The last list of amazing places you can’t visit has thus far been my most successful list, so why not make another?! As the world develops and gets smaller every day, the places you CAN’T visit are actually becoming few and far between. Nevertheless, there are some more incredibly difficult or near impossible places you’d love to visit, but simply can’t. Let’s get started shall we?
5) Saint Helena
The name might ring a bell, but high school history was so long ago, you probably forgot. St. Helena is an island (as many on this list are) between Brazil and Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean. As one of the most remote places on earth, it was where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to spend the rest of his days after nearly conquering the whole of Europe. It has been UK territory for centuries and is said to be one of the most pristine examples of Georgian architecture. In addition, it is also a Gold Tier “Dark Sky.”
Let’s Get Going!
Well, technically you can, if you have a ton of time and money. The voyage can only be done on the RMS St. Helena which leaves from Cape Verde. The cost is a bit over $3200 for the cheapest cabin and takes about 18 days. That doesn’t take into account the time and money to get to Cape Verde in the first place. Safe to say, this little luxury will cost in the neighborhood of 4k. An airport is under construction which should make it more accessible, but for us simpletons, it remains forbidden.
4) Palmerston Island
When people ask me what is one place I want to go more than any other, Palmerston always comes up. This tiny atoll in the South Pacific has an incredible history. In 1863, William Marsters landed and ‘conquered it’ from the British government. Together with his three Polynesian wives, he had 23 children and remained there until his death. Currently, the only inhabitants are the decendents of Marsters himself. It is said some 1000 of his descendants also live on New Zealand’s North Island.
Why I cant go?
Unlike St. Helena, there is no tour boat that makes its way here. Palmerston is incredibly treacherous to reach with coral surrounding the entire island. With such a small population (62 compared to 4600 in St. Helena), there really is no incentive to make routine stops. A supply ship arrives twice a year (if that) and good luck hitching a ride on that. You might be able to fulfill some of your wanderlust by reading this amazing article from the BBC on Palmerston and leave it at that.
How is that for a mouthful? If I were to ask you how many islands are in the Hawaii chain, would you know? For those of you cheaters who looked at a map and said “yeah, I knew it was 8,” you’re still wrong. The Hawaiian chain actually extends a lot further, but most of it is underwater. If you zoom out of Hawaii on Google maps, and switch to ‘satellite view’ you can see it more easily. This chain is one of the more odd UNESCO World Heritage Sites as it is inscribed as ‘mixed’ for being a natural wonder as well as being seeded deeply in native Hawaiian culture. It translates as ‘broad place that gives birth to islands.’
Aye aye captain! Get Sailing!
Unless you have a very long distance boat settled in Hawaii, it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. To actually see the islands, you would need to have a very large boat, some awesome navigation skills, and probably some scuba equipment to get the whole experience (might as well right?) It is thought to be one of the least accessible sites on the planet. I guess no one goes to Hawaii and leaves looking for paradise.
2) Javari Reserve
Similar to the Venezuelan Amazonian tribes, this region in Brazil is said to have around a dozen tribes that have very limited contact with the outside world. Many of these tribes have a vague concept of the outside world, but are very much aware of us. Nevertheless, they choose to continue to live their own way of life.
I got my Bug Repelant, let’s go Jungle Trekking!?
Not so fast! These days, eco-tourism is creeping its way into the region little by little as we outsiders are a curious bunch. Thankfully though, for the most part, the Brazilian government protects the sovereignty of these people and they remain mostly untouched. Sorry, you wont be making first contact here either.
1) UNESCO Sites of North Korea
The Site of Kaesong and the Goguryeo Tombs are important parts of Korean history for all of those aficionados out there (like me). The latter are a set of preserved tombs from the Goguryeo period, the largest Korean kingdom in history. The Kaesong Site is a number of preserved buildings from the much later Goryeo period (of which the name “Korea” comes from). Goryeo was the Korean kingdom in the north which eventually came to dominate ancient Shilla and truly unified all Koreans under a single domain. The kingdom was later usurped by Yi Seonggye, who became known as Taejo, first king of Joseon. Joseon is the pre-Japanese occupation name of Korea and what North Korea calls themselves to this day.
That’s Some Cool history, Let’s Go!
Now, let’s get one thing straight once and for all, you CAN go to North Korea legally and hundreds of people do. If you are into paying thousands of dollars to fuel a maniacal regime which takes pride in creating nukes and angering even its closest allies instead of feeding their people, be my guest. But say you did go to the DPRK, chances are, you won’t be visiting these sites anyways.
North Korea currently has two companies that service guided tours only (you can’t roam free in the DPRK) and neither make scheduled stops to either UNESCO site. As irony would have it, the Kaesong Site is right next to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a jointly run operation between South and North Korea. Unless you are a North Korean person of power or a South Korean with an affinity for ancient history, you are probably not going to see this site anytime soon.
When I was first writing this list, I had “Battleship Island” on the list. Upon my research, I found out that it is at least partially open to tourism now due to increased demand. It is a fascinating, formerly off-limits place, and you can take a virtual tour here.
Edit: Fixed the picture for #1 as was mentioned in the comments.