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Jeruba's avatar

Have you ever slept on an island?

Asked by Jeruba (48494points) 1 month ago

What are your memories of it?

I won’t say that island nations, such as New Zealand or Japan, don’t count; but I’m asking about smaller places, places that are thought of mainly as islands and not as countries.

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29 Answers

flutherother's avatar

I have slept on the Isles of Bute, Lismore, Mull, Eigg, Skye, Islay, Iona, Orkney, Cumbrae, Arran, Lewis and Harris. All are islands off the west coast of Scotland.

My memories are of the peace and quiet after the last ferry has left and of course the sounds of the sea. I remember looking through the visitors’ book on Eigg when we were on holiday and reading this entry: “How indistinct the mainland hills this autumn evening”.

gorillapaws's avatar

Do Caribbean islands count? or are you talking islands you can walk around in a day?

canidmajor's avatar

I have slept on many islands, larger and smaller, densely populated and near deserted, in houses and cabins and tents, in this country and others, in this hemisphere and others, in winters and summers. So many times, sometimes months at a time, so often, in fact, that being able to smell the water at night is a visceral comfort and always an aid to sleep.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I was born and raised on the continental United States. I have lived on islands for the vast majority of my adult life in Japan, Singapore, and on the islands of Hawaii and Oahu.

Islands give a sense of limit. To leave my space, I must construct a facsimile of land to ride on. I cannot simply walk and walk and walk. It gives the mind definition. This is my space. Over there is not my space.

I notice this difference most readily when I talk about driving. For people on the mainland US, it is not inconceivable to drive for a day to reach a destination. Here, we balk at having to drive for half an hour and think we’ve gone far.

I have looked at the linked painting. What immediately jumped out at me was the open window. To me, that speaks of island life. The idea of inviting the outside in. The idea of reaching the limit and suggesting a reach past it. Curiously, the woman is not looking out the window, but she is obviously aware it is there and it’s open. Again, it’s a consciousness of limits and striving beyond them.

flutherother's avatar

It is quite a troubled painting, even the picture on the wall is askew. And what is that shapeless thing flapping outside the open window? The small room with the sash window is like the island cottages I remember but there is none of the tranquillity I associate with islands here.

ucme's avatar

Yes, yes I have.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@flutherother I noticed the crooked picture on the wall, too. I’m very interested in the light. I imagine it’s a bedside lamp. The darkness around the woman’s head is also interesting. At first glance, I thought it was her hair, but the shape makes that improbable. I can only think it’s shadow.

Troubled is a good way to describe the painting. It is certainly not cheerful.

This painting, like my idea of islands, suggests limits that can somehow be overcome. The wall is the limit with the window allowing a glimpse at something beyond.

Zaku's avatar

Yes. In general I like islands, and have visited and slept on (or on a boat next to) many. I don’t know that I have a specific “sleeping on islands” distinction to make.

flutherother's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake If you assume there is a bedside lamp that would account for the yellow light on the bedclothes and the dark shadow cast to the right of the subject but the darkness around her head is I think her hair. It sticks out at an odd angle towards the open window giving it an unnatural appearance that reflects the strange wild thoughts I imagine are running through her head. The painting suggests powerlessness to me and the open window vulnerability.

rebbel's avatar

On Jersey, and Guernsey.
Zakynthos, Chios, and Samos.

janbb's avatar

Interesting. The title of the painting refers to a poem I remembered with the same title. It was written in the 20s or 30s by Rachel Field about the Great Cranberry Islands in Maine which I have been to but not slept on. I have slept on Mt Desert Island nearby.

I think the painting might be a somewhat ironic take on the sentimental poem although Jamie Wyeth did summer on Monhegan Island which I have also visited.

Demosthenes's avatar

The smallest least-populous island I’ve spent the night on is Santa Cruz Island, one of California’s Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. I camped there while on a hiking trip (I visited another of the islands, but only camped on one). Sleeping on an uninhabited island is quiet. Birds and the ocean is what I heard while there. One of the most beautiful (and isolated) places I’ve ever been, frankly.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb Thank you for sharing that poem. It’s a bit sentimental but a good point to look at for this conversation.

@flutherother I thought it was her hair, too, but it’s sticking out at impossible angles. If the wind were blowing that hard through an open window, I wouldn’t expect her face to be so still. What is powerlessness but a realization of limit? She is indeed thinking. I can hear the thoughts. I haven’t decided if they are wild. It’s still the middle of the day here. Perhaps the wildness will emerge as the day progresses.

flutherother's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake It’s interesting the different views of the picture. The open window seems threatening to me and that white sheet or whatever it is flapping about in the wind outside is quite unnerving. It is late here and I am about to turn in. I hope I don’t have nightmares.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar


But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Those are 2 lines from the poem of the same name you kindly linked for us. To me, they speak of something beyond the limit of the life of the person who has slept on the island. Beyond is the key I see. Just as there is the world of blue just beyond the wall in the painting. Does the woman in the painting want to go out into that beyond?

@flutherother You may have blustery weather in your dreams. Good night.

seawulf575's avatar

Islands is a broad term. In the navy, I was stationed on Mare Island. I spent time on Ford Island in Hawaii (that’s sort of an island of an island). I lived on Oak Island NC. I have been to the Bahamas and spent a few days there. I spent the night in the FL keys. But all these islands were somewhat different from each other.
Mare Is was a navy base and was not a lot of fun to be on. Ford Is was small…in the middle of Pearl Harbor. It was humbling because all the rusted hulks of the battleships that were destroyed on the attack on Pearl Harbor are still there. Each has a plaque that tells the ship and the number of people killed on it. Oak Is was a community. It was nice being able to walk to the beach anytime I wanted, but it was not a vacation. The Bahamas and the Keys were both vacations and were enjoyable. Getting up in the morning to a warm ocean breeze is always nice.

Brian1946's avatar

I had to go almost all of the way to the back of my memory vault to find an affirmative answer to this question.

At first, all I could think of was when I was in the US Navy, and slept “on” Rhode Island. ;-p

But it was almost 60 years ago (June, 1959), when I was in the Boy Scouts, that we camped out at Cherry Valley, on Catalina Island.

I think we sat around a campfire one night and our scoutmaster, Mr. Linsky, told us they had found the mutilated bodies of some wild boars nearby. He surmised that those porcine victims had been killed by some huge, bipedal carnivorous species. I think he said it was related to the “abominable snowman”; I guess this was before terms such as Sasquatch, Yeti, and Bigfoot came to be.

The next morning, we were cleaning up at a multi-user sink before we went to breakfast. As I was still washing my hands, I noticed the ambient conversations of the other washers had faded away. I looked around and noticed that I was the only one still there. I thought something retrospectively like, “Yikes! Don’t let the ‘Yeti’ get me!” and scurried to the mess hall without drying my hands.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In the ocean: Yes and you could walk around it in a day but it would be a long day.
On the lake: Many small islands many times. You could throw a rock from one side to the other of most of them.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I spent a week on Santa Cruz Island off the California coast near Santa Barbara and Ventura, working as a volunteer with the National Park Service.

They worked us hard. I drank a gallon of water a day without peeing, because I sweated it out instead. I lost fifteen pounds, which was an unfulfilled goal I’d been carrying for a while anyway.

They fed us well. We had a dedicated cook on our team. We had a little time to explore and found the remains of some airplanes sprayed across the high points of the island.

I found the opportunity with Wilderness Volunteers . Highly recommended.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Where I live, there are lots of island you can visit. Two of the nearest islands that I ocassionaly visit would be Penang and Samosir. In my experience sleeping on both islands I can say that there are less inhabitant on the island compared to the main land, not to mention that the air is always fresher.

Brian1946's avatar


Aren’t you already living on an island, e.g. New Guinea, Borneo, or Java?

It seems that one of your other answers to the OP could be something like, “I’ve slept on an island every day of my life!”

Unofficial_Member's avatar

@Brian1946 You forgot one more main island, it’s Sumatra. I live on Sumatra island. Haha I guess, you’re right. Sumatra is technically an island but I was mentioning other islands near and inside Sumatra as a different way of approach to the question.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I once nodded off in the Paramount Theater, on Stolp Island in Aurora, IL. Does that count?

LostInParadise's avatar

I vacationed in Puerto Rico. The only unusual occurrence I experienced when sleeping was unrelated to being on an island. A very mild earthquake stretched and shrank the mattress lengthwise several times.

janbb's avatar

@LostInParadise Are you sure you didn’t have the Magic Fingers turned on? :-)

LostInParadise's avatar

The next day I spoke to others who had the same experience. It was rather peculiar.

JLeslie's avatar

I used to live on Belle Island. It’s part of the Venetian Causeway, which is a chain of islands in Miami Beach. It’s a little island, but feels part of the whole South Beach area. You can see an old arias view of it on the Wikipedia page to understand how little it is. You can walk and drive to it though, because of bridges, so I’m not sure you count it as an island for this Q. I loved the visual of all the water around, and it felt a little separate, and special, even though it was part of the greater South Beach area. Sometimes I wish I still owned my condo there.

I’ve vacationed in St. Thomas and St. John island in the USVI. It was a long time ago. At the time I lived in a cold climate, so being on a tropical island felt warm and like vacation and I guess a little foreign, even though it was/is the US. At the time it didn’t feel like a place I could live. Meaning, I’m amazed anyone got to live on an island like that. Now, that I’ve lived in Florida, I don’t feel that way anymore. It is possible to live where it feels like vacation. Restaurants were expensive. Having to import a lot of the food made the prices especially high I guess.

Also, I’ve been to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I’ve been to Japan also since you mention it.

Puerto Rico I remember one time staying at the Intercontinental hotel and my room facing the ocean. It was really fabulous. Perfect weather and the waves rolling in. I ate at the hotel restaurant outside right next to the water. I was there for work that time, so during the day I was inside of the mall mostly, getting my job done.

Dom Rep I was staying with my SIL in Santo Domingo. She lived in a medium-rise building. I remember the generator for the building kicking on almost every day, because the electricity would go out. The traffic was ridiculous. Traffic lights not making sense. You could easily see the poverty around with 3 people piled on a moped, and old cars full of people. We drove out to Casa de Campo one day, and then you really saw the extremes of poverty right next to wealth.

Japan didn’t feel overwhelmingly like an island. Probably, mostly, because I was in large cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, and the size of the island to begin with. Japan, the most prominent thought in terms of what could go wrong was earthquake, while on all the other islands I mentioned it was a Hurricane. Not that I walked around worrying about those things, but it crossed my mind either because of a mention of a previous earthquake while in Japan, or a mention of a storm on a tropical island.

I’ve stayed on Manhattan island, NY many many times, but I guess that doesn’t count. Most people don’t think of NYC as an island, even though it is.

Maybe the only islands that count are those that are island nations?

Whenever I stay by the ocean I feel like it’s amazing how the land ends. One time I told that to a friend of mine who lived on the beach, on the Atlantic, and he said that it was interesting I said that, because he always feels it’s amazing how the water keeps coming in. He meant the waves coming to shore.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I have perched atop a torpedo, slept in a tent in Compton, and slept in a couple of trees.

I have never slept on an island. Perhaps I will one day soon.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I have slept on a number of small, barrier islands. It’s kind of nerve racking, with the local animals moving around. Deer, wild boar, alligators, and others live there. They are up all night long. Then the seagulls start up pretty early in the morning.

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