Not all islands are a slice of paradise. Sometimes they are home to horrifying historical events and creepy paranormal activities. From former prisons to abandoned asylums, these spine-tingling island destinations with dark pasts are the perfect place for brave travelers to celebrate the spookiest time of the year.
1. Poveglia Island – Venice, Italy
The picturesque and romantic city of Venice is a world famous travel destination thanks to its stunning canals, bridges, and architecture. But for travellers looking for a thrill this Halloween, a visit to Poveglia, the small abandoned island between Venice and Lido, will give a frightful chill. Used as a quarantine station for people suffering of the bubonic plague during the 20th century and a mental asylum during the 1920’s, Poveglia is rumored to be haunted by ghosts and has been featured in several paranormal activities shows. The island is not technically open to the public, but there are some tour operators that will take you around the island.
Where to stay: Set to a beautiful historic building with ancient origins near the Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Morosini Degli Spezieri (https://www.booking.com/hotel/it/palazzo-morosini-degli-spezieri.html) offers fully equipped apartments with modern furnishing. Whether you decide to visit Poveglia or not, the apartments are a great base to enjoy everything the stunning city of Venice has to offer.
2. Alcatraz Island – San Francisco, USA
San Francisco is a vibrant city known for its colourful Victorian houses, charming cable cars and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. In the middle of the famous bay is infamous Alcatraz Island, famed for the notorious criminals once imprisoned there. Travelers can book a guided tour and learn everything about this prison’s infamous past, and if you are brave enough, you can even pay a visit after dark, as night tours are also available. And who knows…you may even hear the sounds of Al Capone’s banjo echoing through the cells.
Where to stay: The eco-friendly Argonaut Hotel (https://www.booking.com/hotel/us/argonaut-sf.en-gb.html) offers nautically-themed rooms and a traditional seafood restaurant. Even if you don’t fancy visiting Alcatraz Island, the views of the bridge and the historic prison from the hotel are stunning.
3. Island of Dolls – Mexico City, Mexico
As one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City could be better described as an experience rather than a city. From the Chapultepec Parks and the chic Polanco, to the Bohemian and intellectual Coyoacán, Mexico City will tell travelers it’s thousand secrets and stories. If visiting Mexico City this Halloween and looking for an extra creepy experience, don’t not miss a visit to the mysterious Island of Dolls. Just south of Mexico City, the “Isla de las Munecas” has been featured in various television series about paranormal activities and is home to terrifying dolls hanging over trees.
Where to stay: If an island full of creepy doll heads is not really your thing, than exploring the vibrant capital of Mexico might be a better idea. Set a short walk from Frida Kahlo House Museum in Mexico City, Casa Jacinta Guest House (https://www.booking.com/hotel/mx/casa-jacinta-guest-house.en-gb.html) features traditionally decorated rooms and a beautiful terrace to relax after a busy day of sightseeing in the city.
4. Isle of Wight, England
Set on England’s south coast, the Isle of Wight offers stunning scenery with dramatic cliffs and unspoiled countryside. However, this fascinating and historic destination is also full of supernatural activity and attracts thousands of ‘ghost hunters’ every year. For travelers interesting in meeting one of the many resident ghosts, than a frightful walk along the island’s haunted trails is sure to do the trick.
Where to stay: The Ryde Castle (https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/ryde-castle.en-gb.html) is a majestic Victorian manor on Ryde seafront, overlooking the marina. Ryde Castle is just a short walk away from the hovercraft and catamaran services, which links the Isle of Wight to Portsmouth and Southsea.
5. Norfolk Island, Australia
Situated in the Pacific Ocean, Norfolk Island is a small island located 1,400 kilometers (877 miles) east of mainland Australia. Today this beautiful destination is home to green rolling hills, rocky shorelines and the famous Norfolk pine trees. The island was not always such a pristine paradise, though. During the 19th century it was a settlement for the some of the world’s most violent criminals and the island is rumored to be haunted from this dark past.
Where to stay: Located on Norfolk Island, Endeavour Lodge (https://www.booking.com/hotel/nf/endeavour-lodge.en-gb.html) offers luxurious self-catering apartments overlooking the ocean. After a busy day exploring the island, you can relax and enjoy the sunset from your spacious private verandah.
Text and photos courtesy of Booking.com