Chernobyl Miniseries Prompts 35 Percent Spike in Travel to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

iStock/fmajor
iStock/fmajor

Since HBO released the first episode of Chernobyl on May 6, the miniseries has grown into a sensation, receiving glowing reviews and surpassing The Wire and Breaking Bad to become the top-rated show on IMDb. After watching the chilling recreation of the 1986 nuclear disaster, many viewers had the same question: Is the Chernobyl exclusion zone open to visitors? It is, and as CNN reports, tourism there has risen 35 percent as a result of the show.

Following the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's RBMK reactor 33 years ago, a 2500-square-mile exclusion zone was established around the disaster site. Radiation levels are nowhere near where they were in 1986, but the vegetation, buildings, and wildlife in and around Pripyat, Ukraine are still radioactive. It isn't safe to live there, but by signing up for a tour you can visit the area surrounding the power plant.

Victor Korol, director of the tour company SoloEast, said that bookings for trips to Chernobyl have spiked 35 percent since the miniseries premiered. He told CNN, "It's almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over."

A day tour of Chernobyl costs $99. Once inside the exclusion zone, adventurers can explore the town of Pripyat, which was abruptly evacuated in 1986; stand under the Ferris wheel at the abandoned amusement park, and see the infamous nuclear reactor (safely enclosed in a steel structure to contain radiation) from an observation point 1000 feet away. Though the company says day trips to Chernobyl are "100 percent" safe, guests are asked to stick to approved routes, wear clothing that provides maximum coverage to their bodies, and avoid touching buildings and shrubbery to keep radiation exposure to a minimum.

If you can't make it to Ukraine to see Chernobyl, or aren't interested in being exposed to even mild levels of radiation, you can check out photos taken inside the exclusion zone from the safety of your home. You can also learn more about what it's like to visit here.

[h/t CNN]

Learn Python From Home for Just $50

Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com

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The 10 Best Beaches in America, According to Dr. Beach

Grayton Beach? More like Blue-Ton Beach.
Grayton Beach? More like Blue-Ton Beach.
Jacob Boomsma/iStock via Getty Images

When searching for the perfect stretch of beach to laze away your vacation days, there are quite a few factors to consider. Some, like water clarity or sand texture, are more obvious than others; for example, you might not realize how much noise pollution a nearby highway generates until you’re already on the beach.

To help you choose your next seaside getaway, Florida International University coastal research professor Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,” has released his annual list of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. Based on 50 criteria, ranging from the beach’s width at low tide to the presence of jellyfish, the data reveals the Florida Panhandle is home to the best beach in the country. Grayton Beach State Park boasts exceptionally fine, white sand known as “sugar sand”; shallow, warm water with calm waves; and a 2000-acre nature park with rare coastal dune lakes and a hiking trail. It wasn’t the only Florida beach to make the list—Caladesi Island State Park, off the coast of Dunedin and Clearwater, came in at number six.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks islands were well-represented, too, with Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach and Buxton’s Lighthouse Beach taking the second and fifth spots, respectively. Dr. Beach also bestowed top honors on two of Hawaii’s beaches: Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach and the Big Island’s Hapuna Beach State Park.

Even if you can’t make it as far as Florida or Hawaii, Dr. Beach’s metrics can help you decide what’s important to you when it comes to choosing the best beach closer to home. Maybe you’re not bothered by online reviews that warn about giant waves at a certain beach, but you’re unwilling to budge about overcrowding.

The list of criteria isn’t the only way that Dr. Beach is helping beachgoers plan the best, safest summer vacation possible—he’s also compiled a few handy tips for heading to the beach during the coronavirus pandemic. First and foremost, you should check the beach’s rules before you go; some places are only open for exercise, while others have made masks mandatory (even if yours doesn’t require a mask, however, you should still wear one). Dr. Beach also recommends having a backup plan, just in case your ideal beach hits capacity before you get there.

See the full list of top 10 beaches below, and find out more about them here.

  1. Grayton Beach State Park // Florida Panhandle
  1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach // Ocracoke, North Carolina
  1. Coopers Beach // Southampton, New York
  1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach // Oahu, Hawaii
  1. Lighthouse Beach // Buxton, North Carolina 
  1. Caladesi Island State Park // Dunedin, Florida
  1. Hapuna Beach State Park // Big Island, Hawaii
  1. Coast Guard Beach // Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  1. Coronado Beach // San Diego, California
  1. Beachwalker Park // Kiawah Island, South Carolina