Forget sun-drenched beaches, azure seas and cloudless skies - these are six islands you WON'T want to visit on holiday!
1. Gruinard Island
If you inhale anthrax spores, you die. 100kg of it sprayed over a city would kill 3million people. Which is why it would make such a deadly and such an effective weapon in biological warfare. Back in 1942, Britain was at war. And scientists were keen to test just how deadly and how effective anthrax could be. They rounded up 50 sheep and took them to the remote, uninhabited Gruinard Island, a short distance off the coast from the Scottish Highlands. The scientists released an anthrax bomb. Three days later, the sheep started to die. First, the sheep would have felt feverish. But it would have been the internal bleeding caused by the anthrax spores that finished them all off. In their report, the scientists wrote that anthrax ‘could be used to render cities uninhabitable for generations’. As was Gruinard Island. It was placed under quarantine and no one was allowed near it. For 50 years. The quarantine has now been lifted. But still, there are no visitors to Gruinard Island…
2. Reunion Island
Reunion Island is in the middle of the warm Indian Ocean. It is home to fewer than a million people, but its balmy climate and sundrenched beaches make it a popular holiday destination. But since 2011, Reunion has been in crisis. The island is only 40-miles long, and yet, in the last five years, 13% of the world’s fatal shark attacks have happened off its coastline. To put that into perspective, there have only been 3 shark attacks off the coast of South Africa in that same time. An abnormally large population of sharks circles the waters around Reunion. They’ve attacked 20 people since 2011 and killed 7. In 2013, all open-water swimming and surfing in Reunion was banned. Enter those waters at your peril.
3. Poveglia Island
In 1348, bubonic plague broke out in Venice. Anyone who caught the terrifying disease was shipped off to quarantine on Poveglia Island, a tiny piece of land stuck out in the Venetian Lagoon. For the victims of the plague, there was no coming back. Thousands were sent to Poveglia to die. Some estimates put the number as high as 100,000, their bodies all chucked into massive pits and left to rot. By the 1920s, a hospital had been built on the island where crude lobotomies were carried out on hundreds of mentally ill patients. The doctor who carried out these procedures later committed suicide, claiming the island’s ghosts had made him mad. Since then, there have been many reports of ghosts and unexplained activity on Poveglia Island. Those who have dared to cross the water and set foot on the abandoned place have reported hearing cries, seeing things they couldn’t explain…and one woman claimed she was attacked by an entity that clawed at her face leaving her with wounds that needed 13 stitches. The Italian government has now banned all tourism and all visits to the island.
4. Saba Island
Just 2,000 people live on the 13-square kilometers of land in the middle of the Caribbean sea, the island of Saba. They live in the shadow of Mount Scenery, a potentially active volcano that last erupted in 1640. Since 1997, there have been a number of localized earthquakes that have led scientists to believe the volcano could erupt again. At any moment. But it’s the hurricanes that make Saba as dangerous as it is. Mother Nature is in charge on Saba. In the last 100 years, the tiny island has been hit by more hurricanes than any other island, as well 15 category 3 storms and 7 category 5s. That’s a lot of wind.
5. Ilha De Queimada Grande
Most people in Brazil have heard of Ilha de Queimada Grande. And most would never go there. The locals call it Snake Island. It’s situated about 40 miles off the coast of São Paolo. No one lives there. Apart from the snakes. The island is home to 4,000 golden lancehead vipers. Which equates to one poisonous snake for every square metre of land. One, highly dangerous, highly venomous snake for every square metre of land…If you’re bitten by a golden lancehead, you’ve got problems. The poison acts quickly. First, your body will start to swell. You’ll start vomiting. Then, your skin will start to blister and you’ll urinate blood. Inside your body, your kidneys will be failing and your intestines will be rupturing and bleeding. You’ll have a brain haemorrhage. And then you’ll die. Within an hour. Unless you can get an antidote. But because you’re 40 miles away from the mainland and any civilization, you probably can’t. The snakes are native to the island and have thrived in its subtropical heat because no other predators live there. Snakes have ruled the roost on Ilha de Queimada Grande for thousands and thousands of years.
6. Izu Islands
Not one, but a chain of 12 islands south of Tokyo and mainland Japan. People live on nine of those islands. They go to work in shops and offices. They go to school. They go out to the cinema, restaurants, bars. They lead normal lives. Except for one thing. Every time they step outside, they have to wear a gas mask. Without them, they’d die. All because of the huge amount of volcanic activity in the area. The most famous of the local volcanoes is Myojin-sho. It’s under the sea, but when it erupted in 1952, it was the biggest eruption ever recorded. It went for it again in 2000. Myojin-sho isn’t the only one. There are 17 volcanoes on and around the small islands. And each of them spews poisonous sulphur into the atmosphere. Constantly. It’s the highest concentration of sulphur anywhere on the planet. Breathe sulphur and your respiratory system will start to blister. Your oesophagus and lungs will start to burn, and before long, you won’t be able to breathe at all. So you might ask yourself why anyone would choose to live on the Izu Islands. Well, the inhabitants are paid to live there. They’re taking part in scientific research to see what happens to people who spend their lives wearing gas masks and breathing trace amounts of sulphur.