Boris Boege

Tropical Desert Island

It turns out getting away for a few days from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong is easier than most people would assume. You can get to your own desert island in Hong Kong within a few hours - along with private beaches. I did this earlier this year by spending a few days alone in one of the deserted Soko Islands south of Lantau. Although that was a great experience, this time I was in for something different. I was longing for something a bit more tropical - dreams of coconut trees, azure blue water - basically your typical picture-perfect desert island came to my mind.

So - what to do? If you want to have a tropical island all for yourself, doing a web-search for it is usually not the best idea, as you find either islands which are not deserted anymore or businesses who want to sell you the experience. So my approach was to just open google maps satellite view. I started from where I am and just checked for islands that fit my criteria: coconut trees, coral reef, sandy beach, not too big.

To my surprise there are many to choose from!

I narrowed it down to a few islands that looked like transport would be doable with reasonable effort: An airstrip somewhere and local fishing villages where you can probably find someone with a boat.

So I decided ....

A small island in Indonesia it is.

Working out the logistics was quite straightforward. I just booked flights to the nearest bigger island with an airstrip. From my experience there are always ways to get a boat - especially local fisherman are usually keen on getting some side business. This turned out to be true. I got a boat from the airfield to the biggest village where I could even get some items I could not bring on the plane - notably a machete. Then I found a boat owner who would bring me to "my" island and pick me up again a few days later (hopefully).

I did not get into full survival mode and decided to take the save side on a potential drinking water issue and bring enough drinking water to the island. Otherwise you need to be "lucky" with rain or build (a lot) of solar stills. For food I was more adventurous though, and only brought some plain rice noodles for emergency calories.

I arrived by boat while it was raining - the weather forecast not looking too good for the next few days.

Once arrive the weather cleared up and stayed that way most of the time. The coral reef is literary in front of the door (of my tent). On low tide the reef is just below the surface making swimming a bit dangerous. I was never really into scuba diving - too much equipment - but I always enjoyed snorkeling. The experience here confirmed my view. Snorkeling was amazing - I spent many hours snorkeling every day and saw everything from beautiful corals, clown fish, sea snakes to black tip reef sharks.

reef in front of the door

blacktip reef shark
blacktip reef shark

camp set up

What I always wanted to try - but never did before - is spear fishing. How hard can it be? I took my machete and went on to make a spear. I did not bring a spear gun or Hawaiian sling but wanted to do it the old fashioned way :)

Sharpening my first spear

It turned out spearfishing is hard. Really hard. I tried for hours - went through several spears - but never caught a fish. Luckily I found easier victims during my spearfishing attempts - lots of clams, conches, shells. Seems I am not going to starve here after all.

conch - yummy :)

As I also brought some fishing hooks, my next try for fishing will be 'regular' fishing with a bamboo stick, some coral as weight, a hook and shellfish as bait.


This method turned out to be more successful than my earlier spearfishing attempts.

catch of the day

bunte Fischplatte

a bit too much sun

small coconut crab visiting my tent

My second home on the other side of the beach


I had visitors during the night

Time to say goodbye...

I spent a short week on the island. Overall mostly everything worked out better than expected. Great weather, more than enough food available, great snorkeling.

Only a few minor things: I definitely need to work on my spearfishing skills. Also I did not get any coconuts despite there being several coconut trees on island. I always imagined them hanging low over the beach like on all those postcards. Unfortunately here they just grew straight up. High up. Time to work on my tree climbing skills - next time ...

A week on a tropical desert island comes well recommended - pick your island and go :-)
Next time I am looking forward to do some island hopping - probably on a kayak.