Picture yourself on an island paradise, surrounded by azure waters, soft sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees. Now, envision these once-thriving island escapes abandoned and left to the whims of nature… Deserted Islands.
In this blog post, we’ll embark on a journey to discover the stories behind 20 deserted islands that were once sought-after paradise getaways. From abandoned coal mining communities to haunted mental hospitals, these islands hold tales of Paradise Lost and intriguing transformations.
1. Hashima Island, Japan (Gunkanjima)
Before: Hashima Island was a bustling coal mining community in the early 20th century, housing thousands of residents.
What happened: Abandoned in the 1970s as coal mining declined, Hashima Island now stands as a ghost town encased in concrete.
Did You Know? The island served as a backdrop in the James Bond film “Skyfall.”
2. Spinalonga, Greece
Before: Spinalonga was a Venetian fortress and later a leper colony, known for its historical significance.
What happened: Abandoned in the mid-20th century due to advancements in leprosy treatment, the island remains a haunting testament to its past.
Did You Know? The island was the setting for Victoria Hislop’s novel “The Island,” which explores its leper colony history.
3. Bannerman Island, New York, USA
Before: Bannerman Island was home to a Scottish-style castle filled with ammunition and military supplies.
What happened: Following the owner’s death and a devastating explosion, the island was abandoned, leaving behind the ruins of the castle.
Did You Know? The explosion of stored ammunition led to the island’s abandonment and the castle’s decay.
4. Poveglia Island, Italy
Before: Poveglia Island served as a quarantine station and later a mental hospital, notorious for its dark history.
What happened: Abandoned in the mid-20th century and rumoured to be haunted, the island remains uninhabited.
Did You Know? Poveglia Island is often considered one of the most haunted places in the world, attracting paranormal enthusiasts.
5. Holland Island, Maryland, USA
Before: Holland Island was a picturesque fishing community with charming homes dotting its landscape.
What happened: Erosion and rising sea levels forced residents to abandon the island, leaving only a few ruins behind.
Did You Know? The last house on Holland Island collapsed into the Chesapeake Bay in 2010, marking the end of an era.
6. Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile
Before: Easter Island was known for its thriving Polynesian civilization and iconic moai statues.
What happened: Overpopulation, resource depletion, and environmental degradation led to societal collapse and abandonment.
Did You Know? The mystery of how the massive moai statues were transported and erected on the island remains unsolved.
7. Gaiola Island, Italy
Before: Gaiola Island boasted luxurious villas and a natural marine reserve.
What happened: Abandoned due to superstitions and rumors of curses, it remains uninhabited to this day.
Did You Know? Gaiola Island is believed to be cursed due to a series of unfortunate events involving its former owners.
8. Fort Carroll, Maryland, USA
Before: Fort Carroll was a hexagonal fort constructed to protect Baltimore Harbor.
What happened: Abandoned shortly after its construction, it now stands as an eerie sentinel in the Chesapeake Bay.
Did You Know? Despite its abandonment, the fort’s unique design and history make it a compelling architectural relic.
9. Palmyra Atoll, Pacific Ocean
Before: Palmyra Atoll was a privately owned paradise with a mansion and coconut plantations.
What happened: Legal disputes and abandonment led to government jurisdiction, preserving its natural beauty.
Did You Know? The atoll is now a national wildlife refuge, home to diverse ecosystems and rare bird species.
10. Vozrozhdeniya Island, Uzbekistan (Aral Sea)
Before: Vozrozhdeniya Island had a research facility and vacation cottages.
What happened: The shrinking of the Aral Sea due to irrigation projects led to the isolation and eventual abandonment of the island.
Did You Know? The island was once used for the testing of biological weapons during the Cold War.
11. Dog Island, Mississippi, USA
Before: Dog Island was a remote, sandy getaway known for its natural beauty.
What happened: Hurricane Katrina caused significant erosion and damage, reducing its appeal as a paradise getaway.
Did You Know? The island is known for its pristine beaches and is a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles.
12. Runit Island, Marshall Islands
Before: Runit Island was home to a U.S. nuclear waste storage site.
What happened: Concerns about radioactive contamination led to the island’s abandonment.
Did You Know? The island is famous for the “Runit Dome,” a containment structure for radioactive debris.
13. Isola delle Rose (Rose Island), Italy
Before: Isola delle Rose featured a man-made island with a luxury hotel.
What happened: Legal issues and environmental concerns led to the abandonment of the futuristic resort.
Did You Know? The island was originally developed as part of an ambitious project called “The Venice of the East.”
14. Nishinoshima, Japan
Before: Nishinoshima was a volcanic island with a small fishing village.
What happened: An eruption in 1973 forced residents to evacuate, leaving it uninhabited.
Did You Know? The island experienced a resurgence of volcanic activity and land growth in recent years.
15. Island of Dolls (Isla de las Munecas), Mexico
Before: The Island of Dolls was a remote island with a hermit who hung dolls in the trees.
What happened: The hermit’s death led to a creepy, doll-covered island, now a tourist attraction.
Did You Know? Legend has it that the dolls whisper to each other and move their heads.
16. Rabbit Island (Ōkunoshima), Japan
Before: Ōkunoshima served as a secretive chemical warfare testing site during World War II.
What happened: Abandoned after the war, the island is now known for its feral rabbit population.
Did You Know? The island’s dark wartime history contrasts sharply with its adorable rabbit inhabitants.
17. Battleship Island (Hashima), South Korea
Before: Battleship Island was a thriving coal mining community.
What happened: The decline in coal mining led to abandonment in the 1970s.
Did You Know? Hashima Island served as an inspiration for the villain’s lair in the James Bond film “Skyfall.”
18. Tongatapu, Tonga
Before: Tongatapu was a scenic getaway known for its caves and blowholes.
What happened: Abandoned due to increased volcanic activity and sea level rise.
Did You Know? The island is part of the Kingdom of Tonga and offers unique geological formations.
19. Lazzaretto Vecchio, Italy
Before: Lazzaretto Vecchio was an island used as a quarantine station during the plague.
What happened: Abandoned after the end of the plague, it now serves as a historical site.
Did You Know? The island has ancient roots dating back to Roman times and is rich in history.
20. Tianya Haijiao, China
Before: Tianya Haijiao was a beautiful tropical destination known as the “End of the Earth.”
What happened: Overdevelopment and environmental damage have led to its decline.
Did You Know? The name “Tianya Haijiao” translates to “edge of the sky, rim of the sea,” emphasizing its remote location.
These deserted islands each hold a unique story of Paradise Lost, offering a glimpse into the passage of time and the powerful forces that can transform once-thriving getaways into haunting, abandoned places steeped in history and mystery.