We’ve composed a list of some of the world’s most dangerous tourist destinations, where thrill seekers risk it all for the perfect snapshot. Unlike many lists of places you should see before you die, this list is places to consider avoiding (or paying attention to the rules if you do go) if you want to stay alive.
Eagles Nest Cave, Florida
Maybe it’s the “Stop. Prevent Your Death!” “There’s Nothing in This Cave Worth Dying For” signs at the entrance of the this deadly body of water near Weeki Wachee, Florida. Or maybe it is the fact that it is often called the “Mt. Everest of underwater cave diving.” But countless experienced divers have gotten into serious trouble in this 300 foot cave, which is actually a massive sinkhole. Just 12 deaths have been recorded since 1982 which is because people smartly heed the warning and turn back.
Mont Blanc, Italy and France
Around 100 people die every year attempting to scale Mont Blanc, which is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Europe, by most estimates. Of the nearly 30,000 trekkers who attempt to scale it each year from either the French or Italian side, only 4,000 actually make it without turning around due to frostbite, broken limbs, avalanches or exposure. What’s astonishing is that the death count is far higher than Mt. Everest. The Italian Civil Protection agency that is tasked with answering thousands of calls for help each year says the problem is that hikers generally underestimate the intense conditions before setting out. Even the most experienced hikers will know that it takes as much training and preparation to reach the remote areas of Mt. Blanc as it does to scale Everest.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Believe it or not, one of the world's seven greatest natural wonders seems to constantly be in the news for another visitor tumbling to their death. Not including suicides, more than 800 people have died in the Grand Canyon. Some have died from a fall, others from heat or exhaustion on a hike. Last year, 17 died (it usually averages about 12 a year).
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Ever wonder how it is that places strictly off-limits somehow still show up on Instagram? It certainly isn’t out of an abundance of intelligence. One of those spots is the island archipelago of Bikini Atoll in the north Pacific. All of the residents of these 23 islands were relocated after the U.S. used the area as a nuclear test site in the 1940s and ’50s. Now the presence of radioactive caesium-137 has made the place a lethal wasteland. The result of the absence of humans has made the waters popular with sports fishermen and lagoon divers. But enter at your own risk. No tour operators are authorized to travel anywhere near the archipelago so you’ll have to find your own self-sufficient boat.
Mt. Everest, Nepal, Tibet
No list of dangerous destinations would be complete without the mother of all mountains, Everest. But just 400 deaths have been reported here since the 1920s, in part because of its inaccessibility and the mountain’s well advertised reputation. People are generally prepared to tackle the tallest mountain in the world, but for some the combination of freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen at the higher elevations, and dangerous inclines proves to be too much. Overcrowding has made the journey more treacherous in recent years as tourists get stuck in traffic near the summit where the oxygen is at a premium.
Yosemite Half Dome, California’s Sierra Nevada
While only around 60 people have died on the final ascent of the Half Dome rock in the last 50 years, it is still considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the U.S. Nearly 100 years ago, the park installed cables to help steady hikers to the summit, but at least nine deaths occurred when hikers fell through the cabling, nearly half when the rock was wet and slippery. Some have even died on the approach, which is lined with steep waterfalls. But even those who make it aren’t guaranteed to be safe. Three hikers have been fatally struck by lightning while on the summit. One who survived the initial bolt then rolled off the top to her death. Others have died from heart attacks and failed base jumps, according to the Trail & Summit magazine. Yosemite Park’s search and rescue team responds to more than 100 calls for help from people on the hike every year, usually because hikers aren’t physically prepared or become dehydrated.
Komodo National Park, Tenggara, Indonesia
It may come as no surprise that an open arena filled with Komodo Dragon lizards is a popular destination. But every year, people who visit the park fail to take proper precautions. Komodo Dragon bites can be lethal, causing painful infections that often turn fatal. Male lizards weigh around 150 pounds and can be as big as 10 feet long. They can also eat around 80 percent of their own body weight in a few gulps. Attacks are rare inside the national park, and most often occur when tourists behave unpredictably or try to get to close to the lizards, or when the guard tasked with taming the lizards gets distracted by badly behaved tourists.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
This stretch of pristine sand is the shark bite capital of the world–need we say more? About 16 attacks on swimmers and surfers happen each year, though few of them are fatal because most of the attacking predators are young bull sharks who accidentally mistake humans for their usual sea life cuisine. The key here is to heed the lifeguard warning or avoid the water entirely and just count the sharks from the sand.
The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
These majestic cliffs that plunge into the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland offer photographers and sightseers some of the most stunning views anywhere. But the spot has a dark history. Not only is it a popular suicide site, but in the last 20 years, 66 unsuspecting people have been swept off the cliffs by the area’s famous strong wind gusts, often hurled on slick terrain through the Irish mist to their deaths. Add in a curious lack of guardrailing and it’s clear to see why this is a place you should visit with caution. In recent years, several daredevil selfie takers have fallen while trying to get the perfect social media post.
Mount Huashan, China
If you have ever seen a picture of the plank walk seemingly stuck with tape to the side of a 2,160-meter mountainside, we don’t have to explain what makes this the most dangerous trail in the world. Tourists can rent safety harnesses to help navigate the wooden planks, but they are not compulsory, meaning those who think they are invincible are often proven wrong. The authorities don’t keep a death toll of those who perish here because recovering the bodies is nearly impossible. But at the end of this trail is a quaint tea house where monks will serve you hot tea if you make it.
Elephant Kingdom, Chonburi, Thailand
There is nothing charming about this bizarre tourist spot in the middle of a crocodile farm in Thailand. Still, hundreds used to flock here each year, renting the site’s rickety raft with rotting boards balancing on plastic barrels to feed the crocodiles that swarm and snap for food. Tourists are given fishing rods from which they dangle raw meat to try to get the crocs to jump out of the water for their entertainment. Deaths are rare, but maiming, including bitten off hands and feet, are not. The site was shut down in 2016 after the site failed safety inspections but is slated to open back up next year.
The Danakil Desert, Eritrea
If the 120 degree temperatures don’t get you, the active volcanoes, geysers and toxic gases just might. There is no more brutal landscape in the world than this stretch of desert, which is quite literally hell on Earth. Still, it is a hot spot for countless adventurers who come to see the red, orange and green deposits that make the place seem like some sort of surreal alien nation. It is strictly forbidden to visit the desert without a certified guide. The local search and rescue teams won’t even come for you if you try it on your own.
lha da Queimada Grande (Snake Island), Brazil
This snake laden island off the coast of Brazil is strictly off-limits for humans because it is crawling with Bothrops, the most venomous snakes on Earth. But somehow there are countless Instagram photos of the deadly serpents that appear each year. Research teams who have dared set foot to study the curious inhabitants estimate that there are around five snakes per square meter on this outcropping of land. Legend says skeletal remains of those who dared visit dot the island. The island’s last known inhabitant was its lighthouse keeper, who was killed by the reptiles.
Death Road, Bolivia
The 43-mile North Yungas Road, which snakes its way between La Paz and the Yungas region of Bolivia draws about 25,000 tourists a year who want to challenge their extreme off-road mountain biking skills. With drops into the ravines some 2,000 feet below and no guardrails except the crosses to memorialize the people who die on this route each year, one has to wonder why anyone would take such a risk. Most of the road was closed to car traffic in 1994 when the annual death rate topped 300. Now tour operators run mountain biking tours, but even those aren’t guaranteed to be safe because of the fog, landslides and cascades during the rainy season.