Abandoned islands can be found all over the world. At one point in their history, these abandoned islands were places people called “home,” where entrepreneurs established their businesses or where communities thrived off of natural resources. However, not all good times last, and several islands have been left behind. Now, the most action they see is during visits from tourists.
Hashima Island, also known as Gunkanjima or Battleship Island, sits off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan. Once a thriving coal mining community in the early 20th century, it now stands as an eerie, abandoned ghost town. The densely packed concrete buildings have slowly been reclaimed by nature, and now only tourists visit the island to glimpse what remains of the once-bustling industrial island.
Poveglia Island, nestled in the Venetian Lagoon near Venice, Italy, served as a quarantine station for victims of the black plague, and in the 18th century, it later housed a mental asylum. That is how it came to be known as the “Island of Madness” or “Plague Island.” It was officially closed in 1975 and is now abandoned, visited only by those granted special permission to set foot on the haunting and mysterious island.
Located along the River Thames near London, England, Brentford Ait was once a bustling island, home to the notorious 18th-century Three Swans pub. Visitors of the pub would get so rowdy that neighbors on either side of the river could hear the ruckus. That is, until 1812 when a resident named Robert Hunter purchased the pub and had it shut down. Since then, all the buildings have been removed from the island and have been replaced with trees.
Suakin, situated off the coast of Sudan in the Red Sea, holds centuries of history within its ancient port town. Once a bustling trade hub along the maritime routes, the island was known as the height of medieval luxury along the Red Sea. However, over the centuries, the buildings made of coral have deteriorated, leaving much of the island in ruins. Despite the port’s commercial decline, Suakin Island retains its cultural significance, as visitors come from all over the world to explore it.
Holland Island, located in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, was once a thriving community with homes, stores, and a school inhabited by watermen and farmers. However, over time, the buildings on the island succumbed to the forces of nature, slowly sinking into the bay due to erosion in the early 20th century. The last house on the island, built in 1888, finally fell into the bay in 2010.
Ōkunoshima, often called Rabbit Island, is a small isle located in Japan’s Inland Sea, famed for its unusual population of friendly and approachable rabbits. Despite its fluffy inhabitants today, the island holds a darker history as a former site for chemical weapon manufacturing during World War II. While tourists flock to feed and pet the rabbits, they are prohibited from exploring the ruins of the old forts and the gas factory still located on the island.
St. Kilda, a remote archipelago off the coast of Scotland, was once home to a resilient community that lived in isolation for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the islands had to be evacuated in 1930 due to the challenges of sustaining life in such an isolated environment. Today, the haunting remnants of an abandoned village remain on St. Kilda, as the archipelago has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pollepel Island, commonly known as Bannerman Island, rests in the Hudson River in New York and is famed for its picturesque ruins of a Scottish-style castle. Bannerman Castle, built in the early 20th century as a military surplus warehouse, was left abandoned in the 1950s after the sinking of the ferry that serviced the island. Since then, it has been left to decay, slowly collapsing in on itself over time.
King Island, situated in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, was once home to the Iñupiat people. In order to live on the cliffside, they built their traditional homes on stilts. While life on King Island was challenging, its inhabitants were more than capable of surviving. However, during the 20th century, the population was forcefully relocated to mainland Alaska as a result of modernization, and their houses were left abandoned.
We are just happy that the option to visit is still available for most of these abandoned islands.