By Anya Cooklin-Lofting
The very idea of getting away from it all, feeling soft white sand between your toes and the sound of wind amongst rustling palm leaves, is enough to ease anyone through a slow Wednesday at their desk. If you do find yourself planning a break, there is no better place to aim for than some of the most remote locations in Oceania for a complete disconnect from work and the more tedious elements of everyday life. It is this sense of remoteness that seems the most precious, revered and sought-after element of the typical Oceanian holiday. But the remoteness is purely a condition of geography, so what is it exactly that this remotely offers on an existentially alluring level? From where I’m standing, it’s privacy, and the 8,525,989 square kilometers of the countries that make up the region has a lot to offer in that department.
Privacy is one of life’s greatest luxuries, and booking a holiday somewhere that can offer this luxury is a balm to the incredibly public lives we lead. Be it on social media, in busy offices or with hectic social lives, life can start to feel like everyone wants a piece of you. So, if you’re burning the candle at both ends and would relish the opportunity to find a hit of delicious privacy, here is a round-up of some of the best, most private holiday spots in Oceania.
An untouched paradise of white sands and gently lapping blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands, comprise 27 coral islands, of which only two are inhabited. Sadly, the islands declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, extending its travel restrictions until 30th September this year. However, of course, the Cocos Keeling Islands should remain on your radar, especially for winter sun. They are about as far away as you can get from mainland Australia within Australia itself and retain a rich cultural Malay-Muslim heritage. The islands are also brilliant for exploring weird and wonderful wildlife; the remoteness of the islands has preserved a uniquely biodiverse environment and they hold international significance for zoologists, especially when it comes to bird and marine life. Manta rays, dolphins, turtles and drongo cuckoos can be spotted by eagle-eyed visitors.
Surely one of the most commonly cited dream holiday destinations, the Fiji archipelago is made up of 300 islands and 540 islets, each with their own distinct natural beauty. However, the Yasawa islands provide the ultimate opportunity to discover some of Fiji’s most unspoiled beaches, dramatic landscapes and beautiful coral gardens. The constellation of the six Yasawa islands offer visitors a glimpse of the platonic ideal of South Pacific perfection, so it’s unsurprising that their name is taken from one of the 15 words in Fijian meaning ‘heaven.’
One of the primary attractions of the Yasawa islands is the Blue Lagoon (or Sawa-i-Lau) caves. The somehow ecclesiastical rock formations channel light into the turquoise waters from above, inspiring absolute awe in all those lucky enough to visit. However, for the ultimate in remote holiday-making, the furthest-flung island in the Yasawa archipelago is Nalova Bay, which is said to have the very best of the Fijian beaches.
The French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva is one of the world’s most remote locations, giving visitors the very best shot at avoiding any crowds at all. It is the capital of the Marquesas Islands, which remains one of the most untouched archipelagos in the world. There is just one hotel on the island, Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts, giving guests the rare opportunity to bask in the unabated, volcanic natural beauty of the island, characterised by its dramatic valleys and scenic bays. And this natural beauty is not taken lightly by the local communities. The island is also home to the Tohua Koueva Archaeological Site, a stretch of land that has been restored to its native appearance before the arrival of Europeans.
Both an alluring and perhaps hindering travel factor to bear in mind is the journey time required to get to Nuku Hiva. It can take up to 30 hours to get from London to Tahiti Faa’a Airport, and another four hours to connect to fly to Nuku Hiva airport itself. This doesn’t take into account the hour-or-so drive from the airport into the main town, Taiohae. Although the effort to visit may be offputting to some, Nuku Hiva will certainly deliver on all other fronts.
Finally, it would be impossible to omit the enchanting islands of New Zealand from this list. As one of the world’s least populated countries, it earns its spot in the mix of places to escape to. The diverse landscape offers tropical scenes in the north and rugged, rolling terrain in the south. It has become known, especially in the UK, as a site of special interest for those looking for a quiet, jaw-droppingly beautiful break from the hubbub of metropolitan life, and it’s absolutely jam-packed with secluded spots. Central Otago on the South Island is home to some of the most exquisite mountainscapes in the world, which are doubly as beautiful when reflected in the clear waters of the many lakes. To the west is Fiordland, a national park inhabited by just a few dozen people who live off the grid. Places to stay are few and far between (unless you’re happy to carry a tent…), but day trips to this corner of the country from some of the small towns further inland like Manapouri are perfectly doable.