Timothy Hill Viewpoint in St Kitts

Island Fever: The 4 Stages and How to Cure Them

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Island fever is something everyone who has ever lived on a rock will tell you about. It’s a unique phenomenon not dissimilar to cabin fever and is directly related to the size of the island you live on and the proximity to the shore. The feeling that you are disconnected from ‘the real world’ and the smaller the island the quicker you get infected. For example, when we lived in the UK once maybe twice a year, we would enjoy a nice holiday abroad. The break would refresh our sense of living and coming home to our island we would feel all the better for it.

Now we live on St Kitts which has a total space of 18 miles long by 5 miles wide it’s easy to feel a little claustROCKphobic (get it?!). Before you get to the stage where you want to jump in the ocean and start swimming for the nearest landmass, it’s important to identify the signs.

Timothy Hill Viewpoint in St Kitts

Signs of Island fever

Stage 1: Irritation

In the first instance you will feel moody and whingy. Every tourist who wishes you a good day will have you feeling disgruntled. Things that you normally pass off as island quirks will grind your gears.

Cure: Take a spa break, buy a resort pass and have a day to yourself to relax and unwind. Drink as many fancy cocktails as you can and treat yourself to a massage. Or grab some beers and a book and head to a secluded beach that is void of tourists.

Legs facing the sea on a beach holding a cocktail

Stage 2: Restlessness

When you only have 67 square miles you start to get itchy feet. Restlessness, knee jerking, dreaming of faraway places you start complaining that there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Cure: A long weekend away, book a mini break. This can either be a staycation somewhere on island you wouldn’t normally visit. Treat yourself to an indulgent hotel where all your needs are taken care of. Our favourite respite is a day trip to the sister island Nevis. Grabbing some beach gear and getting a water taxi across is the island equivalent of a road trip, all 8 minutes of it!

Lewis and Steph stood in front of a beach taking a day trip to Nevis to stave off island fever.

Stage 3: Pissed off

This stage usually involves a lot of swearing and cursing. You will start snapping at even the littlest thing. Like when they are out of your favourite rum at your local beach bar or you can’t find any decent salad or the fact you waited over an hour for your bill in a restaurant. Whatever the inconvenience you will start to simmer. Even your beautiful sea view and the sound of the waves on your doorstep will become mundane.

Cure: Grab a trip to a nearby island and enjoy new beaches with different cocktails and unfamiliar faces. Let the sound of different tropical birds chirping soothe your angry soul. Have a wander around unfamiliar shops and pamper your inner tourist.

To combat island fever you sometime sneed to leave for a different island. This is a beach in Jamaica with a palm tree overhanging the sand.

Stage 4: Losing your shit

The final straw will be seeing your co-workers in the supermarket or at the beach and having them start talking shop. Before you lose your shit, you need to stop. Take a deep breath, recognise the warning signs then take control. If your beautiful views have become routine and you are sick of the sight of rum punch, then you’re fever is at burning point and you need to leave.

Cure: The only real cure for stage 4 island fever is to get off the rock. Go to where family live and surround yourself with love. Get on a plane to a new country and bask in the wonder of beaches you haven’t traversed yet and recline under unfamiliar palm trees. Explore a new city, revel in the amazing customer service and shop ‘til you drop. If you let your island fever progress to severe you may need the extreme cure: a skiing holiday! Yes, it sounds drastic but some crisp white snow and some layers on your bones may help to chill you out! Allow yourself some ‘me time’ and you will learn to rush slowly again.

The only way to combat island fever is to leave for a while. The view out of the window of an aeroplane overlooking turquoise Caribbean sea and an island.

How to Slow Island Fever

Indulge in all the great things island life has to offer. People from bustling cities usually find island fever the hardest to deal with. The lack of bars, restaurants, clubs, theatres, anything you would take for granted in a metropolis that is less abundant on island can make you stir crazy. Instead enjoy the abundance of free activities that your island home does have to offer. Go for walks on the beach, snorkel in the warm sea, get your hike on or get involved in community events.

To stave off island fever it’s important to become a true resident. In order to do that you must make an effort to get to know islanders. They may seem snobby at first but it’s really just that they are used to people coming and going and are wary of investing in friendships that might abruptly come to an end. Once you find your island tribe, life on the rock becomes more bearable. And while you can’t keep island fever at bay forever at least you will have your island family to help you through it.

A group of people sitting around a campfire. Keep island fever at bay by hanging out with your island family

Ultimately spending some time away may help you realise that the little rock in the ocean is not all bad and you will rediscover your love of island life.

Have you experienced the symptoms of island fever? How do you cope when it starts? Let us know in the comments!


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