Tutorials/Island survival

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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, they may 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 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 you want the challenge.

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

As soon as you get the chance, look around 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 taking a look at what the other islands have to offer as well. They could contain what your island lacks that you need in order to survive.

Surviving your first night[edit]

Before you do anything else, go to the nearest tree and collect 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
Planks Any Log Repeat this recipe four times to get the necessary amount of materials.
Crafting Table Any Planks

Vital for crafting.
Stick Any 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, which can be used as an early food.


Even without animals, there are ways to get food:

  • Fishing
    • You will need to get 8 cobblestones for a furnace as well as fuel in order to cook the fish (although raw fish is edible, it is less nutritious). However, once you make charcoal in the furnace, or if you find coal, you can use a campfire which requires no fuel and cooks 4 items at a time. You will also need either string for a fishing rod, use a bucket or get some sort of weapon to kill fish mobs.
  • Growing wheat and crafting it into bread.
    • All you need is to break grass to obtain seeds (1/8 drop chance). You will also need a hoe.
  • Apples
    • Occasionally drop from oak leaves (1/200 drop chance) when broken or decayed.
      • Only available if there are oak trees on the island.
  • Carrots and potatoes.
    • Rare drops from zombies.
      • Not usually available on the first, second or third day
    • Can also be found from shipwreck supply chest.
  • 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 a substitute building block and furnace fuel. Just make sure to replant the kelp after harvesting it and you will have access to a nearly endless source of food.
  • Rotten Flesh (A last-ditch option)
    • If all else failed, 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 pickaxe.

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 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 (it might be helpful if you turn subtitles on so it points out where the sound is coming from).

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. This is more likely if the island has been lit up and you have kept the chunks loaded, so that more mobs spawn there and do not despawn.

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.

Update Aquatic[edit]

If you are playing in Minecraft after Update Aquatic, there is a chance 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.

Craft shears and use it to collect some seagrass, then breed turtles which will spawn on the beach. They will lay turtle eggs; make sure to protect them as the undead, stray wolves and cats will try to break it. When these eggs hatch, make sure to not let those baby turtles get to the ocean before growing up. The recommended strategy is to fence them in (during their egg stages). Now protect the baby turtles from zombies and skeletons. When those turtles grow, they will drop scutes, an item used to craft turtle shells, which is a useful helmet, because it allows you to breathe underwater longer.

Finding a buried treasure chest on the island can be an equally great burst for the player's survival chances as the chest often contains treasure such like iron and gold ingots, various types of fish, (in rare cases) iron swords and leather tunics ‌[Java Edition only], cake, TNT, potion of water breathing or regeneration, and chain armor[Bedrock Edition only]. 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. Nautilus shells are drops from the drowned, which are underwater zombie variants. They can also be caught as treasure from fishing. Buried Treasure is much rarer than shipwrecks and are also much harder to find, as they only consist of one block. However, 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 (all of which are found in ocean monuments), 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 an added bonus, Underwater Ruins will also contain chests with loot and treasure. If 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 and deadly . This, coupled with the player's limited breath meter, can make Trident-wielding Drowned extremely dangerous underwater.

If your island is near or next to a warm ocean, you could see a coral reef which can be visible at night with sea pickles as a light source. Kelp will not generate in this biome and pufferfish may poison you when you get close to it.

As time passes, there is a chance a wandering trader will spawn on the same island you are on. Wandering traders can offer great resources which require emeralds to purchase it, so you need to find emeralds from shipwreck treasure chests, ruins, or mineshaft chests.

Besides beach and forest biomes, plains can also be a biome on the island you live on. Even though you live on an isolated island, an illager patrol could still spawn on your island; watch out if you see them.


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 traveling away from the island. Be careful near underwater ravines, as bubble columns from magma blocks will give you oxygen, but these blocks may also break your boat and pull you down underwater.

You can also travel the ocean by swimming instead of using a boat. Swimming near a dolphin will speed up your swimming speed, also you can dive to see if there is a ruin or shipwreck at the ocean floor. You can also explore underwater caverns, but Water Breathing is required for exploring.

While exploring the ocean, there is also a chance you might find a monument, where guardians and prismarine can be found, which is useful for your conduit. See "Defeating a monument" for more. 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 a 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.

Since biomes in islands are mostly plains, there is a small chance to find plains village on islands that provide more resources. However, there's also a chance you can find an isolated pillager outpost on small islands. It is advised to take these on later, as they can be a base or source of resources.

Frozen Ocean[edit]

If you didn't find any island, but frozen ocean or frozen deep ocean, there are also extra resources you can collect, such as snowballs from snow blocks, and packed ice and blue ice (make sure to break the ice using a pickaxe with silk touch enchantment). Despite kelp and seagrass not generated here, the surface is completely frozen (except frozen deep ocean‌[Java Edition only]), so you can walk on this biome. In rare cases, ruins and shipwreck can generate inside icebergs, providing a easy source of loot. Just make sure to have armor and weapons, as they provide ares for the undead to spawn. Polar bears can spawn during the day, which can be dangerous when near cubs, and strays also spawn at night. Polar bears can drop fish and strays can drop bones, arrows, and sometimes tipped arrows.

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 traveled 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]