How to Survive on a Tropical Island?


How to Survive on a Tropical Island without Food or Water?

If you ever find yourself stranded on a tropical island it doesn’t matter how you ended up there, and surviving a plane crash or boat being blown off course in a storm might end up being the easy part. Focus may be difficult, but it is vital that you do if you want to survive the island as well as you did whatever circumstances brought you there. What the tide brings in can be also be washed away again so the first thing you need to do is gather anything that floated in with you and put it well above the water line.

Obtain fresh water

Your first concern is water and eventually you will need to explore the entire island but for the moment, while you’re gathering and stacking any usable items be aware of your surroundings and any possible dangers so you’re not caught off-guard. Larger islands offer hope for inland sources of water but if it’s still and not a running stream or waterfall, chances are it won’t be drinkable. Here are a few tips that will work to get you past any water issues.

The best case scenario would be having coconut trees in the area. Immature nuts are a good sources of water as well as nutrition. It means having to find ways to get at them, but once you figure that part out, fresh water is available for the picking.

Build a solar water still

The tropics are only as green as they are because of the amount of rain they get. A rubber raft would be an excellent way to collect rain water and then your only worry would be some type of container to store it in between storms. If all you can find is an empty bottle then look for leaves that can be rolled into funnels, place one in the neck of the bottle and the rain will fill it up. Failing all else, it is possible to drink sea water when you boil it first. If nothing among your scavenged items will work for a pot to boil it in look for something local that will hold water and not burn easily such as an animal skull or soft wood that can be hollowed out with a rock. The wooden pot may have to be replaced frequently but it will ensure you don’t go thirsty.

Search for food

Food is the next necessity. No matter how large or small the island is the sea itself can provide more than enough to eat. Spear fishing is always an option but if you have no luck with that you can try tidal pools where there may be octopus or squid. Again, be aware of your surroundings because you never know what may be crawling around the beach that is edible, including lobster or crab. No strictly meat diet is good for you so here are a few more things to think about when its time to eat.

Look for Sea Purslane, a type of sea weed that can be found growing on rocks or spreading on the sand. This simple green plant is full of minerals and very tasty whether cooked or eaten raw. Once you have explored enough to be aware of local danger going deeper into the interior could pay off with fresh fruit or nuts which thrive in the tropics. Staying healthy with as balanced a diet as possible is a must. Lack of proper nutrition leads to illnesses that can be life threatening when there is no vitamin store on the corner.

You may not recognize some of the things you find to eat and this is where you really need to be careful. No matter how hungry for it you may be, test it first by rubbing a portion against your skin. If there is no reaction, then take a very small bite and wait for it to digest before eating more. Chances are if you got no reaction by rubbing the food on your skin your stomach will be fine but it’s not worth the risk so don’t rush it.

Making Shelter and Fire

Shelter and fire are obviously very important. You could live without either of them for a time but getting wet with no way to warm up guarantees you will end up sick. If you are very lucky there will be natural shelters you can use such as caves, however, before moving in you need to make sure nothing else is living there first. One way to check for other occupants is by building a fire (with a hand built bow drill) far enough inside that smoke penetrates every inch of the interior.

Adding bits of wet fuel will bring even more smoke and you want all you can get for this job. The goal isn’t comfort, it’s safety and anything that keeps your body off the ground while you sleep is good enough. If no caves or suitable rock formations are available, here are a few more ideas to protect yourself from the elements and any predators that may be on the island with you.

Build a lean-to shelter

Lean-to shelters don’t take much to build and they are sufficient until you have time for a more permanent structure. Large rocks, downed trees or even a sand hill will serve as the base for your temporary structure. Look for large branches, jam one end into the earth and lean the other against your supporting object. Once you have at least enough length to keep your entire body under shelter, it’s a simple matter to gather greenery and place it thick enough over the frame to keep rain out and sun off.

a picture of a beach teepeeBuild a tee-pee shelter

Tee-pee’s offer more protection than a lean-to and are not that complicated to build. Gather at least 10 branches and bear in mind, the thicker those branches are the more secure your shelter will be. Use three of the branches to form the tripod and the rest evenly spaced around that to make the frame. Canvas from a sail would be perfect but if that isn’t available cover the frame with the same kind of thick brush or vegetation you would use for a lean-to.

Keep your fire going

Keeping a fire going is easy as compared to getting a fresh one started. You need fire for more than warmth, smoke will alert any passing ships during the day, and flames can be seen for miles at night in case of a plane flying overhead. Fire plows will work to start a fire but they take a lot of action. If your hands are not up to that, anything than will reflect sunlight directly onto your tinder will work if you practice patience.

Once you get a fire started, you may want to make a shelter for it as well to keep it lit even in the rain. A last bit of advice, it never hurts to have a large supply of wood, kindling and tinder kept in a water-proof area so if your fire does go out, you won’t need to search a wet island for something dry to burn. Staying dry and warm is one of the things that is going to keep you alive and well for as long as you are stranded.

What Is The Best Survival Tool To Always Have On Hand If Possible?

It is not always an option, but a fixed blade knife is the best survival tool you can have in most cases. It doesn’t have to be a Benchmade, but any kind of reliable fixed blade will do the trick. This is just my personal favorite and what I know to be one of the best.

Find The Current Best Price Here…

For more great articles, be sure to check out our survival blog.


Get free access to the best survival tips, survival gear, and breaking developments before anyone else! 100% No spam.


Best Survival Gear for 2022

BEST SURVIVAL GEAR FOR 2022 Whether it’s the possibility of war, a pandemic, or a natural disaster, it’s necessary to have the most important survival

every day carry 2

Best Fixed Blade Survival Knife Review

Our Best Fixed Blade Survival Knife Review. Let’s face it, true survivalists know that the #1 piece of survival gear is a fixed blade knife.

new survival gear

New Survival Gear 2022

New Survival Gear for 2022 Being a veteran and reminiscing about the military, nothing made war games and camping better than having high quality survival



Travis Walker is an avid outdoorsman, prepper, and lifelong student of survival skills and tactics. Travis co-founded Skilled Survivor with the mission of helping as many folks from around the world get prepared for economic hardship and collapse.





Get your Free Survival Checklist! This checklist details over 100 items you will need to survive the coming economic collapse. You will also learn the 6-pillars of emergency preparedness, plus the emergency preparedness gear you’ll need to survive.