We’re used to hearing about the exotic places everyone has to visit during their lifetime. When you see places like that, you might think to add it to your vacation wishlist, but what about the locations you can definitely leave off your bucket list? While some spots aren’t worth the visit, other destinations are simply forbidden. It’s hard to imagine places like this on earth, but there are many of them, from snake-infested islands to top-secret military bases. Although you can’t get on the next flight to these sites, and you probably wouldn’t want to, we can tell you why these places are one hundred percent off-limits. You might be surprised to find that some of them aren’t that far from your home!
1. Morgan Island, South Carolina, USA
When you see monkeys, you might think of some tropical island far away, but they are right here in America. About 4,000 rhesus monkeys live on Morgan Island, South Carolina, but they aren’t native to those lands. So, how did they get there? These adorable faces were relocated from Puerto Rico after an outbreak of herpes virus B infection.
Before the monkeys arrived, the island was uninhabited. It is illegal for people to visit the island for their own safety and the monkeys’ safety. Although they look cute in pictures and movies, these monkeys are not the friendly kind. Only a handful of researchers are allowed to set foot on Morgan Island.
2. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Just from the picture, you can tell this is not a place people will easily stumble upon, and that is for a very valid reason. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is sometimes referred to as “The Doomsday Vault,” and it is an important place for all of us. The vault is home to 100 million seeds from all over the world.
Why are these seeds under high security, you ask? If there ever were a horrific disaster that wiped out the plant kingdom, the seeds could restore our natural vegetation. It is built to outlast any natural disaster, and it is very high above sea level in case of flooding due to sea level rises. Interestingly, the vault knows no politics because even North Korea has contributed seeds.
3. North Sentinel Island, India
Right off India’s coast in the Bay of Bengal sits a tiny island called North Sentinel Island. With turquoise-blue waters and beautiful sandy beaches, one would think it is the perfect vacation destination, but outsiders are not allowed. The indigenous people, known as the Sentinelese, reject any contact with the outside world.
It is one of the few places that remain untouched by the outside world. After a tsunami in 2004, the Indian Coast Guard flew over the Island to assess the damage, and they reported men emerging to shoot arrows at the helicopters. They will protect their land at all costs, so don’t go near this island.
4. North Brother Island, New York, USA
North Brother Island sounds like an inviting place, but this island in the East River of New York has a sad past. After a ship sank, about 1,000 passengers took refuge on the island. It later became a hospital for people with contagious diseases, including Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary.
Mary was the first recorded patient to have typhoid fever, and she infected 50 other people, three of whom died. Today the island is abandoned, and it has actually become a bird sanctuary. We wonder if Typhoid Mary haunts the island, which is why no one visits it.
5. Lascaux Caves, France
Although the Lascaux Caves in France are a UNESCO Heritage site, it is not open to the public. Since 1963, France banned the public from entering the caves due to fungal invasions that could be destructive to its preservation. But why are these caves so precious? They give insight into the history of the human species.
The caves contain over 600 examples of prehistoric art that date back about 20,000 years. Although people can’t go inside the real caves, it is possible to experience them in the museum and replica built right next to the actual caves.
6. Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican
If you have ever wondered about the secrets relating to the Catholic Church, you might have to keep waiting because the Vatican Secret Archives is under tight security. The archives contain documents that date as far back as the 8th century, including papal account books, a letter from Michelangelo to Pope Julius II, and a letter from Mary Queen of Scots written before her execution.
The mysterious vault is located underground, and it has about 53 miles worth of shelves. No one is allowed to enter besides researchers who are given special permission, but even they have limitations to what documents they can look at. Some secrets will never be revealed.
7. Pluto’s Gate, Turkey
While Turkey has many incredible places you can visit, there is one off-limits location for your safety. Pluto’s Gate in Hierapolis, Turkey, dates back to ancient times, and people didn’t dare to go near it. The legend said that no one could survive there, and a historian threw sparrows inside to test it, and they immediately died.
It was cruel to use harmless birds, but it lead to an interesting discovery. In 1965, scientists confirmed this legend when they found that the CO2 levels were so high, and at night it got cold enough so that it formed a lake on the bottom of the gate. Any living being could not survive more than a few seconds there.
8. Chichen Itza Pyramid, Mexico
You might be surprised to see this one on the list because millions of tourists come to see the Chichen Itza Pyramid each year. However, even though you can visit it, people are not allowed to climb it. Until 2006, people were allowed to climb to the top, but a tragic accident caused them to close it to the public.
The ancient Mayan pyramid has steps on either side, but they have been eroded overtime, which adds to the danger. Although you can’t climb to the top, you can see this marvelous wonder from the ground. It’s not exactly the same, but it is still breathtaking.
9. Grand Shrine Of Ise, Japan
When it comes to shrine culture, Japan has it down to a science. There are an estimated 80,000 shrines, but none of them are as important as the Grand Shrine of Ise. The carefully crafted temple is the most expensive due to its architecture, but there weren’t any nails used.
The shrine is built every 20 years to symbolize death and rebirth, but no one is allowed to visit it because it is so holy. Unless you are a member of the Japanese imperial family or a priest, you will probably view it from the other side of the wooden fence.
10. Snake Island, Brazil
While you might be sad that you can’t visit some destinations on this list, this is definitely not one of them. Ilha Da Queimada Grande, Brazil, better known as Snake Island, is just 93 miles off the coast of Sao Paulo, and it is home to a sickening amount of snakes—between one and five snakes per ten square feet to be exact.
Among these snakes is the golden lancehead viper, whose venom melts the skin around the bite. It’s probably for the better that people aren’t allowed to go here, even though we can’t imagine anyone would want to. The snakes only got there when sea levels rose and covered the land that connected the island to the mainland.
11. Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan, India
Although it is not one hundred percent forbidden, you cannot enter Bhangarh Fort from sunset to sunrise. During the day time, tourists can take in the beautiful Rajasthani architecture; however, as the sun sets, you need to get out of there as quickly as possible, especially if you are afraid of ghosts.
The Indian government deemed the fort haunted because the 17th-century building is full of legends about ghosts and curses that will send a chill down your spine. Those who have tried to break this rule mysteriously disappeared, so we wouldn’t set foot here once the sun goes down.
12. Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA
Most people have heard of Fort Knox, but only a select few have been inside. It is known as one of the most heavily guarded places globally because it is home to a large portion of the US gold reserves. The security measures are insane, and none of the staff members are even allowed access to the vault.
Not only is the building made of concrete-line granite and reinforced steel, but to gain access to the vault, you need to know multiple combinations. The staff members only know one combination, so if they tried to gain access, it would have to be a group effort.
13. Mausoleum Of Qin Shi Huang, China
Although the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang was discovered when they found the Terracotta Army in 1974, it has yet to be excavated. This was one of the most important discoveries of all time, but they are nervous that modern technologies could destroy the tomb.
For these reasons, the Chinese government forbids access to the tomb. All people know is that the mausoleum consists of complex networks and caverns filled with objects the Emperor might need in the afterlife. It is also rumored that there are booby-traps to ward off invaders.
14. Heard Island Volcano, Australia
Although this island is located between Madagascar and Antarctica, it is still considered Australian territory. While it looks like a scene out of Happy Feet, do not be confused because Heard Island is hazardous for the public. The main reason people cannot visit is because of the active volcano.
In 2000, researchers noticed huge lava flow from the volcano. If that isn’t enough to deter you, it is known for its poor weather conditions, and it is a two-week boat trip from the closest landmass. Unless you are with a National Geographic team, it is not a place you would even want to go.
15. Niihau Island, Hawaii, USA
Most people associate Hawaii as a top vacation destination, but there is one island where no visitors are allowed. Niihau Island is also known as Forbidden Island because Elizabeth Sinclair, a Scottish farmer and plantation owner, purchased it back in 1864. Since then, it’s privately owned by her family.
In 1952, Hawaii had a polio outbreak, and to stop the spread, no one was allowed to leave or enter the island. Luckily, no one got sick on Niihau. To this day, people need special permission to visit the island, but it isn’t easy even for the rich and famous.
16. Surtsey, Iceland
As one of the world’s youngest islands, Surtsey, Iceland, appeared after volcanic eruptions from 1963 to 1967. People are forbidden to visit the island except for a few researchers because they want to figure out how ecosystems form without human influence.
Scientists have observed fungi, molds, birds, and invertebrates. They can’t bring anything from the mainland with them because it could disrupt their research. Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, you won’t be able to check this one off your bucket list.
17. Mezhgorye, Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, so it is full of surprises. There are plenty of ghost towns, mysterious sites, and other special places you can visit; however, Mezhgorye is not one of them. The small town hidden in the Southern Ural Mountains, and it is closed to outsiders.
Two battalions encircle the town, and it is said to be home to a nuclear missile site, but nothing is for sure. It would make sense considering the level of secrecy, but there is no way to know. The Kremlin claimed that it is used as a bunker for Russian leaders and a vault for the countries treasures.
18. Poveglia, Italy
Nothing is more terrifying than the history behind Poveglia, Italy, and you would never want to go here even if it were allowed. The island located between Venice and Lido was used in the 1700s as a quarantine site for those who had the Bubonic plague, and they would go here to die basically.
Then, in the 20th-century, Poveglia became an asylum for the mentally ill, and it was rumored that doctors would perform awful experiments on the patients. Today, the island is deserted for a good reason, because it is considered to be the most haunted place in Italy.
19. Area 51, Nevada, USA
While many people have tried to enter Area 51, no one has been successful. As the most well-known prohibited site in America, and the most mysterious, people have made many speculations regarding what secrets it holds. Most people speculate that they are hiding captured aliens or UFOs.
On official records, Area 51 is a US Air Force and CIA testing territory because of its remote location. If this were true, it makes sense why the place is so secretive, but you can never be too sure that they aren’t hiding some creatures from space.
20. Pravcicka Brana, Czech Republic
Until 1982, Pravcicka Brana was the most well-known attraction in the Czech Republic. After that, it was forbidden for tourists to visit it. Unless you have a time machine, then you are out of luck to climb over this archway, but you can still view it from afar.
The government closed Pravcicka Brana because tourists were accelerating the natural erosion, which would cause it to collapse. The archway will eventually collapse one day simply due to the forces of nature, but the ban slowed down that process.
21. Bohemian Grove, United States
Unless you are part of the club, you can’t get in. The restricted 2,700-acre campground in Monte-Rio, California, is home to an exclusive gentleman’s club known as the Bohemian Club. Each July, Bohemian Grove hosts some of the world’s most prominent men for a two-week retreat.
Members of the Bohemian Club include presidents, government officials, musicians, artists, and business leaders. Whatever happens here is top-secret, and the only rule is that you can’t talk about business. Most people wouldn’t want to be apart of this club anyway.
22. The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel, is one of the holiest sites for a few different religions, and it dates back to the first century. Located within the Temple Mount, the golden topped shrine is a key feature in the Jerusalem skyline, but there are many strict rules for this place.
Non-muslim visitors are restricted from entering the building, but they can get a close look from the Temple Mount during non-Muslim visiting hours. The most magical part of this building is the outside, which anyone can view.
23. The Queen’s Bedroom, U.K.
You might think it’s bizarre that someone’s bedroom would be a place that people want to visit, but when you are the Queen of England, people are curious about every aspect of your life. The Queen’s primary residence is Buckingham Palace, where people can take tours, but this room is strictly off-limits.
Since 1837, England’s monarchy has used Buckingham Palace as their home, and only one person has tried to break into the Queen’s room. Michael Fagan scaled a 20-foot wall and wiggled up a drainpipe to break into the queen’s room, and it was just to win a bet with his friends.
24. Coca-Cola Recipe Vault, United States
Coca-cola is an iconic and classic drink that has been around since the 1800s. Although the drink is known around the world, the recipe is one of America’s greatest secrets. Trying to steal this formula would be nearly impossible with the complicated vault that has a hand scanner, armed guards, and a combination.
It would probably be easier to steal the Declaration of Independence like Nicolas Cage showed everyone. They should make another movie showing people how to steal the Coca-Cola formula. Some things are better left to the imagination.
25. U.N. Buffer Zone, Cyprus
During the rising civil war between the Turkish and Greek residents in Cyprus, the UN took control and created a “Buffer Zone” in the capital to separate the communities. After they agreed on a ceasefire, this no-mans-land became a ghost town, and everything was frozen in time.
This is the last divided capital in Europe, and people abandoned whatever was inside those walls. It would be interesting if they made it a historical site, but that won’t happen anytime soon.
26. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Ethiopia
Some people believe that the Church of our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia is the final resting place of the ten commandments within the Ark of the Covenant. However, only one person is allowed to view the Ark, so most of us will never know if this is true or not.
The person allowed to view the Ark is an appointed guardian monk who can only be chosen by the predecessor. The church dates back to the 4th-century, and the grounds have the remains of an Emperor of Ethiopia. Maybe the monk will do a tell-all book one day so the rest of the world can know the secrets within those walls.
27. Moscow Metro-2, Russia
Between the secret tunnels and ghost trains, you would think it was the plot of a fantasy movie unless you heard about the Moscow Metro-2. According to intelligence, the KGB built this underground metro system 600-feet underground in case of a nuclear disaster.
The lines connect important government buildings, the airport, and secret service headquarters. No one really knows what it looks like, but it was built at the beginning of Stalin’s reign. We guess you wouldn’t want to be here because that would mean that a nuclear disaster has struck.
28. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, United States
Unless you are an apocalypse planner, a bunker is probably the last thing you are thinking about right now. In case an apocalypse was to happen, the government officials are going to be just fine. Mount Weather Emergency Center in Virginia is built to be the safest place in the world for any event.
This bunker was built during the Cold War, and it was designed to protect government officials and the country’s national treasures. Unless there is a necessary need for people to take shelter, the building is completely off-limits to every besides the FEMA employees that run it.
29. Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, Ukraine
Unless you’re looking for radiation exposure, we would say that Chernobyl is not a place you would want to visit anyway. In 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster sent radioactive clouds into the air, evacuations began, but it was too late. The damage spread to an 18-mile radius turning the surrounding area into a ghost town.
Thirty-four years after the disaster, Chernobyl is still off-limits due to the high levels of radiation. Some people can get special permission, but it is tough and probably better that you don’t expose yourself to the harmful air.
30. Pine Gap, Australia
If you can get past the venomous snakes, spiders, and other scary creatures, there is still one place you don’t want to go to in Australia because people aren’t allowed entrance. Hidden in the Australia Outback is a top-secret military base run by the US government known as Pine Gap.
The base is used to control satellites that collect information about airstrikes around the world. The facility was opened at the height of the Cold War, but most people thought it was for space exploration. No one is allowed to enter the area unless you have special access.
31. Mormon Church Secret Vault, United States
Who knew that there were so many places just in the US that were top-secret? Tucked into the side of the Granite Mountains in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, is the Mormon Church Secret Vault. The military-style vault was built in 1965 to hold vital church records, but why do they need it to be so secure?
According to recent reports, it now holds 3.6 billion images, microfilms, and digital media. No one is allowed in without special permission, but we don’t think there is much interesting information. Also, why would you want to visit a dark and dingy vault?
32. Disney Club 33, United States
If you are a fan of Disney, this one might bother you a bit. Disney Club 33 is the most exclusive club in the Disney empire created by Walt Disney to entertain business associates. He never got to use it because he passed away before it was completed. It opened anyway, and it is the only place in the park that serves liquor.
The only way to get into this club is by invitation and a $100,000 check to solidify your membership. On top of that, there are annual dues of $30,000. It might keep you up at night to know what’s inside, but that is a mystery only members know.
33. Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, U.K.
Although no one knows the current purpose of the Royal Air Force’s facility, it was once used for intelligence gathering and espionage during the Cold War. The facility is 550-acres, and it is only used by ECHELON spies and the NSA.
The facility opened in 1954, and it has driven conspiracy theorist mad for years. They continue to develop ideas about what goes on behind the barbed-wire fences and why they have Epcot-style bubbles all over.
34. Diego Garcia, Indian Ocean
Although it once belonged to the United Kingdom, Diego Garcia was used to settle a $14 million debt with the United States. The remote island was turned into a US Military base, and they are the only people allowed to enter. What looks like a tropical oasis is actually full of secrets.
There are apparently 654 buildings on this tiny island, and 4,000 military personnel work there. Some people believe it is used as a secret military prison, but no one has gotten close enough to figure that out. People only know that this was the takeoff location for flights into Afghanistan and Iraq.
35. Woomera Test Range, Australia
The Woomera Test Range in Australia is so big that the entire country of Portugal could fit inside of it. The massive piece of land is used to test bombs and missiles, which is an obvious reason why they wouldn’t let people enter the area.
Who would want to take a vacation to a missile test site? It wouldn’t be the safest vacation, so it’s not a place you would want to visit. We are sure they are testing some secret weapons there as well, so only authorized people are allowed to know.
36. Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean
Off the coast of Japan and the Philippines is what we know as the deepest trench in the ocean. The trench is over 7-miles deep, and the pressure is extreme as you get deeper. Bubbles of sulfur and carbon dioxide make their way up from the bottom, and it’s pretty apparent why this place is off-limits.
Although 80 percent of the ocean is still unexplored, this is the deepest point researchers have found. The pressure at the bottom of the trench is equivalent to having a jumbo jet sitting on top of you, which doesn’t make for a relaxing vacation. It’s best to go somewhere else.
37. White’s Gentleman’s Club, U.K.
If you are a fan of Netflix’s The Crown, you might remember this one from the show. The White’s Gentleman’s club is an extremely exclusive club for the elite members of society. What started as a chocolate shop turned into a club for men to gamble in.
Today it is the most private and exclusive club globally, and it holds some juicy secrets that non-members will never know. To become a member, you have to have attended Eton followed by Oxford or Cambridge, and even then, you might not get it. Plus, the yearly dues are a whopping $112,000!
38. Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The city of Mecca is the holiest place for Muslims and the heart of Islam. Many people would love the chance to see this ancient city, but it is only open to those who follow Islam. The city is filled with history and religion, but those trying to enter it who aren’t Muslim can receive a fine or worse.
Many people believe that these sites are for praying only, and not for sightseeing. While outsiders will never know what this city looks like, we are sure there are plenty of other places to add to your bucket list instead.
39. Korean Demilitarized Zone, Korea
Not that anyone would really want to visit this place, but the Korean Demilitarized Zone is completely off-limits. This strip of land separating North and South Korea is a buffer zone between the two countries where they meet for negotiations.
The site is a no-mans-land surrounded by armed military guards, barbed wire, and it one of the heaviest mined borders. People can see the border, but they cannot get close to it or go inside for apparent reasons. South Korea has much more to offer than seeing a barbed-wire fence.
40. Room 39, North Korea
Not that anyone can just pack up and visit North Korea, and we don’t know many people who would want to; there is an even more secretive place inside the mysterious country. Room 39 is inside the government building and is the country’s secret organization.
There have been rumors involving counterfeiting, the production and dealing of narcotics, and other illegal activities to come out of this mysterious Room 39, but no one knows the truth. Most people have no idea what happens in North Korea in general on a daily basis, so Room 39 will likely remain a mystery forever.