The 10 Strangest Islands in the World
Lots of folks are up from a romantic island getaway filled with sand, sun and fun. Who wouldn’t be? Even so, there are plenty of island destinations that offer up some pretty bizarre and unique experiences, which contrast strongly with a typical island beach holiday.
Some of these islands are stunningly beautiful, some are downright odd, and few of them are even a little bit dangerous. Here are 10 of the strangest islands in existence. Maybe, if you’re adventurous and lucky, you’ll be able to visit one or two of them someday.
1. Svalbard Island, Norway
If you head up to Norway and the exceedingly remote Svalbard Islands, you just might have to tangle with a some wild polar bears. The islands are located in the artic, and teeming with polar bears. Tourist flock here every year to watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. While it’s illegal to kill them for sport, the law requires individuals traveling outside of settled areas to carry a gun with them at all times in case of a bear attack.
2. Howland Island, USA
Howland Island is situated just north of the equator, in the Pacific Ocean. The island is governed by the United States, and was once exploited for its large stockpiles of guano (bat, seabird and seal dung). These days the uninhabited island is a natural wildlife preserve. Amelia Earhart, the famous and pioneering pilot, should have landed here during one of her around-the-world flight attempts, but she never reached the island. She presumably crashed into the ocean nearby, or perhaps landed on another deserted island, where she eventually died.
3. Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island could once claim the title of the most densely populated spot on the planet. Despite that fact, the island, which was also famed for its coal mining, is now completely deserted. The thousands of Japanese workers, as well as forced laborers from China and Korean who toiled in the island’s deep mine shafts during WWII, are long gone. When Japan shifted to petroleum as its main energy source instead of coal, the island was no longer economically viable, and hence deserted. Most of the massive concrete buildings are still standing, though, which gives this island the aura of a floating ghost town, or an old battleship.
4. Great Blue Hole, Belize
Blue holes are round sinkholes located in the Caribbean Sea. While the Great Blue Hole, located near the Lighthouse Reef off of the coast of Belize, isn’t exactly an island, it still deserves a mention on this list. The circular hole is 480 feet deep and filled with aquatic life and limestone stalactites. This incredible sinkhole, and the surrounding atoll, is one of the most amazing dive spots on Earth. The famous ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a big fan of this place.
5. The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
The Island of the Dolls, or in Spanish, La Isla de las Munecas, is one heck of a creepy spot. The island, which is fairly close to Mexico City, is overflowing with dolls hanging from trees. Some time in the past, a grieving man by the name of Don Julian, who had lost his entire family, heard a woman screaming in the distance. She was drowning in one of the many local canals. He was unable to save her, but he still heard her voice at night after her death, and so he began stringing dolls up all over the place to ward off her spirit. Soon others, perhaps sympathetic to his cause, or else eager to see dolls swinging from trees, gave him even more dolls and doll parts to hang. Thus, the island became a legend, and later on, an eerie tourist attraction.
6. Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a small dot way out in the Pacific Ocean. It was discovered by a Dutch captain on Easter Day in 1772, hence the modern name. The island is covered with large statues, known as moia. These massive stone monuments, often up to three stories tall, are famous all over the world. The early Polynesians who lived on Eastern Island built them using fairly primitive tools, which make the statues existence even more enigmatic. If you’d like to see all 887 statues in person, you’ll have to book a flight to Chile and then make your way out this very mysterious island.
7. Monuriki Island, Fiji
There are plenty of uninhabited islands in the word. Monuriki wasn’t a particularly special one until it was featured in a Hollywood film. This small Fijian island served as the main shooting location for the film 'Cast Away,' staring Tom Hanks. A few inhabited islands are actually located nearby (unlike in the movie), so if you’d like to trek around the island that hosted Mr. Hanks and his volleyball pal Wilson, it shouldn’t be too hard to book a boat out to this unique Pacific Ocean film locale.
8. The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru
The Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca, in Peru, are entirely manmade. These Islas Flotantes, or floating islands, are woven together out of floating totora reeds, which form enormous mats. The mats are fastened to one another and the bed of the high altitude lake with ropes, to keep the mats from drifting off. The local inhabitants, known as the Uros, built settlements on the reed islands a very long time ago, most likely to avoid trouble with other tribes in the area. The Uros once made their living from fishing, but tourism is now their main source of income.
9. North Sentinel Island, Indian (Nominally)
North Sentinel Island is one of the most isolated places on earth, and no, you’ll probably never be able to visit there. The Sentinelese, a hunting-gathering people who resist all attempts at contact from the outside world, inhabit the island, which rests in the Bay of Bengal. When boats or aircraft get too close to the island, the locals launch a barrage of arrows at the intruders, driving them off, and sometimes even killing them. Since the island is heavily forested, not much is known about the life and culture of the people living there, but it’s safe to say they’ve probably never heard of an iPhone.
10. Socotra Island, Yemen
During a visit to Socorta Island, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve landed on an alien world by mistake. This striking island, which is east of the Horn of Arica and administered by Yemen, is host to an amazing amount of unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Spectacular geographical formations, haunting beaches, Dragon’s Blood Trees and many strange species of birds add to the island's mystical allure.