I have often wondered what it would be like to have my own private island, a gorgeous paradise in which I could live a peaceful, natural life. Such ideas have long fired the people's imaginations with both positive and negative reflections. So, whether my experience would be as glorious as I'd like to imagine, or as horrific as Lord of the Flies or Lost, it's always a good idea to sit back, close your eyes and just dream of sunny beaches and tropical wildlife. Have at look at these 16 deserted island paradises and see which you could envision yourself inhabiting.
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1. Strawn Island (Palmyra Atoll), Hawaii
This wonderful photograph is actually of an islet called Strawn Island, which is part of around 50 similar miniature island worlds at Palmyra Atoll, located between Hawaii and American Samoa. The place is covered in sumptuous coconut trees, scaevola plants, and pisonia trees. I could really see myself relaxing by the turquoise waters with half a coconut and a straw. For me, that is paradise. How about you?
2. Jaco Island, East Timor
To the Timorians, Jaco island is so sacred that no one is allowed to live there! Fortunately for us, visits are permitted. I would go just for the experience of being on such a wonderful island - and secretly hope the return boat forgets to collect me!
3. Devon Island, Canada
This is the world's largest uninhabited island - and probably one of the coldest and loneliest. Devon Island is so spectacularly barren that it has been used as a testing site for Mars rovers. If I were dropped here I would certainly feel a bit like an alien in a strange and hopeless world.
4. Ball's Pyramid, Australia
This 'island' located between New Zealand and Australia is in fact the remnant of an extinct volcano that formed some seven million years ago. It looks fantastic, but the only way I ever want to be there is if I am reincarnated as a sea bird which can come and go as it pleases. Otherwise I would be very worried about falling into the ocean.
5. Rock Islands, Palau
These Rock Islands are what remain of coral reefs that surfaced in Palau's southern lagoon. They look quite soft and fuzzy with all their greenery, but the coral origins make me think they might be quite uncomfortable islands to sleep on. I think my first task as a stranded visitor would be to make myself a good hammock where I could more pleasurably appreciate the stunning location I'd happened upon.
6. Okunoshima Island, Japan
Japan counts a great many islands as part of its territories, but this one - known in English as Rabbit Island - is very peculiar indeed. Rabbits were introduced here during WWII chemical weapons testing (oh dear!), but they since broke out of their masters' cruel hands and set about dominating and populating the island - as rabbits do. Good on them, I say, for fulfilling many an imaginative teenager's fantasy...
7. Maldivian Islands, Maldives
The Maldives consist of around 1200 islands, of which an astonishing 1000 are uninhabited. Of course they are small, but all the more charming in my opinion. One could really do well here. Not only could you be master of your own mini paradise, but you could also have some similarly minded neighbors on other islands whom you could meet up with when you felt like a nice chat. That would really be the best of both worlds!
8. Mosken Island, Norway
This small and rocky island is now uninhabited but used to be used for grazing sheep, and contains a famous whirlpool, which in the local language is called a maelstrom, a word that has passed into a metaphorical usage in English that hardly befits the quiet, rustic life that you could enjoy here.
9. Bergeggi, Italy
Situated in the Ligurian Sea of Italy, this very small island is completely free of human life, yet as with so much of Italy, contains relics of holy monkish activity. In this image you can see both a watchtower and a 4th century church, which was dedicated to a certain St. Eugenius. Here would be a place where you could sing hymns as loud as you like - because no one could ever hear you, apart from God.
10. Coco Island, Costa Rica
This tropical island is well-beloved by scuba divers and amateur marine biologists because of the abundance of sharks, rays, dolphins and other marine wildlife that are wise enough to frequent this glorious demi-paradise built by nature. Can you just imagine the fun you could have swimming in the warm waters with those dolphins? But the sharks...
11. Duiker Island, South Africa
Unsurprisingly this islet, located somewhere near Cape Town, is known as Seal Island. These wonderful animals attract many tourists and photographers to Duiker's tiny shores, and I feel very tempted too. Seals are creatures with so much charming character - you could really get to know them here. But on the other hand, they must get a little bit too noisy when they are all together like that!
12. Monu Island, Fiji
Part of the Mamanuca Islands, Monu is a volcanic, palm fringed archipelago with sandy beaches and live coral reefs - and it is totally uninhabited! The island is only 3500 ft (1000m) wide, and 4500 ft (1400m) long, so you would never be far from the sound of the sea to lull you into a lovely soft sleep. Islands like this are so delightful that I am starting to wonder why they are still uninhabited.
13. Dragonera, Spain
Dragonera is also an uninhabited islet that is grouped together with other larger islands, in this case the Balearic Islands of Spain. One curious thing about these places is that they often have wildlife on them that do not resemble that of their neighbors. On this islet there are loads of lizards that look like miniature dragons - hence the name of the islet. I bet Dragonera has inspired many bed-time stories for the little children of Spain throughout the years: 'Once upon a time, on an uninhabited island full of dragons...'
14. Cominotto, Malta
Cominotto is a little island located only a few hundred feet from Malta's third largest island, Comino. Between the two unequally matched lands lies a beautiful tourist hotspot called the Blue Lagoon, renowned for its gloriously clear blue-green waters. The big advantage about being the first person to set up home on Cominotto would be to wake up early enough in the morning and swim over to the lagoon before any tourist boats could arrive. That would make you the world's luckiest swimmer!
15. Nu'ulopa, Samoa
This forested wonderland is also free of residents, but visited by the odd tourist from time to time, as you can see. Whether they come for the beautiful beaches or the serene swimming there are other wonders to be experienced here too. Aside from being a conservation area designated for turtles, which we all love, Nu'ulopa is also home to some amazing flying foxes, creatures that may possibly have descended from primates which subsequently developed the ability to fly. Some of these little islands truly are worlds unto themselves!
16. Gotska Sandon, Sweden
Gotska covers an area 17.3 sq miles (44.9 km), which is quite large for an island both beautiful and uninhabited. Here you will find, superb beaches (yes, in Sweden), sand dunes, deep pine forests and many rare insects and plant species. The thing that most interests me though is the orchids, two of which have been romantically cross-breeding with each other to make a most unusual hybrid.
Imagine trekking this island with your loved one, and presenting them with their very own freshly picked, rare, orchid. Now, that image, to me, makes Gotska Sandon a very special deserted island indeed.