Snake Island Vs. Shark Alley: What’s the Most Dangerous Place on Earth?

Written by Volia Schubiger
Updated: July 14, 2022
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Key Points:
  • Snake Island, off the coast of Brazil, is infested with between 2,000 and 4,000 golden lancehead vipers, one of the world’s deadliest snakes. In other words, there are one to five snakes per square meter on the island.
  • Between the two South African islands of Dyer Island and Geyser Rock near Gansbaai, there’s a narrow strip of water known as Shark Alley. The waters around the two islands are infested with great white sharks, who continually pass through the short passageway between them.
  • While Shark Alley is a popular vacation spot for cage divers, who are protected by a strong cage when lowered into the shark infested waters, it’s against the law for anyone without special permission to set foot on Snake Island. Snake Island is definitely the more dangerous place to visit under those circumstances.

Our planet is home to many wild and dangerous places. Whether we realize it or not, we are surrounded by many dangerous terrains. We are fortunate to live on such an amazing planet, and we have the opportunity to experience many wonderful things. While visiting some of the world’s most dangerous areas, it is important to take precautions.

These places include the infamously dangerous Snake Island and the Shark Alley located between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock near Gansbaai. If you consider yourself a traveling daredevil or just love learning about beautiful and dangerous locations, stick around for the rundown on these two spots. You’ll be shocked at just how deadly these destinations are.

Snake Island: The Rundown On This Dangerous Place

golden lancehead vs fer-de-lance

The island is home to the highly endangered golden lancehead pit viper, which feeds on birds.

©Nayeryouakim / Creative Commons – License

Ilha da Queimada Grande, popularly known as Snake Island, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. At first glance, this island would appear to be an absolute paradise to visit. But for good reasons, the island has remained largely undeveloped. It is considered one of the most dangerous destinations in the world. 

Brazilians are very familiar with the island, but few would consider visiting it because it is full of golden lancehead vipers, one of the world’s deadliest snakes. In fact, there are roughly anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 golden lancehead vipers on the island currently. According to researchers, there are one to five snakes per square meter on the island.

How The Snakes Evolved To Survive 

Although some allege that pirates brought the snakes to the island to secure their riches, the island’s high population of snakes evolved over thousands of years—without human involvement. Around 11,000 years ago, a rise in sea levels isolated Ilha da Queimada Grande from mainland Brazil, forcing the snakes on the island to develop quite differently from other snakes! 

Because there were no ground predators for the snakes that became trapped on Ilha da Queimada Grande, they were able to multiply quickly. Their main problem was that they didn’t have any ground-level prey. Slithering upward, the snakes took advantage of migrating birds visiting the island seasonally after long travels in search of food.

Snakes typically stalk their prey, bite, and then wait for their poison to do its damage before retracing their steps. Due to the fact that golden lancehead vipers are unable to monitor the birds they bite, they developed a venom that is up to three times more powerful and capable of melting human flesh nearly instantly. All of this has made this one of the most dangerous destinations in the world.

Why Is It Called Shark Alley?: The Rundown On This Dangerous Place

What Do Great White Sharks Eat?

Shark Alley is named after the large number of Great White Sharks swimming between the islands and circling them.


Shark Alley is a narrow swath of water between the two South African islands of Dyer Island and Geyser Rock near Gansbaai. An enormous number of great white sharks swim around the Islands and pass through the short passageway between them, hence the name Shark Alley.

During the South African winter months of April to September, the Cape Fur seals on Geyser Rock lure great white sharks to this location. The sharks have a continual food supply because of the seals that feed there. Many people enjoy shark cage diving here, despite being one of the most dangerous places on Earth with enormous sharks all around you!

How Dangerous Are The Sharks?

We mentioned earlier that great white sharks inhabit the area. However, how dangerous are they really? After all, the great white shark is the world’s most feared shark. It’s no secret that they are extremely aggressive sharks. They are known for attacking and killing humans.  

However, new research reveals that great white shark attacks on humans aren’t deliberate but rather the result of the predator’s poor eyesight. According to popular theory, sharks attack humans because they think we are seals, one of their most common prey items.

The findings were eventually published in the Journal of the Royal Society, which confirmed this theory. 

Still, that doesn’t mean that a shark bite isn’t fatal, particularly when there are 52 reported fatal shark attacks on humans by great white sharks.

Snake Island vs Shark Alley: Which Is More Dangerous? 

Pit Viper on Bohol Island

Snake Island is more dangerous than Shark Alley.


Is one of these two places more dangerous than the other? 

Let’s compare the two. For starters, Snake Island’s golden lanceheads may grow to be well over a meter long. They also have a potent, fast-acting venom that melts the flesh around their fangs. It is reported that five snakes exist in every square meter of the island. This makes it nearly impossible for any visitor to leave alive. The Brazilian government has barred all guests from entering the island.

On the other hand, great white sharks have been known to be one of the deadliest predators on the planet. Still, Shark Alley continues to be one of the most well-known locations for the world’s best commercial cage-diving sites. To date, no one has been seriously wounded while free-diving with sharks at Shark Alley. However, that does not mean it has been without incident or risk.

When diving in Shark Alley, you are placed inside a protective cage. This keeps the shark from being able to bite you or do any damage. You don’t need to have any prior scuba diving experience either. 

Going off of the facts alone, it would be fair to say that Snake Island is certainly the more dangerous one of the two. Because the government has barred all travel to the island, it is basically illegal to even try and get to it. It is definitely one of the most dangerous and deathly destinations in the world. You are essentially protected while diving in shark alley. While one step onto Snake Island would be an immediate death sentence. 

Another Snake Island…Is it Dangerous?

A tiny island composed of white marble-like rock, which goes by several names–Snake Island, Serpent Island, White Island, and Alba–has been featured in the news the past few days. This little piece of land in the Black Sea, very close to the port city of Odesa in the Ukraine, was taken by Russian forces near the beginning of their assault on the Ukraine. But those same forces vacated the island, leaving it to be reclaimed by Ukraine. In a daring mission, a special diving team traveled to the island on top-secret underwater vehicles, scouting out the island before other troops landed. They surveyed the damage, equipment that was left by the Russians, and raised multiple Ukrainian flags across the island.

Unfortunately, there’s no greater threat to mankind than themselves. The ravages of war have taken out more lives than any dangerous wild animal ever will. As recently as February of 2022, 13 Ukrainian soldiers were reportedly killed by air and sea strikes while defending Snake Island. And immediately after Ukrainians forces raised flags on the reclaimed island this week, retaliatory strikes from Russian were made on the island, though thankfully, no lives were lost. It’s logical to say that Snake Island in the Black Sea is comparably as dangerous to humans as Snake Island off the coast of Brazil is at the moment.

Up Next…

The photo featured at the top of this post is © ccarbill/

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where is snake island located?

Snake Island is off the coast of Brazil, about 21 miles from the coastline. It’s located off the coast of Sao Paulo state, which is home to about 46 million Brazilians.

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