Welcome To Point Nemo: The Place Everyone Wants To Be, But No One Can Get To

Source: Nasa / NPR

Imagine discovering a location so unique you can’t even travel to it – wouldn’t that be both the saddest and coolest discovery of all time? Well, that’s exactly what happened to Hrvoje Lukatela in 1992 when he discovered the most remote place on the entire planet – and he called it Point Nemo.

Also Known As The ‘Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility

“Welcome to Point Nemo,” says no one – with a few exceptions. It’s a place so secluded and so far away from civilization that very few people have ever been there. In fact, they call it the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility because it’s nearly impossible to travel to (safely).

Source: Deyan Georgiev via Canva

It’s located at 48 52.6’S 123 23.6’W – in the middle of the ocean (the South Pacific Ocean, that is). If you were to find yourself stranded here without a boat, you’d be looking at a 1,670-mile swim either north, northeast, or south – a long trip, but at least you have options.

Even If You Wanted To, Good Luck Getting There

A trip to Point Nemo isn’t impossible, but it would take a roughly two-week-long boat ride – just to get there. Of course, you’ll also be traveling through some of the fiercest and most dangerous waters known to man – which doesn’t make the voyage any easier, no matter who you are.

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And getting there is one thing, but let’s not forget you have to head back at some point – essentially doing the trip all over again. That’s roughly an entire month of boating, with limited food and water supply, limited help, and limited contact with the outside world.

Hrvoje Lukatela And The History of Point Nemo

Hrvoje Lukatela is a Croatian-Canadian survey engineer. In 1992, he set out on a mission to ‘find the location of a point on the ocean, such that the distance to the closest point on land is the maximum,’ according to his official website – something no one had ever calculated before.

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He theorized that, in the most common sense, there would be three points on land (coastline) with the same exact distance from Point Nemo. Using a geospatial computer program and a 3D model of Earth, he found those three points and calculated where Point Nemo was.

Nearby Land #1: Ducie Island (Pitcairn Island Group, South Pacific)

Ducie Island is a small, C-shaped atoll about 1.25 miles in diameter. It was originally discovered in 1606, but rediscovered in 1790 – when it earned its name. Ducie is part of the Pitcairn Islands group, which is under British control, and is made up of four small islets – Acadia, Pandora, Westward, and Edwards.

Source: Flickr/Marion McM

The Pandora islet is roughly 1,670 miles north of Point Nemo – which is why Lukatela used it as one of the three coastline vertices for that point. It’s the second-largest islet in the atoll and is home to a unique population of fish, reptiles, and birds – including the Murphy’s petrel.

Nearby Land #2: Motu Nui (Easter Island, Chile)

The second of three coastline vertices is Motu Nui – which sits roughly 1,670 miles northeast of Point Nemo. It’s the largest of three islets located just south of Easter Island, with Motu Iti and Motu Kau Kau being the other two. It’s also the westernmost part of Chile.

Source: Flickr/Michael_jeddah

Easter Island is a World Heritage Site due to the hundreds of extant monumental statues – known as moai – found throughout Rapa Nui National Park. Much like Point Nemo, Easter Island is one of the most remote places in the world – the closest land is Pitcairn Island (1,289 miles away).

Nearby Land #3: Maher Island (Antarctica)

Maher Island is the third of the vertices used by Lukatela – it’s located roughly 1,670 miles south of the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility. It’s a small, horseshoe-shaped piece of land less than one mile long, just off the coast of Antarctica – north of Siple Island.

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With more than 10,000 breeding pairs of Adelie penguins found in the area, Maher Island is considered an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. It was first discovered in 1946 and was named after Commander Eugene Maher – a commanding officer in the United States Navy.

Why Call It Point Nemo?

Hrvoje Lukatela named his discovery after Captain Nemo – a fictional character in Jules Verne’s 1869 book, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers – which translates to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He describes the book as a ‘romantic mixture of maritime exploration, technological wizardry and fearless resistance to the British Empire.’

Source: Lunamarina via Canva

Of course, there’s also the fact that the word ‘nemo’ in Latin translates to ‘nobody’ – an ode to the fact that so few people have actually traveled to Point Nemo. Unfortunately, the name had nothing to do with the popular Disney film Finding Nemo – but it makes for quite an adventure!

Astronauts Are Your Closest Neighbors At Point Nemo

Anyone lucky enough to pass Point Nemo would be 1,670 miles away from civilization – well, kind of. Throughout the day, your closest neighbor would actually be the International Space Station – which would be some 260 miles away at certain times. Don’t forget to wave when they pass by!

Source: Juan Ruiz via Canva

But be careful – Point Nemo is a known dumping ground for old space junk. According to BBC, more than 260 space objects crashed near Point Nemo between 1971 and 2018. It’s one of the safest places to do this, considering how far away it is from land and/or life.

The Ocean Race Sailors Pass By Point Nemo Every Few Years

Most people would be considered crazy for attempting to pass through Point Nemo on a boat. For sailors who want to complete (and potentially win) The Ocean Race, they have no way around it – as it’s built into the course. The yacht race runs every 3-4 years.

Source: Flickr/Ian Campbell

It’s a five-month race covering more than 32,000 nautical miles around the globe – usually starting in Alicante, Spain. The next race won’t be until 2026-27, with the most recent one taking place last year.

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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