Piglet in the water at Pig Island (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List Words : Hazel Plush | 13 July

5 islands that are ruled by animals

Want to befriend the locals? Bring a pocketful of treats when you visit these islands where pigs, cats and rabbits run free

Cat Island

Tashirojima, Japan

Cat Island (Flick Creative Commons: かがみ~)
Cat Island (Flickr: Creative Commons: かがみ~)

Cats rule the roost on this curious Japanese island – most local people (presumably dog lovers) have retreated to other islands, leaving thousands of wily felines to do as they please. Cats are favoured in Japanese culture, so they're well fed and fussed by visiting tourists, and there are moggy-shaped houses (yes, really) where they can hang out in style.

Rabbit Island

Ōkunoshima, Japan

Wild rabbit on Ōkunoshima (Shutterstock)
Wild rabbit on Ōkunoshima (Shutterstock)

You'd be hopping mad not to visit Ōkunoshima, where you'll find an idyllic forested enclave where rabbits run wild and free. They're a friendly bunch, popular with visitors who flock here to tickle their chops. Cats and dogs are banned on the island, leaving the critters free to strut their stuff. Fill your pockets with carrots to be guaranteed a warm welcome.

Pig Island

Big Major Cay, Bahamas

Pig Island (Shutterstock)
Pig Island (Shutterstock)

Oh, the Bahamas. Full of sugary white beaches, sapphire waters, glorious sunshine... and swimming pigs. Take a boat trip to the Exuma region of the Bahamas to encounter the porkiest sunbathers you ever did see – they call this slice of paradise home. Swim, snorkel and soak up the sun with them, but watch your picnic: they'll snaffle your sandwiches in the blink of an eye.

Assateague Island

Maryland, United States

Wild horses of Assateague (Shutterstock)
Wild horses of Assateague (Shutterstock)

It's thought that the horses of Assateague Island survived a shipwreck long ago, and they've called this windswept isle their home ever since. Whatever their origins, these friendly animals love a good frolic in the sea or a wander in the wild flower meadows. We don't blame them – if we lived on Assateague we'd spend our days doing exactly the same.

Seal Island

False Bay, South Africa

Cape fur seals on Seal Island (Shutterstock)
Cape fur seals on Seal Island (Shutterstock)

While humans bathe on the beaches of Cape Town, South Africa's cape fur seals have their very own island just a few miles away. It's a rather barren weather-whipped spot, but they love it nevertheless – although location-wise, they didn't exactly think it through: great white sharks ply the surrounding waters in the 'Ring of Death', picking off thousands of seals every year.

Main image: Piglet swimming at Pig Island (Shutterstock)

Enjoyed this article? Get the best of Wanderlust delivered straight to your inbox

Follow Team Wanderlust