Least visited countries in the world

Aerial view of Kiribati inn the middle of the Pacific Ocean

Sometimes it’s nice to peel away from the well-trodden tourist tracks and discover relatively untouched destinations. In a world that has become so wonderfully accessible (minus the global pandemic, of course), these hidden gems are hard to find nowadays. One brilliant way of ensuring you don’t wind up in another tourist trap is to venture to the least visited countries in the world.

The majority of the countries on this list aren’t visited less because they offer an undesirable experience or uncomfortable safety issues. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They all offer something truly spectacular to those willing to take a chance on them. Whether you’re travelling solo or with a loved one, getting off the beaten track ignites a strong sense of adventure – and you really can’t beat that feeling.

Note that there are a couple of exceptions to the safety aspect in this list – any countries which are considered to be unsafe at the time of writing have been noted below. The numbers are based on a report by the UN World Tourism Organization; the data is from a couple of years ago, but it’s necessary given that any data from last year is skewed by the pandemic. 

Without further ado, here are the least visited countries in the world:

1. Tuvalu

Yearly visitors: 2,000

Tuvalu comprises over 100 tiny islands, located on the outer western edge of Polynesia in the South Pacific. It’s extremely remote and is represented only by a mere dot in the ocean on a world map. The two main languages spoken here are Tuvaluan and English.

Although it has limited infrastructure, the main appeal of Tuvalu is its idyllic beaches. It’s also a wonderfully peaceful and independent nation – so much so that it doesn’t even have an army. Tuvalu is a fantastic place to learn more about Polynesian culture outside of the tourist traps of the main resorts.

Aerial view of Tuvalu

Why visit Tuvalu?

The strongest appeal of this remote island nation is its unspoilt beaches. With pristine white sand lined with palm trees and virtually no tourists, it’s a literal hidden paradise. Another compelling reason to visit soon is that Tuvalu is sadly threatened by rising sea levels. This could mean that this isolated nation is at risk of disappearing entirely in the future. 

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Tuvalu:

  1. Go snorkelling to discover the colourful coral reefs, tropical fish, and crystal-clear lagoons.
  2. Laze in a hammock on the untouched beaches and breathe in the stunning scenery.
  3. Visit the historic WWII sites for a cultural fix.

What to be aware of

The limited infrastructure means that there isn’t much substance outside of the beaches. But if you’re happy to wile away the days on a beautiful beach with the waves lapping at your feet, then this won’t be a big issue for you. Also factor in that the flight service to get in and out of the main island is quite unreliable.

How to get there

Tuvalu is accessible by plane via the airport on the main island of Funafuti. Fiji Airways flies in and out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it’s a famously unreliable flight service. So make sure you plan for a degree of flexibility (and patience!) in your travel itinerary. The other islands are reached by passenger ferry.

2. Marshall Islands

Yearly visitors: 6,000

The Marshall Islands are a series of volcanic islands located in the Pacific. They sit between Hawaii and the Philippines in eastern Micronesia. Here you’ll find bright turquoise waters and spotless white beaches. It’s a true off-the-beaten-track adventure! Visit the outer islands and you’re unlikely to find any phone or internet services, which is quite the treat in our modern world.

Coral reef over/under at the Marshall Islands

Why visit Marshall Islands?

The Marshall Islands are a postcard-perfect tropical paradise. With a very low crime rate, plenty of sunshine, and a relaxed way of life, you’ll never want to leave! Sadly, it’s yet another set of islands which are threatened by climate change and rising sea levels. So visit sooner rather than later.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in the Marshall Islands:

  1. Go scuba diving to discover the abundance of eerie shipwrecks scattered around the seafloor.
  2. Visit the open-air market next to the Marshall Islands Resort where you can buy local cuisine and try homemade meals.
  3. Try spear-fishing for a fun experience of the local culture. 

What to be aware of

The islands have a history of nuclear testing, so the area is still quite radioactive. But the areas which are unsafe are off limits, so you won’t be putting yourself at risk. The islands are quite hard to reach, but really that’s part and parcel of going to one of the least visited countries in the world. Finally, there is a general lack of infrastructure and the main city of Majuro has only two hotels.

How to get there

The Marshall Islands International Airport is located in Majuro Atoll. It is served by two airlines: Air Marshall Islands and United Airlines, which flies from Hawaii. It’s worth ensuring your travel plans are flexible, as the flight service can be unreliable.

3. Kiribati

Yearly visitors: 6,000

Another Pacific island nation, Kiribati is made up of 33 islands and three island groups: Gilbert Islands (most populated), Phoenix Islands, and Line Islands. Although small, these coral atolls are spread over 3.5 million square kilometres! In fact, the islands are so spread out they fall into all four hemispheres! The islands are exceptionally isolated, so it’s no wonder that Kiribati is one of the least visited countries in the world.

Aerial view of Kiribati inn the middle of the Pacific Ocean

Why visit Kiribati?

In Kiribati, you will be treated to exceptional hospitality. As you can imagine from an isolated Pacific island nation, it is wonderfully picturesque. With its remote location and beautiful beaches, you’ll feel just like Robinson Crusoe! Beaches aside, you can also explore intriguing World War Two relics and soak up the local culture.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Kiribati:

  1. Attend a traditional feast (botaki) where you’ll be treated to traditional folk music and dance. All while sampling fresh and simple cuisine – it’s invite only though!
  2. Go paddling in the lagoons and go diving on the reefs to discover a stunning underwater world.
  3. Go fishing to immerse yourself in the rich fishing heritage of the island nation.

What to be aware of

Kiribati is one of the poorest countries in the world, which is reflected in the infrastructure. Provisions are limited, so come prepared with sunscreen, medicine, and other important supplies. It’s also important to note that revealing swimwear is forbidden by law, so dress accordingly.

How to get there

There are three international gateways to Kiribati: Tarawa, Kiritimati and Kanton Islands. Check out the set flight schedule for departure times and destinations. You can fly from Nadi in Fiji or Honolulu in Hawaii.

4. Montserrat

Yearly visitors: 8,000

A stunning volcano island in the Caribbean, Montserrat offers a dramatic landscape of towering peaks and dense rainforest. Following a series of devastating volcanic eruptions from the Soufrière Hills Volcano in the 1990s, the capital Plymouth was abandoned. The population fell from 11,000 to 2,000 and it very much feels like a modern-day Pompeii.

The island is still recovering today but it has a vibrant and unique heritage. It’s a very relaxing place, with a laid-back Caribbean vibe. Although much of the appeal to visitors lies in witnessing the aftermath of the volcanic eruptions, this small island offers so much more.

Mount Soufriere, Montserrat

Why visit Montserrat?

A visit to Montserrat is the perfect way to experience the laid-back, slow pace of life that is characteristic of the island. Much of the country remains untouched by tourists. It’s devoid of the built-up resorts and cruise ships that now dominate other Caribbean islands. You’ll be welcomed with warmth and open arms by the friendly, optimistic people who live there.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Montserrat:

  1. Explore the buried city in the island’s capital, Plymouth. With buildings buried by ash and mud flows from volcanic eruptions, it looks like a city frozen in time. You need to book a guided tour in order to visit.
  2. Go hiking deep into the rainforests and discover pretty rivers, ancient petroglyphs, and various wildlife. It’s also a great place for bird watching, with virtually no people around.
  3. Visit the black sand beaches and stop for a picnic in this unique paradise; the best beaches on the island include Woodlands Beach, Isle’s Bay Beach, Rendezvous Beach, and Barton Bay Beach.

What to be aware of

The volcano is still very much active, but it is monitored extremely closely thanks to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. There is an exclusion zone around the city of Plymouth and you can’t go within three miles of the volcano; so all in all, it’s pretty safe.

You won’t find fancy hotels here, but it’s a charming experience to stay in a quaint guesthouse. One final thing to be aware of is that there’s a departure tax – so if you want to leave, you have to pay!

How to get there

Montserrat is accessible via plane or ferry from Antigua – it’s a 20 minute flight or a 90 minute ferry. The ferry is cheaper and it runs several times a day out of Heritage Quay in St. John’s. 

Flights usually run several times a day too. Be aware that it’s a small and cosy plane, meaning that you can start your experience of Montserrat with an adventure! With an unsheltered dock and short runway, weather can impact both transport methods, so be prepared for this.

5. Niue

Yearly visitors: 10,000

Known as the ‘Rock of Polynesia’, Niue is the world’s smallest independent nation. It sits amongst Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands in the Pacific. Niue is definitely a destination for the more adventurous travellers, as you need to work for the attractions – think climbing, hiking, and swimming! So be sure to pack your hiking boots. The effort is definitely worth it for the breathtaking landscape and geology.

Limestone cave and pool, Avaiki, Niue

Why visit Niue?

Niue is home to extremely friendly locals who will welcome you into their vibrant culture. The island is teeming with marine wildlife. You’ll have the chance to see whales up-close, go swimming with dolphins, or snorkel alongside colourful fish in the rock pools.

There are a number of stunning secluded spots which are devoid of crowds. It’s an untouched tropical paradise with an old way of life that feels immensely calming. No overcrowding, no queues, and even no traffic lights! It’s a truly idyllic retreat away from the modern world.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Niue:

  1. Go snorkelling in the crystal clear water to explore the beautiful coral reef just a few hundred metres from the shore. 
  2. Go caving on a guided tour, or explore alone. Niue is home to one of the most incredible and extensive cave systems in the South Pacific.
  3. Discover the many hiking tracks on the island, which are all well signposted and maintained. Trek through dense rainforest, scramble over jagged coral, and discover hidden caves.

What to be aware of

This isn’t the place for kicking back and relaxing on soft, sandy beaches. Niue is a rugged island with an outline of sharp coral. But it’s this unique geology that makes Niue such an unremittingly beautiful island.

How to get there

The easiest way to get there is by plane from Auckland in New Zealand. Flights take just over three hours and run twice a week with Air New Zealand.

6. American Samoa

Yearly visitors: 20,000

Another South Pacific territory, American Samoa is located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the heart of Polynesia. It the only US territory in the Southern Hemisphere and comprises a group of islands.

American Samoa is home to thriving rainforests, dramatic volcanic peaks, and spectacular coral reefs – all wonderfully well-preserved and untouched. There is also a rich World War II history to discover and an ancient culture to explore.

Pago Pago American Samoa Hill View over the Island

Why visit American Samoa?

Visitors can enjoy a whole host of unique experiences and wonderful hospitality in American Samoa. It’s a true tropical paradise, with crystal clear water and white sandy beaches, all framed by lush green rainforest and rugged mountains. Plus, you can experience all of this without the plethora of tourists you’d find in other such beautiful places.

American Samoa is the perfect place to experience the Polynesian culture, as it mostly remains as it was 3,000 years ago. You’ll witness traditional dancing, cooking, and clothing across this unique group of islands.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in American Samoa:

  1. Explore the dense forest in the National Park of American Samoa, where you’ll find the endangered fruit bats. Discover the various beaches and coral reefs, where you can go diving and snorkeling.
  2. For a more relaxing escape, head to the quiet beaches of Ofu for blissful solitude.
  3. Get a taste for the traditional Samoan cuisine, such as taro and palusami. You can find these in local restaurants and at food markets.

What to be aware of

Advanced booking is essential, as guided tours and activities book up quickly. If you’re planning trips to the islands of Ofu or Ta’u then be sure to book your flights in advance. Being so close to the equator it can be very hot, but you do need to dress modestly when exploring the local villages, so pack accordingly.

How to get there

The capital of Pago Pago is accessible by plane from Samoa or Hawaii. If you’re travelling from elsewhere then you’ll require a layover.

7. Solomon Islands

Yearly visitors: 26,000

The Solomon Islands comprises two parallel chains of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Southwestern Pacific. They are made up of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands. The closest neighbours are Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

The Solomon Islands have very mountainous terrain and an abundance of dense forest, lined with picturesque beaches. It’s a very popular destination with divers because of the many beautiful reefs and shipwrecks. You can travel between the islands via motorboat or aircraft.

Half sunken ship at Roderick Bay in Solomon Island.

Why visit the Solomon Islands?

The greatest appeal of the Solomon Islands is the spectacular underwater world. Discover unparalleled scuba diving and snorkelling in the crystal clear water. The islands also offer visitors a lot of opportunities for adventure on land too – from mossy forest and dense jungle to breathtaking waterfalls and towering peaks.

The Solomon Islands hasn’t been on the radar of many travellers for a long time, so it remains relatively untouched. With limited wi-fi access and phone service, it’s the perfect place for a digital detox.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in the Solomon Islands:

  1. Go scuba diving and snorkelling to explore the unspoiled reefs and shipwrecks from the World War II era.
  2. For any WWII buffs, pay a visit to the World War II Guadalcanal American Memorial where you can read descriptions of the battles and enjoy beautiful views of the north coast.
  3. Hike to the spectacular Mataniko Falls, where the water thunders down a cliff and straight into a canyon.

What to be aware of

Honiara is the capital city but it’s also a hotbed of crime. Tourists are often targeted for theft and harassment, plus the city has a history of riots, fights, and general lawlessness. The crime and violence has calmed now and the islands are more open and welcoming to tourists, but it’s still worth being cautious.

Tourists should dress modestly and respect local customs. For example, swearing is a criminal offence, homosexual acts are illegal, and some taboo sites can only be visited by men. When exploring the waters, be wary of crocodiles and sharks.

How to get there

Flights operate from Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. There is a weekly three hour flight from Brisbane in Australia.

8. Comoros

Yearly visitors: 28,000

Officially known as the Union of the Comoros, it comprises four major islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. Comoros is one of the smallest island nations in the world, located between Madagascar and Mozambique. It has a similar feel to the Seychelles, but with less tourists and development.

Comoros is an off-the-beaten-track haven of exceptional scenery and raw nature. It’s also home to a complex mixture of ethnicities and influences, including Arab, African, Malay, and French. Due to the abundance of aromatic plants, the islands are known for their fragrance and are often referred to as the “Perfume Isles.”


Why visit Comoros?

Comoros is an idyllic Indian Ocean retreat, complete with white beaches and crystal-clear seas. It’s also home to rare wildlife, an active volcano, and an intriguing and varied culture. You’ll find an abundance of unique and endangered wildlife, from sea turtles and whales to fruit bats and lemurs. Comoros is the kind of place you need to visit now, before everyone else finds out about this hidden paradise.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Comoros:

  1. Explore Anjouan – the most populated island of the group – and discover historical citadels and the medina in the capital city, Mutsamudu. Be sure to visit the picturesque Tatringa Falls and the village of Col de Patsy too.
  2. Hike to the top of Karthala, an active volcano on Grande Comore, which sits at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. Aim to summit in time for sunset for breathtaking golden views.
  3. Visit Lac Salé, a volcanic salt lake also on Grande Comore, which was formed as a result of a crater left by an eruption in the 16th century.

What to be aware of

The islands have experienced a fair bit of political instability, with over 20 attempt coups. It’s not particularly developed for tourism, so it’s better suited to the more adventurous travellers.

How to get there

The best way to get to Comoros is via plane, into the Moroni airport. Airlines include Air Madagascar, Air Tanzania, Kenya Airways, and Turkish Airlines.

9. São Tomé and Príncipe

Yearly visitors: 29,000

Located in west Africa’s Gulf of Guinea and made up of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe is Africa’s second-smallest nation after the Seychelles. They were discovered uninhabited by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, but there is now a population of around 200,000 people across both islands.

São Tomé and Príncipe was the centre of the Atlantic slave trade, so it has an interesting but gruesome history. Previously the islands were home to coffee plantations, but they are now covered in lush jungle and a seriously impressive amount of plant and animal life.

Aerial view from Ilheu Bom Bom in Principe

Why visit São Tomé and Príncipe?

Príncipe is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, making it a very important site for sustainability and biodiversity. It’s a hotspot for discovering new species of wildlife, meaning you could get the chance to spot a plant or animal currently undocumented by scientists! It follows that the country is perfect for nature-lovers.

The islands are becoming more well-known after Lonely Planet named them as one of the best places to visit. So go soon before everyone discovers this well-kept secret! A very peaceful and stable island, it is generally considered to be a very safe place for tourists to visit.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in São Tomé and Príncipe:

  1. Discover the beautiful beaches of tiny Príncipe. Home to just 7,000 people and with few visitors, you won’t find many people here.
  2. Explore the stunning architecture of São Tomé – although much of it is now crumbling, it adds to the beauty of it.
  3. Visit the breathtaking Bay of Spires in Príncipe, which looks as though it has been lifted straight from a Jurassic Park movie. It comprises spectacular volcanic towers which can be seen from the water.

What to be aware of

As a very safe nation, there aren’t many safety concerns to note. One small thing to be aware of is that power cuts are quite common on the islands. It’s not a big problem but can be annoying when you’re cooking or out for dinner!

How to get there

Fly to the international airport on the main island of São Tomé – usually from Portugal. Príncipe is accessed via a small plane that runs once a day between the two islands.

10. Tonga

Yearly visitors: 62,000

Tonga is a small South Pacific island country located between New Zealand and Hawaii. It comprises 172 islands, including 36 inhabited islands. Tonga has a gritty authenticity thanks to its laid-back way of life. The surrounding waters are full of gorgeous coral reefs, shipwrecks, and various fascinating geological formations. It’s the perfect place to spot dolphins, turtles, and whales.

The bay of Neiafu after sunset, Vava'u islands, Tonga, South Pacific

Why visit Tonga?

Tonga offers postcard-perfect beaches and is a haven for surfers. You’ll also find exceptional diving and snorkelling provisions. Plus, Tonga is one of only a few places in the world where you can swim with Humpback Whales. The locals are affable and wonderfully welcoming, so you’ll feel right at home. Tonga is the place to unwind, decompress, and switch off from the outside world.

Top things to do

Here are the top three things to do in Tonga:

  1. Take a kayaking tour for a fun way to go island hopping and explore the infinite natural beauty these islands have to offer.
  2. Explore ‘Eua, also known as the ‘forgotten island’.  At 40 million years old, it is one of the oldest islands in the Pacific and features various geological attractions, from rugged cliffs and vibrant rainforest to hidden caves and a limestone arch.
  3. Visit the ancient monument of Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon near Niutoua. Its origin is debated but it consists of three large coralline stones, each weighing about 40 tonnes – it’s Polynesia’s equivalent of Stonehenge in the UK!

What to be aware of

Connectivity is an issue in terms of wi-fi and mobile data; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be aware of. Tonga is a very religious country, with a strong Christian faith at its core. It follows that tourists are expected to dress modestly, keeping knees and shoulders covered. It’s against the law for men or women to be topless and on Sundays it’s illegal to exercise or do business.

How to get there

Tonga is relatively accessible from Oceania, with flights available from Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand.

There you have it: the 10 least visited countries in the world. Which one appeals to you the most? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on social media!

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