entrance of the Mount Omine Japan

The boys club is very much alive, in case there was ever any doubt. Women travel all over the globe solo, in pairs, with a significant other, or a big group – however they want. Yet, there are still places that insist on maintaining a men-only policy. Here are six gorgeous places around the world that still ban women.

Mount Athos, Greece

Mount Athos, actually a mountainous peninsula, is inhabited by an Orthodox community. The Peninsula has a total of 20 monasteries. If you are a non-Orthodox man, you are welcome to visit, but you have your work cut out for you. Mount Athos only allows 10 non-Orthodox visitors per day. These visitors need to obtain a letter of recommendation and write a personal letter outlining their desire to come to Mount Athos in order to get a permit. The two most commonly accepted reasons are pilgrimage and academia. Women cannot set foot on the Peninsula, nor can they come even close to the coast. This ancient rule, going back at least a thousand years, even bans female animals from inhabiting the island. Why the strict rule? The peninsula’s monks are celibate, and they want to keep it that way. We're not totally sure why the same rule applies to animals though...

Bohemian Grove, United States 

Bohemian Grove, a privately owned campsite in Monte Rio, California, is the playground of the wealthy and exclusive Bohemian Club. As you might have guessed, the club is accessible to men only. Every year the club holds a two-week long retreat on its private campgrounds welcoming its members in the arts, politics, and business industries. The club has granted four women honorary membership but never invited the women to join them at Bohemian Grove. If this culturally elite and secretive group of powerful men piques your curiosity, you’re not alone. Bohemian Grove is a favorite of conspiracy theorists, many of whom have taken it upon themselves to infiltrate the yearly retreat. It has even made appearances in pop culture. Bohemian Grove could be the inspiration for the fascinating, if less beloved, second season of HBO’s True Detective. 

Haji Ali Dargah Shrine, India

Haji Ali Dargah Shrine, both a mosque and a tomb, is located in Mumbai. The white building features minarets and domes. It is considered a classic example of Indo-Islamic architecture. Whether or not you can reach the shrine is dependent on the tides; it is located 500 meters off the coast. Up until 2016, women were not allowed to enter the place within the mosque where the saint is actually buried, as dictated by the public trust charged with the care of Haji Ali Dargah Shrine. But, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a group that fights for the rights of Muslim women in India, filed a lawsuit. After two years, BMMA won its court case. Women are now allowed to set foot in the male saint’s resting place.  

Mount Omine, Japan

Mount Omine is a sacred mountain serving as an important seat of the Shugendo sect of Buddhism. The mountain, and the temple on top of it, are part of Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It became a World Heritage Site in 2004, but not without some backlash. At the base of the mountain, you will find a sign that states “No Woman Admitted” in both Japanese and English. Some critics argued that naming the mountain a World Heritage Site was tantamount to approval of gender discrimination. But even though the sign bars women, it is not altogether effective. Women have frequently set foot on Mount Omine, often in protest of the ban.

Lord Kartikeya Temple, India

Religious reasons are often cited for keeping women at a distance, as is the case with the Lord Kartieye Temple in Pushkar, India. The temple was built in honor of the eponymous Lord Kartikeya. Specifically, the temple pays homage to a celibate form of the Hindu deity. According to myth, any woman who enters the temple will incur his wrath and be cursed. As a result, women are restricted from entering the temple.

Lord Ayyappa Temple, India

Sabrimala, a high-traffic Hindu pilgrimage site, has a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Ayyappan. The temple does not ban all women, but it does forbid women from the ages of 10 to 50 from entering. The reasoning for this can be traced back to myths surrounding the deity, and the fact that Ayyappan is celibate. Like the monks of Mount Athos, the deity is thought to consider women a distraction from the vow of celibacy. But, this restriction may not last much longer. The Kerala government has recently started favoring the decision to dissolve the age restrictions and allowing all women entry to the temple. Infact, the Supreme Court of India has been holding hearings debating this very question.