Fantasy Island
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Story written by Rick Archer
Pictures contributed by Milt Oglesby
Original Story: May 2008
Last Update: February 2009

One of the most popular vacation and retirement fantasies is the island home away from it all.  Many people love the water.  For example, although I am more of a Colorado mountain guy myself, my wife tells me a house on the ocean would work just fine for her. 

As you will soon see, this article will display a mouth-watering cabana built out into the water next to some small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I am not sure where this island is.  My friend Milt sent me the pictures, but there was no accompanying information as to the origin of the shots.

Rumor has it that Tahiti has many locations like the pictures you are about to see.  Hopefully some snooping around the Internet will turn up more information. Yes, that rumor is confirmed!  As you can see, Tahiti has lots and lots of cabanas with thatched roofs out in the water.


Tahiti, Queen of the Pacific

Tahiti, often called the island of love, is the largest of all French Polynesian islands. Deep valleys, waterfalls cascading into cool rivers and streams hide between the beautiful mountains, overlooked by majestic peaks. The flat coastal lands, are planted with fields of tropical flowers and home to most of the island's population. Tahiti's beaches vary from black sand beaches on the north east coast and white sand beaches on the south west coast. Papeete, the capital, is the place to shop for authentic souvenirs at the great local market.

Bora Bora, the Romantic Island

Bora Bora island is possibly the most famous island in the world (Rick Archer's Note: I doubt seriously that Bora Bora is the most famous island in the world). Lush tropical rainforests, white sand beaches and palm covered motu surrounding the island and the gorgeous azure lagoon, make this island the perfect nest for romantics and honeymooners... Bora Bora is love at first sight.

Moorea, the Bay Island

Crystalline lagoons, home of dolphins and rays. Waterfalls tumble down the steep pineapple covered mountains. Volcanic peaks rise high above the tranquil waters of Cook's Bay and Oponohu Bay. Peaceful meadows and gardens of hibiscus, birds of paradise and many more exotic plants will renew your belief in the majesty of nature. Less than ten minutes away by air from Tahiti, Moorea is ideal for a day's visit.


Huahine, Garden of Eden
Huahine, picturesque, with its lush rainforests, rich and fertile soil growing abundance of vanilla and bananas on the slopes of a very diverse and dramatic geography, is one of Polynesia's best kept secrets. A scenic road winds around the two small islands that compose Huahine, through charming villages, beautiful vistas of crystal-clear lagoons, rich with sea life, where lie motu islets bordered by white sand beaches and coconut trees. Maeva village is a wealth of archeological sites that go back to 1000 years. The spell cast by Huahine will last a lifetime.

Raiatea and Taha'a

Far less traveled then Bora Bora or Moorea, these two sister islands offer an experience of a true unspoiled Polynesia. They share a wonderful lagoon rich in sea life, and ideal for sailing, scuba diving and outrigger canoeing.  

Taha'a, filled with a rich aroma of vanilla lingering in the air, is "The Vanilla Island". This flower shaped island charms us with the simple beauty of its soft mountains and surrounding of tiny motu on the endless lagoon. Taha'a still maintains an authentic flavor of Polynesia.


Life on these remote atolls is simple and normally quiet and peaceful. In the small villages the visitor can discover the true flavor of the Tuamotu, often participating in the daily activities of the Paumotu people. The interior lagoons are a haven for black pearl farms, fish parks, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Tikehau, Remote, Beautiful, Magical

Tikehau, considered to be one of the most beautiful atolls of Polynesia, is a graceful crown of pink-sand beaches. In this pristine world, fish seem to outnumber people. The interior lagoons are a haven for black pearl farms, snorkeling, exploring the Isle of Birds and enjoying endless hours of kayak ballads encountering rays, exotic fish and coral gardens. The local people, friendly inhabitants of the small village of Tuherahera, invite you to share their world beyond imagination.


Now that we have taken a look at Tahiti and studied the architecture of the cabanas, let's turn our attention to our own "Fantasy Island". As you can see, the first glance at our Fantasy Island carries a serious "Wow" punch!  Talk about luxury in the middle of nowhere!


By the way, we are going to revisit this same picture later in the article.

Back to later section of article.

The light blue indicates shallow waters.  The dark blue is deeper waters.

If you look carefully, you will notice a long bridge connecting the two islands together. There appears to be about 20 cabanas surrounding the long slender island with two trophy homes set apart at the end.  Note the long walkway out to the trophy homes.  These homes are built completely out in the water. 

These are the same two islands, but from a different perspective.  Now we are looking at the larger island. With this close-up, we can see the larger island has cabanas too, except that most of appear to be on the island.  Wherever you see brown, those are cabana roof tops.  Is that a spot of blue in the middle of the island next to the clearing?  Is that a swimming pool?  Maybe this island has been developed as a resort.

The water appears to be very shallow.  It looks like the bridge crosses a third island lying just below the water.  Also note at the top of the picture what appears to be a man-made protective barrier. 

You have to wonder how long these two islands would hang around with global warming.  Watch a couple Antarctic glaciers melt and these islands might just be marked for extinction.

But for now they serve as Fantasy Islands for the rich. 

And now we come to our Trophy Homes. Studying both islands, I believe these homes are attached to the long slender island.  Do you see the two blue squares in front of the stairs?  Those squares are likely man-made.  I assume these areas are used for docking purposes.  Wonder what the explanation is for those two squares?  Anyone have an idea?

Here is our first close look at one of the cabanas.  Studying the architecture, wouldn't you agree our cabana hut has "Tahitian" written all over it? 

I don't think this picture is one of the trophy homes.  It looks too small to be one of the two structures in the picture above it. 

I see only one roof here.  The larger homes have three rooftops.  But on the other hand this smaller cabana does have a walkway.  Are there other rooftops hiding behind the roof we can see?  I don't think so.   My conclusion is this is a different structure than the two Trophy homes.  Maybe you can figure it out. 

Meanwhile this deck appears to belong to the house with one roof.

This lovely view appears to be part of the smaller cabana in the previous picture above.  The wood is the same color and the umbrella seems to be the same as well.  Is that a hot tub on the left? 

Note the square bed inside the cabana. I will refer back to it in a moment.

Here we have a massage table with a see-through floor. This allows you to look at fish swimming by while you scream in pain.  This lends more weight to the 'resort idea'.  Private homes don't typically have massage tables.  In the second picture that looks like a flat-screen TV and a jacuzzi/bath tub. There is a ceiling fan as well.  Conclusion: There must be electricity!  The electric wires are probably disguised by attaching them to the side of the walkway. 

By the way, as you can see the bed is round.  However in the previous picture the bed was rectangular.  Conclusion?  We are looking at pictures of two different structures.

Here is more evidence to support the theory of two different structures.  Here is the round bed and the square bed. One room has light wood; one room has dark wood.  They are probably adjacent cabanas.

Now that's pretty cool - three stingrays right below the deck!  Three stars on the Wow factor.  And how about having a living room with a see-through floor - three more stars on the Wow factor!  Fun.

I am still curious to know if these are places to live or places to visit.   The simple furnishings indicate these cabanas are 'visited'.  They don't have that 'lived in' look.  The cabanas are elegant, but very spare.

Note that one woman has a drink in her hand while there is a champagne bottle on ice in the other.  I don't have any champagne on ice in my home.  I believe these are resort advertisement pictures.

These two pictures definitely show different structures.  There is a triple roof on the left and single roofs on the right.  The left is an elaborate dwelling while the right seems to be dwellings on a more simple scale with much different construction in the stilts below.

This lends more evidence to the theory that our pictures are from at least two, maybe even three different structures.  So what is going on here?  


One day in April 2008 I received an email from Milt Oglesby that included a Power Point presentation. Milt didn't have a clue as to the origin of the Powerpoint, by the way. Many of the pictures I have published - including the RV and the yacht - were enclosed in the PowerPoint presentation.

The PowerPoint was scripted as a 'pretend' invitation to attend a luau at the homes in the pictures above. The whole point of the presentation was to make people envious as all get-out. As for me, it was successful.  I openly lusted for the chance to spend time in one of those cabanas and see a part of the world totally foreign to me.

There was something odd about the PowerPoint though.  It included that picture of an RV to pick you up at the airport and that magnificent yacht to bring you to the luau on these islands.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided the PowerPoint was blowing smoke.  For one thing, I can't imagine an RV picking people up in Tahiti.  Second, I can't imagine a massive yacht operating in these shallow waters.  Plus there was the curiosity of pictures from two or more different cabanas that didn't seem to match.

That is why I concluded the PowerPoint itself was made by someone who is poor like you and me.  They simply collected the images on the Internet from some 'Tahitian Vacation' web site and spliced them together.  I imagine the bloke didn't have enough cabana pictures of one home, so he (or she) simply used pictures of several different structures. 

That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the pictures.  And knowing the truth helped my envy calm down a little.  Still, it's fun to dream.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to settle down on Fantasy Island?  Is this a valid Retirement Fantasy?  Want to spend the rest of your life watching fish float by?  Or would you rather just drop in for a visit sometime?   One thing for sure - this place definitely qualifies as a Tropical Paradise.


In February 2009 I received an email that changed my perspective from Tahiti to the Maldive islands south of India.

From: Blake
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 10:29 AM
Subject: Fantasy Island

G'Day Rick, my names Blake and I'm from Australia, I have been surfing some of your interesting write ups even the stuff up with the sultans palace. lol. Anyway like what you do but I thought I would inform you that some of your fantasy Island photos are of a place called the Maldives.

The Maldives are
a bunch of Islands so small they don't appear on the world map, (guessing invisible from space).  They are located below India and Sri Lanka slightly to the South West.

Many of the hotels and accommodation is built in the water mainly because there isn't enough room left on the island!

Sadly this area of the ocean is also the Tsunami area

My partner and I are travelling there later this year and its not as expensive as you would have thought, although I haven't any figures for you.   We live on a modest budget and find it affordable.  Perhaps it is cheaper in flights due to location of Perth, Australia?  Dunno

The photos are exactly the same as the ones you posted with one roof and a walkway that slightly confused you. I think who ever is sending you these "photo packages" is mixing things up a bit.



This lovely place in the Maldives is known as "Full Moon Island"

Rick Archer's Note: 

Following Blake's suggestion, I brought up "Google Images" for the Maldive Islands.  Sure enough, I saw several of the same pictures I had used for my "Tahiti" writeup including the picture on the right. 

"Many of the hotels and accommodation is built in the water mainly because there isn't enough room left on the island!"

As you will see from the pictures, Blake's comment made a lot of sense.

Maldive Islands

The Maldive Islands are an island nation consisting of a group of atolls stretching south of India in the Indian Ocean. The twenty-six atolls of Maldives encompass a territory featuring 1,192 islets, of which two hundred and fifty islands are inhabited.

The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in terms of both population and area; it is the smallest predominantly Muslim nation in the world. With two meters from sea level, it is also the country with the lowest "highest point" in the world.

The Maldives holds the record for being the lowest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level of only 7 feet.  The average height is only 5 feet above sea level, though in areas where construction exists this has been increased

Rising Sea Waters

On April 22, 2008, then Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pleaded for a cut in global greenhouse gas emissions, warning that rising sea levels could submerge the island nation of Maldives.

Over the last century, sea levels have risen about 8 inches. Further rises of the ocean could threaten the existence of Maldives. However, around 1970 the sea level there dropped significantly, so the future is uncertain.  In November of 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to look into purchasing new land in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia, due to his concerns about global warming and the possibility of much of the islands being inundated with water from rising sea levels.  

Current estimates place sea level rise at 25 inches by the year 2100. The purchase of land will be made from a fund generated by tourism. The President has explained his intentions, saying "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades".

The 2004 Tsunami

A tsunami in the Indian Ocean caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake caused serious damage to the socioeconomic infrastructure which left many people homeless, and irreversible damage to the environment. After the disaster, cartographers are planning to redraw the maps of the islands due to alterations caused by the tsunami.


The reef is composed of coral debris and living coral. This acts as a natural barrier against the sea, forming lagoons. Other islands, set at a distance and parallel to the reef, have their own protective fringe of reef. An opening in the surrounding coral barrier allows access to the calmer lagoon waters.

The barrier reefs of the islands protect them from the storms and high waves of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean has a great effect on the climate of the country by acting as a heat buffer, absorbing, storing, and slowly releasing the tropical heat. The heat is further mitigated by cool sea breezes.

A layer of humus forms the top layer of soil on the islands. Below the humus layer are two feet of sandstone, followed by sand and then fresh water. Due to excessive salt in the soil near the beach, vegetation is limited there to a few plants such as shrubs, flowering plants, and small hedges. In the interior of the island, more vegetation such as mangrove and banyan grow. Coconut palms, the national tree, are able to grow almost everywhere on the islands and are integral to the lifestyle of the natives.

The limited vegetation is supplemented by the abundance of coral reefs and marine life.


Due to the beauty of the islands, tourism has now grown to 20% of the Maldive economy.

The picture above was identified as some of the Maldive Atolls. Now go see an earlier picture for comparison. I think it is the exact same picture.

The Maldives and the Tsunami

This area is often promoted as the last paradise on Earth, but the Maldives and its precious tourism industry were devastated by the December 2004 tsunami. Inaccessibility of some islands hampered repair schedules

The island nation's economy relies more heavily on tourism than any other tsunami-affected country.

Nowhere else is more aware of the threat posed by rising seas than the Maldives.

About 99% of its territory is sea - and on the 1,200 low-lying coral islands that straddle the equator, nowhere is more than one-and-a-half metres above sea level.

The country campaigns against the effects of climate change to protect its very survival, but the tsunami made it face its worst fears.

A total of 49 inhabited islands were flooded and one-quarter of the 87 resort islands were put out of operation and are now undergoing repairs.

The tsunami cost 82 lives, with another 20 locals still missing.

The death toll may sound small when compared with other affected countries - but this is a nation of only 300,000 people.

Many here rely on tourism. It provides two-thirds of employment and the largest proportion of GDP.

It may seem at odds staying at a luxury resort while local communities struggle to get back on their feet, but with bookings down 50%, the Maldivians want tourists back.

"The tourist dollars do help in the recovery and rehabilitation of people and this is our lifeline, so if it's disrupted it aggravates the situation," says Hassan Sobir, the Maldives High Commissioner in Britain.

"Fortunately, because of the geography - maybe sheer luck - many islands have been spared in terms of damage."

Scientists say the archipelago was spared the full force because the huge coral reefs that encircle the islands absorbed much of the impact - as did breakwaters built around the capital, Male, after previous flooding.

The set-up in the Maldives is an unusual one.

A one-resort-per-island policy separates guests from locals and from other tourists, giving a sense of isolation that is one of the Maldives' main selling points.

Central to this strategy is that each island is self-sufficient, generating power, waste management and water supply.

It means the usual risk of water contamination and disease that often follow disasters has largely been avoided.

It also means repairs will be localized.

However, rebuilding these remote islands, accessible only by seaplane or boat, will take months and cost an estimated $1.5bn.

Despite the crisis, the government still plans to develop 11 new island resorts over the next two years.

Hoteliers like Francois Huet, the general manager of the Banyan Tree Hotel, welcome the move.

"It's an opportunity to develop different kinds of competition to stimulate the market," he says.

The Maldives does not have a long history as a tourist destination - just three decades - during which it has moved to the top of the luxury holiday lists, is a favourite for honeymooners and a premier dive location.

When the first hotel, Kurumba, opened in 1972 it was very basic.

Its founder is often credited with kick-starting the tourism industry.

Back then there were only 1,000 tourists a year. Last year, there were more than 500,000.

Mohamed Umar Maniku built Kurumba and is now chairman of the resort development company, Universal Enterprises.

"When we started there were already three big destinations in Asia - Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Seychelles.

"We never had anything and so we thought if they can be successful, why not us?"

Developing tourism has also helped raise environmental concerns.

Some hotels like the Banyan Tree and Angsana have green funds where they match guest donations of one dollar a night for conservation projects.

Those contributions have now been doubled and are going towards tsunami recovery.

Staff are also donating part of their salary.

And on the island of Fen Fushi, children learn about protecting marine life while their parents all work at the nearby resort Sun Island.

Bringing tourism and nature together is not only their future, but also that of the Maldives.








About these Pictures:  In May 2009, a gentleman named Ken emailed to tell me about these beautiful pictures. 

I believe the pictures are taken from a resort island known as Huvafen Fushi.  If you interested, you should visit or simply click Huvafen Fushi




Rick Archer's Note:   Tahiti, Maldives, what's the difference?  Either way I am miserable with envy. 

You would be miserable too if you lived where I do.  I am stuck in Houston, Texas, USA, the heat and flooding capital of the world,

Here are the two most famous recurring images of my hometown:

Tropical Storm Allison June 2001:
Worst Urban Flood in US History


Rita evacuees from Houston Texas September 2005:
Worst Traffic Jam in US History


In parting, the PowerPoint presentation reminded me of one of my favorite jokes about Paradise.  If you would like to read the Genie and the Law Firm, Scroll down a little.

The Genie and the Law Firm

A secretary, a rookie lawyer just out of law school, and a partner in a big city law firm are driving to lunch. The traffic is ridiculous and they haven't moved five feet in five minutes. Noticing a parking spot next to a city park, the law partner orders the first-year man to pull over.

The high-powered attorney barks at the other two and says it would be quicker to simply walk.  Then he looks at his watch and frowns.  Addressing his secretary, "What does my afternoon look like, Sarah?"

Worried she's about to miss lunch, Sarah squirms a little. Finally she admits, "You have one appointment after another, Mr. Jones."

The law partner
fumes, "That's what I thought.  Damn, it's late!  We are wasting valuable time!  Let's get moving, people."
Jeff, the first-year lawyer, points to the city park.  Jeff suggests, "Sometimes I walk to lunch.  I know a short-cut through this park."

The law partner snorts and says the rookie lawyer better be right or he'll take any further wasted time out of the kid's salary.

So they walk through the park on their way to lunch.  Jeff, the over-worked first-year lawyer, is so preoccupied with his massive workload that he pays little attention to where he is going.  Suddenly Jeff trips over some object buried in mud on the side of the trail.  Jeff kicks up an antique oil lamp.

Sarah the secretary exclaims, "Oh, how pretty! That looks like Aladdin's lamp!  I can't wait to polish it off and put it on my desk!" Sarah rubs the lamp gently to clean the mud off a bit.  Suddenly...

Poof!  Shazaam!  A Genie comes out in a puff of smoke.

The Genie takes a look, then says, "I'm glad to see you. I have been stuck in that lamp for a thousand years.  But I have a problem. I can only grant three wishes and you are three.  Therefore I will grant you each one wish."

"Me first! Me first!" says Sarah the secretary. "I read travel magazines all the time. I know exactly what I want!  I work year-round, put in lots of unpaid overtime, and never call in sick, but I am still too broke to go anywhere fun."

Sarah pauses for effect.  She is hoping the partner will realize she is underpaid and overworked.  But the partner doesn't blink.  So Sarah continues, "
I want to be in the Bahamas laying in a hammock on the beach with my boyfriend without a care in the world!"

Poof! Sarah's gone! She has vanished before their very eyes. 

At Sarah's sudden disappearance, the rookie lawyer's eyes bulge in disbelief.  He is astonished.  It takes Jeff a moment to accept this incredible opportunity is real. 

Taking a deep breath, the first-year lawyer says, "Since I joined the law firm, I have been working 80-hour weeks. I got married the moment I finished law school, but ever since I started working here I barely see my wife at all.  All I do is go home, pass out, and get back up at 6 am to come to the office practically seven days a week."

Jeff stops to think. "I miss my wife so much!  I would like to be alone with her in Tahiti watching the sun set. We could live together in one of those straw roof bungalows sipping silly fruit drinks with umbrellas in them!"

Poof!! Jeff is gone.

Now that Sarah and Jeff have been whisked off to Paradise with their loved ones, that leaves only the law partner and the Genie.

As they stand alone in the park together, the Genie awaits his final command.  The partner is mulling something over.

"You're next," the Genie says to the law partner.

Pressed for a decision, the partner looks at his watch and frowns. Then he looks up, curses under his breath, and says, "Oh hell, give 'em 15 more minutes."

I want those two back in the office after lunch."
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