The best books about remote tropical islands

Who am I?

Simon Michael Prior loves small islands, and has travelled to remote countries in search of unique island experiences. He inflicts all aspects of life on himself so that readers can enjoy learning about his latest exploits. During his forty-year adolescence, he’s lived on two boats, sunk one of them; sold houses, street signs, Indian food, and paper bags; visited fifty countries, lived in three; qualified as a scuba diving instructor; learnt to wakeboard; trained as a Marine Rescue skipper, and built his own house without the benefit of an instruction manual.

I wrote...

The Coconut Wireless

By Simon Michael Prior,

Book cover of The Coconut Wireless

What is my book about?

A fun true story with romance, travel and adventure. When Simon and Fiona embark on a quest to track down the Queen of Tonga, they have no idea they’ll end up marooned on a desert island. No idea they’ll encounter an undiscovered tribe, rescue a drowning actress, learn jungle survival from a commando, and attend cultural ceremonies few Westerners have seen. 

As they find out who hooks up, who breaks up, who cracks up, and who throws up, will they fulfill Simon’s ambition to see the queen, or will they be distracted by insomniac chickens, grunting wild piglets, and the easy-going Tongan lifestyle?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Teatime Islands: Adventures in Britain's Faraway Outposts

Why did I love this book?

As an Englishman, I’m very taken by books which combine travel with English history. Ben Fogle takes us through the last remnants of the British Empire, tiny islands that have refused independence and resolutely fly the Union Jack. His adventures in Tristan da Cunha, Diego Garcia, and St Helena took me to three places I had never been to. Like me, Fogle is an islandophile and I recommend this for anyone wanting to know about these islands that are in many ways more British than Britain.

By Ben Fogle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Teatime Islands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcomed with open arms, derided as a pig-ignorant tourist and occasionally mocked mercilessly for his trouble, Ben Fogle visited the last flag-flying outposts of the British Empire. With caution, dignity and a spare pair of pants thrown to the wind, he set out to discover just exactly who would choose to live on islands as remote as these and - more importantly - tried to figure out exactly why. Landing himself on islands so isolated, wind-swept, barren and just damned peculiar that they might have Robinson Crusoe thinking twice, Fogle: almost becomes lunch on the appropriately named Carcass Island; gets…

Book cover of Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons

Why did I love this book?

I’ve been a Durrell fan since I was 13, and I’ve collected all his books. This one opened my eyes to a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and its nearby neighbour Round Island. Durrell’s books are focused on conservation of the animal world, but his books are as much about the human animal, and his adventures and descriptions of the people he meets and the locations he travels to bring his books to life. Highly recommended for anyone interested in travel, conservation and humour.

By Gerald Durrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On this speck of volcanic soil in the middle of a vast sea, a complete, unique and peaceful world was created slowly and carefully. It waited there for hundreds of thousands of years for an annihilating invasion of voracious animals for which it was totally unprepared, a cohort of rapacious beasts led by the worst predator in the world, Homo sapiens...In an incredibly short space of time, a number of unique species had vanished...Mauritius, the green and mountainous island in the Indian Ocean that was once the home of the ill-fated dodo, still had among its fauna many unique but…

Book cover of Island of Dreams: The True Story of One Family's Quest for Paradise

Why did I love this book?

An incredible motivating story of a man who refused to allow his poverty-stricken working-class life define him. Tony Williams, a school caretaker, had a dream to move to a desert island. His peers in his dead-end town ridiculed him, but he persisted with his ambition. Saving up money by pretending they smoked, and needed to buy cigarettes every day, Tony and his wife managed to travel to and live on uninhabited islands in the South Pacific twice, once with their kids. Anyone who believes their own personal circumstances prevent them from achieving their dreams needs to read this book, as well as anyone interested in the Cook Islands and the South Pacific lifestyle.

By Tony Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Island of Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true story of a Welsh family who left Swansea to live on a remote Pacific island. Tony Williams was determined to fulfill his lifelong ambition. They would become the Bounty Hunters - he the latter-day Robinson Crusoe, Kathy his girl Friday, and the children his castaway clan. Tony Williams swapped the gloom of recession-hit Britain for a hut on the desert island of Mania, 10,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the story of their initial struggle for survival and of their eventual life in paradise.

Last Chance to See

By Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine,

Book cover of Last Chance to See

Why did I love this book?

What happens when a science-fiction writer accompanies a naturalist to observe animals before they become extinct? Douglas Adams is known as the author of The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, but his observations of severely endangered animals add humour to this very serious subject. As well as other locations, he visits Mauritius, visiting some places Gerald Durrell helped establish, Rodrigues, also in the Indian Ocean, and Komodo Island in Indonesia where he observes Komodo Dragons in a contrived tourist attraction. Notably, since the book was published over twenty years ago, one species has been lost forever, and at least one has recovered in numbers slightly.

By Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Last Chance to See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Descriptive writing of a high order... this is an extremely intelligent book' The Times

Join Douglas Adams, bestselling and beloved author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and zoologist Mark Carwardine on an adventure in search of the world's most endangered and exotic creatures.

In this book, Adams' self-proclaimed favourite of his own works, the pair encounter animals in imminent peril: the giant Komodo dragon of Indonesia, the lovable kakapo of New Zealand, the blind river dolphins of China, the white rhinos of Zaire, the rare birds of Mauritius island in the Indian Ocean and the alien-like aye-aye of…

Book cover of Transit of Venus: Travels in the Pacific

Why did I love this book?

Julian Evans takes us on a personal tour through the islands of the South Pacific, a region for which I have my own fondness. As well as places I know and love such as Tonga and Vanuatu, Evans visits harder to reach places: The Marshall islands and the Gilbert and Ellis group. Encountering natives, visitors, political and geographical challenges, his story is told with good humour and adventure.

By Julian Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transit of Venus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pacific Ocean calls to mind a world of fabulous kingdoms and noble savages, guilt free sex and gin-clear lagoons, and a perfect idleness fed by lush fruits and fish-rich seas. Ever since Captain Cook first went to Tahiti in 1769 to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, this dream of the Pacific has not lost its force. But Julian Evans's journey through the island archipelagos of the Great Ocean was also informed by a quest into our more modern myths - such as Peacekeeper missiles and nuclear bombs being tested by the US Army. With humour and…

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