The coronavirus has left New York deserted. Tropical paradises and national parks have been cut off by distance. Explore forbidden places destinations instead of bemoaning cancelled visits.
North Brother Island is New York City’s 80-year-old ghost village. Some islands are forbidden—for fascinating reasons. Some can be invited, seen from a distance, or experienced through replicas, but (once travel restrictions are lifted) they are all limited.
Self-quarantine is the best time to look up virtual trip photographs and information.
1. Ukrainian Chornobyl Exclusion Zone
An electrical test at Chornobyl No.4 started a chain reaction in April 1986. The deadliest nuclear disaster in history, the explosion and reactor fire released radioactive particles for nine days.
After the meltdown, a 19-mile exclusion zone and a concrete-and-lead sarcophagus were erected over the reactor.
The Zone of Alienation was stretched to 1,000 square miles and encompasses some of the most radioactive areas on Earth.
The New Safe Confinement, a steel entombment structure, replaced the sarcophagus in recent years. Tour groups can visit the zone since 2011.
2. Surtsey, Iceland
Surtsey existed 56 years before White Island in New Zealand was closed after an eruption killed 20 people. The volcanic island exploded from the North Atlantic Ocean on November 14, 1963, throwing ash skyward.
After four years, wave action eroded the island to half a square mile. Only a few scientists can examine geologic formation and plant and animal colonization. The visitor center on Heimaey—10 miles away—is the closest the public can get.
3. Area 51, Nevada
Groom Lake is a secret Air Force testing site 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The U.S. government didn’t know about Area 51 until 2013. It was bought in 1955 to test the Lockheed U-2 high-altitude surveillance plane.
The “Extraterrestrial Highway,” NV-395, is a tourist attraction due to UFO sightings. “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” a satirical Facebook event, garnered 3.5 million users in July 2019. Authorities dispersed 150 persons who took photos outside the barrier.
4. North Sentinel Island, Bay of Bengal
North Sentinel Island in the Andaman archipelago is home to the Sentilese tribe, one of the remaining uncontacted tribes. Foreign visitors are severely repelled by the Sentilese. They killed two trespassing fisherman in 2006.
An American missionary died in 2018 after illegally visiting the island to convert the tribe to Christianity. Indian law prohibits public access to the island.
5. Bohemian Grove, California
The Bohemian Club of San Francisco has a redwood grove campground near the Russian River in Sonoma County. Journalists, musicians, and painters created the club in 1872. Businessmen and entrepreneurs joined the male-only club over time.
Since the late 19th century, the organization has held two-week encampments at Bohemian Grove in July with strict security and ceremonies. The guest list usually includes world leaders and politicians.
6. Lascaux Caves, France
A teenager in southwest France followed his dog down a hole and found caves with hundreds of antique wall murals around 1940.
The 17,000-year-old artwork feature plants and big animals like extinct aurochs. By the 1950s, approximately 1,000 tourists each day were damaging the cave paintings with dampness and mould.
The caves closed in 1963, and replicas were built for visitors.
7. North Brother Island, New York City
A 20-acre island between the Bronx and Rikers Island in the East River remains unseen in America’s largest city. North Brother Island, a closed urban ghost town, holds Riverside Hospital’s remnants.
This quarantine hospital treated smallpox, TB, and other infectious diseases from 1850 to 1940.
After refusing to quit cooking in NYC, Typhoid Mary was imprisoned there multiple times. The island is now a bird sanctuary.