One of the most remote island groups in the world recently became a little less, well, remote. Saint Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha—a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean—received its first flight from Cape Town in May. Regularly scheduled service will soon depart from Johannesburg. It will no longer be necessary to brave the rough seas on a ship for multiple days to reach the islands.
At least Saint Helena. The volcanic islands are thousands of miles from Africa, the nearest land mass, but they’re also hundreds of miles from one another. The northernmost island, Ascension, is more than 2,000 miles from the southernmost island, Gough Island. So don’t expect to island hop during your visit. Though with more people visiting Saint Helena, you might be tempted to go further off the new tourist trail.
Inaccessible Island is difficult to reach. The aptly named island may only be 15 miles southwest of Tristan da Cunha, but it’s desolate, inhospitable, and, except for weather station personnel, uninhabited. The Dutch discovered the island in 1656 and probably named it when they were unable to reach the interior. The sheer cliffs along the coast made a landing virtually impossible. Cairn Peak, the extinct volcano in the center, didn’t help either. It’s not surprising that shipwrecks dot the coastline.
Why would you want to embark on another long journey? The island is part of Gough and Inaccessible Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s home to flowering plants and ferns, thanks to the rich volcanic soil, that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. There are unique birds, including the Inaccessible Island rail (the smallest flightless bird), and huge breeding colonies of albatrosses, petrels, and northern rockhopper penguins. Subantarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals, dusky dolphins and southern right whales live in the surrounding water. While stunning waterfalls, like Waterfall Gulch, tumble down the island’s steep cliffs.
So, after exploring Saint Helena and traveling to Tristan da Cunha, perhaps you should find a guide who can take you to Inaccessible Island. Port David may be its sole small landing site, its few beaches may be strewn with boulders, and you’ll probably never reach its sharp peak, but the island is wild and unique. Isn’t that what you were searching for, by traveling to some of the most remote islands in the world, in the first place?