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Tutorials/Island survival

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Warm Ocean, Deep Ocean, Deep Lukewarn Ocean, Deep Warm Ocean, Deep Cold Ocean, Deep Frozen Ocean, Cold Ocean, Lukewarm Ocean, Frozen Ocean

Consists of
Can generate


An "island" in Minecraft is typically any collection of terrain that is above sea level and is surrounded by water on all sides. Islands often generate in relatively remote areas and are often cut off from the mainland. If a player happens to spawn on one of these, the will be faced with a major resource shortage.

Because it is a new world, you can simply go back, delete the world, and create a new one, but perhaps you want to challenge yourself and survive in this unusual predicament.

Know your environment[edit]

Islands often generate in very remote areas. Usually, you will likely not see any other land, and the island you are on may only host one tree, or just a few trees. If your island has no trees, villages, or abandoned mineshafts, and you did not turn on the Bonus Chest, it is strongly recommended to either delete the world and start a new one, or try to find a different island. Unless, of course, you like (extreme) challenges.

When on an island, there is most likely little to no animals around. However, there are monsters at nighttime and at dawn, so try to light the island up as soon as possible.

Whenever you get the chance, look around yourself and out to sea; Are you on a solitary island or is the island you are on part of a larger group of islands?, an island chain or archipelago.

If the former is the case, then you should focus on what the island you are on has to offer and try to establish yourself.

If the latter is the case, however, then it may (depending on resources, time and how far apart the islands are) be worth to take a look at what the other islands have to offer as well. Who knows, they might contain just all the things you need in order to survive, yet lack on this island.

Surviving your first night[edit]

Before you do anything else, go to the nearest tree and collect all the wood. Because resources are low, only craft things a certain number of times and only craft more if absolutely necessary.

Name Ingredients Crafting recipe Description
Wood Planks Any Log Repeat this recipe four times to get the necessary amount of materials.
Crafting Table Any Wood Planks

Vital for crafting.
Stick Any Wood Planks Do this recipe once.

Once you have done this, collect any saplings and place them throughout the island. Fortunately, most trees will drop 2, 3, or 4 saplings, and will almost always drop 1. This is vital because if you plant the saplings in soil, they will grow into new trees, which will allow you to obtain more wood and more saplings. Oak trees can even yield apples!


Even without animals, there are ways to get food:

  • Apples
    • Occasionally drop from oak leaves (1/200 drop chance) when broken or decayed.
      • Only available if there is an oak tree on the island.
  • Kelp
    • Kelp is a very good source of food as it can now be found underwater in plenty as you are surrounded by the ocean. You will need to smelt it in a furnace first to get dried kelp. Dried kelp can in turn be used to craft dried kelp blocks, which function both as an substitute building block and furnace fuel. Just make sure to replant the kelp after harvesting it an you will have access to a nearly endless source of food.
  • Rotten Flesh (A last-ditch option)
    • If all else fails, wait until zombies spawn at night and go kill them, or wait until morning when they burn in sunlight to get rotten flesh.

Despite these alternate food options, you will still be low on food during the first few days. Therefore, be conservative with moving around, and avoid sprinting and jumping altogether, if at all possible.


Building a shelter[edit]

Go to the far end of the island and place your crafting table. Craft a door and a wooden sword.

Now that you have some basic materials, it's time to make the shelter itself. Again, resources are low, so make a small structure out of dirt.

An overhead view of a good minimal-cost shelter

Build the walls two blocks high in the arrangement shown on the right. Make sure that the opening is facing the rest of the island. Once you have done this, place your door.

Below is schematic for an alternative, slightly bigger shelter, seen layer-by-layer from the bottom upwards. The Budget Model only requires around 9-13 blocks to build while the Normal Model requires 25 blocks to build. Budget Model

Normal Model

Note that the door here is to denote the "entrance" (that is, the blocks you break in order to get into and out of the cocoon.

Enter your shelter at sunset. Once you are in your shelter, start making some basic tools. If you want to expand the shelter, simply dig down a few blocks and dig out rooms underground. Add ladders to the shaft to get back up and add torches as necessary and as resources permit. Even if it is not needed, it is generally recommended for one to dig underground anyway so as to find cobblestone to make a furnace and to obtain a another building material so as to avoid wasting wood. Make a stone pickaxe, sword, axe, shovel, and optionally a hoe, if you are in a position to start farming.

Once you are in a position to build an actual house note that islands often have very limited space available. Therefore, you won't have much room to maneuver with if you build your house on the island itself, especially if it is a small island. A better approach is to build a platform on the water (optionally with pillars leading down to the ground), build your house on it and connect it to the island with a bridge.


Although there are usually no sheep on the island, you can still get string from spiders and craft wool with four pieces of string. Once you have three wool, you can make a bed with three wooden planks.


To make a compact mine, craft ladders with sticks, and start digging down. Optionally, you can make a staircase, so that you don't need ladders to get back up. To look for a cave, listen for the sounds of bats, and go towards the sound.

Once you find a cave, start mining. However, make sure that you have decent tools and weapons, and preferably a shield and armor, before attempting to go through caves, as it is likely that monsters will spawn.

Mining on an island is similar to how it is in normal survival. However, it is recommended to mine deep down, so that you don't accidentally burst into the ocean. It is most necessary to find, in this order, coal, iron, flint (from gravel), diamond, and obsidian. Once you have obsidian, flint, and iron, you can make a Nether portal.

Shipwrecks, Ruins and Buried Treasure[edit]

The luckiest of chances.

If you are playing in Minecraft version 1.13 and upwards, there is a chance (if you get super lucky) that you might find a shipwreck or buried treasure chest near or on the island you are on. If this happens, you can consider yourself quite lucky indeed as a shipwreck effectively solves all of the above three points (Crafting, Food and Shelter): the hull can be broken up and dismantled for wood, the ship often contains chests that oftentimes have food in them and the ship itself can be converted into an impromptu improvised house for surviving the initial nights. The shipwreck is also very likely to contain a map that will show the path to a Buried Treasure Chest.

Finding a buried treasure chest on the island can be an equally great boon for the player's survival chances as the chest often contains treasure such like Iron- and Gold Ingots, various types of Fish as well as (in rare cases) Iron Swords and Leather Tunics. Buried Treasure chests are also guaranteed to contain a single Heart Of The Sea item, which is used alongside 8 Nautilus Shells to craft a Conduit. They are much rarer than shipwrecks and are also much harder to find as they only consist of one block but if you find one (and are able to craft the Conduit), you will only need to find some Prismarine, Dark Prismarine, Prismarine Bricks or Sea Lanterns and you could construct yourself a Conduit and live underwater.

Underwater Ruins are another rare structure that has the potential to greatly benefit a player's survival game. They generate mostly underwater, although if you get lucky and find one that generated on land, you will effectively have a half-done house. Just patch up the holes in the walls, roof and floor (if any) and light up the structure and you've got yourself a sufficient early-game shelter. As a added bonus, Underwater Ruins may also contain chests with loot and treasure as an added bonus. I you have access to a Conduit, you could use an Underwater Ruin as a base. Beware however, as Underwater Ruins may potentially be inhabited by Drowned which can, in the worst case scenario, spawn with Tridents, granting them a lethal ranged attack. This, coupled with the player's limited breath meter, can make Trident-wielding Drowned extremely dangerous underwater.


Once you have managed to set up a stable and reliable food- and tree farm and secured your basic necessities (housing and sleeping arrangements in some form), you can now begin to look outwards and get on the business of exploring the greater world around you.

A good example hotbar for exploring

Start by making sure you have the materials shown above (a boat, food, weapons and tools, torches, and other necessary building blocks). Now, you can place the boat and start travelling away from the island. Once the island is out of sight, you can start searching for other islands, or the mainland.


If you find a beach, try looking for sugar cane. If you find some, harvest it and then return to the home island and craft the sugar cane into paper, then a map (However, save some so you can farm it to get more). Then, travel in the same direction with your map, this time bringing a lead. Use the lead to bring animals to the home island.

While you are filling your map, be sure to stop by any islands you see, as they may house generated structures underneath them.


If you see another island, head for it immediately, light it up, and dig down. Chances are that there is a generated structure underneath.

If you discover a generated structure, it is advisable to set up second base of operations (a home away from home, so as to say), as many of the underground generated structures can generate quite large and take a long time to fully explore.

If there is nothing to be found there (not even ores), pillar jump back up, retrieving the ladders as you go. Then travel the same distance from your home island as you were when you discovered the other island. In other words, your compass should face sideways.

The End[edit]

A game of Minecraft is never complete without a trip to the end. If you have found a stronghold, use it. Otherwise, bring potions of water breathing, throw an eye of ender, and travel in the direction that it went. After you have travelled a while, throw another, particularly if you see another island.

If the stronghold appears to be under a mushroom island, you will still need to use eyes of ender, as mushroom islands are bigger than regular islands.

If the stronghold turns out to be underwater, drink a potion of water breathing and dig down. Use an efficiency-enchanted pickaxe, and/or Aqua Affinity enchantment as mining underwater is slow.

Once you find a stronghold, it is a normal trip to the End (see Tutorials/End survival and Tutorials/Ender dragon slaying).

See also[edit]