As anyone who lives on an island knows, the size of that island is inversely proportional to how quickly it will drive you mad.

Here’s a handy graph for those who prefer to process things visually:

Happily, there’s a cure for Island Fever (IF): It’s getting off the rock. If you’re in the latter stages of the disease, you’ll probably have an urge to throw yourself into the sea and start swimming in the other direction from land. This is a mistake. Getting off the rock should always be done on an approved (and safe) method of transportation (i.e. airplane or boat).

But before you can dispense the cure, you need to recognize the disease. So here are the 4 stages of Island Fever. Note them well – sooner or later, it strikes down all of us.

And don’t think you’re immune just because you’ve had it before. Much like the common cold, this thing mutates and comes back around.

You can – and will – get sick of this view.


They say that prevention is the best kind of cure, so my (non-medical) advice is to have regularly scheduled holidays planned. If your travel agent, husband, or bank manager raises an eyebrow at this, just tell them it’s doctor’s orders.

Stage 1: Slightly Peevish

You’re snapping at the kids, cursing at the dog, and shooting sullen glances at your coworkers. It might be a bad day, or it might be the early stages of the dreaded Island Fever. Catching IF in its early stages can help you head off the worst of it. Alert your family to the symptoms below so you can all keep an eye on each other. If several members of the family succumb at once, quarantine yourselves in the departure lounge of the nearest airport.

Symptoms: Mild irritation, severe impatience, growing bad temperedness.

Cure: Take a short break to the states and prescribe yourself a few days of discount shopping. Be sure to take a moment to revel in the good customer service, great selections, and reasonable pricing.

Stage 2: Downright Restless

My island is only 22 miles long. When I keep driving those 22 miles back and forth and complaining that there’s “nowhere to go,” there’s a good chance I’m at the second stage.

Symptoms: Habitual pacing, constant fidgeting, involuntary twitching.

Cure: Pick a destination that you’ve never been to before and go there. Be a tourist – gawk at the sights, eat the local food, walk until your legs wobble. Soak up the newness.

Stage 3: Full Blown Rage

Warning: this stage can involve a lot of cursing. It’s not unusual for a sufferer to go full Hulk. In my experience, the things that can set off an attack are bugs, power cuts, the heat, inefficient government bureaucracy, being unable to find decent potatoes… you get the idea.

Symptoms: Constant, simmering anger directed at almost anything.

Cure: Take a spa break at a resort on another island. Let the sound of unfamiliar waves on an unfamiliar beach soothe your angry soul, and challenge yourself to discover how many massages you can fit into one afternoon.

Stage 4: Complete Claustrophobia

If you’re sick of the same restaurants, tired of driving the same roads, exhausted at the thought of seeing the same people, and frustrated at looking at the same views, then you’re deep into the fever and it’s time for a complete change of scene.

Symptoms: A growing fear that you will punch the next tourist or visitor who says, “How could you ever get sick of that view?”

Cure: Go home (wherever home is) for a while and spend some time with family. Breathe some fresh, new air and get a little perspective because the truth is that Island Fever and Island Love are two sides of the same coin. The rock may seem like a prison sometimes, but mostly, it’s paradise. And you’ll remember that after some time away.

–   –   –

Are you experiencing any of the above stages? How do you typically cure your Island Fever when it hits you?

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

New Providence, Bahamas

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Hailing from Ireland, Cath has always lived on a rock but in 2009, that rock got a lot smaller (and a lot warmer) when she moved to New Providence in The Bahamas. Since then she’s learnt how to paddleboard, adopted two dogs, swum with sharks, figured out how to open a coconut, developed a taste for rum, bought a boat, sold a boat, met a manatee, and got married (side note: this might be the most important use of the Oxford Comma in history). 

Cath earns her rum money writing for a living and when she’s not slaving away in an office without a view she’s having beach days, boat days, swim days and generally-anything-outdoors days. Since the island only has two seasons, Hot and Less Hot, the years go by quickly and while Cath doesn’t know if living on a rock will be a permanent thing, it certainly seems to be working out that way. 

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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