There are a lot of things you can fall in love with on an island.

Island dogs? Goes without saying.

Caribbean food? Heap that plate up, bikinis be damned!

Tropical cocktails? It’s a scientific fact that Mai Tais, daiquiries & piña coladas just taste better when you’re surrounded by turquoise waves.

Other people? Yep. All the time. Something about the warm breezes and starry nights brings out the amorous in all of us.

Other people’s people? Yeah, that happens sometimes. A bit messier and best avoided whenever possible. (Sometimes it is not. Avoidable, that is. It is ALWAYS messy.)

mai tai cocktail on beach
Umbrella drinks always taste better in the tropics. True fact.

But you enter a whole different league when you fall in love with an island itself.

I’m not talking about the typical tourist exclamations of “I could live here!” or “This place is paradise. I never want to leave!” hastily proclaimed and then forgotten once they get back on the plane. No, I’m talking about the head-over-heels feelings that reverberate through your entire being when you find a place that really speaks to your spirit.

Most of the time when those feelings hit you are not expecting them. They come out of nowhere and leave you reeling.

In many cases, you are also pretty damn confused. After all, 10 minutes earlier, you were grabbing your bag from the overhead bin and jostling to be first off the plane. Maybe visions of lazy hours in a hammock under a palm tree were dancing in your head. But you certainly weren’t expecting a life-changing experience to occur with that first step into the warm, tropical air.

But it happens. (In fact, it is exactly like developing a crush on somebody. It usually makes no sense, is a bit thrilling and, depending on whether one or both of you are coupled to someone else, can wreak havoc all around.)

When you fall in love with an island, your whole world can change. And that is both exciting and terrifying. I should know. I’ve “been there, done that” as they say.

tropical beach palm tree hammock
“This was just supposed to be a vacation.” Famous. Last. Words.

But how do you know when an island has claimed your soul? It is surprisingly easy to recognize the symptoms.

You might be in love with an island if you:

Now, I’m not suggesting that any or all of the above will be easy. Truth be told, every step involved in nurturing your budding island relationship will be filled with highs and lows that defy imagination. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Or those who crave certainty or security.

hands making heart
Live the life you love, not the one others expect you to live. Photo: Riselle C.

But following your heart rarely takes you to places you’ve already been. Those familiar places that offer comfort and continuity. Whether you’re moving to an island or just another city or state, change is hard!

But when you follow your heart and embrace the good, the bad and the scary head-on, the rewards are immeasurable. And you’ll never go to your grave asking “what if?”

And that, my friends, is worth every tear and feeling of self-doubt along the way.

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