The tribe has spoken and these locations have been voted off the island.
People are likely watching Survivor for the drama, the interconnected seasons, and lore. Or, if viewers are anything like us, the destinations. Tuning in isn’t always about who will get voted off the island or which contestant will be the first to turn on their alliance, it’s about seeing the places Jeff Probst and CBS take us.
From Asia to Africa to South America, Survivor’s 40 seasons have taken us around the world and back again. Every location has its downfalls, and a few have their perks. We looked into all 21 Survivor locations to determine the very best–and the very worst–settings for wilderness living. This is every Survivor location, ranked.
21. Shaba National Reserve, Kenya (Season 3)
The Shaba National Reserve is far from somewhere we’d want to visit in a Survivor-esque situation–a guided safari, however, that’s another story. This reserve played host to season three, where contestants had to endure day temperatures in the 90s and live in thorny enclosures to stay safe from Kenya’s wildlife. Not often is the fear of being eaten by wild animals one that contestants have to consider.
20. Estuaire, Gabon (Season 17)
Season 17 kicked off in Estuaire, one of Gabon’s nine provinces. This location was far from ideal for contestants for a number of reasons, including their nine-month wet season and an average high of 88 degrees Fahrenheit—there is nothing like heat, humidity, and rain to make 39 days feel like four months. And while the climate of Estuaire was from ideal, the real danger was found in the animals of Gabon, which were reported to have prolonged production of this season.
19. Vanua Levu, Fiji (Season 14)
This isn’t your traditional season of Survivor because no other season had a coup happen during filming. And we’re not talking a Survivor coup, where one team seizes power. We’re talking about the 2006 Fijian coup d’état. On top of the obvious hardship of Survivor’s standard harsh living conditions, these contestants had the extra worry of “oh, what if suddenly we can’t go back home?”
18. Shefa, Vanuatu (Season 9)
A beautiful set of islands with picturesque beaches and waterfalls to make thrill-seekers drool, Shefa’s appearance makes you forget all about the dangers that lie ahead. It’s a perfectly mild island; oh, except for the active volcanoes and the earthquake that shook season nine’s contestants! There’s nothing like the fear of a volcano eruption on top of little-to-no food to keep you awake at night.
17. Upolu, Samoa (Season 19, 20, 23, 24)
They may not top a coup or man-eating animals, but natural disasters definitely rank high when it comes to “things I don’t want to encounter while trying to mind my business and compete for one million dollars.” While constants of Samoa were lucky to never run into a natural disaster of their own, they cut it close with an earthquake and tsunami hitting the area just mere days after filming. Otherwise beautiful though, no?
16. Aitutaki, Cook Islands (Season 13)
Resources are an important thing to have when living off the land and something Aitutaki, which housed season 13’s contestants, did not have an abundance of. With locals referring to the island as “nude island” for its lack of vegetation, it’s a wonder contestants were able to make it 39 days. And on top of having nearly no vegetation, contestants were subjected to sunburns and fishing—a hard skill to master given it seems to be a lot about luck (sorry to any pro-fishers reading).
15. Queensland, Australia (Season 2)
Overall, Queensland offered a somewhat mild backdrop to Survivor, or at least mild compared to what we were looking at before. Mild doesn’t mean pleasant, though, and there were plenty of unpleasantries to be had in season two. Queensland stays about 85 degrees year-round, which while not hot, is not exactly comfy. There also happened to be a flash storm that completely flooded one team’s camp while filming, perhaps a sign from the environment to please leave and never come back (which Survivor never did).
14. Amazonas, Brazil (Season 6)
We’ve reached the point in the list where nothing has, in Survivor history, gone terribly wrong at our locations. Instead, we’re at a section of places that are just kind of unpleasant for Survivor living. The Amazonas didn’t scar contestants with any traumatic natural disaster or animal run-ins, but the reality is that this hot, humid location is just not where you want to spend 39 days sans home and air conditioning. For our readers living in the U.S. South who consider their summers a little too bug-filled, imagine your worst day and multiply that by three.
13. Jiangxi, China (Season 15)
This is a monsoon region, and while the contestants did not personally have to deal with these gargantuan downpours of rain that can last days, they were subject to the possibility of them. While a monsoon wouldn’t have been quite as disastrous as a volcano or tsunami, it’s still far from ideal. But hey, this region isn’t too hot!
12. Petén, Guatemala (Season 11)
There are a few obstacles to overcome when it comes to Petén, one of which being the wide range of temperatures these contestants can experience during their time here. Some days it can be disgustingly hot (94 and humid, no thank you) while at night it can get quite cooler (54 is frigid when your wardrobe consists of a single tank top). On the positive side though, there are rivers carrying fresh water and an abundance of fruit—goodbye lethargy and dehydration!
11. Koror, Palau (Season 10 and 16)
Koror is neither a good or a bad place to be stranded. Sure, it’s humid and gets a decent amount of rain, but the temperature is pretty steady and there is a variety of different vegetation. Koror is what we’ll call a neither here nor there; fine enough to film in but not so great Survivor felt the need to make it their home base.
10. Tocantins, Brazil (Season 18)
A spot on the river is a definite plus, which is why this location ranks as high as it does. Fresh water keeps people cool, it keeps people refreshed, and it keeps contestants from getting absolutely filthy (of course there will eventually be some BO among contestants but the more at bay they can keep that the better, for the camera crews’ sake). Otherwise, it’s pretty hot here and there is some hiking that you’re sure to have to eventually commit to.
9. Pearl Islands, Panama (Season 7, 8, 12)
A stunning place you might add to your bucket list, Pearl Islands is a beach-lovers dream. With a wet and dry season, it’s no different from most tropical islands, but does offer shade and ample vegetation due to rich soil. Downside? One contestant got a parasite here. Alas, parasites and high rankings do not go hand in hand.
8. Koh Rong, Cambodia (Season 31, 32)
Similar to Pearl Islands, Koh Rong is perfect on paper. There are plenty of creaks and mountains, coverage for the easily sunburnt, and waterfalls for showering—or just to simply see because, hey, you may be competing on a reality show but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to do occasional tourist things. The only problem is one of the contestants did collapse from heat exhaustion.
7. Camarines Sur, Philippines (Season 25, 26)
This one might have cheated a little, but we’ll let them have it. The location, which has relatively non-dangerous wildlife and decent vegetation, is totally fine in all regards except one: fresh water. So how did they cheat you ask? Well, the producers shipped in clean water so the contestants didn’t, you know, die. And let’s be honest, they definitely do this way more than advertised every season (why we’re giving them this pass), it was just made to be a bigger deal in Camarines Sur.
6. Sabah, Malaysia (Season 1)
What is there to not love about Sabah? This state occupying the northern region of Borneo is stunning and has abundant natural resources. Season one Survivor contestants could sit back and enjoy a day on the beach (when they weren’t being forced to compete in extreme challenges) and then head off to their shelter. They could take a dip in the water when they pleased or enjoy one of the nation’s seasonal fruits. But, for all this good, contestants did have to endure temperature averages a bit hotter than most were used to, 82-to-90 degrees being the average.
5. San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua (Season 21, 22, 29, 30)
There’s a reason Survivor filmed four seasons here: it’s nice! That’s about all there is to say. While no location is ever great for contestants, San Juan Del Sur was far from a nightmare. This can safely rank at number five.
4. Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia (Season 4)
Fruit trees, fresh water, shade: all things that make for an actually pleasant Survivor experience. In addition to these things, temperatures on the Marquesas Islands stay relatively mild—a solid 75 during the day and 65 at night; nothing your body has to stretch itself to adjust for.
3. Mamanuca Islands, Fiji (Season 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40)
Mamanuca Islands in Fiji was declared the optimal location for the show by host Jeff Probst (his job makes him somewhat of a Survivor expert, after all). His explanation for the location’s perfection has to do a bit with the island itself and a bit with just the general state of the world. Stating how hard it is to find places that are safe to film in—either because of weather, political unrest, or the economy—Probst indicated that Mamunacu Islands does not pose that threat. It does, however, have the occasional dangerous storm that makes for classic Survivor entertainment. Good for TV does not always mean the best for the contestants, which is why we’re going to take a different stance than Jeff and say, while it ranks high, perhaps it’s not the best best.
2. Satun Province, Thailand (Season 5)
What sets Satun Province apart from other locations on this list has nothing to do with the temperature or vegetation: our love for this one has everything to do with the location’s natural shelter. Yes, season five’s contestants were able to find a cave that not only gave them shelter from potential dangers (storms and animals), but it also gave them water. Maybe it’s not the most picturesque place they’ve ever filmed but, but was it a good one for those living there? Unequivocally.
1. Cagayan, Philippines (Season 27, 28)
So, how did we come up with our number one pick? We turned to the people who know it the best: cast and crew. Cagayan was so wonderful, the group stayed after production wrapped just to enjoy the spot a little longer. You know a place is top-tier when the people forced to spend day-in and day-out filming, rain or shine, don’t want to leave. This isn’t a “perfect for TV” location, because “perfect for TV” means obstacles. This is simply a perfect location (or as perfect as you can get for a show whose location and challenges are meant to push you to your limits).