When the Baudelaires first arrive to the island, it seems to be a secluded paradise and safe place away from all the stress, evils and treachery from the rest of the world. It is theorized that the Island is a parallel to the Garden of Eden from the Bible.
However, the Baudelaires soon realize that the island is not that different from the Village of Fowl Devotees, in the way people dogmatically abide to the rules and customs.
It is a remote island located an unknown distance from the shore of the City, although it must be close enough to the city that the Baudelaires can reach it after a boat ride away from Hotel Denouement and not starve to death.
It is isolated from mainstream society. The island is relatively large, considering how many people and things wash up on its shores. Supposedly, all things will eventually wash up on its shores, such as Esmé Squalor's fire dress from The Slippery Slope. It is unknown if this is because of the currents surrounding the island or by some other cause such as the Bombinating Beast.
The true name of the island is unknown, if it even has a name. Count Olaf names it "Olaf Land" after seeing it for the first time. He believing that the inhabitants are primitive and that they will accept him as king. None of the island's other inhabitants refer to the island as "Olaf Land", and Olaf is actually banished to the coastal shelf by Friday Caliban when he attempts to establish himself as king.
There are a lot of sheep on the island, a potential allusion to how the villagers, for the most part, are like sheep who follow herd mentality.
The islanders aim to create a peaceful society.
The islanders wear bathrobes and drink a lot of coconut cordial, which is later revealed to be an opiate which makes them feel calm and more willing to follow Ishmael's suggestions.
They sleep in different tents each night (except for Ishmael due to his feet), likely to reject the concept of "owning" a house and eliminate the idea of selfishness. They ban anything that could be used as a weapon, even forks, instead preferring to eat with wooden sporks.
Decision Day is a special day. Once a year, the tides turn in the ocean, and the coastal shelf is completely covered in water. It is the one time a year that it is deep enough to sail away from the island. All year long, the islanders build an enormous outrigger, which is a type of canoe, and the day the tides turn, the islanders have a feast and a talent show. Then anyone who wishes to leave the colony indicates their decision by taking a bite of bitter apple and spitting it onto the ground before boarding the outrigger and bidding the other islanders farewell.
People rarely leave the island. No one has left since before Friday Caliban was born, so each year the islanders simply light the outrigger on fire, and push it out to sea. Watching a burning outrigger slowly vanish on the horizon is a beautiful sight for them.
The islanders only eat a few known meals. For breakfast, they eat seaweed salad, bland ceviche (raw fish) for lunch, and a mild onion soup served with a handful of wild grass for dinner. Coconut cordial is the common drink.
The coastal shelf is a landform onto which the Baudelaires and Count Olaf are deposited after they have survived a violent storm. The shelf is littered with junk as discarded objects from everywhere wash-up on the island; it is said that everything eventually washes up on the island. The Baudelaires are discovered by a six or seven year-old girl named Friday, who takes them to a colony of castaways on a nearby island, leaving Olaf because she thinks he's rude.
After every storm, the islanders search the shelf for wreckage that might be useful. Such a wide variety of things can be found it is said that everything eventually ends up on the island's shores. In the second chapter of The End, Lemony expounds on some of the things that has washed up on the shores:
[...]and other objects that might have been from the boats' cargo, including shatter lanterns, smashed barrels, soaked documents, and the ripped remains from all sorts of clothing, form top hats to roller skates. There was an old fashioned typewriter leaning against a large, ornate bird cage, with a family of guppies wriggling through its keys. There was a large, brass cannon, with a large crab clawing its way out of the barrel, and there was a hopelessly torn net caught in the blades of a propeller.
Many objects that wash up on the shore are considered weapons.
The arboretum is located inside of the giant apple tree on the opposite side of the island from Ishmael's colonists. It is a large living space, complete with a kitchen, reading room, bookshelves and other facilities to make life more easy for those on the island.
Before Ishmael became the facilitator for the island, the Baudelaire parents were the facilitators, and they wanted to use all of the items that wash up on the coastal shelf as a way to educate those on the island. The Arboretum was supposed to also house a tunnel passageway from the underground of the island to Anwhistle Aquatics, one of the safe places of V.F.D. and an underwater archive that housed copies of the organization's information, which was to be then sent to Dewey Denouement in his secret library.
The Arboretum is also the home of the large commonplace book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which all of those who have washed up on the island chronicle a bit of their history as well as entries on their stay on the island within.
The Baudelaire Parents
Beatrice and Bertrand Baudelaire once washed ashore on the island, and they turned the island into a wonderful place where the castaways could still further their study of the world. The island was to act as a place of recuperation for volunteers deeply affected by the schism. They ate wonderful gourmet meals and put to use all of the items that washed up on the coastal shelf. They started many projects, such as a tunnel to Anwhistle Aquatics, and the organization of the largest bookshelf and reading room ever recorded in the series. At the time of their stay on the island, Beatrice Baudelaire was pregnant with Violet.
The most important thing that the Baudelaire parents did on the island was create a hybrid between the large apple tree and horseradishes. This was to be a solution to the threat of the Medusoid Mycelium. However the hybrid plant has proven unsafe for unborn children, hence why Beatrice has never gotten to taste an apple, and why Kit couldn't eat one at the end of The End, effectively sealing her demise in exchange for her daughter's healthy life.
After Ishmael washed up on the island, he began to spread rumors and doubt throughout the island that operating so boisterously would eventually endanger the inhabitants of the island. The Baudelaire parents referred to Ishmael's actions as "fear-mongering". Due to frequent outbursts of concern from Ishmael the construction of a passageway to Anwhistle Aquatics was halted. After persuading the castaways on the island of the need for more policies to keep themselves safe, and to keep treachery from washing up on the shores, the values of the Baudelaire parents were abandoned, and those in favor of their teachings left the island.
After being appointed facilitator, Ishmael kept all islanders away from the arboretum, where he stored the mounds of objects that wash up on the island, not permitting the castaways to use most of them. He would not even allow them to use the kitchen to prepare food, and all the meals served on the island during his reign as facilitator were very bland. He changed the uniform of the island to white robes, and he began serving the islanders fermented coconut milk to keep them drowsy and lethargic (as the concoction is an opiate), so that no one will want to challenge his authority over the islanders.
When the Baudelaire children and Count Olaf wash up on the island, Ishmael is still the island's facilitator. The islanders eventually leave in hopes of a cure for the Medusoid Mycelium.
Inhabitants of The Island are called Islanders. The following people were at one point, or are, Islanders.
Islanders who left the island before the series:
Islanders present when the Baudelaires arrive, and later, ride a boat off during The End:
- Count Olaf (dies on the island)
- Violet Baudelaire (leaves the island a year after The End)
- Sunny Baudelaire (leaves the island a year after The End)
- Klaus Baudelaire (leaves the island a year after The End)
- Beatrice Snicket (born on the island, leaves the island a year after The End)
- Kit Snicket (dies on the island)
- Incredibly Deadly Viper (returns to the Island, leaves the island to follow Ishmael's group)
- The island may have been mentioned in The Ersatz Elevator. Duncan Quagmire says, "Gunther wants to smuggle us out of the city, and hide us away on some island where the police won't find us. He'll keep us on the island until we come of age and he can steal the Quagmire sapphires. Once he has our fortune, he says, he'll take us and--"
- Count Olaf "discovering" the island may be an allusion or parody of how Christopher Colombus supposedly thought he discovered America:
- "I've discovered an island!" Count Olaf cackled. "I'm going to name it Olaf-Land!"
"You didn't discover the island," Violet pointed out. "It appears that people already live on it."
"And I am their king!" Count Olaf proclaimed. "Hurry up, orphans! My royal subjects are going to cook me a big breakfast, and if I'm in a good mood I might let you lick the plates!"
- "I've discovered an island!" Count Olaf cackled. "I'm going to name it Olaf-Land!"
- Lemony Snicket visited this island on a boat, possibly the Prospero, to gather information about the Baudelaire orphans. The letter to his editor at the back of The Penultimate Peril is a napkin with a picture of a boat.
- Some fans theorize the island is Chartreuse Island (the island within Lake Lachrymose).