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What Is It Like to Live on a Small Island?

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This question originally appeared on Quora.
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Answer by Amanda Tendler, Yo ho yo ho island life's for me

I'll answer for an island of 300 in the Maldives.
  • Enjoy? Things get boring very quickly unless you LOVE water sports or fishing. After we exhausted these options, cabin fever set in really quickly. Chess is a favorite past time for locals.
  • Lizards and spiders galore, bats hanging in trees all day. Mosquitoes are everywhere and the sand fleas are worse. Locals seem to have developed a tolerance for both though.
  • Translucent crabs COVER the edges of the island closest to the ocean from dusk to dawn.
Biggest swimming pool ever
The reefs are absolutely magnificent
Fantastic visibility

  • Supplies come once and sometimes twice a week - you miss everything and if you don't order it or get it on the day or even hour it's delivered, you're out of luck that week.
  • There is one small general store that has a regular refrigerator for Kit Kat ice cream cones and bottled water/soda (only Holstein's that I can't even find online) - while they last.
  • Most mosquito coils in the general store are so old they won't light
  • More coconuts and fresh fish than you could ever begin to try to eat

The boat that brings the supplies
Waiting to board the boat - yep, you can go for free, but you're gonna ride with the bananas, pineapples, bread, and orange juice headed for the resorts
Knocked out on the floor of the ship. There wasn't an open spot left anywhere on the floor.
  • It smells like ocean, sand, coconuts, fish, and musky people - no deodorant, obviously
  • Air conditioning and heating don't exist - ditto for heated water.
We caught all these fish using fishing line and a hook tied to a water bottle. We just let the line drop and our "captain" drove around until one of us got a bite. No more than five minutes and usually less than a minute. I've never fished so easily in my life.
Brian with the fancy fishing "rod"
  • Sometimes fish is cooked by gutting, covering with salt, spearing with a freshly picked palm frond, and roasting lightly over a coconut husk fire
Cooking on the deserted island across the atoll from where we stayed
Yeah, there were plates on the deserted (read: private party) island. They get rinsed in the ocean.

  • Everyone eats with their hands. All the time.
  • Everyone knows everything about everyone - this cannot be underestimated. You have ZERO privacy
  • Even though everyone knows everything, there are still drug (heroin) and alcohol abuse problems - they are isolated enough that they protect each others privacy from the rest of the world.
  • You can walk from one side of the island to the other in under 15 minutes if you go slow. 10 minutes for a nice, brisk pace.
One of the two main "streets"
  • Most furniture is made from wood and rope - withstands the sand and wind quite well
Finishing off another coconut in my favorite chair
Pretty cool six seater chair
  • There is a plane ambulance for major health emergencies - it has to fly to the island and fly back out
  • There is a speedboat ambulance within the atoll that will take you to another, slightly larger island with doctors for less major medical emergencies
  • There is one doctor from India who lives on the island part time for basic checkups and minor health care needs
  • There's a large soccer (football) field that is used nightly, an open air mosque, and an open air two room school house.
  • ZERO automobiles, a couple bicycles, a motorbike (maybe 50cc) every local rolls their eyes at because it's so ridiculous (I think they're waiting for him to accidentally ride into the ocean), and a couple carts for hauling what comes in on the boats
  • Two plastic lawn chairs at the end of one lane that faces the nearby resort island. On a good day, you can pick up the wifi from across the ocean. Spotty, but workable. Some days, people wait in rotation for a chair.

Hope that helps. Perhaps you're looking for details about a bigger island, but some stuff should be similar.More questions on Islands: