The Earth holds many secrets still, and we must make do with the fact we won't get to see them all. Here are 10 secret places on our planet that are impossible for travelers to visit.
Traveling is a spiritual endeavor. To travel the world is to reach beyond the superfluous boundaries of your ordinary cultural bubble—to explore the frontiers of human nature and, indeed, of nature itself. How could anyone not be passionate about that? You get to meet new people, taste new cuisines, bask in exciting wisdoms, and experience unimaginable sights.
But not all corners of our planet are within our reach. Some of them are secret, hidden, and forbidden regions no human hand can touch—if you lack the proper clearances, that is.
The White’s Gentlemen Club, UK
London's White's is widely considered the most exclusive private club in the world, and the oldest one of its kind in London. It was founded in 1693 as a hot chocolate shop by an Italian immigrant. Soon, however, it became a popular gambling site and gentlemen's club, settling as an exclusive establishment shortly thereafter. White's has worked hard to keep its exclusivity ever since.
Very few people are allowed to join. Though the name does not allude to any racial bias—hopefully—, its type is inherently sexist: as is probably obvious, no woman is allowed to join. No poor people either: the signup fee is among the most expensive ones in the world. Male members of the British Royal Family have traditionally been members of the club as well, but even the Queen is only permitted within the establishment's walls on very special circumstances. In all the years of her life, she's only been inside the place twice.
But with such rampant and unapologetic elitism involved, why would you ever want to visit? I guess the prestige of exclusivity is alluring—yet awfully superficial too.
On a related note: The Secret Park In New York Where Only People With A Key Can Go
Disney Club 33, USA
Speaking of exclusivity. Deep within Disney’s hidden halls lies a once-secret haven called Club 33, an exclusive site only a few lucky members and their guests get to see. Only they have access to top-tier resort experiences, which include the Club 33 restaurant, a special jazz lounge called Le Salon Nouveau, and the mysterious salon 1901. It is also the only place to serve alcohol during normal opening hours—talk about a big feature!
If you want to become a member, you need two things: vast amounts of money and vast amounts of patience. Since 2011, there’s a 14-year waiting list to become a member of Club 33, and each Corporate member must pay a $40,000 initiation fee (which is $25,000 if you just want the basic individual membership) in addition to about $10,000 of recurring annual fees. That’s a high price to pay just to drink alcohol within Disney Parks.
Area 51, USA
One of the most famous non-secret secrets in the world, Area 51 in Lincoln County, Nevada, has long been a site shrouded in mystery. This United States Air Force facility has inspired many tales of conspiracy and disguise that have captured the imagination of people the world over. Is it aliens and UFOs? Is it secret technology? Very few people know—and odds are no one you know is one of them.
If you’re just an average traveler, give up: there’s no way you’ll be allowed a visit. There may be no fences around the perimeter, but the military will use lethal force against any human intruders, so don’t even try it.
There are far more interesting things in the world anyway. Or are there?
Poveglia is a small little island near Venice, Italy, which features a rather peculiar—and creepy—history. You see, during the 18th century, this site was used as a quarantine island for diseased people, especially for plague victims. When the plague was discovered on two ships around that time, the crew was taken to Poveglia, where most of them died without outside solace.
Centuries later, in the early 1900s, a mental hospital was built on the island. It's said a doctor there performed all kinds of experiments on his patients, from lobotomies to electroshock. After being driven mad by what he claimed were ghosts haunting him and the whole of Poveglia, he climbed the hospital's highest tower and jumped. His spirit is said to still dwell near the island's coast, forever tormented by the other phantoms.
So, there seems to be good reason to keep away from the place. But even if for some crazy reason you did want to go, access to the Poveglia is restricted. We wonder why.
Also check this out: The 15 Most Spectacular Waterfalls From Around The World
North Sentinel Island, India
Ever heard of those intriguing tribes that have had no contact with the rest of the world? They know nothing about today’s scientific technological advancements, nothing about international history, nothing about the wars and nations and petty brawls of the world’s leaders—like a real-life time capsule, forever caught in a timeless instant, or, rather, in their own private history. The inhabitants of North Sentinel Island, in India, constitute one such tribe. And we have no right to change that.
India’s government has decreed that no outsider should visit the island for two reasons: first, we might spread diseases for which its inhabitants have no immunities, killing them—much like the Spanish caused the epidemic that killed a good portion of the Mesoamerican population. Second, for the sheer value of leaving one such rare tribe alone and undisturbed. So, though the island itself is not a secret, what lies inside is. And no, you cannot visit—but you can appreciate what the island stands for from afar.
Snake Island, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada Grande, also known as Snake Island, is a terrifying place to visit—if you could visit. But for better or worse, you can’t. See, the island is completely filled with incredibly venomous snakes, a single bite of which could kill an adult human within the hour. To give you an idea of the sheer number of dangerous reptiles there, some estimates calculate there’s roughly one snake to every square meter of the island.
Also, Ilha da Queimada Grande is the only home of the critically endangered Bothrops Insularis (the golden lancehead pit viper). So, for the sake of both humans and snakes alike, any unauthorized visit to the island is strictly forbidden. And why would you want to go to a snake-infested place anyway?
Ise Grand Shrine, Japan
In Japan there is a shrine, and what lies within is a secret which only members of the Imperial Family can witness. The shrine was built for the sun-goddess Amaterasu-omikami, and it is deemed to be so sacred that only a member of the sacred dynasty can act as its guardian. As such, it is the single holiest place in all of Japan. Intriguing, isn’t it?
Heard Island, Australia
In a far-away region of the ocean, about two thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica, lies a mysterious Australian territory. Heard Island, a pristine land (almost) untouched by human hands. An the Australian government intends to keep it that way.
This island is among the most remote locations on Earth, meaning it's farther away from civilization than almost any other place on the planet. Few are allowed to visit, and those who do must have good research reasons to do so.
You might also enjoy this: 10 Unknown Destinations To Spend The Best Spring Break In Mexico On A Budget
Surtsey Island, Iceland
Throughout Earth's history, countless islands have been formed after a gigantic underwater volcanic eruption sent sediment up above sea level. Surtsey Island, named after a fire giant from Norse mythology, is one such place. The eruption that created Surtsey lasted over four years. It took place during the '60s, and scientists have been studying with undying fascination its developments and the processes involved—from erosion to bio-colonization.
Surtsey is off limits to non-scientists, mainly because scientists are interest in studying what happens to it without any human intervention. What kind of species inhabit the place, how long it takes them to get there, and how they manage to colonize it are all questions which can hardly be answered if some young boys try to plant potato plants in its surface—yes, that actually happened.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
In the heart of Spitsbergen Island, Norway, lies a secure vault whose chambers harbor something precious—so precious, no one is allowed to mess with it. Seeds.
That's right. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds a wide array of seeds from all over the world to keep them safe in case of a global catastrophe—a kind of Noah's ark just for pips. As such, the vault is highly protected, to avoid any contamination or interference with our world's invaluable heritage. A noble goal indeed.
There are many other places that are off-limits to any regular traveler, but these should suffice to get an idea of just what we might be missing out there. What do you think? Which one would you care to visit?
(Cover photo by Jaro Hollan)
Your voice matters:
Are you a travel buff? Do you an idea for an article? Click on this link for a chance to share your thoughts with the rest of the world.
Take a look at this other article:
The 19 Most Staggering Photos Of Our Universe That’ll Transport You To Other Worlds