return) or Punta Arenas (from £400 return), or fly from RAF Brize Norton for £2,222 return.
If you’re into hiking, history, and remote destinations that until recently required sailing for 5-6 days on a cargo vessel to access, then St Helena is an ideal destination for you. St Helena’s airport only opened in 2016 and, previously, visitors and residents alike could only reach the island by a 5-6 journey on the RMS St Helena, a Royal Mail cargo-passenger vessel, from the South African city of Cape Town.
St Helena is relatively unknown to many people, unless you’re a history buff or an avid traveller. This volcanic island is part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, although the islands are spread far apart. Tristan de Cunha is almost 2,500km south of St Helena and Ascension is just shy of 1,300km north of St Helena.
The distillery produces a spirit made from the local prickly pear.
St Helena is best known for being where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled after his escape from Elba, until his death in 1821. When in St Helena, you can visit Napoleon’s tomb, which is empty after his body was repatriated to Paris in 1840.
Aside from being important historically, St Helena also boasts spectacular nature, with dramatic cliffs, winding mountain roads and, of course, amazing marine life. On this remote island, you can go whale-watching, diving with dolphins or you can see if you can spot some endemic bird life, such as the Saint Helena plover, known locally as the ‘wirebird’. For hikers, the 21 ‘Post Box Walks’ on the island offer varying difficulties of hikes, from hilly and scenic to spectacular and challengingly mountainous.
In my personal opinion, the most interesting thing about this island is that it’s home to the world’s most remote coffee plantation. Now, that may be just because I’m a little addicted to the beverage, but it’s also because St Helena coffee is considered some of the best in the world. The coffee here was brought to the island from Yemen in 1733 and has remained pure and unchanged since then. Tours of the plantation are available, and visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee at St Helena Coffee Shop in the island’s capital, Jamestown.
Finally, if you prefer booze to a brew, the island is also home to the world’s most remote distillery (yes, remote is the word for St Helena). The distillery produces a spirit made from the local prickly pear, known as tungi, as well as spiced rum, coffee liqueur, and gin made from the rare Bermuda Juniper.
Flights to St Helena from Johannesburg with Airlink start at £700.
Tatev, Armenia / Տաթև, Հայաստան
Armenia is one of my favourite not-so-secret secrets. This nation is sandwiched between Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran and is mostly known around the world for the war between them and Azerbaijan, as well as the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Government starting in 1915.
Armenia is so much more than that.
However, Armenia is so much more than that. Armenia is considered the first country to adopt Christianity, in the 4th century. Monasteries and churches can be found in Armenia dating back to the 4th century.
Tatev, written as Տաթև in Armenian, is located near the country’s southern border with Iran. This village is home to Tatev Monastery, one of the oldest monastery complexes in Armenia, and Wings of Tatev, the world’s longest nonstop cableway. The cable car was opened in 2010 and all profit from the project is invested into the restoration of the monastery and development of the local community. The cable car travels a length of more than 5km (5,752m to be precise) and the journey time takes 12-15 minutes from Halidzor, the first station, and Tatev, the final station.
Before the cable car, the only way to reach Tatev village the monastery complex was a 40-minute car journey along a steep and winding mountainous road. Tatev Monastery is 9th-century monastic complex, which replaced a 4th-century church that was located here. The complex is heavily fortified, since this location was often attacked by Seljuk Turks and then later by the Timurid dynasty. The monastery was also damaged by earthquakes, most recently in 1931.
The monastery complex at Tatev was added to the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. Tatev is an absolutely spectacular place, overlooking the massive Vorotan Gorge, the deepest gorge in Armenia at a depth of over 800m.
Armenia has many spectacular locations and indeed many impressive monasteries, and Tatev is a truly awe-inspiring destination in this hidden gem of a nation.
Fly to Yerevan from London, starting at £100. Alternatively, visit two countries together and fly to Tbilisi, Georgia and take the overnight train from Tbilisi to Yerevan.
What do you think of when you think of Greenland? It is glaciers, dog sledding and Inuit culture? Or is it just a whole lot of ice and snow? Well, both assumptions are correct. Although, Greenland in summer is incredibly green, with blooming flowers, melting snow, and long days.
The world’s largest island (if you’re wondering about Australia – it’s classed as a continent, therefore not the world’s largest island) receives fewer than 80,000 tourists annually and is generally overlooked by most people as a tourist destination.
If you’re visiting Greenland in summer, activities can include kayaking on fjords and amongst icebergs, hiking in the world’s largest national park, as well as experiencing the phenomenon of midnight sun. In winter, dog sledding, sleeping in an igloo and seeing the northern lights are just some of the highlights.
Summer is also prime whale watching season in Greenland. Up to 15 species visit the water around the island, including humpback whales, sperm whales and minke whales. Lesser common, but also possible to see (even in winter), are narwhals and beluga whales. Greenland is also the perfect place to spy other fauna, including seals, walruses, reindeer, arctic foxes and even polar bears.
The Inuit people play a large part in Greenland’s culture and history. Inuit people crossed the Bering Strait from Arctic Canada and populated Greenland – groups including the Dorset Culture and the adaptable and nomadic Thule people. The Thule were whale and seal hunters who, according to legend, heard about iron and its use for tools, and that it could be found in meteorites in Northern Greenland. The Thule brought dogs to Greenland, thus introducing the mode of transport that is dog sledding. They also used boats that are similar to modern-day kayaks, and the kayak is the national symbol of Greenland.
Greenland has so much to do, including visiting the country’s oldest church Bethelkirken and the museum in Sisimiut, seeing the Greenland National Museum and drinking strong coffee in Nuuk, and enjoying the hot springs in Uunartoq. Finally, don’t miss out on seeing the spectacular and magical northern lights, which can be seen all across Greenland, but particularly in Kangerlussuaq, Ilulissat and Tasiilaq.
Fly to Greenland either via Reykjavík from €279 one-way with Air Iceland Connect or via Copenhagen with Air Greenland.
Whether you’re looking for to watch the northern lights, see hundreds of penguins, or learn about Napoleon in exile, these stunning and secluded destination are ideal for your next holiday away from the crowds.