The Truth About Vostok Island That Is Completely Blacked Out On Google Maps

By maks in Travel On 31st January 2024

In a National Geographic video from 2009, professional diver Enric Sala set out to uncover the secrets of this puzzling island.

Describing the expedition as one of the 'best dives of his life', he explored the enigmatic spot in search of answers.

The island, it turns out, is known as 'Vostok Island' and is part of the Republic of Kiribati.

Its remote location has left it largely unvisited and shrouded in mystery.

The diver explored the mystery island. Credit: National Geographic
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Over the years, various theories have circulated about Vostok Island, mainly because it appears 'blacked out' on Google Maps.

This has led some to speculate that Google intentionally obscures certain locations, such as military bases, thus adding to the mystery of this small area in the ocean.

However, diver Sala, who visited the island, recounted his experience of swimming among the stunning corals there, shedding light on what actually lies beneath the surface of this peculiar location.

The small island is blacked out on Google Maps. Credit: Google Maps
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"Well, we just came back from a dive on Vostok Island," Sala stated in the video.

"I just did the very best dive of my life."

He went on to describe the vibrant underwater life he encountered, including sharks, schools of jacks, barracuda, surgeon fish, and more, emphasizing the richness of the island's marine environment.

"Incredible! Really unbelievable. This is the most pristine place we have dived so far. We have found it, this is it. Vostok Island," Sala exclaimed.

He expressed his eagerness to return to the waters, saying, "I cannot wait for tomorrow to get back in the water."


The specifics of whether Sala and his team required special permission to visit Vostok Island remain unclear.

Some remote locations like this have entry restrictions, such as a certain abandoned island connected to the New York City Tunnels, which is also a hotbed for conspiracy theories.

The question then arises: why is Vostok Island still blacked out on Google Maps if it's accessible?


Despite Sala's visit, the ongoing mystery of the island being blacked out on Google Maps continues to fuel internet conspiracy theories.

"My first thought was that it's censored," a Reddit user speculated, questioning why a natural formation would appear so dark on the map.

"It wouldn't make sense for a natural formation to be black like that in such a shallow, small atoll/island."


Another social media user offered a different perspective, suggesting: "What you see as black is actually very dark green, it's a very dense forest made up of Pisonia trees."

Meanwhile, a third person humorously commented: "Ladies and gentlemen, they have found the Island in Lost."

Why is Vostok Island blacked out on Google Maps?

The substantial part of Vostok Island is densely covered with a uniform growth of Pisonia trees, which are rooted in a thick layer of moist peat soil that measures approximately one meter in depth.

These towering trees reach heights of up to 30 meters (98 feet), and they grow so closely together that they prevent any other plant life from establishing itself beneath their canopy.

Vostok Island from a distance Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a result, when viewed from above, the island's dense and lush foliage appears extremely dark.


This has given Vostok Island a look akin to a mysterious black hole on Google Earth, which in 2021 sparked a great deal of speculation.

Many people came to believe that the island was being deliberately hidden from public view.

However, this assumption can be easily disproven by looking at other mapping services and publicly available images that depict the island.