6 Real Islands Way More Terrifying Than The One On 'Lost'
Summer's right around the corner, and it's time to pick your next vacation spot. Now, we know the problem you're facing: You want a nice island paradise, but you also want to experience horrors beyond comprehension, and maybe you even want to die on your trip. Well, we've got some great islands for you...
Ilha de Queimada Grande; A.K.A. Snake Island
Over at Forests.org, there's an article that opens with a description of, "A deserted island where the forest floor writhes with the world's most venomous vipers. A fisherman found dead on his boat, its deck awash with his blood. A lighthouse keeper and his family massacred in a nocturnal snake invasion of their isolated cottage home.
And no, Forests.org is not a site for terrifying Indiana Jones / Anaconda slash-fiction. You see, Ilha de Queimada Grande is a delightfully exotic sounding island off the coast of Brazil that plays host to a certain breed of exotic sounding snake known as the Golden Lancehead. This snake has one of the worst venoms in the world, which literally causes your flesh to rot off your bones.
Now you may be asking, "But Cracked, there are poisonous snakes in loads of countries. What's so special about this one tiny island?" Well that's an interesting question, and we are only too pleased to haunt your dreams by filling you in.
Remember how we mentioned the snakes only live on this one island? Well it's quite a densely packed island. In fact, the Brazilian Navy has forbidden anyone to visit the place, and they aren't doing that to protect the snakes. Conservative estimates range from the spine tingling one snake per square meter to the "drop dead from pants shitting fear" five snakes per square meter. Can you picture it? Allow us to help you:
Not pictured: The dead people just out of shot.
Now imagine five of those. Now imagine those five in an area that's smaller than your bed. Now imagine that writhing nest repeated over every inch of this God-forsaken place.
Let's back up and talk about that fisherman:
"I heard the story of the fisherman who went ashore to pick bananas, got bitten and somehow managed to struggle back to his boat. There, he bled to death and was found sprawled on the blood-soaked deck of his boat."
And the lighthouse keeper's family?
"The family ran in panic one night after snakes crawled in through their windows, so the story goes, and were bitten as they fled through the forest by vipers dangling from tree branches. Their bodies were found spread across the island when a navy vessel stopped to make a routine supply drop."
A young snake, receiving its terror-enhancing steroids, as is the snake custom on this island.
Yeah. Imagine just sleeping peacefully when snakes start crawling through your bedroom window and you know the only option is to run outside into the jungle where there are even more snakes and they all govern themselves because this is an island of snake monsters and you are the intruder. And you struggle through the underbrush, alone, scared, knowing that you will never make it back to civilization to punch that fucking Realtor who sold you a house on goddamned Snake Island.
Think of the scariest premise you can for a horror movie. OK, now think scarier than that, plus 1,000 times the brutality of Hostel, and you're close to Poveglia Island. Located in a lagoon in Venice, Italy, this island got its scary start when the Romans, being the kind, gentle souls they were, decided the best thing for society was to round up all the plague victims of the era, and stick them somewhere. That somewhere happened to be Poveglia Island.
Several thousand people were gathered and quarantined on the island, where they died together. You can write that off as a crazy decision symptomatic of a time when people presumably still pooped in holes in the ground and thought the sun was a chariot, but not a few centuries later, when everyone did the exact same thing again.
When the Bubonic plague tore through Europe, the island was reinstated to its former "glory;" a final vacation spot for anyone with the plague. When the plague got worse, they lowered Poveglia's requirements from "plague sufferers" to "anybody with any sign of sickness at all." They also changed their policy of "let the infected die peacefully" to "throw them in a large pit (atop already-dead bodies), and set them on fire," which, was quite a leap. Estimates put the death toll at 160,000 on the island, where charred bones still wash up on shore.
As if this wasn't scary enough, in 1922, a mental hospital with a scary fucking bell tower was built on the island (an island, you have to believe still smelled like centuries of charred, plague-infected corpses).
That hospital was where everyone sent the allegedly insane members of society. Remember, these were before the days of the first (and still horrible) DSM I. Anyone could be thrown into an asylum, wherein anything could be done to them.
According to legend, this particular hospital featured a doctor who routinely experimented on his patients with such things as lobotomies (performed with a hammer and chisel), for what was most likely described as "shits" with a potential for "giggles." As the legend goes, the doctor tortured his patients in the bell tower (we totally saw that shit coming), and ignored their cries that they heard and saw the ghosts of plague victims.
The doctor was then thrown off the tower by the ghosts of plague victims and, while in the dirt struggling to stay alive, was "strangled by a mist that arose from the ground." We would actually be tempted to disbelieve that part if this were any other island. Though we guess a much more plausible explanation than "the doctor was murdered by plague ghosts" is "the doctor was murdered by all those lunatics he tortured."
In later years, people voluntarily moved to the island and, the day after, moved back the fuck out. To this day, the island remains uninhabited. Unless you count the tortured souls of the hundreds of thousands of innocents who were wronged there. In which case, uh, yeah, it's pretty booked.
The year is 1945. World War II is all up in your shit. A 900 man cadre of Japanese forces on a small island off the Burmese Coast is being outflanked by Allied forces. With one side open to them, they make a bee-line toward reinforcements. It was approximately at this point that they found themselves badly wishing they were on Snake Island up there.
You see, the only thing standing in the way of salvation was a swamp. Figuring swamp vs. death was an easy decision, the 900 man force entered the swamp...
Five hundred were never heard from again.
You see, Ramree Island, not content with being just the home to malaria-carrying mosquitoes, blowflies and deadly scorpions, also harbored another deadly creature; the saltwater crocodile. Lots and lots and lots of them.
We like to imagine a Predator-esque stalking--random soldiers disappearing, followed by mass chaos and frantic gunfire. Or maybe, as soon as the soldiers were a third of the way through the swamp, they were attacked en masse by a testicle-shrinkingly large herd of thrashing, ravenous crocodiles. Of the men that survived the encounter, the majority were wounded badly, but still technically alive enough to wish they were dead.
In fact, the massacre of the Japanese troops by crocodiles was so horrific, it earned the title of being the Guinness Book of World Records' "Greatest disaster suffered from animals." The Japanese wounded would probably be honored to be a part of such an historic event. Someone should tell them, if they ever recover from the constant personal hell that is the recurring Crocodile and War flashback.
So there's this chain of islands, in some far-off magical world (called Japan), and on these islands is contained unimaginable horror.
You know how right now you're breathing air? Well depending on where you are, odds are it's fairly standard stuff: mostly full of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and a bunch of other shit. Ideally, it's probably lacking in sulfur.
Not so on the Izu Islands! Thanks to some nasty volcano-related incidents, the island's air is pumped full of delicious sulfur! The highest concentration of the gas on the entire fucking planet no less. It's OK though because nobody lives there.
Oh wait, they totally still live there
For some reason, the island has retained most of its pre-volcano population, and since the volcano never stopped spewing eggy gas, now they live day and night with a gas mask either on their face, or at their side. In the middle of the night, air raid sirens go off because the gas levels are dangerously high and people would start to die. People live their entire lives like this.
It's not all bad though--the residents are at least getting paid to stay there. By whom you ask? Why, science of course! Residents get a very small amount of money on the basis that science wants to see what happens to them if they spend their lives wearing gas masks and breathing in trace amounts of sulfur.
Translation: Current Sulphur Levels = Shitloads.
Also, the island's kind of shaped like an old woman's head, and if King Kong taught us anything, it's that islands that look like stuff are never a good thing. Hey, speaking of nightmarish terror, that island also marks the exact point where 3 massive tectonic plates converge. Last time the pressure got too much, the ensuing earthquake removed Tokyo from the map. Completely.
Good news though! Its only five years overdue for another one!
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Did you ever see that Futurama episode where they launched all their trash into space? Well this is sort of like that, only with more trash and less rockets, and it's in the middle of the sea, and it's not funny because it's real life and happening right now.
See, every time America or China dumps plastics in the water, it ends up in the ocean, and the currents drag it all to the same place--an area called the North Pacific Gyre. Over time, the garbage added up and now it's basically an island the size of Texas (although there is plastic covering an area the size of America).
See, that looks like a perfectly good rib cage, now who would throw that out?
An island made of trash is bad, but don't worry it gets worse. Plastic doesn't biodegrade, but it does break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Pieces the size of plankton in fact. Now, fish aren't the smartest of creatures, and so they see something plankton-sized and they think dinner time. What that means is the fish are filling themselves with the stuff.
Who cares right? Well you will next time you have fish for dinner. Still, on the plus side, at least it's a form of recycling--garbage gets thrown out, fish eat garbage, we eat fish, we shit out fish/plastic. It's the circle of life! "But," you cry, "there can't be that many of the tiny plastic shards!" Guess again. In the average sample taken from the water, there is six times more plastic than plankton. That's because it doesn't sink, it just hangs there below the surface looking totally fucking delicious to fish and plotting its revenge on you for throwing it out in the first place.
As for the actual "island," if you were to try to step on it, you would soon regret it. You would immediately fall through the layer of trash, and then, kind of like ice diving, it would almost instantly fill in the hole leaving you trapped, and drowning, under the surface. Assuming you didn't get trapped under the surface, you would instead be left to stew in a trash and dead fish marinate whilst the sharks circle you.
Oh, right, also there are sharks. We should've opened with that before we told you to go stand on the garbage island.
If you thought Fiji was some beautiful island paradise, you'd be wrong. Dead wrong. Dead-as-partially-devoured-children wrong. (That simile will become appropriate later, we promise.)
Fiji has something of a history behind it, history including such favorites as cannibal children, murder of children, torture of children and death-by-seasickness for children. Yes, Fiji apparently didn't like kids that much.
Immediately after this picture was taken they ate the camera man, who was a baby.
A missionary who visited the island during the1840s was treated to all these things. He writes:
"October 31st, 1839, Thursday. This morning we witnessed a shocking spectacle. Twenty (20) dead bodies of men, women and children were brought to Rewa as a present from Tanoa. They were distributed among the people to be cooked and eaten. They were dragged about in the water and on the beach. The children amused themselves by sporting with and mutilating the body of a little girl. A crowd of men and women maltreated the body of a gray-haired old man and that of a young woman. Human entrails were floating down the river in front of the mission premises."
OK, that's kind of gross, but that's just how cannibals were right? Everyone was doing it back then, right? Well yes, but not everyone was doing this:
"About 30 living children were hoisted up to the mastheads as flags of triumph. The motion of the canoes while sailing soon killed the helpless creatures and silenced their piercing cries."
Just to be clear, what he is describing there is small children being used as decorative flags, and dying as a result of sea sickness. Got it? Good, we can move on.
Man, this sucks, all the pictures of Fiji we can find make it look awesome.
"Other children were taken, alive, to Bau that the boys there might learn the art of Feegeean warfare by firing arrows at them and beating them with clubs. For days they have been tearing and devouring like wolves and hyenas."
We're actually about done here, but you're welcome to find pages of other delights here while we go vomit for a while.
Planning a honeymoon or family get away? Cracked has some great travel ideas and we invite you to check out The 6 Worst "Vacations" People Actually Pay For and Fun Size Countries: The Insane Histories of the World's 6 Tiniest Nations.
And if you can't afford any of those lovely getaways, we invite you to check out our Top Picks and take a vacation to the Internet.