Is it really any wonder that people are using their precious PTO to unplug on analog vacations when you hear that the average traveler spends nine hours on social media over the course of a one-week getaway? No matter how much you love Insta, this statistic is bound to be somewhat startling. After all, you may “heart” your friend’s leafy-green salad, but you probably don’t “heart” it more than you would, say, an IRL sloth sighting, right?
So, if you find yourself sitting at your desk right now dreaming about a destination digital detox or dreamy retreat, let me give you some inspo to fill out your fantasy. The following 12 resorts, private islands, weeks-long adventures, and more are taking a chance on offering the rare possibility of an unforgettable (if, occasionally, un-photographed) off-the-grid experience.
1. Ultima Thule, Alaska
When the only way to arrive somewhere is by bush plane, you know you’ve hit digital-detox gold. The Ultima Thule is located in the 12-million acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which is largely inaccessible unless you happen to to know the Claus family. (Yes, that’s their real surname!) They own the private property on which this small, five-cabin resort is built—and actually fly you in themselves—as in, pilot their own planes—and have done so for generations.
This is an adventure trip, with itineraries created on the fly based on the whims of nature. Activities include skiing, rafting, fly fishing, air tours, hiking, viewing the Northern Lights, and more. All meals are made from locally sourced or grown ingredients and prepared by the Clauses. Oh, and there’s no cell service…at all. Some Wi-Fi is available upon request, but it’s limited to 1G per room, per day.
2. The Golden Door, San Marcos, California
You may have heard whispers about this place, and how magical and life-changing it can be for those in transition or who just need a timeout to take care of themselves. All rumors are true. At The Golden Door, you’ll be presented with a daily schedule that includes numerous and varied (from Zumba to tennis to Pilates to archery and more) workouts, a daily massage, a daily facial or other skincare treatment, a mountain hike or walking hike, three healthy meals and two snacks, meditations, and endless opportunities to learn about and experience things like acupuncture, astrology, hypnosis, and so much more.
You can opt in and out of anything you want, but you’ll likely amaze yourself by attending as much as humanly possible. As a result, you’ll be far too busy to care about your phone, laptop, or other advice, hitting the pillow at the end of the day without so much as a glance at anything technological.
3. Turtle Island, Fiji
It’s not rare these days to find that the bulk of the time spent with your partner is “enjoyed” (read: barely noticed) while watching Netflix or sitting in bed, scrolling separately. To reconnect sans technology, there’s no better place than Turtle Island—t Fijian all-inclusive resort encompasses the entire island and allows for just 14 couples at a time to inhabit its villas.
To get a sense of just how beautiful the scenery is here, harken back to the film Blue Lagoon, which was shot on Turtle Island. Wi-Fi is limited to the guest shop, and many couples find that, as a result, they not only spend more time connecting with one another, but also making lifelong friends out of fellow travelers. Available experiences include diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, sunset cruises, and participation in local ceremonies.
4. Travaasa Hana, Maui, Hawaii
This “experiential resort” is situated in a rural part of Maui, and its rooms don’t come equipped with TVs or other such technological distractions. So, instead of double-tapping on photos of other people living their best lives, you’ll be optimizing your own IRL experience.
One of the best things about the Travaasa Hana is that the resort offers myriad options for spending your time, in case basking in the glow of the sun gets old. Such activities include horseback riding, glider adventures, coconut-husking classes, fruit-tasting tours, hula lessons, yoga, bamboo pole fishing, meditation, and more. All will keep you away from your phones, which will only work if you have Verizon anyway, as well as the sometimes-spotty internet.
5. The Camino de Santiago, France and Spain
The Camino de Santiago is a walking pilgrimage that begins in France and ends in Spain, 500 miles later. Its origins are Catholic, but you don’t have to be religious (or even spiritual) to make the journey. The entire walk takes 30 days (or so), but you can opt in for pieces of it if you can’t set aside quite that much time to journey.
Many days, you’ll walk (or run, or cycle) alone, beginning at 6 a.m. and ending whenever makes sense for you in terms of fatigue and proximity to accommodations. With respect to the latter, options vary and range from hostel to luxury. Technically, you could probably be on your cell phone the entire walk, but if you’re going to do that, you might as well not fly all the way to France and commit to walking hundreds of miles, right? To discourage this from happening, one of the mantras of the walk is: Look up, look inside, but don’t look down.
6. DEN Meditation Silent Retreat, Ojai, California
Do you think you could live five days in total silence? Not just unplugged from technology, but unplugged from conversation, too? If you’re curious, find out at one of DEN Meditation’s silent retreats, like the upcoming event in Ojai on February 8.
Your days will be spent meditating, doing yoga, embarking on nature walks/hikes, enjoying sound healing, and more… all well remaining 100-percent mum. Technically, your cell phone and Wi-Fi will work, but the program encourages digital detoxing to reap the retreat’s full benefits. Other silent gatherings—like those offered by Against the Stream, for example—discourage so much as reading or writing for those who really want to challenge their ability to live fully within their undistracted mind.
7. Tierra Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile
The Tierra Patagonia is situated on a bluff at the edge of Lake Sarmiento, within the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia (a UNESCO biosphere reserve). The all-inclusive resort was designed to blend into the landscape and in this, it succeeds.
Here, at the edge of the world, cell service is null, there are no TVs, and Wi-Fi is only available in common areas. This forced technology break will enable you to be fully present for the resort’s many adventures, however, including glacier hikes, exploratory horseback rides, catch-and-cook fly fishing, and more. The property’s 39 rooms are only open from November to May, which allows guests to avoid the area’s more punishing winter weather.
8. Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, Tasmania, Australia
This four-day walk takes place in a remote, pristine area of Tasmania. Guides will lead you each day for one to seven-hour walks along secluded beaches and other such magical landscapes while educating you about the area’s history, wildlife, and more. Evenings will be spent in semi-permanent tents at Forester Beach Camp and the Bay of Fires (eco) Lodge, both of which are only accessible to those who do the walk. Activities involved (outside of walking) include kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, enjoying spa services (yes, there is a spa situation included) and Tasmanian cuisine, and spotting native wildlife such as wombats, wallabies, Forester kangaroos, possums, and Tasmanian devils. As is to be expected, cell service is spotty and Wi-Fi is non-existent. Walks are offered from October to May annually.
9. Intrepid Travel, Reindeer Expedition
Intrepid Travel is a small-group travel company that offers “real life” experiences in over 100 countries. This particular itinerary is not for the feint of heart (or, the thin of skin, as temperatures are well below freezing in this part of Russia, even in summer months). The trip kicks off from St. Petersburg with a 22-hour train ride (no Wi-Fi) and culminates—many additional train rides and unique adventures later—above the Arctic Circle at the Yamal Peninsula.
There, travelers will stay with the Nenets, a tribe of nomadic reindeer herders. The accommodations aren’t exactly luxurious—where there are no flushing toilets, you can safely assume there’s no Wi-Fi or cell service, either. While you may miss the former (blush!), the latter will hardly cross your mind as you keep busy with activities such as reindeer sledding, fishing, snowmobiling, and more.
10. Cumberland Island, Georgia, US
This Georgia island was once 90-percent owned by the Carnegie family, but the famous clan sold it to the government in the 1970s after it was named a national seashore. Now, few people are allowed to actually live on Cumberland (even fewer are permitted to drive cars), cell reception is spotty, and the island’s one commercial establishment, the Greyfield Inn, doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.
Instead of scrolling emails or Instagram, guests of the Inn spend their time searching for wild horses, taking long bike rides along idyllic paths, exploring the ruins of old Carnegie estates, fishing, and otherwise communing with nature, and each other, sans the distractions of modern-day life. The island has many famous fans—perhaps in some part due to its disconnection from the digital world—though it’s probably most notable for having been the site of JFK Jr’s top-secret wedding.
11. Digital Detox Safari, various locations, Africa
Spotty cell service is not unusual in a safari setting. But to ensure that its guest remain present—which is probably not a bad idea given you’re on the lookout for lions—a company called Jacada Travel specifically boasts camp sites in what it calls “tech-dead zones” absent easy connection to the wider world via phone or internet. Such trips are available in Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania.
12. El Silencio Lodge: Bajas del Toro, Costa Rica
Even if you wanted to plug in here—you can, but only in the main lodge—it’d be hard to make the argument for your computer screen. El Silencio is situated on 500 acres of Costa Rican jungle, and there’s nothing on TV (aside from, say, Planet Earth II) more compelling than the views, hikes, and wildlife (e.g. those aforementioned sloths) on offer here.
This is an eco resort, designed for minimum impact, and all food is sourced locally including from the 4,000 square-foot greenhouse on property. Experiences both onsite and off include a ritual tree planting, a walk through the hummingbird garden and up through the Cloud Forest trails, bird watching, zip lining, wine tasting, coffee tasting, cooking classes, a visit to the volcano hot springs, innumerable waterfalls, and more.