Weirdest Islands That Exist
Let's explore some of the strangest islands in the world!Nature
When you think about islands, you might imagine turquoise waters, white sands, and palm trees. But there are some islands out there with such astounding features that make even the most experienced world travelers look twice! From islands flooded by crimson tides and rainbow sands to a little landmass concealing the world’s deadliest secret, let's take a tour around the strangest islands that you won’t believe actually exist!
Jutting violently out of the Pacific Ocean, over 370 miles off the eastern coast of Australia, the remote spire of stone looks like the perfect lair for a supervillain. As menacing as it looks, the great jagged sea stack, known as Ball’s Pyramid, is actually the eroded remnants of an old shield volcano, formed about 7 million years ago.
At a gargantuan 1,843 ft high, which is about 400 ft taller than the Empire State Building, it’s the tallest sea stack in the world. While just one look is enough to give plenty of people vertigo, some crazy explorers have seen its mighty peak as a challenge!
Despite being discovered back in 1788, explorers only mustered the courage to conquer the ominously steep sea spire in 1965. However, it would turn out that sheer height wasn’t the strangest thing about the island.
In 2001, conservationists discovered a colony of horrifyingly large stick insects, gathered on a single bush 330 ft up the otherwise barren spire! For 70 years, the nightmare-inducing Dryococelus Australis, nicknamed land lobsters and walking sausages, were thought to be extinct.
Ōkunoshima, the Rabbit Island
Perched on the Inland Sea of Japan lies the island of Ōkunoshima, though most people know it by its well-earned nickname Rabbit Island. Though it’s no more than 2 and a half miles all around, that little landmass is home to around 1,000 floppy-eared, feral rabbits!
Those unusual inhabitants have learned that visitors are usually a source of food, and hilariously swarm if they hear the shaking of tasty treats! Though it looks like the cutest place on earth, Ōkunoshima has a strangely dark and mysterious past. Before it became a cotton-tailed paradise, the island was used to manufacture thousands of tons of poisonous gas during World War 2.
Those facilities were kept so secret that the island was removed from all Japanese maps at the time. Some speculate that it was during that time the rabbits were brought to the island as test subjects! However, experts report that those poor creatures were euthanized after the facilities shut down.
Another rumor claims several schoolchildren released a couple of rabbits there back in the 1970s, and ever since then they’ve bred like rabbits! Either way, without any predators on the island, along with a ban on hunting, the rabbit population has thrived in the super cute sanctuary.
Nekojima, the Cat Islands Of Japan
Ōkunoshima isn’t the only Japanese island inundated with furry residents. Dotted around the Japanese coast are 11 tiny isles which are also home to thousands of incredibly cute cats! Those are Nekojima, or Cat Islands for those of us who don't understand Japanese.
Back in the 1940s, many of them used to be well populated by busy fishing villages. Locals kept cats to hunt the island’s mice, which would infest the boats and kill the silkworms the fishermen needed to make their nets. But as the industry sadly began to decline, so did the islands’ human populations.
The cats, on the other paw, continued to thrive. Locals believed that feeding those four-legged friends brought good luck and fortune, resulting in a spike of friendly felines. Currently, there are so many of them on some of the islands, like Aoshima, that cats can outnumber humans six to one!
The islands’ primary population may seem strange, but they’ve ended up bringing good fortune after all. By attracting cat-loving tourists by the boatful, business on the islands has picked up again! Looks like both the humans and felines on those islands will soon be turning into fat cats.
From its name alone, you can tell there’s something festive about Christmas Island. Not because it’s home to a jolly red fat man, but because this little island hosts one of the most spectacular red and green displays in the natural world.
Every year the beaches of the tiny island, located over 930 miles west of the Australian mainland, are completely awash with incredible crimson tides. While it looks like a bizarre Christmas miracle, those waters are actually brimming with the offspring of the island’s infamous Red Crab.
50 million of those amazing crustaceans migrated to those same beaches weeks before, dumping their fertilized eggs into the sea to hatch. Then, through instinct alone, their offspring amazingly find their way back to the island. On the years when many of them survive their harsh ocean incubation, they swarm the verdant green shores in their millions.
Then, they begin marching diligently toward their woodland home at the Center of the island. They’ll climb over rocks, roads, and even humans to get where they need to be! Road closures need to be implemented to accommodate these crabs!
The Eye: Mysterious Rotating Island
The South American country of Argentina boasts some of the most amazing natural landscapes in the world, but there’s one that looks positively alien. Hidden away in the swampy marshes on the Parana Delta, a large, almost perfectly circular island is surrounded by a tiny channel of clear water.
But the incredible symmetry of the island isn’t the strangest thing about it. According to a time-lapse of satellite images taken since 2003, the 387 ft disc is moving around the confines of its little lake! It was captured tracking along the edges of the water, shifting position every single day as if following a pattern.
Many scientists assumed it was a man-made prank, but when they explored the area, they found no sign of any human interference. The exploration left scientists with more questions than answers, after all, how could such a precise-looking formation be natural?
While the scientists were scratching their heads, several more eccentric members of society claimed it must be a secret, extra-terrestrial entrance to an alien UFO base. However, a more down-to-earth observation compared the island’s circular shape to those of ice discs.
Those staggering circles of frozen water form when a water current flows to one side of the ice, rotating it in a circular direction and eroding any irregular edges.
Assuming those ice discs and Argentina’s eye disc work based on the same mechanics, it’s possible that a slow-moving current underneath the swamp is rotating the island, and, in turn, carving out the circular hole of the lake. While it’s not a completely perfect theory, it does explain why Argentina hasn’t been overrun by little green men in space suits!
Even though it’s less than half a soccer pitch in size, the island of Migingo has some very big problems. It’s situated just off the eastern banks of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Fish in those waters aren’t just plentiful, but valuable as well, enticing would-be fishermen to try their luck living out on the island.
The scarcely believable 500 people that live there have transformed the uneven, rocky dome into a corrugated iron shell, like some gigantic, armor-plated turtle! While it looks ready to take on Godzilla, the little island has even bigger monsters to worry about.
In 2004, the profitable fishing waters attracted ruthless pirates, causing both Kenya and Uganda to claim the island in order to defend it. But that sparked a conflict between the two nations over who owned the profitable island and its valuable fishing waters.
Suddenly, little Migingo found itself at the center of, what locals started to call "Africa’s smallest war". Although Google Earth clearly shows that the island is in Kenyan waters, Uganda claims that the snapshot is wrong and refuses to back down.
The World Archipelago
Not many people can boast that they have the whole world to themselves, except whoever lives here!
Because when you zoom out, you can see someone has bought himself a house on one of Saudi Arabia’s World Islands, perched off the coast of Dubai. Those 300 islands are made from 11 billion cubic feet of sand dredged from the Persian Gulf, constructed into an archipelago in the shape of the world map.
Deposited over millions of square feet of coastline, the project was so vast, that astronauts could track its progress from space! Each little patch of constructed land was then named after a country, so people who bought them could claim to own a piece of the world.
Like billionaire Richard Branson, who offered to buy Great Britain back in 2006! And you would need million-dollar coffers to consider buying one of those islands. The cheapest starts at a cool $7 million, going up to an eye-watering $1.8 billion!
Though it began construction in 2003, the financial crash of 2008 pushed the project’s expected completion date back to 2020. But even now, those empty islands look like they're a world away from being finished!
Seven Coloured Earths
The island nation of Mauritius is famed for the dazzling colors of its seascapes, but believe it or not, there’s actually more color at the heart of that little landmass. To the south, in a region called Chamarel, lies the stunning seven-colored Earth of Mauritius. It’s a blanket of ridged soils made up of the most unusual and vibrant colors.
But those psychedelic dunes have even more mind-bending science behind them! The entire island was once an active volcano site formed around 2 million years ago. Over the years, the basalt from those volcanic eruptions underwent a rare conversion process, slowly turning the hard rock into clay minerals like iron and aluminum oxide.
Unlike the hard black basalt that they come from, those minerals range in color from vivid reds and oranges to brilliant blues and purples.
Far out in the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic Ocean lay the mighty Faroe Islands; a body of 18 gigantic volcanic land masses claimed by the kingdom of Denmark. But the smallest, and arguably most majestic of those islands, known as Lítla Dímun, has an adorably curious feature: its own personal cloud!
As moist air blows over its 1,358 ft peak, temperatures drop, and the water in the air condenses into a lenticular cloud, covering its peak in a fluffy hat! From afar, it’d be easy to confuse the mountain with a bowl of green Jell-O topped with whipped cream!
Although it looks like it could be a sweet retreat, the island is less than one square mile in size and is completely uninhabited. Not just because the weather in the North Atlantic is notoriously harsh, but because the island is lined by horrendously steep shores that take some serious skill to traverse!
The Curse Of Gaiola Island
At first glance, Gaiola Island off the coast of Naples looks like it was plucked straight out of a Salvador Dali painting. The two tiny, Italian islets are connected by a single, impossibly thin, stone arch that looks about as sturdy as a tightrope!
But the bizarre bridge isn’t the strangest thing about Gaiola Island. An aura of misfortune haunts its past, meaning the grand-looking mansions built on its peak have been long abandoned.
Its cursed reputation began back at the turn of the 20th century, when its owner, a Swiss man named Hans Braun, was found brutally murdered and wrapped in an old rug. Tragically, his wife died shortly after drowning at sea.
The next owner, a German named Otto Grunback, was found dead after suffering from a fatal heart attack during his stay on the island. And the owner after that, writer Maurice Yves Sandoz, took his own life in a Swiss mental hospital after going insane.
But the curse didn’t stop there! It dragged subsequent owners to economic ruin and saw many of their relatives reach untimely deaths. The most famous of which was oil tycoon, John Paul Getty. In a particularly gruesome turn of events, his youngest grandson was kidnapped by the Calabrian mafia.
They forced John to pay the $3 million ransom by hacking off the boy’s ear and sending it to him in the mail! The island was last owned in 1978, and since then people have finally taken the hint and left it well alone. Clearly, the beautiful island does not want to be owned.
If the movie Inception were an island, you can bet it would be Vulcan Point. Instead of a dream inside a dream, Vulcan Point is an island inside a lake, inside a volcano, inside a bigger island, inside an archipelago, inside the Pacific Ocean!
The mind-blowing little island is nestled in the crater lake of the Taal Volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines. The volcano itself also sits in a lake of its own, called Lake Taal, on the island of Luzon. In turn, Luzon is just one of the Philippines' 7,100 islands lying about 500 miles off the coast of Vietnam and China.
Unfortunately, the Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020 and this buried the surrounding landscape under several feet of volcanic ash. Also, the sheer heat of the eruption dried up every drop of the crater lake.
But despite the devastation, Vulcan Point appears to have miraculously survived! Experts believe that the lake will be refilled by rainfall in a few years’ time. But sadly, for now, the former dream within a dream is more like a waking nightmare!
If you scan over the oceans 180 miles off the Canadian shores of Nova Scotia, your eyes might catch sight of a mysterious giant snake slithering through the waves! At around 26 miles long and just shy of a mile wide, this isolated and uninhabited crescent is a wind-swept sand bar known as Sable Island.
It’s formed on top of the ridge edge of a continental shelf, carved out by a glacier over 15,000 years ago. Since then, sands have built up on the ridge, raising it out of the water enough for grasses and even a lone pine tree to grow!
Although very little can thrive in such harsh conditions so far away from the mainland, it has a surprising population of 500 wild horses galloping along its shores. But how on earth did they end up so far out at sea? Their island origins remain a mystery.
Some believe they came from a shipwreck several centuries ago. Others believe they were stolen during Canada’s Great Deportation, and were put out to pasture where no one would find them. However they got there, they’ve transformed the barren sliver of sand into an incredible horsey haven!
In the heart of the great nation of Norway lies a giant lake with a small, otherworldly feature. From the northern shores, the perfectly domed island of Tronøya resembles a bright green soccer ball that’s been kicked into the water. However, at just under 200 ft in length, the deceptively small-looking island is about as long as the Lincoln Memorial building is wide!
However, it’s not the shape or size of the island that makes it stand out, but its location. Situated at the northernmost part of the huge, 5-mile-long lake, a well-angled photo can make the verdant island look like the most secluded place in the world! Surrounded purely by fog and mirror still waters, the desolate landmass could be an introvert’s dream vacation or an extrovert’s holiday from hell.
There’s no amount of sweeping beaches or crystal clear waters that can hide the Fijian island’s strange and dirty secret. Just one quick look from above reveals that the slice of paradise is actually shaped like an island-sized phallus, with gonads to boot!
The 42-acre island can be found bulging off the northern coast of Vanua Levu, flopping over the top of the Fijian archipelago. Although the island is endowed with plenty of exotic trees, flowers, and wildlife, its full girth has been developed into 87 luxury real estate lots. Ranging from $75,000 to $125,000 per slice of seafront heaven, the stunning views probably gave those buyers a lot of bang for their buck!
Salina Turda Underground Mine
While most islands are situated in lakes and oceans, there’s one subterranean exception that undermines them all. Almost 400 ft below the earth, the stunning island of Salina Turda is stunningly located in the middle of a gigantic, disused salt mine.
The brightly lit, underground attraction makes up part of the largest salt mine museum in the world. It was excavated entirely by hand, dating back as far as 1271. For over 660 years, the colossal cavern was chipped away with nothing but elbow grease and pickaxes.
Currently, it’s been flooded with a small subterranean lake, surrounding a tiny, but dazzlingly decorated island at its center. In the soft glow of all those lights, it all looks impossibly impressive. Hopefully, they will never experience a power cut!
In the far-flung reaches of the North Pacific Ocean lies an island with a half-buried secret. Perched on the edge of the stunning Marshall Islands, the natural beauty of the Enewetak Atoll is punctuated by the bizarrely shaped Runit Dome. It’s a huge concrete structure that looks like a crash-landed UFO!
However, there’s nothing alien hidden inside the 18-inch concrete cap. Instead, it holds 111,000 cubic yards or almost 34 Olympic swimming pools of man-made radioactive waste. It was constructed back in 1977 after the remote islands had been used as a US nuclear bomb test site in the 40s and 50s.
The equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs were detonated there every single day over the course of 12 years, blanketing the islands with irradiated debris. But when it was time for the clean-up operation, Congress refused to fund a comprehensive decontamination program. Instead, US servicemen just scraped off the island's contaminated topsoil and mixed it with cement.
Then, they dumped it into a 350 ft blast crater and sealed it up with concrete panels. Responsibility for the site was dropped like a hot, irradiated potato into the hands of the Marshall Islands government. They were understandably enraged by the decision, and even slapped the site with the horrifying nickname of “The Tomb”.
Now, over 40 years on, the cracks are beginning to show, literally! Sections of the unlined tomb have started to break, threatening to release lethal radiation into the surrounding sea and soil. While the US has never formally apologized, The Tomb has become a ticking time bomb in an otherwise, radiant paradise.
On a cloudy day over the brilliant blue seas of the Maldives, your eyes might trick you into thinking that the islands of the nation are floating! As amazing as that would look both above and under the waves, those islands aren’t actually floating.
In fact, they’re not even real islands! That’s because the Maldives consists of a chain of around 1200 coral reefs, which can range from almost one square mile in area, to just a few feet across! They’re all grouped into circular clusters called atolls, which are the remnants of long extinct, oceanic volcanoes.
When they exploded millions of years ago, the erupting lava hardened and slowly grew into an island. Then, as the centuries ticked by, corals and wildlife began to grow at their bases, forming giant fringing reefs.
But while the corals thrived, the volcanos started to sink beneath the rising sea levels, leaving barrier reefs in their wake. Those corals continued to grow, eventually breaking down into sands and in some cases, growing large enough to support wildlife! So, while they may not be able to float, they’ve certainly risen to the surface.
Although you may not have heard of Monuriki Island before, there’s a chance you’ve already seen it. The uninhabited and mystical land mass is part of the island country of Fiji. It’s volcanic in origin, measuring less than a mile long and almost 2,000 feet wide, and is completely surrounded by an incredible coral reef.
With its azure tides, blue lagoons, and incredible greenery, you might think that it wouldn’t be such a bad place to get stranded! Surprisingly, one very famous face already has been. Monuriki was the setting for the 2000 film Cast Away, starring a shipwrecked Tom Hanks and a very unfortunate volleyball called Wilson.
Before the film’s international success, the island was little known and had no map-worthy features to speak of. But now, it boasts a dedicated Cast Away Island beach, attracting fans from all over the world; not of Tom Hanks, but of Wilson!