Where to travel in 2018: There are still desert islands
We’re going to show you islands where you can lose yourself for a few hours. There still are thousands of uninhabited islands, and they are not all tiny islets occupying a few square meters in the middle of the ocean.
Believe it or not, there are still places in the world where it is possible to find absolutely nobody. It might sound like a children’s story, but uninhabited islands do exist, and they’re not exactly rare. We’re going to show you some of them, ones you can visit and imagine you’re a pirate in search of buried treasure.
Where to travel in 2018: why not try these desert islands?
They’re not just a literary concept. There still are thousands of uninhabited islands, and they are not all tiny islets occupying a few square metres in the middle of the ocean. Many of them are very beautiful, but survival there can be a complicated matter, largely because of a lack of fresh water, something that creates a strong dependence on supplies from outside. Others are nature reserves where access by visitors has been prohibited. Be that as it may, some are accessible and do allow visitors, at least for a while, to enjoy their beauty and tranquility. However, you won’t be able to stay on them.
Isla de Lobos
Covering an area of 6 square kilometres and with almost 14 kilometres of coastline, this islet which is situated to the northeast of Fuerteventura can be seen from the beach at Corralejo. Before fishermen almost completely wiped them out, the island was inhabited by large numbers of monk seals—also known as sea wolves, hence the island’s name—in addition to over 100 different species of plants and birds, which earned it the protected status as a Natural Park on the surface and as a submarine reserve underwater.
The island first became inhabited when the construction of the Punta Martiño lighthouse began, at the far northern end of the island, and then later, by the lighthouse keeper and his family. The poet and essayist Josefina Pla was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, and became the island’s most famous citizen; there is even a statue in her honour. However, since 1968, the lighthouse has been automated, so the descendants of Antoñito the lighthouse keeper set up the island’s only bar, which opens just for the summer season. You can visit this islet for 15 Euros, on the ferry from Fuerteventura, and the trip takes 15 minutes.
Inhabited by orthodox monks and sheep, this tiny island in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, close to the Peloponnese, covers just over 13 square kilometres. Traditionally it has not received much attention because nearby is the island of Hydra, a tourist treasure that still conserves a certain aura of mysticism, because motor vehicles are not allowed and because, according to Greek mythology, it was the lair of Hydra, the terrible many-headed sea monster.
The easiest way to visit Dokos is by hiring a boat so that you can put in at both islands when it suits you. One of the best places to land is Thermisia, a small town known for its historic sites, its beaches and its remarkable views of both islands.
There are actually three islands: Sisarga Grande, Sisarga Chica and Malante, around which there is a series of islets including Chalreu and Xoceiro which together form the Sisargas Islands, all of which are uninhabited. Located in the heart of the Costa da Morte, off Malpica de Bergantiños, they have the distinction of possessing one of the oldest lighthouses in the region dating as far back as 1853, in addition to a hermitage dedicated to Santa Mariña. It is said in the inhabited neighbouring areas to have been torn down during attacks by the Normans.
Their rich birdlife population, which includes a significant population of lesser black-backed gulls, yellow-legged gulls and kittiwakes, led to the the islands being declared a Special Protection Area for Birds. To visit the islands, you need to travel by private boat to Sisarga Grande, which has a jetty and a small beach on its southern coast. From there, a path leads to the lighthouse, about 2 kilometres away, which offers unforgettable views.
Isla del Coco
Declared a Natural Park, like others on this list, the population of Isla del Coco in Costa Rica is restricted to the scientists and rangers who guard its 23 square kilometres. And for good reason, because of the 235 identified species of plants, 70 are endemic, in addition to 64 types of insects and two types of lizard. The surrounding waters are also home to more than 200 types of fish and almost a score of different corals, making it a world paradise for divers, with hammerhead sharks, manta rays and whale sharks, among others. Such was the opinion of one of the greatest ever marine explorers, Jacques Cousteau, who considered it “the most beautiful island in the world”.
Visiting the island entails spending 30 hours on one of the ferries that travel there from Puntarenas.
This island, which since 1969 has belonged to the state of Hamburg, and is located at the mouth of the Elba, measures 20 hectares and is completely uninhabited, although you might catch the occasional glimpse of a bird protection officer and his charges, such as wading birds, geese, ducks and gulls. Scharhörn forms part of the Wadden Sea National Park, and essentially consists of sand and mixed muds with surface streams. It is home to around 2,000 animal species, including the common seal and the grey seal.
Close to Scharhörn, about 6 kilometres away, is the island of Neuwerk, with an area of 3 square kilometres and scarcely a dozen inhabitants. From there, excursions can be arranged to the National Park, for bird watching or searching for amber, known as the gold of the North.
Together with the islets of Es Pantaleu and La Mitjana, this island makes up the Natural Park of Sa Dragonera, an important marine influence area which also has several endemic species (including the Podarcis Lilfordi Giglioli lizard, which was traditionally associated with the name of the island, as here the lizards are known as ‘dragons’). For this reason, its population consists solely of scientists, rangers and volunteers.
Dragonera is open to visitors, and four official trails are provided to allow them to explore the island freely. The first, at 1.7 kilometres, leads from the jetty to the Tramontana Lighthouse; the second, at 3.8 kilometres, connects the jetty and the old lighthouse; the third, at 4.5 kilometres, links the jetty with the Llebeig lighthouse and the fourth, at 1.2 kilometres, leads from the jetty to the Punta de na Miranda.
To reach the island, ferries depart from various places in Mallorca; the trip takes approximately 20 minutes and costs around 25 Euros.
With its striking landscape of dunes, beaches and pine forests, and an area of 36 square kilometres, this island is mainly sand; its name translates as “Gotland island of sand”. The island is completely uninhabited, apart from a significant grey seal colony and several types of orchids.
Excursions to visit the island are organised from the nearby island of Faro, 38 kilometres away, whose claim to fame is that it was the home of the film-maker Ingmar Bergman until his death, and where his Faro trilogy (Hour of the Wolf, Shame and The Passion of Ana) was filmed.