Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tropical Desert Island Survival- Step by Step.

Although I cannot compare myself to Tom Neale (if you are reading this article you should know who Tom Neale is!) and my stay on The Island was not even close to what he had done, I have tried the Island life. I have spent two amazing weeks on one of The Philippines’ deserted island. Only on rice and water! Well, I had some rum and beer, but shhh! :)

First thing you need to do is to find The Island. Does it sound easy? Trust me, it is not. This is the HARDEST step on your way. I will not tell you where My Island is. Let it be my secret. I will only tell you it is one of the islands which lay around Palawan. 

The problem is that basically ALL of the tropical islands belong to someone. They are either private or in the national parks’ area where you simply cannot just go and camp. Well, you could do it but it would be rather illegal. My stay on My Island was not completely legal, but I don’t want you to get into the trouble. 

So, how to find The Island?

  1. I would suggest Philippines as the tourism in other SE Asia countries is way too developed. Although you might find The Island it will be really hard to escape the people. You want it to be DESERTED Island, right? South Pacific would be great but it is too far and too expensive to get there.
  2. Ask locals. Don’t look over the internet. There is a lot of info you can find, but not everything. I have met an old Filipino guy who owes a couple of small islands. He told me that I can stay on one of them as he is looking for a caretaker. And guess what- he doesn’t use the internet :)
  3. Do not expect the tropical paradise with waterfalls, a lot of fruits, coconuts, wood for building your shack etc. You will not be able to get even a coconut without a practice in climbing the palm trees or really long pole. Expect that you will find the place which is simply uninhabitable. If it would be habitable, it would not be deserted anymore! :)
Now, when you have found The Island you need to prepare yourself for the time you will stay there. Basically, every human (and non-human as well) being needs only three things in order to survive:
  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Shelter
Nothing else. Full stop.

WATER. You will not find it on The Island. EVERY tropical island with any source of fresh water is already developed. So, you need to take the water with you or make the sea water drinkable. You can use a solar still etc. but this information you can find in the Internet. I took 60 liters of water for two weeks which is 4 liters a day. You will need that amount of water daily, trust me.

FOOD. Well, it is up to you what and how much you will take. If you are going for two weeks, you don’t need the food as you could survive. (this is true but please do not try it at home (at The Island) :)) I think rice is the best bet. I had 7 kilograms of rice with me which is half a kilo per day. Enough, in the tropical and humid climate your appetite will go down. Add to this the stress of being ALONE in the middle of nowhere- you will not think about food! You can boil the rice in the sea water- don’t need a salt! Some garlic and onions will make your meals exclusive! Every day! For the rest of your stay on The Island! Yummy!

SHELTER. Do not take a tent. The humidity will make it damp inside. Best bet- hammock, mosquito net and tarpaulin above it all. You just need two trees (be careful to not hang your hammock under the palm tree with a coconuts directly above you), stretch your hammock between, stretch a cord just above the hammock over which you lay a mosquito net. Then roof- 3.5 meters x 3 meters tarp does the job. Did you try to sleep in the hammock before? No? You will love it!

So, now you are on The Island, you have all basics needed to survive there, but, what to do with your free time? I love fishing and had a spear gun with me; the problem is that it broke after one day. So my advice is- do not take the things with you which can break and on which your survival will depend totally. I was lucky I had rice, if I would take only spear gun and think that I can catch a fish and survive, well, I would not survive. 

You can simply do nothing, just feel free, go and get to know the surroundings on The Island. Or, build a raft, a shack or make some baskets from the palm leaves. Meditate. Write a book. Make a fire without a lighter. Feel free. Do whatever you want to do. Appreciate the moment because it will not last forever…


  1. Hi there!!!

    I read your blog post about survival in a deserted island and its really informative especially bringing tarpulin instead of tent, and one more thing I thought those deserted island usually dont have any mobile signals will may be i was wrong.. I just happened to read your blog then im on the midst of reading the message of Sir James from Journeyingjames blog site, and it really amazing reading things about travel places and experiences during your journey.
    Hoping you'll continue on what you were doing since I believe you really put your heart on it.
    More Power and God Bless... :)

  2. Thanks for for your time spending on reading my blog.

    Yeah, tarp is really good stuff, lightweight, easy to erect and totally waterproof!

    All best!