Ready for island living? Image courtesy of Morgan Pettersson.
The Pacific Islands: coconuts, beaches, hammocks — the ideal life
Yet, do not be deceived by the picture-perfect-postcard ideal lifestyle. Life on a small island can be challenging, and there are many common misconceptions that women have before moving.
Last year I lived in the remote Solomon Islands, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Yet there were many things about island life that I wish I had known before I packed my bags.
Of course, each island nation in the Pacific is different, but there are key points that link them together.
With many jobs in development in the Pacific as well as English teaching positions opening up, more and more people are making the move to the islands. Here are the top things that all Wanderful women need to know before relocating to one of the many island nations in the Pacific.
Prepare for modesty in dress.
One thing that many women do not realize before moving is that the culture of the Pacific Islands is, for the most part, very conservative. So unless you are going to be living at a resort or in a big city like Suva in Fiji, leave the short-shorts at home.
Women are expected to keep their legs covered to the knees, and outside of big towns they should wear skirts only. So embrace long, flowing, knee-length skirts!
This expectation also applies when swimming. In some areas women will be expected to wear a t-shirt and knee-length shorts to cover their legs, so leave the bikini at home.
Easy access to tampons will be a thing of the past…
In many countries tampons are hard to come by. This can be true in the Pacific as well.
If you are going to be living on a more remote outer island, you will find tampons pretty much impossible to find.
So if tampons are something that you cannot live without, then make sure you bring your own supply!
…as might be access to birth control.
Depending on where you are moving, you may find the health care system is different to your health care at home. This can affect your birth control options.
Be sure to do your research before leaving, as you may find that birth control is not available. It could be a good idea to bring enough to last you your stay.
Expect boat travel.
One of the best parts about living on a tropical island is the easy access to other tropical islands, but make sure you’re prepared for boat travel in potentially rough seas.
Do not assume that there will be life jackets on every boat on which you travel. Bringing your own life jacket is a good idea if your job does not supply one.
Things will get moldy.
The tropical weather, while beautiful, can wreak havoc on your possessions. During the wet season, when it rains every day, mold can easily build up.
Leave anything made from leather at home, and be sure to keep important documents, such as your passport, in sealed Ziploc bags, as mold has been known to creep into passports.
Cuts can become easily infected.
What would have just been a small cut at home can become infected in a hurry in the tropics.
In particular, be very careful with coral cuts, as the coral can start growing under your skin!
Make sure to bring your own medical supplies to treat infections, and always treat even a small cut as though it is serious.
Snail mail is in.
Practice your handwriting because you may find that letter writing is your main means of communication. You could have Internet access, but you may not even have access to a phone signal.
Embrace corresponding the old-fashioned way — sending and receiving letters to and from family and friends at home can be fun!
Sure, it may take a really long time for the letters to reach you (if they do at all), but there is something endearing about holding a letter that someone took the time to sit and write to you.
Embrace island time.
Island time is both the best and sometimes the worst thing about the Pacific. It means you can spend all day lazing in a hammock reading a book, but it can also mean that meetings don’t happen for weeks and school doesn’t open on time.
Embrace island time as a given, and it’s likely you will learn to love the slower pace of life.
Living in the Pacific is a wonderful experience and one that you will remember forever. I loved my time in the Solomon Islands and can’t wait to live on a small island in the South Pacific again. Yet the realities of living on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean can be a bit overwhelming. With some preparation, you can expect smoother sailing as you adjust to a new culture and new, slower way of life.