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Discover your very own hideaway in one of these 10 remote destinations

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From a rocky cave hideaway to a remote yurt in British Columbia, we’ve found the very best places on earth to truly disappear

Words: Anna Hart

Achieving total switch off is a rare and valuable thing. Rare because we are always connected. Be it Twitter, Google searches or an endlessly replenished work inbox (one in three women still check their emails on holiday). And valuable because achieving a true downshift is more enriching for the soul than a thousand online shops.

Travel and escapism have long gone hand-in-hand, but for a generation bombarded with stress-inducing distractions, travel plays an even more vital role: to give us a significant enough break so that we can lie back, let thoughts drift, reshuffle priorities, and bring home new interests and habits.

For this to happen organically, your holiday destination matters more than ever. A place that’s truly off-grid, under-the-radar or geographically remote – somewhere you haven’t seen peppered on friends’ Instagram feeds. Nor is it merely about physical distance; it’s a state of mind that can be achieved much closer to home – on a car free Mediterranean island where life is simple, in a no-wifi yurt that transports us back in time, or among the rugged scenery of an uninhabited Irish archipelago. In today’s hyper-connected world, our surroundings need to work that bit harder in order to deliver, because we sure are…


Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands, Norway: there’s more than one kind of Northern Lights

Stark Nordic views, total isolation, dreamy accommodation

Far above the Arctic Circle, this wilderness outpost offers an unspoiled landscape of craggy mountains, fjords, seabird colonies and deserted beaches. Yes, it’s a schlep – a flight from Oslo to Bodø followed by a four-hour ferry – but the scenery makes the journey part of the adventure. Travel between late-May and mid-July for the midnight sun; or keep your fingers crossed for the northern lights from September to mid-April.

The much-hyped, architecturally ambitious Lofoten Opera House Hotel (snohetta.com) is chalked up to open later this year. Until then stay in charming clapboard fishermen’s cottages (rorbuer.no) for just £75 a night. The in-house restaurant, Gammelbua, is justly famous for serving fish caught right on their doorstep.

Located between the 68th and 69th parallels within the Arctic Circle.

10 hours


Kokanee Glacier, Canada

And all of a sudden, the rest of the world is very far away…

The ultimate mountain retreat among glaciers, creeks and pine forests

In serious ski, snowboard and hiking circles, Canada’s British Columbia is prime trip-of-a-lifetime territory, and those craving a real off-grid adventure have their eyes firmly set on Kokanee Glacier Park in the Selkirk Mountains.

A designated wilderness area since 1922, it’s only accessible by foot in summer, and helicopter (for heli-skiing) in winter. But once you’re in, you’ll have 85km of trails all to yourself, passing glaciers, granite peaks, pine-fringed creeks and more than 30 Alpine lakes. You’re well and truly off-grid, yet the arty, foodie town of Nelson is just a 30-minute drive away for supplies and a fix of civilisation – as well as brunch at the Twenties Hume Hotel (humehotel.com).

Wilderness camping is available from £7 per tent (secure.camis.com/discovercamping), or stay a mile out of the park at the Kokanee Park Lakeview Yurt (airbnb.com; from £50 per night) for magical sunsets and a very welcome woodburnng stove.

Flight to Vancouver (10 hours); drive to Kokanee Park (10 hours).

20 hours


Ratua Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific

“Hmm, do you have one any nearer the beach?”

The desert island dream in the South Pacific

If you’re serious about escaping the British winter, you can’t get more far-flung than the unspoiled South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu. With just one weekly flight to Espiritu Santo from Brisbane, the remoteness has kept Vanuatu unchanged, but now Ratua, an award-winning private island resort and non-profit organisation, offers a more upscale alternative to basic beach shacks. You’re literally journeying to the other side of the world, but when you’re snorkelling with sea turtles, it will all be worth it.

Ratua Island (ratua.com) has beach bungalows from £300 per night.

All proceeds from the resort go to the Ratua Foundation (ratuafoundation.com), which promotes literacy programs in primary schools across Vanuatu.

31 hours


Mljet, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

“Ah, Mr Bond, welcome to my island within an island”

A car-free island idyll in the middle of the Mediterranean

Mljet delivers a truly unspoiled island vibe just a 90-minute ferry ride from the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. From the petite port, it’s a twisty bus journey through pine forests into the heart of a national park, where you’re left to wait for your B&B hosts to pick you up. With no visitor cars allowed, your options for getting around are biking, walking and kayaking. For swimming, you’ve got the choice of the sparkling Adriatic, or you can splash around one of the island’s two salt water lakes, one of which has its own tiny island housing a Franciscan monastery. Leave civilisation behind and eat octopus salad at neighbourhood konobas like Stermasi (stermasi.hr).

Rustic self-catering flats (boutiqueaccommodationmljet.com) start at £35 per night.

More than 84% of the island is forest.

7 hours


The Skylodge Suites: not afraid of heights

Unforgettable adventurous accommodation in an overlooked Andean area

Peru’s Sacred Valley stretches between the ancient Incan capital Cusco and the 15th-century city of Machu Picchu. Despite its proximity to must-tick sights, this staggeringly beautiful region remains under-the-radar as most travellers pass speedily through en route to Machu Picchu. Those who linger, however, are rewarded with cute colonial towns, crowd-free archaeological sites such as Pisac and Chinchero, and some of the best hiking, biking, climbing and rafting in the country. This should be enough to attract gung-ho escapists, but now you have the option of sleeping in a suspended pod dangling from the rockface, only reachable by a three-hour climb, hike or zip-line adventure.

The Skylodge Adventure Suites (airbnb.com/rooms/2177913) start at £240 per night, including breakfast and dinner with wine.

Each 24x8 foot suite has four beds, solar-powered lighting, a private bathroom and an open-air skygazing deck.

25 hours


Pädaste Manor, Muhu Island, Estonia

Yes, please: the private farmhouse in the grounds of Pädaste Manor has three beds, a cinema and a sauna

A secret country house on a timewarp Estonian island

A three-hour drive and light years away from the buzzy capital of Tallinn, the secluded island of Muhu offers visitors a brilliantly immersive Estonian cultural experience. This is where worn-out Tallinn urbanites retreat to recharge among sleepy fishing villages, ride past working windmills and thatched cottages, and marvel at the ancient symbolism of St Catherine’s Church. But there’s another glorious reason to visit: pretty, truly unique luxury hotel Pädaste Manor, a beautifully restored aristocratic dwelling dating back to the 14th century. Today it houses Estonia’s most celebrated restaurant, Alexander, and sees a steady stream of Scandinavian celebrities and international travel editors, but it remains very much an insider’s secret. In colder months Muhu is only accessible by driving across an ice road marked out on a frozen sea.

Pädaste Manor (padaste.ee) has doubles from £175 per night, full-board.

The population of Muhu is just 1,500, mostly fishermen.

8 hours


Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia

Play out your English Patient fantasies at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Rare, rich wildlife encounters in a little-known East African destination

Compared to other African nations, Namibia is still relatively undiscovered, making it the perfect safari destination. Within this unexplored land, the Skeleton Coast (so-named because of the numerous shipwrecks and animal skulls – elephant, oryx, springbok, even lion – lacing the shore) is desolate, dramatic and eerily beautiful. This is no beach resort, rather a bleak windswept wilderness on the edge of the soaring dunes of the Namib Desert, with a remote ranger’s station offering the one semblance of civilisation. Six-seater Cessnas are the only way in, and Land Rovers are the only way to get around. But it’s worth it for a chance to glimpse lesser-spotted wildlife, such as lions and oryx. For travellers craving a safari less ordinary, this is the spot.

Part futuristic safari camp, part research centre, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp (wilderness-safaris.com) offers stays from £300 per person per day, all-inclusive.

A maximum of 800 travellers are allowed to visit the Skeleton Coast Wilderness each year.

18 hours


Skellig Islands, Ireland

Visit this Star Wars location. Go on, force yourself

Other-worldly landscapes in a hard-to-reach corner of Ireland

One of the most remote spots in Ireland, Skellig Michael (a dramatically rugged island with the ruins of a sixth-century monastery) has soared to the top of intrepid travellers’ must-visit lists, thanks to its scene-stealing role in the final moments of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. George Bernard Shaw described it as an “incredible, impossible, mad place” and you can only visit this Unesco-protected island off Ireland’s south-west tip on boat trips.

The Moorings (moorings.ie) in the pretty nearby town of Portmagee is a cosy base minutes from the pier, with rooms from £65.

The island’s population peaked at 12 monks and an abbot. They left in the 12th century.

8 hours


The Valley, New Mexico

With sunsets like this, who needs Instagram filters?

A quirky, unforgettable wilderness cave dwelling with astonishing views

If you like your accommodation to be an adventure in itself, look no further than this gloriously eccentric Seventies cave abode carved into vertical sandstone cliffs in a beautiful valley in New Mexico. Close to the archaeological wonderland of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, with its remarkable ancient ruins, Kokopelli’s Cave was originally conceived as a workspace for an eccentric geologist. It’s now run by friendly manager Gayle Davis, who guides your vehicle along unmarked dirt roads that swiftly become bare rock running along the side of sheer drops. After parking on top of a cliff hundreds of feet above the desert floor, she’ll take you along a hiking trail on the edge of the drop to the entrance to Kokopelli’s Cave, which is accessed by clambering down a ladder. You’re rewarded with wine, total solitude, and the view of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

Holidays at Kokopelli’s Cave (kokoscave.com) start from £199 per night.

It’s a 1,650 square foot, one-bedroom cave home carved from a 65-million-year-old sandstone formation 280 feet above the La Plata River.

18 hours


Citrus Creek Plantation, Dominica, West Indies

Citrus Creek Plantation: now that's what we call a treehouse

Unspoiled rainforest and outdoorsy action on a pristine volcanic island

Unlike neighbouring Saint Lucia, the island of Dominica has been spared mass tourism, primarily because it has few sandy beaches, no flashy chain hotels and no direct international flights. Instead, Dominica has gradually evolved into a glorious bucketlist destination for intrepid and active travellers, with quirky, charming and affordable lodging. Much of the island is blanketed by rainforest providing a scenic backdrop to outdoorsy experiences, such as the six-hour round-trip trek to Boiling Lake from Titou Gorge, traversing the superbly named Valley of Desolation, until you reach a huge volcanic cauldron of fizzing, steamy waters. Less physically challenging but equally other-worldly is the eerily silent boat trip down mangrove-lined Indian River, where nothing disturbs your serenity but the sound of hummingbirds.

Citrus Creek Plantation (citruscreekplantation.com) is a rustic eco-village run by a passionate French team, with double rooms from £75. Try the rum punch and lionfish at the Riverside Cafe.

The island’s just 29 miles long and only 16 miles at its widest point.

12 hours


Photography: Barcroft Media, Getty Images, Alex Conu/visitnorway.com, Caspar Diederik

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