Just as a three-hour tour became much more than Gilligan and company bargained for, not all trips in real life turn out as expected. These once stranded travelers learned the hard way that it takes more than a coconut phone to get rescued from a remote locale.
1: Fyre Festival
Thousands of travelers expected the party of the year on a beach in the Bahamas. Instead, they ended up stranded. Billed as the hottest music festival of 2017, complete with luxurious perks like arrival via private plane and gourmet catering, Fyre Festival proved disastrous as guests who paid up to $100,000 per ticket slept on bare, wet mattresses, ate cold cheese sandwiches, and tried in vain to fly back to Miami.
In a bid to lure the internet’s elite to the hottest music event of the season, businessman Billy McFarland cut corners and defrauded thousands of ticket-buyers to the now infamous Fyre Festival. He is currently serving a six-year prison sentence. That’s what you get when you try to plan an event in four months that should’ve taken at least a year.
2: Not Quite Home for the Holidays
In late December 2022, a mechanical issue caused a United Airlines flight from LA to Sydney to make an emergency landing on Pago Pago Island in American Samoa. But unlike GilIgan’s crew, these passengers were treated to hotel rooms and free beers on the beach while they waited for a new plane to arrive just a day later.
3: Day Trip Turned Disaster
An island-hopping outing turned into a rescue mission when a group of local college students ended up stranded in the Philippines more than 18 miles from their home port. Luckily, the local disaster management team was able to rescue all 18 students just a few hours later.
4: Real-Life Castaway
In February 2021, a routine Coast Guard fly-over of the Bahamas resulted in the discovery of three castaways on a deserted island. The trio had survived for 33 days on a diet of coconuts, conchs, and rats.
5: Vacation Nightmare
Thousands of Korean tourists found themselves stranded in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam as “super-typhoon” Mawar devastated the South Pacific. While local airports were shut down for days, no casualties were reported from the severe storm.
6: Living on Lemons
In August 2022, a 51-year-old Brazilian gardener was rescued from uninhabited Palmas Island off of Rio de Janeiro. He had been swept off a seaside observation point and dragged two miles to the deserted island, where he survived for five days on lemons and seawater.
7: Stranded by Choice
After his catamaran capsized near the coast of Italy’s Budelli Island in 1989, Mauro Morandi fell in love with the island and decided to replace its newly retired caretaker. Thirty-two years later, in 2021, Italy’s Robinson Crusoe (as he was affectionately known) was evicted by the national park service.
8: An Unexpected Journey
Mexican fisherman José Salvador Alvarenga has the unfortunate distinction of holding the record for longest solo survival at sea. He drifted over 6,700 miles from the fishing village of Costa Azul to the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, where he was rescued. The ordeal lasted 438 days and resulted in the death of Jose’s fishing partner.
9: Message in a Bottle
Six sailors were rescued from a deserted island off the coast of Brazil after being stranded for 13 days. The Brazilian Navy found the crew thanks to one of the oldest tricks in the book: A simple message in a bottle with the crew’s location, families’ phone numbers, and a plea for help.
10: Happily Alone
Three years into an ambitious 8,700-mile hike along Great Britain’s coast, Welsh hiker Christian Lewis found himself stranded on the remote Scottish Shetland Islands in March 2020 as the world shut down. Instead of panicking, the hiker was in heaven, living in a cottage on the deserted island, waiting out the metaphorical storm with his dog, Jet.
So, what should you do if you find yourself stranded on a deserted island? According to adventure tourism group Desert Island Survival, you’ll want to stay calm and remember the five pillars of survival: shelter, water, fire, food, and mindset.
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