Tag Archives: remote travel

Fogo Island Inn at sunset.

6 Otherworldly Escapes That Feel More Remote Than They Are

If you’re like me, you crave that feeling of being cut off from the world, and you’ll travel far to get it, whether that means trekking to the Arctic Circle to see the northern lights or sailing to secret atolls in French Polynesia.  The good news: There are places I’ve found that give you that remote feeling but don’t require venturing to the ends of the earth via five inconvenient flights, two ferries, and a dogsled. These places let you lose yourself in vast landscapes and give you the space, scenery, seclusion—and sometimes even silence—that, to my mind, make a trip extraordinary.

East Brother Light Station, San Francisco Bay

East Brother Light Station San Francisco Bay California

East Brother Light Station is on an island in San Francisco Bay, only 12 miles from downtown. Photo: Tim Baker

Tens of thousands of cars drive past it every day on a bridge a couple of miles away, yet nobody knows it’s there. It’s an historic-landmark lighthouse inn known as East Brother Light Station, on a tiny island in the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay. It’s just a 30-minute drive from downtown San Francisco, plus a short boat ride, yet it feels like a world away.  There’s little on the island besides the 144-year-old active lighthouse, the bed-and-breakfast inn, and a historic foghorn. And, besides the baby seagulls nesting on the rocky islet next door, the occasional yacht or fishing boat passing by, and the San Francisco skyline in the distance, there’s not all that much to see. But there’s also almost nobody to see you—and that makes it a rare escape.

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland. Photo: Tim Baker

Fogo Island, off the north coast of Newfoundland, feels like the edge of the world.  When you wake up at the Fogo Island Inn, look out your window, and see nothing but immense ocean—sometimes with icebergs floating past like sculptures on the sea—you realize that the closest landfall in that direction is probably Greenland. Then you remember that you’re really just in Canada, about a two-hour drive and ferry ride from Gander (or you can fly your own plane from Gander, as we did. There are flights to Gander from many U.S. hubs via Toronto or Halifax.)

a hotel room at Fogo Island Inn Newfoundland

At Fogo Island Inn, rooms face the North Atlantic. You can see forever, but nobody can see you. Photo: Tim Baker

Fogo Island is unlike any place you’ve ever been because the people have a unique, soulful culture and a deep-rooted sense of hospitality, and because the Inn connects you with both. It captures the soul of its community, quite literally: The structure was built by the locals, as was nearly everything inside it—from the furniture handcrafted by the island’s traditional boat builders to the bedding woven by local quiltmakers to the hook mats whose images tell the story of the island and its people. Guests are welcomed into people’s homes and art studios and woven into the fabric of the community as if they were long lost relatives. Three nights on Fogo Island may well restore your soul more than three nights just about anywhere else. It will certainly leave you with more new friends.

Transparency disclosure: Yes, the Fogo Island Inn is an advertiser. But I visited and fell in love with the Inn and its people, community, and concept long before this website was conceived.

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, France (in North America)

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon L'Ile Aux Marins

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon’s Ile Aux Marins (Sailor’s Island). Photo: Tim Baker

Did you know there’s a piece of France in North America?  Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is the last remaining part of the French colonial empire in North America that remains under French control. It’s a windswept archipelago of eight islands that lies off Canada’s east coast, about 16 miles south of Newfoundland. So, when we were en route to Fogo Island (see above), we couldn’t resist making a little detour and checking out SPM.

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon L'Ile Aux Marins

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon’s Ile Aux Marins (Sailor’s Island). Photo: Tim Baker

Long story short, don’t go expecting fabulous French food, shopping, or culture. Go to discover an isolated oddity with a unique heritage, a guillotine, and a Basque festival. The easiest way to get there is to fly from Montreal, Halifax, or St. John’s (Newfoundland’s fun and charming capital city that is worth an even longer detour).

Sonora Resort, British Columbia

aerial view of Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia

Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia. Photo: Tim Baker

A fishing lodge set on its own island in western Canada’s Discovery Islands, Sonora Resort feels much farther away than just a 50-minute helicopter or sea plane flight from Vancouver International Airport. Or you can take a 2.5-hour sea plane flight from Seattle.  The air and water are crystal clear, the scenery magnificent, the wildlife abundant, and the fishing opportunities world-class. You can even take a day trip, as we did, to go snorkeling with salmon. For more photos, see My Extreme Week in Canada.

Qasr al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Qasr al Sarab desert oasis

Qasr al Sarab, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Tim Baker

It may be all the way in Abu Dhabi, but logistically it’s much easier to get to than the similarly spectacular desert landscapes I’ve seen elsewhere in the world—say, in Morocco or Jordan.  Qasr al Sarab is just a three-hour drive, on great roads, from Dubai International Airport (a huge hub that is easy to reach via non-stop flights). But it feels like another planet.  Sand dunes stretch as far as your eye can see in every direction—and the way those dunes change color, as the light shifts throughout the day, is mesmerizing.

Abu Dhabi Qasr al Sarab camel caravan

Qasr al Sarab camel caravan, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Tim Baker

If getting lost in the dunes isn’t adventure enough for you, there’s always camel riding, sandboarding, dune bashing…. So, the next time you’ve got a layover in Dubai, make it three or four nights and head to the desert for something completely different than wherever you just came from.

Abu Dhabi Qasr al Sarab dune bashing

Dune bashing at Qasr al Sarab, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Tim Baker

Your private balcony on a cruise ship

Wendy Perrin on Allure of the Seas cruise ship balcony

Yours truly aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas in the Caribbean. Photo: Tim Baker

In some ways, a cruise ship is like an island, only one that floats past new scenery every day. As long as you have your own private veranda where you can see forever but nobody can see you, you can enjoy that remote feeling as you ply the water toward a new port every day. Not only do you get vast landscape all to yourself, but you get ever-changing views.  Even if you don’t have a balcony, you can get that remote feeling by staking out a secluded spot on deck. It’s true: No matter how crowded a ship, you can always find a hiding place on deck where nobody else is. Even on Royal Caribbean’s 6,500-passenger Allure of the Seas—the world’s second largest cruise ship—I found this public hiding place. Here’s what else I did on that ship.


Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Sandy Bay, St. Helena island

One of the World’s Most Remote Islands Is About to Get a Lot Closer

One of the last places on earth that you couldn’t get to is about to become a place that a lot of people can get to. That means it’s your last chance to be a true pioneer (“I went when you could only get there by mailboat!”). It’s also your chance to see a little-known land before it changes forever (“I was on one of the first flights in!”) That’s what’s happening with the remote island of St. Helena right now.

St. Helena, a 47-square mile island with a population of 4,600 in the middle of the South Atlantic, is best known for being the place that Napoleon was exiled to. Until next month, the only way to reach it has been by mailboat from Cape Town—a journey that requires spending five or six days at sea each way. But starting in mid-October 2017, SA Airlink will begin weekly five-hour flights on a 76-seat Embraer from Johannesburg, South Africa. They fly on Saturdays and start at £804 for a round-trip ticket.

One of the world’s most isolated settled islands—1,200 miles west of the African coast and 1,800 miles east of Brazil—St. Helena may be most famous for its Napoleonic artifacts, but there’s a lot more to do than just visit the house where the French emperor lived and died. You can dive to shipwrecks, swim with whale sharks, go on picturesque hikes to see some of the 500 endemic species of flora and fauna, and meet the local people—called “Saints”—who are known for their hospitality. The island was discovered by the Portuguese in 1502 but colonized by the Brits—so, if you rent a car, you’ll need to drive on the left. You might actually feel like you’re in a tiny tropical England: The Saints speak British English, and you’ll spot red post boxes and English-style Bobbies as you tool around Jamestown.

As you’d expect, the introduction of the new flight will change the experience of the island, and it’s already preparing for an end to its isolation: A 30-room luxury hotel called the Mantis St. Helena has opened in three restored Georgian buildings, where visitors can relax after a round of 18 holes at the world’s most remote golf course, drinks at the world’s most remote distillery, a visit to the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere, a hike to a heart-shaped waterfall, or a climb up Diana Peaks National Park where they can get a view of just how remote they are.

If you prefer the old-fashioned way of getting to St. Helena—via one of the world’s last mailboats, the RMS St. Helena—you have until February 2018. The arrival of a modern airport means the Royal Mail Ship is being decommissioned.

Read more about St. Helena here, and let us know if you decide to go!

St Helena island view
St. Helena, a 47-square mile island with a population of 4,600 in the middle of the South Atlantic, is one of the world's most remote islands. Photo: David Pryce
Fishing boat in Jamesbay St. Helena
Fishing boat in Jamesbay. Photo: Ed Thorpe
Old Woman's Valley, St. Helena island
Old Woman's Valley, St. Helena. Photo: Ed Thorpe
underwater view of fish off St. Helena island
Wrecks around St. Helena's coast provide great diving sites. Photo: Sandy Bay, St. Helena
aerial view of Jamestown, St. Helena
Jamestown, St. Helena. Photo: David Pryce
St. Helena island's heart-shaped waterfall
Hike to the heart-shaped waterfall. Photo: Ed Thorpe
Napoleon statue on St. Helena island
Napoleon was exiled on St. Helena island from 1815 until he died in 1821. Photo: Ed Thorpe
Longwood House is one of three buildings where Napoleon stayed in exile on St. Helena
Longwood House is one of the sites associated with Napoleon during his time here. Photo: St. Helena Tourism
Lot's Wife Beach St. Helena
Lot's Wife Beach. Photo: Ed Thorpe
jonathan the giant tortoise at plantation house on St. Helena
Jonathan the tortoise is 180 years old and lives at Plantation House on St. Helena. Photo: Jon Tonks
aerial view of St. Helena High Knoll fort
High Knoll Fort dates from 1874. Photo: Merrill Joshua
Napoleon's Tomb on St. Helena island
Napoleon's Tomb on St. Helena. Photo: Jon Tonks
The RMS mail ship approaching St Helena island
The RMS mail ship approaching St Helena



Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’s reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.