Brazil is a remarkable country with lush forests, scenic coastlines, and a perfect tropical climate. Just 25 miles off the coast of beautiful São Paulo lies a mysterious, secluded island that would be the perfect vacation spot if not for one issue. Though its real name is Ilha da Queimada Grande, it is famous worldwide as Snake Island. The name couldn't be more accurate. This 110-acre island has such a dense snake population that you are likely to encounter one every square meter.

As if that wasn't bad enough, most of the snakes on the island are golden lancehead pit vipers, one of the most dangerous species that the world has to offer. They're so dangerous that the Brazilian government heavily restricts who can visit the island. The island is less like a tropical paradise and more like a setting for a horror story. However, despite its terror, it remains one of Earth's most interesting locations.


01The Island's Beginnings

Though the island is now entirely separate from mainland Brazil, this wasn't always the case. Around 11,000 years ago, rising sea levels flooded the land bridge that connected Brazil with Snake Island, completely isolating the island. This separation would eventually be responsible for the snake population boom and their unique adaptations. Though humans once lived on the island, they abandoned it in the 1920s once they converted the island's lighthouse to a fully automated system and workers were no longer necessary.

Beach with rocks, sea and island in the background Giovana Machado / Getty Images