Typically, when we travel, we use the airport as a means to get to the main attraction. But sometimes an airport is so bizarre that it is the main attraction. Whether it’s because of size, location or other features, we found 10 airports that are so wacky, weird and unusual that they require more than just a pass-through.
1. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia
If you ever find yourself taxiing along Runway 10 at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, you may catch a glimpse of something so out of place it will make you do a double take. Yes- embedded into the tarmac of Runway 10 is a pair of grave markers. So how did they get there? The previous property owners, Catherine and Richard Dotson, used the land that the airport now sits on for a cemetery. The Dotsons died in the late 1880’s and were both buried in the cemetery. Years later, as WWII approached, the military decided to convert the cemetery into an airport for training purposes and moved all of the bodies in the cemetery to another one; however, to honor family wishes, the military left the grave markers of Catherine and Richard behind.
2. Courchevel Airport, France
For such an upscale, posh ski resort town, Courchevel has quite the understated (but not necessarily uncomplicated) airport. A 1,700-foot strip of tarmac, located 6,000 feet above sea level on a slope in the French Alps, serves as the only airport in the ski-happy town of Courchevel. Built in 1961, the runway, which bizarrely rises uphill and then dangerously dips downhill, is not only notorious for its dodgy setup, but also for its appearance in the James Bond movie, "Tomorrow Never Dies."
3. Gibraltar International Airport, British Overseas Territory
Chances are you’ve never driven a car across an airport runway because well-- it’s unnecessary and usually illegal. But if you frequently travel to a little place called Gibraltar, located off the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, and aren’t flying to/from the UK, you don’t have much choice. This is because 1) the Gibraltar International Airport only services flights to and from the UK and 2) the only road that connects Gibraltar to mainland crosses through Gibraltar’s airport runway. To prevent a nasty collision between car and plane, gates stop cars from crossing the runway during plane takeoffs and landings.
4. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands
With an airport like this, a flight delay or layover doesn’t sound so bad. The Amsterdam Airport Schiphol- the main international airport of the Netherlands- houses its very own museum in Terminal U on Holland Boulevard. The Rijksmuseum displays paintings by famous Dutch artists and features an always-changing temporary exhibition. Passengers in transit can access the museum for free from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The unusual attractions don’t stop there, though. The airport also features a casino as well as a mediation center. Oh, and for those who need to refresh while in transit- the airport provides individual shower rooms.
5. Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
As you play a round of golf on this course, don’t be surprised by the sight of jets soaring eerily close overhead- after all, you are golfing on an airport runway. The out-of-place (to say the least) 18-hole Kantarat Golf Course sits smack dab between two parallel runways at the Don Mueang International Airport. The course belongs to the Royal Thai Air Force, but unfortunately, is no longer open to the public. Fear not, though, golf lovers; there are a bunch of golf courses no more than 25 minutes from the airport.
6. Agatti Airport, Lakshadweep, India
Surrounded by nothing but the Indian Ocean, the 4,000-foot-long Agatti Airport is so random and petite that it could pass off as a piece of a larger runway lost at sea. The airport is the only one in Lakshadweep- an Indian Union Territory consisting of 36 exotic islands located off of the southwestern coast of India- and sits on the island of Agatti. Because of the danger the short runway presents, there have been proposals to extend it, but in the meantime, flights continue to operate to the island six times a week from the Cochin International Airport in Kerala.
7. Vancouver International Airport, Canada
Have some time to kill while at the Vancouver International Airport? Head over to one of two aquariums installed in the international terminal wing while you wait to board one of the 68 airlines servicing Canada’s second busiest airport. On Level 3, it’s hard to miss the main aquarium- a 30,000 gallon-tank full of more than 5,000 creatures including eels and sea stars. Head up to Level 4 and check out the smaller aquarium swimming with moon jellyfish.
8. Barra Airport, Scotland
It’s awfully fitting- but not exactly traditional- for a tropical island to have a beach for an airport. The five-mile-wide, eight-mile-long island of Barra on the west coast of Scotland is so tiny that a shallow bay doubles as the island’s only airport. The beach has three runways marked by poles and is only operational when the tide is out (otherwise, airplane passengers would be stepping onto a submerged runway). When the tide in, though, the bay doesn’t go to waste- it’s a popular spot for windsurfers and clam diggers.
9. Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
It may be an understatement to say that Gisborne Airport on the North Island of New Zealand is atypical. This is because the Palmerston- North to Gisborne railway line cuts straight across the airport’s main runway. Air traffic controllers must coordinate takeoffs and landings with train arrivals and although the rail line recently closed due to storm damage, the airport remains open and operates flights within the North Island.
10. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba, Caribbean Netherlands
Clearing this runway in Saba, Caribbean Netherlands, is no easy task since it’s flanked by cliffs and declared as the shortest commercial landing strip in the world, measuring only 1,300 feet long. Because the runway is so short, the only aircrafts permitted to land here are smaller in size, but the airport still manages to maintain a fairly steady flow of flights- about four a day. The Saba airport is only a 12-minute flight from the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin and tourists often visit the five-square-mile island for its hiking and scuba diving spots.