North Sentinel island
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
May 1, 2024 ·  5 min read

The Most Fascinating Places on Earth That Are Completely Illegal to Visit

Many people have a bucket list of things they want to do and see in their lifetime. Hopes of travel is one of the most common things to find on that list. However, a person could spend their whole lives traveling and still not see everything the world has to offer, including forbidden places to visit. Here is a list of 10 fascinating places that are also illegal to visit.

1.  Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil

Also known as Snake Island, this beautiful island is home to exotic plants and animals. Both aesthetically pleasing and full of wonder, the seemingly perfect vacation spot harbors a dangerous secret among its wildlife. The mere 110-acre island is home to a multitude of venomous snakes. One of the most notable and dangerous is the Golden Lancehead Viper. The venom is so potent that it comes with a list of health risks. Some include paralysis, respiratory difficulty, and skin deterioration around the bite mark. Although there are “several legends” of people inhabiting the island, the Brazilian government has deemed it one of the world’s most forbidden places to visit.

2. North Sentinel, Andaman

Part of one of the most secluded and beautiful archipelagos on Earth, this North Sentinel island is also home to indigenous tribes, such as the Sentinelese. They have had little contact with the outside world and have preserved their way of life. So much so that they have no immunity to today’s germs and diseases and could, therefore, easily be wiped out. Furthermore, the island’s indigenous people don’t want to interact with the outside world. In fact, in 2006, they killed two fishermen who’d accidentally washed ashore. Seemingly a paradise full of mangroves, enveloped in corral, this island is on the list of forbidden places to visit in order to protect the island’s inhabitants and outsiders alike.

3. A Sacred Rock

Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, has been a sacred space to indigenous peoples for generations. Tourists used to be allowed to climb to the top, but after some mistreatment of the land, the Anangu people petitioned to ban tourists. In 2017, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board agreed to ban hikers from climbing the rock. However, it is still possible to visit the surrounding area. Additionally, it’s been reported that people who’ve taken rocks have then faced enough bad luck to mail the “sorry rocks” back.

4. Bhangarh Fort, India

Having been deemed “legally haunted” this once majestic kingdom, built in 1573, lies in ruin and has been abandoned since a famine in 1783. Despite being inhospitable to humans, it has become home to dangerous animals, including wild tigers.

5. North Brother Island, New York

The site, now home to a bird sanctuary since 1963, has seen a great deal of torment and anguish. The site was once used to quarantine people with highly contagious diseases. However, beginning in 1951, it served as a drug rehabilitation center for several years before being abandoned completely. In spite of its dark history, “legends and folklore” have nothing to do with why it’s one of the forbidden places to visit. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation gained possession of the land and have deemed the buildings and structures unsafe because they’re so overrun by nature.

6. Heart Reef

Heart Reef, a part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is one of the most photogenic places on Earth, and for good reason. It’s also a place that has been deemed forbidden to visit in order to protect its delicate ecosystem. Fortunately, you can visit this place, but you’ll have to book a helicopter ride and see it from a bird’s eye view, arguably the best view.

7. Lascaux Cave

The Lascaux Cave was discovered in 1940 and houses some of the most fascinating cave paintings ever studied. The paintings date back to 15,000 and 17,000 years ago and depict horses and other animals. 8 years after its discovery, the cave was opened to the public but shut down just 15 years later. Due to the combination of human microorganisms and artificial lighting, the cave paintings began to mold. Although this is on the list of forbidden places to visit, a tourist attraction was built right next door and is an exact replica of the Lascaux Cave.

8. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Located on a remote Arctic Island in Norway, the 11,000-square-foot fault is home to more than 1 million seed samples from around the world. The vault’s purpose is to ensure we’ll still have access to food and crops in the event of unforeseen disasters that may wipe the crops out entirely. The vault was also engineered to withstand these disasters, including earthquakes or nuclear attacks.

9. Heard Island

This island is one of the forbidden places to visit because it actually contains an active volcano. Mawson Peak is a 9,000-foot-tall volcano that has been active since at least the year 2000. Additionally, the journey to the island from Australia takes at least two weeks and can only be done by boat.

10. Alleged Home to the Ark of the Covenant

Many stereotypes and misconceptions exist regarding Ethiopia. However, one lesser-known detail is that a city called Aksum has a church that supposedly houses the Ark of the Covenant. Although archaeologists haven’t confirmed the Ark’s legitimacy, the church has gone to great lengths to protect the alleged artifact. Rumors have even spread far and wide that the monks have been trained to kill with their bare hands.

The world is full of mystery and wonder, including several beautiful and fascinating places that are forbidden to visit. Although they’re laws for good reason, it’s not uncommon for people to hope to one day see these places and feed their curiosity.

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  1. 17 Forbidden Places You Can’t Visit.Mental Floss. Michele Debczak. July 5, 2021.
  2. 10 fascinating places around the world that are totally forbidden to visitors.Business Insider.
    Cristina Fernández Esteban and Qayyah Moynihan. September 8, 2021.
  3. Venomous Golden Lancehead Of Brazil’s Snake Island: Why It Must Be Left Alone?WorldAtlas
  4. The Most Fascinating Places On Earth That Are Completely Illegal to Visit.” IFL Science. Tom Hale. September 17, 2018.