Most Isolated Towns In The World

Let's be honest here — how many times have you wished that Taco Bell delivered, because you just can't be bothered to get off the couch and run down the street? Well, how would you feel if there was no Taco Bell? Or anything, really? That's the reality in some places, and there's no one within hundreds of miles to even care that you have no gorditas.

Supai, Arizona

Bet you weren't expecting the mainland US to have any of the world's most isolated towns, were you? A mere 8 miles from the nearest road, Supai is nestled so deep in the Grand Canyon, the only way in or out is by helicopter, by foot, or by mule. Even the US Post Office uses mules to deliver mail to Supai, and it's the only town in the States that literally gets their mail call after the arrival of a mule train. It's such a pain to get there, a huge part of the deliveries the postal mules handle is food and other items from the grocery store. (The nearest one is 120 miles away.)

If you're in a hurry to get something, here, at least, they can make that happen. Sort of. According to an interview with long-time Supai mailman Charlie Chamberlain, they have express delivery. "We just tie it on a mule and turn him loose and he runs all the way down." Loneliness breeds jokes, apparently.

For around the last 800 years, Supai has been home to the Havasupai, the smallest tribe of the Indian Nation. The residents of Supai consider it their duty to protect and preserve the incredible landscape, flora, and fauna of the Grand Canyon, and that's pretty impressive, even if it does mean you're cut off from basically everything. As it is, they get thousands of tourists every year, just hopefully not the type that likes to ruin beautiful things.

Alert, Canada

Remember when you believed in Santa (spoiler alert), and hatched that cunning plan to go to the North Pole and make sure you got what you wanted for Christmas? If you actually had gotten around to doing it, Alert in Nunavut, Canada, would have been your last stop before making that final trek to the North Pole. By the time you reached Alert, you'd be 508 miles from Santa's Workshop, and you'd find yourself in a very remote and very cold little town.

The only things Alert really has is a weather station, a laboratory, an airport, and an intelligence receiving system for the Canadian military. There's also a radio station, the food is apparently delicious, card games are always ongoing, and tricycle races are a thing, because you have to stay sane somehow when you're on the literal edge of the world. Most of the residents are Canadian military, and in spite of — and because of — the extreme cold and the absolute nightmare that comes with months of darkness at a time, it's pretty cozy. Not only does everyone know your name, but the camaraderie is unparalleled. Honestly? We think we could cut it there.

On the down side, if you need an emergency evac, it takes around a day. Everything — from fuel to doctors — needs to be flown in, and military personnel are only allowed to spend six months there at a time because of the extreme cold, depression, and the possibility for someone to go all Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Green Bank, West Virginia

We know what you're thinking, and we're not going to go all Deliverance on you. In fact, this is the exact opposite of Deliverance, and the reason that Green Bank is so isolated has nothing to do with distance, a lack of roads, or a fondness for banjo music. It's isolated because cell phone signals and WiFi are completely banned.

It's not for any anti-technology ideals — it's actually the opposite here, too. Green Bank is the home of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, and it's one of the world's largest. Scientists are busy there searching the skies for hints on how the universe began, and they're not just looking ... they're listening. While the telescope can detect sounds from millions of miles from Earth, the town had to ban signals that would interfere with the telescope and the research going on there.

Life in Green Bank is pretty hardcore, too. Not only are cell signals and WiFi not allowed, but vehicles with spark plugs aren't allowed within a mile of the telescope. You can't use a microwave. There's no stoplights in town, but since West Virginia is full of polite people, that's not a big deal. Interference can come from bizarre things: fans sold in the telescope's gift shop, from a wet dog laying on a heating pad. We can't help but feel like this wouldn't be a bad place to live, except we wouldn't be able to write Grunge articles there, and that would make everyone sad.

Oymyakon, Russia

Oymyakon isn't just one of the world's most isolated towns — it's also one of the coldest. That has something to do with its isolation, as the weather gets so bad in the winter months, one of the only ways to get into the town — by plane — is shut down. Otherwise, it's a two-day car ride, and who wants to do that?

It's tough to imagine a cold like the cold you get at Oymyakon — it's got winter average of -58 Fahrenheit, with 21 hours of darkness per day. Why would anyone would want to live in a place where cars are kept running 24/7 so they don't freeze, where the diet is almost entirely meat-exclusive because nothing will grow, and where ice cubes made from horse blood is a delicacy? Oh, and outhouses are a necessity, because indoor plumbing freezes, and we all know what happens then.

So why live there? It's a pretty epic illustration of a Russian sense of humor, apaprently. "Oymyakon" means "unfrozen water," because they have their own thermal spring that made the area the exact opposite of a desert oasis for reindeer herders. We're pretty sure even the reindeer wouldn't complain about going somewhere else.

Iquitos, Peru

When you think of people living in some of the world's most isolated towns, you probably picture a handful of residents, each knowing what everyone else is doing, and probably even knowing what they have stashed under their mattress. But Iquitos is a little different. Even though the only way to get there is to fly or take a week-long boat trip up the Amazon, Iquitos has a population of around 400,000 people.

They're not just people who have gotten lost in the Amazonian rainforest and converged on the same place by happenstance, either (although that would make an awesome movie, and you can have that idea, Hollywood). Iquitos dates back thousands of years, and was once a sort of tropical oasis for nomadic groups. No one's really sure when it first turned into something more permanent, but we do know that things really started booming when the area became a hotbed of rubber production. That was about the time the automobile industry was causing a skyrocketing demand for rubber, and enterprising settlers made fortunes by heading to the remote but growing city. Iquitos was filled with ornate mansions, and even has a house built by Gustave Eiffel, all made with building supplies hauled through the forest by people who were probably not going to be living in houses built by Gustave Eiffel.

Unfortunately, good times didn't last in Iquitos. Rubber production eventually moved to Malaysia, and any hopes that Iquitos might have had of being connected to the rest of the world were dashed. It's still a tourist town, though, and we think that anyone who doesn't get there via the Amazon is an amateur.

Kalaupapa, Hawaii

Well, of course Hawaii's isolated, you say. But Kalaupapa's even more lonely — a leper colony whose residents live in isolation on a peninsula on one of Hawaii's smallest islands. As of 2015, there were still 16 people living there, all former patients, with the youngest being a spry 73 years old. Since this isn't 1968 anymore, patients were actually free to rejoin society, but by the time the exile was lifted in 1969, many had become so used to their leper colony life, they opted to stay. One patient, Nancy Brede, was exiled there when she was 13 years old, and that was in 1936. "We couldn't say bye to our families, I just cried and waved until I couldn't see my mother no more," she said, and yeah, we should have told you this one was gonna come with tears. Our bad.

She wasn't alone, either — somewhere around 8,000 people were sent to the remote Hawaiian outcropping, facing the ocean on one side and shielded by cliffs on the other. Only about 1,000 of the graves are marked.

In addition to the 16 people remaining from the leper colony days, there's about a hundred state employees living in what's becoming the small town hub of the Kalaupapa National Park. It's still incredibly isolated though, with ocean weather that means it's only accessible by barge once a year. Otherwise, it's a cargo plane that comes and drops off supplies at the remote small town where thousands of couples met and married, all under the watchful eye of a few literal saints who cared for the outcasts that no one else wanted around.

St. Helena

St. Helena sits in the middle of the South Atlantic, and it's almost halfway between South America and Africa, give or take. It's 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa, and you've heard of it if you paid any sort of attention in history class: it was where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled. He wasn't the only one who was exiled to the island — it was once used as a prison for 6,000 Boers. The island has a fascinating history: it was once a key stopover for ships going between Europe and the Far East, it was a refuge for freed slaves, and it was the place that ships would drop their sick crew members off on. The first real settlement was established in 1659, and it wasn't long before Edward Halley became the first of a number of astronomers who headed to St. Helena to see the stars of the southern skies.

By then, life on the island was well-established. Around 4,200 people live there, but getting there isn't not exactly easy, even though St. Helena has its own airport. In 2016, British Airways tried to kick open the door to St. Helena, but very quickly found out that weather conditions are so bad and so unpredictable, it wasn't actually all that safe. Your choices for getting there remain booking a trip on a cruise ship, or hopping on the RMS Saint Helena, the last of the Royal Mail ships, for a nearly six-day journey that starts in South Africa. Sure, particularly adventurous tourists who can take that kind of time off from work might make a month-long trip of it, but it's less convenient for the locals.

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha

A little town with an epic-sounding name, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas has about 300 residents. Once a World War II military base, it's a far throw south of the South Atlantic's other famous island, St. Helena. The only way to get there is by boat, and it takes at least six days of traveling once you leave the only port that goes there: South Africa.

That first permanent settlement didn't happen until 1817, and the island has remained a pretty private place. With only seven surnames on the entire island (Glass, Repetto, Lavarello, Swain, Green, Rogers, and Hagan), we'll leave you to imagine the state of affairs there. A bit weirdly, they're determined to keep it that way — they regularly deny any outsiders the right to purchase land on the island. That's unfortunate because, let's be honest, it sounds pretty awesome there. Their main source of income is the Tristan Rock Lobster, which is either a crayfish or a B-52's song. They have an awesome work model, so most everyone there tends to have two jobs: their salaried "regular" job, and a side hustle like collecting crayfish or picking apples. We could totally do that.

Every so often — like in January 2016 — Tristan da Cunha puts out a call for someone to come help keep their community self-sufficient. That time, they were looking for a farmer who would introduce new crops to help them get away from imported foods and their staple potato crop, and we definitely know enough about farming to do that. Totally.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

We admit that we wouldn't want to live in Ittoqqortoormiit, mostly because we can't pronounce it. It's home to around 450 people and it was once called Scoresbysund, which is actually a slightly better name. We could learn that one. We're pretty sure we could learn the flight schedule, too, as there's only two a week that come near the town, and you still need to take a helicopter ride to actually get there. You could take a boat, too, and since most of the people who head to Ittoqqortoormiit are the adventurous types, that's appropriate.

Say what you like about the desolate landscape around it — the town itself should have a picture next to the word "picturesque" in the OED. The entire town is made up of brightly colored wooden houses, and the other word that comes to mind is adorable. It's a colorful speck that sits along more than 11,000 miles of coastline. Founded in 1925, today it thrives off of the tourist trade, which is made up of a certain sort of person. They're the people that like snowmobiling and dog sledding, and who like the mystery of travelling roads made by sea ice. We prefer our roads to be of the dirt type, but it certainly looks pretty.

Pitcairn, the South Pacific

Pitcairn has quite the history behind it, and one hell of an origin story. On April 28, 1789, the crew of the Bounty mutinied — led by Fletcher Christian, they sailed off to find their own piece of paradise. That was the then-uninhabited Pitcairn Island, and 18 years after the mutiny, the story was uncovered by another ship, the Topaz. That crew found that Christian, along with his mutineers and a handful of women they had picked up from another island, ran the Bounty ashore, stripped her of what they could, and built a new settlement.

Pitcairn is a staggering 3,000-odd miles away from anywhere else, and given that it took the Bounty mutineers 8,000 miles of sailing to get there, it's not surprising that the island sort of dropped off the world's radar. They were perfectly fine with that, too, until a 2004 sexual abuse case that exposed decades of abuse, and which saw an entire third of the adult male population convicted. What the English called abuse, Pitcairn natives — who had been largely ignored for a century — called tradition.

The publicity turned Pitcairn's reputation from that of an island paradise into a den of sin, and appeals from islanders inviting newcomers to help support their dwindling community have largely failed. Even now, getting to the island is a challenge — there's no ships or planes, and visitors are dropped off on an inlet off the coast, needing to wait for a ride from the island. Would you live there? We're still on the fence.

Villa las Estrellas, Antarctica

Around 200 people live in this little Chilean village that just happened to be founded in Antarctica in 1984. Isolation, extreme temperatures, and conditions that would make a normal person go cry in the corner aren't just the norm, they're the point. The settlement started as an experiment to see just how people could survive in some of the Earth's harshest conditions because, why not?

While other countries have research stations in Antarctica, Chile is the only one to settle their scientists with their whole families. It came 30 years after the nearby establishment of Esperanza Base, whose motto was the decidedly honest, "Permanence, an act of sacrifice." Well then.

On the plus side, one of the bonuses to living in such a place is that there's such a sense of community, there's virtually no crime and no need to lock your doors. However, there's also no dogs — they were banned because of the potential to introduce disease to the native wildlife. So, it sounds great, but we're out on this one. We're not going to live without dogs.