The theme of being stranded on an uninhabited island has inspired many films and novels, such as the movie Cast Away and the TV series Lost. The quintessential deserted island story, however, was Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. The story of Robinson Crusoe was likely influenced by the real-life Alexander Selkirk, a Sottish sailor who spent four years as a castaway when he was marooned on an uninhabited island.
The island called “Más a Tierra” was renamed to Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966 and is no longer uninhabited. The island has a population of about 600 people and contains modern day conveniences such a satellite internet connection and an airstrip. Real uninhabited islands can still be found however and will continue to inspire writers, movie makers and… bloggers.
The Auckland Islands form an archipelago of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands. Traces of a Polynesian settlement, possibly dating to the 13th century, have been found by archaeologists on Enderby Island. This is the most southerly settlement by Polynesians ever discovered. The uninhabited islands were rediscovered in 1806 by a whaling vessel, who found them deserted.
Mu Ko Ang Thong is a beautiful archipelago of about 40 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Ang Thong translates as bowl of gold, while Mu Ko simply means group of islands. Most of the limestone islands are covered with tropical forest and rise from the sea as dramatic rock cliffs and bizarre rock formations. Exploring the white sand beaches and snorkeling among the shallow coral gardens makes a popular day trip from Ko Samui. All of the islands are uninhabited and undeveloped except for Ko Paluay, an island inhabited by sea-gypsies who still earn a living from fishing.
Ball’s Pyramid is a 562 meter (1844 foot) high rock island located 20 km (13 miles) southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. Ball’s Pyramid is the remnant of a volcano that formed about 7 million years ago. The first successful climb to the summit was made in 1965 by a team of Australian climbers. A year before, another team of rock climber rediscovered the Lord Howe Island stick insect thought to be extinct. It has been called “the rarest insect in the world”, as the rediscovered population consisted of fewer than 30 individuals.
Cocos Island is located about 300 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. This jungle-covered island is mostly uninhabited. Tourists are only allowed ashore with permission from the Costa Rican Park Rangers which are the only people who are allowed to live on the island. Cocos Island is popular as a dive destination but people also come here to go treasure hunting. Several hidden treasures are supposed to have been buried here by pirates in the 19th century including the Inca gold from Lima that was taken by pirate Benito Bonito.
The Phoenix Islands are a group of 8 atolls and 2 submerged coral reefs situated in the middle of the Pacific. This isolated location has a vast array of undisturbed and pristine eco-systems. The coral reefs and bird populations are virtually untouched by man. The government of Kiribati formally declared the entire Phoenix group and surrounding waters a protected area in 2008, making it the world’s largest marine protected area.
The Mamanuca Islands of Fiji are a volcanic archipelago of about 20 islands. The islands are one of the most popular Fiji vacation destinations with beautiful island resorts and white sand beaches. Several Mamanuca Islands are uninhabited, usually because there is no natural source of water, The most famous uninhabited island in the group is tiny Monuriki which was the main location for the 2000 film Cast Away (and not ironically on Castaway Island).
Part of the Solomon Islands, Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific. The long rugged island is covered with pristine lowland rainforest and fringed with coral reefs. The island’s original inhabitants lived in scattered villages throughout the island and spoke a distinct language. For reasons still unknown the island was abandoned almost 200 years ago and the descendents live on other parts of the Solomon Islands. They have formed an association to take care of Tetepare leaving it in its original state and allowing tourists to visit the island.
The Maldives are an archipelago of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls. Only 200 islands are inhabited by local Maldivian people while only 5 islands have a population of more than 3,000. The overcrowded capital island of Malé is home to 26 percent of the Maldivians. Of the remaining islands, 88 have been developed as tourist resorts and the others are uninhabited. In fact, Maldives has so much small uninhabited islands that every resort island has its own ‘Desert Island’ and offers its own Desert Island trip.
Aldabra, is one of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles more than 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) from Mahé, the largest island of the Seychelles and is closer to the coast of Africa. It is the second largest Atoll in the world after Kiritimati. Due to difficulties of access and the atoll’s isolation, Aldabra is virtually untouched by humans and thus retains some 152,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of this reptile. They are one of the world’s longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more. The atoll is also known for the Coconut crab, the world’s largest land crab, and hammerhead sharks, manta rays, barracuda and as a breeding ground for green turtles and hawksbill turtles.
The Rock Islands are ancient relics of coral reefs that surfaced to form the 250 to 300 islands in Palau’s Southern Lagoon. The islands are for the most part uninhabited, and are famous for their beaches, blue lagoons and the peculiar shapes of many of the islands. The Rock Islands are also home to the famous Jellyfish Lake, a lake with jellyfish with very weak stingers where snorkelers can safely swim.