100+ Unconventional Gifts for the Islander on your List

Written by: CHRISSANN NICKEL

 

Islanders are not your average people. And this is not your average gift guide.

Find something for your island friends, your island family members, or treat yo’self!

*click for image credit

Here’s a list of randomly awesome gift ideas from all your favorite women who live on rocks. Happy holidays!

–   FOR THE ISLAND HOME   –

*click for image credit

  • Thirsty coasters. Not the tile ones, not the shiny, sealed cardboard ones with pretty pictures – real workhorse coasters. A cold drink here can produce its equal volume in condensation in record time… and men and children don’t believe you when you say it’ll ruin the furniture. – Magnolia Vessup
  • Automatic weatherproof timer candles. I put these all over the exterior and interior of my house and every night at sunset, I have flickering candles everywhere that require zero effort on my part. Though they go bad about every few months, so I can always use more. – Chrissann Nickel
  • A dehumidifier. This magical machine makes your place smell less like a musty basement and more like a normal house. – Christine O’Neill
  • A goat or cow bell to hang on the front gate. On my rock, repairmen won’t enter the yard and come and ring the door bell in case there are dogs (understandably enough). Maybe they would ring the cowbell so we’d be able to hear it and let them in before they leave. – Val Zaccharias
  • Flamingo hosting kit. Because it’s the cutest. – Jen Legra
  • A backup generator. For when the power goes out during the Superbowl, which always happens. – Christine O’Neill
  • Citronella oil tiki torches. Tropical ambiance with a purpose. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Coconut scraper. Because coconut curried fish is out of this world good. – Magnolia Vessup
  • Anything electronic, as long as it’s battery or solar powered! – Danielle Collins
  • Magical, uniquely pretty windchimes. I can’t get enough of these in the gentle island breezes. And I won’t stop buying them until my house sounds like a freaking symphony. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Unsexy but absolutely vital to the preservation of our clothes are mini-heaters placed strategically throughout our closets to prevent mold and damp. Keeping the A/C on 24/7 could also accomplish this but at a much higher cost. (For one friend who maintains a large abode, electricity bills have been known to soar to $10,000 per month). – Darlene McCarthy Barnfield

–   CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES   –

*click for image credit

  • Are waterproof shorts a thing? If so, NEED THEM. – Carrie Tripodi
  • Hair elastics – the kind for blonde girls that they don’t sell here. – Beth Rhind
  • Cute beach bags are always welcome. – Mariah Moyle
  • New sunglasses. You can’t have too many! Amazon has a selection of aviators in 40 colors for $2.50 each, they’re not the best quality but great for those of us prone to losing/breaking them. – Mariah Moyle
  • Things that don’t require ironing. Ironing in island heat is the devil’s work. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Nice undergarments are always welcome (bras and undies). – Deb Crofutt
  • Rash guards. For when you’re tired of applying sunscreen, they are the perfect lazy way to avoid a sunburn. – Christine O’Neill
  • A new pair of Reefs are always needed. Size 10 please. – Ashley Ladlie
  • A straw cowboy hat. I’ve always wanted one, you can’t get them here, and I’d totally rock one on a sailboat. – Inga Emma
  • A good bra. Fellow DD ladies can appreciate a great bra to foundation their skimpy island wear. – Miss Ingrid
  • Functional hats. Not the silly kinds the tourists bring down (how do they even keep their shape when flying?) – I mean fun trucker hats. – Christine O’Neill
  • Lightweight, breezy beach pants. Perfect for throwing on after a beach/boating day to keep the bugs off your legs. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Ponytail holders lose their elasticity here almost immediately. I could use a year’s supply. – Ashley Ladlie
  • Those flip flops with a bottle opener on the bottom. – Stephanie Tavera
  • Fun hair accessories like stretch headbands, cute hair clips, etc. – Deb Crofutt

–   FOOD AND TREATS – AKA CRAVING CENTRAL   –

*click for image credit

  • Nuts. – Susan Koster
  • Trader Joe’s chocolate! Or really, any chocolate that hasn’t been sitting in the grocery store for over a year. – Rika
  • A humidity-controlled environment to make and consume macarons and meringues in excess. – Chrissann Nickel
  • The ingredients to make Fireball Jello shots (not available on my rock!) – Deb Crofutt
  • Several boxes of my favorite Garden Herb flavored Triscuits – Roxane Boonstra
  • A bag of my favorite chocolates – I like Chokotoff – but I’ll take a big bag of non-stale dark Dove chocolates in a pinch. – Roxane Boonstra
  • A nice, big, smelly bag of GOOD weed. – Carrie Tripodi
  • Flavorful cooking enhancements that you can’t find on island like specialty hot sauces (Cholula!), Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast, seasoning blends, etc. – Chrissann Nickel
  • A couple of pounds of fresh-caught tuna, wahoo, mahi, ocean trigger, snapper, or grouper (my fiance suggests a square one…) – Roxane Boonstra
  • Affordable Parmesean cheese. Prices start at $25 here. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield

–   BEVERAGE-RELATED WONDERS   –

*click for image credit

  • A camelback – one for water, one for booze! You can never have too many. – Stephanie Tavera
    • I agree! I always pick them up and look at them when in civilization but then put them down as I think they are too expensive. Then I go hiking in the bush and imagine how much I would appreciate one. – Inga Emma
  • Hydro Flask insulated water bottles – they are AWESOME at keeping water cold and ice frozen in really hot weather. – Mariah Moyle
    • I second that. – Christine O’Neill
  • Tervis tumblers – nothing keeps drinks cold in the tropics like these suckers. We can leave them in a hot car and come back LITERALLY HOURS later to ice cubes. #whatisthissorcery – Chrissann Nickel
  • Under Armour water jug – same idea as the Tervis tumbler but I had a student tell me it works for 12 hours! I was sold. Plus, they also come in “rebel pink”. – Inga Emma
  • You can never have enough beer koozies. – Christine O’Neill
  • Adult beverage sippy cups – to keep the critters out of your drink. – Ashley Ladlie
  • Bandit Pinot Grigio wine in the tetra paks. THEY FLOAT. – Deb Crofutt
  • Water filtration system, as I cannot drink the water on island. – Jadine Yarde
  • AND, the gift nearly every island girl has on her list, The Beach Glass! – said everyone.

–   WATER / BEACH TOYS AND OTHER NECESSITIES   –

*click for image credit

  • Plastic champagne glasses for the beach (NYE!) – Susan Koster
  • A Parasheet. They’re lightweight, dry fast, and repel sand. Perfect for the glove box of the car because you never know when you might have a half hour to kill… and there’s a beach 2 minutes away from the kids school… and they don’t need to be picked up exactly at 3, right? – Magnolia Vessup
  • A soft-sided, small cooler (everyone needs these and can always use a new one) – Susan Koster
  • An oversized unicorn pool float. Every day I do not own this, I die a little inside. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Beach wine glass stakes. This gift needs no explanation. Just please get the stainless steel ones so they can get a few uses in before they rust away. – Magnolia Vessup
  • Water toys (floats, frisbees, noodles, etc.). For a place that’s surrounded by water, there’s a serious lack of water-related accessories available here. – Danielle Collins
  • A mermaid tail and monofin. This literally makes my day whenever I wear it. It’s amazing to swim in and delights the tourists to get a mermaid sighting in paradise. – Chrissann Nickel
  • A bag full of reef-safe sunscreen – ironically, it’s either unavailable or $50 USD for a 4oz bottle on my island. – Roxane Boonstra
  • Floating cooler. Umm… brilliant! – Magnolia Vessup
  • Floating bar to share with friends. – Jillian Morris

–   ISLAND LIFE ENHANCEMENTS   –

*click for image credit

  • Gardening supplies of all kinds – mini tools, seeds, even kitchen herbs in pots. – Zandilli Lucien
  • A new yoga mat. – Mariah Moyle
  • A Ukulele. What better way to pass the island time than to strum a tune on an awesome uke! – Miss Ingrid
  • A nice fabric hammock. We have very few choices here, usually cheaply made and hence fall apart. Having been deposited on the hard ground when one gave way, this would be a much appreciated present for me. – Inga Emma
  • Magazines for the beach. – Deb Crofutt
  • Noise-canceling headphones for working at home or trying to sleep with all the roosters, dogs, bars, and people making as much noise as they apparently can at all hours. – Rika
  • Adult coloring books and colored pencils. They are one of my favorite ways to chill on a non-beach, non-boating day at home with wine and a good audiobook #nerdalert – Chrissann
  • Polaroid camera. Camera photos are fun for sharing but nothing beats the real thing! A Polaroid camera, one that instantly gives a picture, is great for taking close-up pics on the beach of the life and adventures of a woman on a rock! – Miss Ingrid
  • Books! I can’t rely on my Kindle to turn on all the time and I just get really excited to have something new to read, even though it may take me months to actually get around to reading it. – Carrie Tripodi
  • A Netflix subscription – because rainy season can be long and so can full seasons of TV shows. – Amanda Walkins
  • Paints – good for passing the time and they’re expensive here! – Carrie Tripodi
  • Fancy pens and markers. – Deb Crofutt
  • iTunes gift cards. On my rock, you can only get one radio station that’s not “Christian” or local talk radio format. – Danielle Collins
  • Costumes and masks. They’re the perfect way to spice up an island party of pretty much any kind and there is no such thing as too many costumes! – Chrissann Nickel
  • A bluetooth speaker – because you can’t just hang out on the front porch in the evening without some gorgeous island tunes wafting through the breeze. Also, because sometimes you need to drown out the cacophony of island sounds while you work from said porch. – Amanda Walkins
  • A mixtape. I don’t know about you but my radio sometime-y internet is spotty and my cable is nonexistent if a good wind comes along. Help us keep up on new tunes by sending some amazing music to an amazing woman on a rock to compliment and contrast her island views. – Miss Ingrid
    • I agree! A list of the latest pop hits would be awesome, since the only radio station we get is country (“The Rooster”) – Roxane Boonstra
  • A camera to put on my cat to see what she’s up to all day. – Carrie Tripodi

–   BEATING THE HEAT   –

*click for image credit

  • Mini ice packs to keep your groceries cool on the long, hot drives home. No more ice cream soup! – Beth Rhind
  • Battery-operated handheld fans – the motors on those suckers burn out so quickly, so I can’t get enough of them! – Ginger
    • I agree! A battery operated fan and a lantern for all the hot and muggy power outages would be great. – Rika
  • An old school hand fan to store in your purse to feel like a lady while beating the island heat on ferries, in lines, etc. – Chrissann
  • A hot water bottle. Ok, I know you think I’m crazy BUT if you fill that baby up and then freeze it, you’ve got yourself a refreshingly icy cuddle buddy. Game-changer. – Amanda Walkins

–   BEATING THE BUGS   –

*click for image credit

  • Super OFF! – you can always use more. – Marina Ricci
  • The Biteaway gadget for those who suffer from mosquito bites. It’s a heat gun which you activate on a fresh bite and if you get it in time, there is no itching. They’re available on Amazon at wildly different prices, so it’s worth checking German Amazon and UK Amazon too. Apparently, UK Amazon will ship to the Caribbean at no charge, whereas American Amazon frequently will not. – Val Zaccharias
  • Seriously – anything that repels bugs. You can never have enough citronella candles; there is nothing more satisfying in life than the electric bug zapping rackets; and the more deet the better. – Christine O’Neill
  • A back-up Jolt. Always a winner. – Ashley Ladlie
    • I agree! Mosquito rackets – one for each hand, one for each room. So, for a family of four, you’ll need about 20 of these. – Danielle Collins
  • Stock in OFF! products. Because as horrible as that crap is, it’s used by everybody and their mother. It’ll pay off someday.- Amanda Walkins
  • Alternatively, Avon Skin So Soft Sunscreen/SPF combo because it combines effective sunscreen with effective big repellent and is impossible to buy on most islands. – Amanda Walkins
  • A mosquito net. – Jadine Yarde

–   FOR THE ISLAND MAMA   –

*click for image credit

–   THE UBER PRACTICAL   –

*click for image credit

  • Duct tape. Because it fixes everything. And everything is broken. – Stephanie Tavera
  • A headlamp. Great in power outages, reading at night, and full moon hikes up to Rams Head. Every island girl should have one. – Laurie Damron
  • Money. Everything is so stinking expensive. Just cash is fine – no need to worry about people thinking you didn’t put any effort into thinking of some awesome thoughtful gift – really… money is cool. Not gift cards, just Benjamins. – Magnolia Vessup
  • Gift card to Drugstore/Beauty.com. – Ashley Ladlie
  • Fix-a-Flat – can’t live without it. The best money I ever spent on island. – Ginger
  • Concentrated anti-fungal cream – because the humidity is real. – Miss Ingrid
  • If you want to slow your vehicle’s decline into a full-on “island car”, waterproof seat covers and weather tech floor liners help a lot. – Danielle Collins
  • A pack of Bic cigarette lighters. They cost $2 a piece down here! – Ashley Ladlie
  • Machete. Hello? Coconut palms, people! – Magnolia Vessup
  • Good waterproof mascara. – Deb Crofutt
  • A side mirror for my car, which fell off during a grocery trip last week. – Roxane Boonstra
  • Aloe for all those times you get burned. – Marina Ricci
  • A durable, easily transportable umbrella (it rains often without warning) – Jadine Yarde

–   THE FANTASTICAL   –

PHC_WWLOR

  • Get my favorite band to come here and play a gig for a change instead of me having to go there to see them. Ditto parents. – Ashley Ladlie
  • A snow machine would make me soooo happy. I miss not having a white Christmas. While I’m certain the snow would melt as soon as it hit the ground, watching snow fall from the sky would make me one incredibly happy island girl. – Claudia Hanna
  • Personal head cooler (PHC). It’s necessary. (see photo above) – Christine O’Neill
  • How wonderful would it be to receive a morning delivery of The New York Times? Currently, it arrives a day late at a cost of $10 per issue. Enough said. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield
  • A lifetime promise from LIME/FLOW cell carrier to never, ever, send promotional text messages at 6am (or whenever) on a day off (or any day besides that). – Roxane Boonstra
  • A floating farm as big as Iowa would be nice. By the time we get our lettuces and veggies by container ship, we can already see them starting to turn. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield
  • Since we don’t have street addresses, I am always wishing for an island-compatible GPS (“Turn left at the mango tree!”; “Don’t take the next right unless you have 4WD!”). I mean, I’d also love mail delivery service at my home address, but baby steps. – Ginger
  • A cool car. The speed limit here is 20mph and the engine size of cars is limited so fancy motoring is out of the question, but maybe Santa could dream up something interesting. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield
  • A highly-focused comet to kill off all the mosquitoes. And bring back the dinosaurs. – Chrissann Nickel
  • Although palm trees are perfect, every once in awhile a little fall foliage and sparkling snow would be super. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield
  • Why is there not a good Chinese restaurant here? There are 57 in the Niagara Falls area of New York alone and they have a population which is smaller than ours in Bermuda: 49,219 versus 60,000. – Darlene McCarthy-Barnfield

 –   –   –

*click for image credit

What’s on your holiday wish list this year?

Print Friendly
This entry was posted in Chrissann Nickel's posts, General, Holidays on the Rocks, Island List-icles and tagged , , by Chrissann Nickel. Bookmark the permalink.
Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Virgin Gorda, BVI

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 2006

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: California

Subscribe Here

13 thoughts on “100+ Unconventional Gifts for the Islander on your List

  1. Great list!
    For those whose closets are too damp: wire in a light socket or two, and leave the light on all the time. It produces enough heat to counteract the humidity. It also helps to leave the door open – the louvres in my closet door are more of a decoration.

  2. Unfortunately i could only read about haif of this great post! Is it just me that couldnt read the part written on the palm tree/beach pic?

  3. That was a great post, Chrissann. I especially loved the Personal Head Cooler. That cracked me up.

    I would also add a supply of universal remotes for things like the A/C, TV, etc. They go bad so fast and are so hard to find (even though almost everyone here has those wall-mounted a/c units). We had to resort to using a ladder to manually turn on the a/c for weeks until the a/c guy found one on another island!

  4. I laughed so hard at these, nodding “yes, yes, YES” all the way! Being an island girl since 2007, they all hit home. One I would add would be — solar anything that actually works longer than a week. I’m not sure if it is because half the year our days are sufficiently short of direct sunlight (depending on which side of the hill you live on)….but I’ve spend 100s on solar lights, chargers, all of it – and they haven’t made it thru a single season yet. A nice pile o’ stuff decorating my terrace……

  5. This list is brilliant. As a fellow “Woman on a Rock,” I can relate to all of the above. Here in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, we have it pretty good. But it’s always a challenge. Here’s my top ten odd Christmas-list wishes:

    10. Beach towels. Nothing ruins towels faster than salt water, hanging up to dry in the hot sun, bleach, and a thousand uses per week.

    9. No-see-um screen because dang, those things bite me when the doors are closed, DEET is on, and the wind is blowing.

    8. Reef Fanning flip flops. Best shoes ever invented. They have great arch support, don’t get slippery when wet, and can open your husband’s Kalik for him. If only they sold one with a corkscrew?!

    7. Berries. Any type, really, other than the clamshells that look so tempting at the store for $10, only to find that the secondary and consecutive layers are covered with mold.

    8. Cheap, terrible for you, squishy, non-stale white bread. Just every once in a while, a PB and J would be fantastic with some non-stale white bread with nary a weevil in sight.

    7. An RO machine, because the 5 gallon water jugs go way too fast with a family of five.

    6. Milk by the gallon. Otherwise it costs more than $10 per gallon here, and despite the late expiration date, it’s gone bad within 2 days of purchase.

    5. Printer ink because we have memories to print, schoolwork to assign, labels to make, and the local prices are astronomical.

    4. Tape. All kinds. Scotch, duct, and my personal fav, clear electrical tape are the best choices. As your list stated, everything is broken, but with the right tape, there’s not much that can’t be fixed.

    3. Microwave meals. There’s no fast food, no convenience food at all, and the children want to eat dinner EVERY night! A good, cheap, easy microwave meal, every once in a while, would be so appreciated.

    2. Bathing suits, because the sun, sand, boat decking, line drying, and frequent wear can destroy a new suit in 1.2 weeks.

    1. Sunscreen, in both lotion and spray. Come on. This is obvious for us. We have three red headed children and we live in the tropics. We go through that stuff like air. Lotion for the initial application, then spray for the touch ups when the kids are covered in sand and rubbing hurts. And oil free for me, because my skin ain’t getting any younger with all of this gorgeous endless summer sun.

    And there you have it. My version of odd, island-life Christmas gifts. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. As an islanders myself, I agree with a lot of these “grievances”. I have them too. But why does the tone of most of these requests rub me the wrong way? Ha. Privileged immigrants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *