Summer is the ideal time to (re)discover islands of adventure. Islands populated by castaways, smugglers, pirates, fantastic beings and insoluble mysteries. Islands where you can travel through your imagination, under an umbrella next to the murmur of the sea or in the solitude of a mountain refuge or simply from the sofa at home. But islands, too, to explore with a backpack on your shoulder. Because some of the most renowned fictional islands were inspired by reality... Here are five proposals.
The gang formed by Julián, Dick, Ana, Jorgina and her pet Tim, the endearing characters of the writer Enid Blyton, lived several of their adventures on the island of Kirrin. It was an uninhabited English islet and difficult to access, since it had only one mooring point: a small inlet between cliffs. The castle – located at its highest point and perfectly visible from the coast – was in ruins, invaded by weeds. In their dungeons, a maze of gloomy passageways, the gang found an ancient treasure... The Five also discovered a secret cave that overlooked a cliff. They accessed it through a hole in the ceiling hidden in the undergrowth.
This island is inspired by the island of Purbeck – actually a peninsula – in the English Channel. Blyton knew it well, since he spent his honeymoon there in 1924 and visited regularly for 20 years. Today it has picturesque cabins, farms and hostels where you can stay while enjoying its nature. Its main attractions are the beaches and trails. An abandoned castle is also located in Purbek - Corfe Castle. It dates from the s. XI, and in the XIII it was used to keep royal treasures. It was, by the way, the setting chosen to shoot the series Los Cinco in the 90s.
The most famous castaway in literature spent 28 years on a deserted island at the mouth of the Orinoco, near the coasts of Trinidad and Venezuela. Robinson Crusoe's first impression was that this was an arid land, between ravines and cliffs where the sea broke furiously. However, over time he discovered clear waters, forests, flowery fields and fruits that gave him sustenance. He also realized that the land was suitable for growing rice and barley. On the other hand, he managed to raise some flames. From the highest point of the island, on the top of a hill, Crusoe was scanning the horizon in search of a ship that might come to the rescue.
The novel by the English writer Daniel Defoe was inspired by the story of the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who managed to survive for almost five years on an island about 600 km from Valparaíso, in Chile. In his time, at the beginning of the s. XVIII, it was known as the island of Más a Tierra. But since 1966 it has received the name – undoubtedly the most popular one – of Robinson Crusoe Island. Its scarce 50 km2 are today a refuge for tourists seeking to isolate themselves from the madding crowd. Among its main attractions are water activities –diving, kayaking, sailing…– and excursions through almost virgin landscapes. From Sentinel Hill, one can emulate Crusoe scrutinizing the sea.
According to the map kept by the sailor Billy Bones, the treasure of Captain Flint – “the bloodiest pirate that ever lived” – was located on a remote island in the Atlantic, near the Caribbean. The shape of him was reminiscent of a dragon in attack position, bristling with hills. The highest and most central one bore the name of Hill of the Spyglass. Upon disembarking on that island, the young protagonist of the novel, Jim Hawkins, was disappointed. It was a territory with a uniform and sad aspect, where the gray of the forest predominated between strips of yellow beach. However, after entering the thicket and overcoming some dangers, the expedition managed to find Ben Gunn's cave: a well-ventilated grotto with fresh water where they found "great mountains of gold coins and piles of gold bars".
Several islands dispute the honor of having inspired the novel by Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson. First, Unst, in Shetland. The author's father and uncle were the principal engineers for the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse at its north-western end. Unst is also famous for the richness of its fauna, the beauty of its beaches and a clear sky ideal for stargazing. Also in Scottish waters, Fidra is an uninhabited rocky island that bears some resemblance to the descriptions in the novel. Another candidate is Norman Island, in the British Virgin Islands archipelago. According to legend, it preserves the treasure of a Spanish galleon from the mid-s. XVIII whose crew mutinied. And there is still more: some Caribbean islands claim to be the real inspiration for Treasure Island...
On its way from Sydney to Los Angeles, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crashes on a mysterious island in the middle of the Pacific. An idyllic setting – virgin beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees and thick forests – but where a series of phenomena occurs, each more inexplicable. The survivors will soon discover that they are not as alone as they thought, which does not necessarily mean an improvement in their situation... Over the course of six seasons, Lost had millions of viewers on edge. The series –despite its controversial ending– marked a milestone in television fiction.
The idea came about, according to former ABC president Lloyd Braun, while on vacation in Hawaii. He came up with the idea of producing an adaptation of Tom Hanks' Castaway movie for TV but with elements of the reality show Survivors. And it was in Hawaii where the natural filming scenes would be concentrated. In particular, on Oahu. For example, the pilot episode was filmed on Mokuleia beach (many onlookers warned that a real air tragedy had occurred, the commotion was such that the authorities had to install an explanatory poster). Oahu is the most populous island in Hawaii. Among its biggest attractions are Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor Bay, the volcanic cone of Diamond Head and the bustling capital, Honolulu.
Lilliput is the first destination in Gulliver's Travels. It is a round island, about 19 km in diameter, made up of a grid of forests and fields delimited by fences. It has the particularity that everything in it is small: the mountains, the houses, the animals... and of course, the people. Lilliputians measure about 15 cm. Its capital, Mildendo, is a square-shaped city with two main cross streets. According to the novel, the island lies at a point northwest of Tasmania (then Van Diemen's Land). However, the coordinates he gives place it in the Australian outback.
Irish writer Jonathan Swift's novel represents a satire on human nature. Starting from a parody of travel stories, he criticizes the behavior of the society of his time. The Lilliput story, for example, points to those who were ready to declare war under any pretext. In fact, the dispute between the Lilliputians and the inhabitants of the neighboring island of Blefuscu goes back to an old discussion about which side should crack the eggs... In this case, then, there seems to be no island that inspired the author.