Palau Eil Malik Jellyfish Lake


Top 5 Survivor locations to check out

Published February 26th, 2014

The latest Survivor: Cagayan premieres today in the US. That’s 28 seasons of ‘Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.’ for one of the original American reality TV shows. Since Survivor first burst onto our screens in 2000, we’ve watched as castaways were marooned in remote locales around the world; grouped into tribes to find the basics of food, shelter and water; and then competed in mental, physical and skill challenges for reward or immunity and to be the ‘Sole Survivor’.


The phrase, “The tribe has spoken”, is now part of the modern lexicon when Survivor host Jeff Probst snuffs out an eliminated team member’s torch at the Tribal Council. And let’s not forget the buff and chiselled bods of the competitors at the end of their ordeal, the Buff headwear fashion statements (It’s a boob tube! It’s a bandana! It’s a scarf!),  those gross-out eating challenges (dubbed ‘Survivor Smorgasbord’) that had us wondering what we would do for US$1 million in prize money – bug larvae, mangrove worm or tarantula, anyone?


Every season of Survivor has introduced a new tropical or remote locale and changed up the format with twists to keep competitors on their toes and viewers glued to their screens. With the latest season set in Cagayan, a northern province of the Philippines and the third set in this country, here’s a look back at some of the most memorable Survivor settings.



Survivor: Borneo  

The first-ever season of US Survivor was set in Pulau Tiga, an uninhabited island 10 kilometres off the west coast of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The island was created from an 1897 volcanic explosion and is now covered in dense vegetation with bubbling mud volcanoes. Now also known as ‘Survivor Island’, you can stay in one of two resorts: Pulau Tiga Resort or Borneo Survivor Resort.

The Survivor experience: Pulau Tiga is famous for its therapeutic bubbling natural volcanic mud baths and snakes!

Getting there:  It’s a 120-kilometre bus and taxi trip from Kota Kinabalu city or a 30-minute boat ride.



Survivor: Marquesas

Part of French Polynesia, Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesa Islands and the setting for the fourth season of the hit show. The sparsely populated and largely untouched South Pacific locale is all jagged rocks rising from lush green valleys, crashing waterfalls and pounding waves. There’s a settlement, Taioha’e, known as the capital of the Marquesas, and a number of hillside lodges.

The Survivor experience: Coming across hidden giant stone tiki, temples and ruins and a certain rep for cannibalism in these parts.

Getting there: It’s a 3.5-hour flight from Papeete, Bora Bora or Rangiroa to the airstrip in Terre Déserte (Desert Land), northwest of Taioha’e.



Survivor: Palau

Located southeast of the Philippines, Palau is made up of 16 states, one of which is Koror - an island archipelago where the 10th season of Survivor was filmed and the name of one of the competing tribes. While the show was themed around World War II battle between Japan and the US in the region, offshore diving is the main attraction here. The city of Koror is also the largest city in Palau.

The Survivor experience: Check out Jellyfish Lake, an amazing inland marine lake on Eil Malk island where you can swim among millions of bobbing golden jellyfish that have lost their sting due to having no natural predators.

Getting there: It’s a 1.45-hour flight from Guam to Koror Airport on Babeldaob island and then a shuttle bus or car across the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge to Kokor island.



Survivor: Guatemala 

Season 11 of Survivor was set in the Yaxhá-Nakúm-Naranjo National Park in Petén in northern Guatemala, and in particular around Laguna Yaxhá. The Central American location is known for the ancient Mayan city of Yaxhá, a pre-Columbian archaeological site with altars and pyramids amid jungles with poisonous plants and crocodile-infested lakes that’s right out of Indiana Jones.

The Survivor experience: Pitch your tent on raised wooden platforms with thatched roofs at Campamento Yaxhá for free. Unlike Survivor, there’s outbuildings with showers, toilets and a store with drinking water. BYO food and mozzie repellent!

Getting there: It’s an 11-kilometre drive north of the village of Puente Ixlú and 33 kilometres’ drive from Melchor de Mencos on the border of Belize and Guatemala.



Survivor: Gabon

One of only two Survivor series set in Africa, the 17th season was filmed around the coastal towns of Nyonié and Ekwata in the West African country of Gabon. Tagged ‘Earth’s Last Eden’, the equatorial locale was the Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve – an area of mainly thick jungle rainforest  that’s home to free-range gorillas, surfing hippos and swarms of malarial mozzies. Oh, and the indigenous tribe is the Pygmies.

The Survivor experience:  Almost impossible to get to. Knee-deep mud, being up close to an array of wild animals in a protected reserve and miles of untouched white sand beaches.

Getting there: It’s a two-hour boat ride from the Gabonese capital, Libreville, and then a 45-minute 4WD trip on unsealed roads as part of a guided tour with a stay at Nyonié beach camp.



Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.