The 12 most breathtaking and secluded places on Earth
Hordes of selfie-stick-wielding tourists, snaking lines of frustrated cab-hailers, a swift elbow to the gut from the guy angling for a better view of Niagara: It's enough to drive even the most level-headed traveler mad. Here, 12 secluded places to witness breathtaking beauty…without any other humans in sight.
The Outback, Australia
Nearly 2.5 million square miles and only 60,000 people mean you don't really have to encounter another living person if you don't want to. The Bush has plenty of gorgeous landmarks, including Ayers Rock, Red Centre and King's Canyon—that is, once you get tired of all the hubbub of Melbourne and Sydney.
Trigger Photo/Getty Images
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Meaning “first born," this tiny island just north of Tahiti is surrounded by an aquamarine lagoon and barrier reef, making it the perfect place for scuba lovers. The real kicker? It's not overrun with tourists. (Hawaii garners ten times more tourists in one day than Bora Bora does in a year.) “Out of office" away message: Set.
South Island, New Zealand
The larger but less populated island of the two New Zealand isles is home to the Southern Alps, Mount Cook, the Canterbury Plains, two glaciers and the jagged Fiordland coastline. This diverse geography made it the perfect setting for the Lord of the Rings film franchise, which has definitely increased tourism in the region. But with four national parks and over 58,000 square miles, spreading out is a piece of cake.
About one person per square mile means more than enough space for your deepest thoughts à la Cheryl Strayed. The southernmost tip of South America contains plenty of picturesque mountains, glaciers, valleys and rivers plus some of the most diverse wildlife on earth (pumas and horses and penguins, oh my!).
Just a two-hour flight from Reykjavik, Iceland, will get you to this remote fishing community on an island of the same name. With only about 200 inhabitants, you'll have plenty of legroom to hike the nearby ice-covered fjords and glaciers, try your hand at dogsledding or plow through the mountains via snowmobile.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
The northernmost point of Britain is far from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh or Glasgow. With only about 20,000 residents, this archipelago of 100 islands (15 of which are inhabited) is the perfect place to take in a mixture of Scottish, Scandinavian and ancient Viking cultures.
Easter Island, Chile
Looking for peace and quiet? Hit up this tiny and mysterious island, which is over 1,200 miles from the next inhabited land and over 2,000 miles from any continent (giving it the nickname of “land's end"). Although most famous for its moai, the stone structures of the early Rapa Nui people, the surrounding beaches and ocean are just as breathtakingly beautiful.
With less than a hundred residents, this tiny island in the Samoan archipelago is the least inhabited of the country and only accessible by boat. The fact that it's actually the rim of an extinct volcano means visitors can only access the lush plateau of land through a tiny opening in the cliff walls where a small blue lagoon awaits weary travelers. The catch? You can only get to this hidden paradise if you're invited by a local family.
In the northernmost tip of India lies this town and Buddhist temple overlooking the Himalayan Mountains. Although the roads are only open on a seasonal basis, there is a footpath up to the white-domed temple that holds some of the Buddha's relics.
This tiny 25-square-mile island lies just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. It's commonly thought to be the inspiration behind the isle of Calypso from Homer's Odyssey and also holds some of the largest freestanding buildings in the world (even older than the pyramids of Giza).
This giant peninsula in Quebec literally means “end of the land" due to its extension into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on the eastern seaboard of Canada. Although you'll find some tourists wandering its four national parks, there are only about 150,000 living in an area the size of Maryland. (That's about 40 times less people, FYI.)
One of the most remote places in America is actually very close to one of the most touristed: the Grand Canyon. However, since it's only accessible by foot, helicopter or mule (yep, that's how its 200 inhabitants—the Havasupai tribe—get their mail), you won't find any long photograph lines here—just the enchanting blue-green waters of the Havasu creek snaking through red canyon walls.
As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.
Appointed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Jill joins the New Jersey Restart and Recovery Advisory Council — a group of business and municipal leaders tasked with planning to restart the state's economy.
"Serving on Governor Murphy's Restart & Advisory Council uniquely positions us in the epicenter of helping to restart state's economy by providing innovative ideas, sharing best practices and creative thinking to help ensure the rebuilding of New Jersey's economic vitality alongside notable business leaders," said Jill. "I'm honored to represent United Airlines and the transportation industry as a core building block to expediting the state's recovery."
United is the sixth largest company in the state and one of the largest essential businesses continuing to operate through this crisis, and as or advocate, Jill will share some of our best practices and lessons we're learning with the nine different committees through the customer and employee lens.
On the opposite coast, California Governor Gavin Newsom last month appointed Janet to his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Joining Janet at the table are former California governors, legislative leaders and CEOs and executives from numerous businesses with large stakes in the state, such as Apple and Disney. In addition to Janet's position on the task force, Janet is also serving on the Long-Term Jobs Recovery sub-committee and will advocate for industries suffering long-term ramifications of COVID-19 such as tourism, travel and entertainment.
"Being appointed to Governor Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery ensures that United is part of the important conversation and part of the plan to help California pave the way toward a fast, safe recovery of jobs," said Janet. "It is an honor to represent the only transportation business on the task force, and I look forward to working alongside a group of very distinguished leaders and focusing on innovative ways to rebuild the economy for our 40 million residents. This work will build on our partnership with the Governor to provide free flights for medical volunteers and having our employees call to check in on isolated older adults as part of the Social Bridging Project."
Pre-COVID, we transported 38 million passengers to, from and within California each year, and directly and indirectly supported tens of thousands of jobs, so the health and well-being of the industry is vital to the prosperity of the state.
As the only airline represented among each of these groups, Jill and Janet are working hard to ensure that our voices, as a company and industry, are heard, valued and utilized as a new chapter dawns on the horizon.
Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.
While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.
First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.
As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.
Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.
We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.
But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.
Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.
Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.
While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.
Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.
At the airport
1Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
2Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
3Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
4Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
5Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
At the gate:
6Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
7Providing hand sanitizer and
8Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
9Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing
On our aircraft
1Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
2Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
3Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
4Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
5Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
6Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
7Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
- Limiting middle seat selection
- Moving customers seated closely together
- De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
8Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
9Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles
We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools that many people are using to stay connected.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
Watch our most popular videos
This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.