Maybe I’m crazy, but my favorite islands (though not in the least tropical) are in the Susquehanna River between Lancaster and York Counties, PA, USA. Three Mile Island is the most famous one, for the nuclear accident which occurred in late March of 1979 and almost created a meltdown which would have been catastrophic. (My son’s Boy Scout leader, an operator at the plant, confided how close it actually came during a long ride to the Appalachian Trail for a hike as at sat beside him in the front.)
Next to the west of TMI are Shelley and Bashore Islands. Shelley Island is large, close to 4 miles long, and Bashore was part of Shelley until the water cut a channel that separated the little Bashore into its own small island. Both are inhabited from Spring till Fall, although the power company owning most of the islands revoked all the leases and made e everyone remove their cottages and mobile homes. Many were as nice as homes on shore and the owners are devastated.
Continuing to the west are large Hill Island to the north and tiny Beech Island to the south. Both are also inhabited, but most of Hill is privately owned and features some very nice Summer homes. Hill Island is roughly circular and its coastline can be easily walked in several hours.
From April to nearly Halloween of 2007 I lived first on Shelley Island with my dear friend Barb at her “River Ranch,” a pair of mobile homes installed in parallel with a big opening cut between them, both of them high to avoid most flooding. There was hot water, indoor toilet and tub and a wood-burning stove for heat.
It was a river paradise, albeit with some hard work involved. All of the islands are accessible only by boat, so everything must be brought in and taken out. The dock is about 100 ft. from the 8 steps that go to the door. All of the furniture and appliances had to be brought over from the boat club docks about 10 minutes upriver. And all groceries and supplies had to come the same on a roughly weekly basis and carried up to the house.
But Barb was a cook in a restaurant and would not accept help, even to prep veggies. She made a variety of delicious meals for whomever happened to be there. But she refused to allow freeloaders to come and stay long. Everyone knew to donate food, cash and/or both. One man who tried to take advantage of her hospitality was unceremoniously taken back to shore and asked not to return unless he was prepared to chip in.
There were often parties, live music, big cookouts or potluck dinners to enjoy. Swimming was, of course, a favorite activity and the river is shallow around the islands. It was always fun to walk upriver with a big tube and float back down to the River Ranch.
I moved to Hill Island for part of the Summer and did cooking and cleaning for a very sweet man who was a hopeless drunk. For a while I was getting drunk with him, but I don’t find it enjoyable and soon stopped. Back to Barb’s until literally a few days before Halloween, when I had to be part of the color guard for the parade. It had been getting colder anyway, so Barb closed up the house for the Winter and moved back to her apartment.
All in all, it was the second best Summer of my life and I even got to celebrate my birthday out there. I don’t own a boat, but the people who do love to drive them all over. It’s even possible to go to York County by boat, tie it up and walk across the railroad tracks and a road to the bar, very popular when the Summer heat became unbearable even in the shade. There is such a thing as Boating While Intoxicated and the fish police aren’t afraid to check for that and for proper safety equipment and registration. A good thing, as a few people have been killed in BWI boat crashes. But we had so much good clean fun and behaved like the adults we are. Priceless!!