Key West has the Hemingway Home. Martha's Vineyard, the gingerbread cottages. And Three Mile Island, well, Three Mile Island has the... hmmmm... okay, so maybe not all of America's islands are scenic getaways.
No, for all of our country's island beauty, we also have our fair share of duds. Isles with crabs, and rats, and rats with crabs. Also, prisons! And nuclear waste! Here are the 10 worst islands in the United States.
You may have heard of this American island on Law & Order: SVU,or Law & Order: Criminal Intent, or Law & Order: School Crossing Guard Division. Yes, we agree that there are probably too many Law & Orders. But whatever, that's not the point. The point is that they all reference Rikers Island, one of the hottest ZIP codes in the nation. Highlights include gorgeous views of LaGuardia Airport and a population of 14,000 federal inmates (including some of the country’s most bloodthirsty criminals).
Chenega Island, AK
Suuuuuch a Debbie Downer of an island. In 1964, Chenega was hit by a massive earthquake and accompanying tsunami. Get it together, guys. If that wasn’t enough, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill swooped in just as it was starting to think maybe it wasn’t such a loser anymore. As of the 2000 census, it was reported that no one lives on this island anymore. God, Chenega, you are the WORST.
South Padre Island, TX
On the one hand, so. many. Texas. bros. On the other hand, ladies seem to be topless all the live long day. Worst island, or grandest island in America? Judgment call.
Three Mile Island, PA
Yes, your margarita is glowing a fluorescent shade of indigo, and no that’s not on purpose. That’s just due to the atmospheric residue from a 1979 nuclear meltdown that sent the state of Pennsylvania, and the country, into a frenzy. Sure, today the reactor is permanently shut down and most of the radioactive waste has long been shipped off-site, but let's be honest, this is probably still a “travel at your own risk” type of destination.
While the tourism board may refer to South Bass Island as the “Key West of Ohio,” local websites affectionately refer to it as “Roofie Island.” If that’s your claim to fame, at least try to be not in Ohio.
Hawadax Island, AK
Though today Hawadax Island sounds like a quaint Alaskan isle steeped in Inuit history... it’s not. The name Hawadax was a recent revision, because the original name, Rat Island, was far too literal. For hundreds of years, this island was teeming with furry brown rats, supposedly leftover from a Japanese shipwreck. In 2009, the island was finally declared “rat-free.” The swarms of visitors have apparently yet to get word.
Not even a real island.
Star Island, FL
It annoys you to no end when you get denied entry to a bar, so we can only imagine how you will feel when you get denied entry to an entire island. One of the most exclusive addresses in Miami Beach, this man-made island in Biscayne Bay is an enclave for the rich and famous. If you are not P. Diddy, Shaq, or Gloria Estefan, then hopefully you’ll enjoy the view of the island from behind the gated entrance, because that’s as close as you’re going to get. We’re of an “all for one, one for all” mindset, which is why this island sucks.
The guy who owns this island, Dean Kamen, is a weird dude. After the government told him that he could not build a wind turbine on the island, he “joked” that he would secede from the Union. He then took the joke a tad too far and signed a non-aggression pact with then-president G. W. Is it still a joke if he refers to his island as the “Kingdom of North Dumpling,” and has established a constitution, flag, currency, national anthem, and navy (if you can call a single amphibious vehicle a navy)? The citizens are Dumplonians and Kamen himself is Lord Dumpling. On second thought, this island is awesome. The only thing that appears to be missing are actual dumplings, which are delicious, so that's a shame.
Shooters Island, NJ
This island got ridiculously screwed. Cut in half by the border between New York and New Jersey, part of the island is owned by Bayonne, NJ, and the other part is owned by Staten Island. These are both the armpits of their respective states. Poor Shooters Island. It never even stood a chance.
Meagan Drillinger is a freelance writer for Thrillist. She enjoys enjoys a fine Malbec paired with a McDonald’s #2 meal. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @drillinjourneys.