Islands have long been the canvas onto which dreams, legends and purgatories have been projected; some featuring in enduring myths that have been passed down through generations. But rather than being purely fiction, some of these island stories were in fact inspired by real events and places. Mythological savants and enthusiasts take note – we’ve found three legendary islands whose history is more than just myth.
Isle of Demons/ Fischot Island, Canada
A tiny Canadian island near the province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most eastern borders, Fischot Island is one of the alleged inspirations behind the tale of the Isle of Demons. For any Canadian this destination is an easy getaway in our own backyard. Younger Canadians have formed a newfound appreciation for domestic travel, with more than half (55%) of global Gen Z’ers saying travelling in their own country helps them to learn and discover more about themselves.
While the exact location of the mythical Isle of Demons has never been confirmed, Fischot Island is one of three thought to be the source of the spooky tale (the others being Quirpon Island and Caribou Island). The fact that it’s home to a disorderly colony of gannets (a type of seabird), may explain the many claims of howling demons. It’s an island that first began appearing on maps in the 1500s, having long been the subject of sailors’ superstitions. Considered to be the ghostly home of those who drowned in the Atlantic, alongside a range of other demonic spirits, it was said that anyone who dared venture close to the island – famed for the thick veil of mist that hung over it – would be attacked by these demons waiting in hiding.
But the Isle of Demons garnered its true status in maritime mythology in the mid 1500s, however, when the then Lieutenant General of France abandoned his relative, French noblewoman Marguerite de La Rocque de Roberval, on the island with a young officer she’d been having an affair with. Though she lost her lover, she somehow survived for several years, eventually rescued by a Basque fishermen; to whom she claimed she had been overcome with ‘the brood of hell’. It’s a deserted island best admired from the shore or you can visit by boat from Goose Cave East. Get close enough to visit, but stay far enough to keep the ghosts at bay, with a night at Tuckamore Lodge.
In recent years, Santorini has drawn visitors in search of caldera views and luxury stays to its charcoal-black, volcanic shores. This picturesque oasis has also served as the presumed setting for one of the world’s greatest legends – Atlantis. First appearing in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, Atlantis is the symbolic story of a utopian civilisation of people who were half-human and half-god, and who lived on a series of concentric islands filled with gold, silver and other precious metals. The tale details the destruction of this ancient civilization after their attempt to attack Athens, whereby the Gods let loose a thunderous earthquake in the ocean as punishment, which consumed and sunk Atlantis to the ocean floor.
While many have dedicated time to understanding whether Atlantis was purely fictional, certain researchers and explorers have dubbed Santorini as a possible candidate for its inspiration. This Greek island’s history certainly overlaps with the story of the ancient kingdom – Santorini was similarly devastated by a volcanic eruption, and its Minoan civilisations were suddenly wiped out. Although much of the association with Santorini is conjecture, visiting the island these days is still a spectacular experience. Clusters of white Cycladic houses spill down the rocky cliff faces, overlooking the captivating caldera – best seen from your balcony at Aroma Suites.
Sirenum Scopuli/Capri, Italy
Known for its rugged landscape and soaring sea stacks, Capri has seductive appeal; so much so it has long been regarded as the alleged home of the deadly but irresistible sirens of Greek mythology. Sirens are meant to be part-woman, part bird, known for their bewitching voices and music, that lured travelling sailors to their deaths. The part of the island they’re found on is Sirenum scopuli; a series of three rocky stacks just off its shore. In literature, Ulysses was one of the few survivors who managed to resist the sirens’ entrapments as he sailed past these rocks, forcing his crew’s ears to be plugged with wax while he remained tied to the ship’s mast, and making his men promise he’d not be released no matter how much he begged to be.
While the myth of the sirens lives on, that hasn’t deterred sunseekers from making the trek to this rocky corner of the world. Here, you’ll find Siren’s Rock, a looming sea stack that can be reached via boat, a world away from the perilous journey sailors of old allegedly took. Glide over cerulean waters around the rocks and get swept up in an entirely different enchantment. When you come out from under this spell, clamber ashore and up to the tranquil, siren-less idyll of Hotel Canasta.