When people think of islands, they envision sun, surf, and piña coladas. But islands aren’t all Jimmy Buffet tunes and limbo sticks. You may be surprised by the darkness lurking beneath that shimmering sand.
Here are my picks for five of the world’s spookiest islands.
Imagine getting off a ferry and seeing this:
While it looks like a scene from The Twilight Zone, it’s actually a way of life for the citizens of Miyake-jima, Japan. The gas masks are a necessity since the air on the island is poisonous, thanks to a very active volcano. Mount Oyama has erupted thirteen times in the past five hundred years, and a particularly nasty eruption in the year 2000 resulted in a full evacuation.
Almost three thousands citizens opted to return in 2005, even though the sulphur dioxide polluting the atmosphere means they need to carry gas masks with them at all times. Strangely, the island has enjoyed an upswing in tourism over the past few years, but not to worry–alarms go off if there’s a sudden dramatic increase in the levels of toxic gas. Comforting, no?
2. Saint François, Guadeloupe
In sharp contrast to Miyake-jima, there’s nothing outwardly spooky about Raisins Clairs Beach in Saint François, Guadeloupe, but don’t be fooled. Something disturbing waits beneath the surface. Sunbathers have found human bones, teeth, coffin nails, and a metal collar. Not exactly your typical vacation souvenirs.
After two excavations, archaeologists deduced that this picture-perfect beach covered a cemetery containing the graves of up to one thousand slaves. Erosion is responsible for revealing the chilling history, so locals pressured the government to install an anti-storm surge system in 2015. The sites known to contain bones have been marked, but every time it rains, there’s always a chance more will be uncovered.
Ah, Fiji. Looks beautiful, right? And it is. But this gorgeous island has more than its share of skeletons in the closet.
When missionaries first visited Fiji in the 1800s, they were graciously invited to dinner, not realizing they were the main course. Turns out the Fijians’ favourite food was human flesh, and they weren’t the slightest bit shy about it.
The most vulnerable citizens of the island were also the most at risk. Children were cooked alive or hung feet-first off canoe mastheads, their skulls crushed as the vessels roiled in the waves. Missionaries also wrote of other horrors they witnessed, such as men eating their own wives and people eaten while they were still conscious.
This is all in the past, of course. But as recently as December 2016, Amnesty International called out Fiji’s police and military for aiding and abetting “an ingrained culture of torture.”
You’ve probably heard of this one without knowing it. Affectionately nicknamed “Rabbit Island,” it’s been the darling of the internet since videos of its tame rabbit population went viral.
Have you ever wondered how all those bunnies got there? Turns out, it’s not so cute.
In World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army manufactured tons of poison gas on the island, gas that was used to kill an estimated eighty thousand people. (That’s the remains of the factory above. Not creepy at all.) If you’re making something that deadly, better test it first, right? Yep, those sweet-looking animals are believed to have descended from the original test subjects, which could mean there’s some seriously mutant bunnies hopping around. Experts poo-poo this notion, claiming American soldiers killed the hapless animals. They say Rabbit Island’s residents are the result of children who released pets there for some unknown reason. My advice: if you go to Rabbit Island, keep your eyes peeled for Bunnicula. And don’t bring cabbage–it’s bad for the bunnies.
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the granddaddy of them all. If anyone made a horror movie about this little island located off the coast of Venice, Italy, it would get panned for being too over-the-top.
Let’s see. First Poveglia was the site of bloody battles, and then it was a dumping ground for plague victims–twice, some of whom were buried alive in mass graves. As if that wasn’t enough, someone decided the island would make a lovely place for an asylum, complete with a doctor who tortured his patients, performing lobotomies with a hammer and chisel. And did said doctor come to a tragic end? Of course! But no one knows if his death was the result of murder or suicide.
Would you visit any of these islands?
P.S. If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy this one about the most cursed island in the world.