I thought I’d start a new blog series where I expanded a little bit on my writing worlds and characters. You know, kind of like how J.K. Rowling has her whole ‘Pottermore’ thing going on? Well as it happens, my stories have a lot of background research too that doesn’t always make it to the final cut, and I thought it could be interesting to share some of that with you over the next few weeks.
So today, we’re going to be exploring Nula Island in depth, which is the vacation island from the first book in the Ryan Rupert Series, Stuck on Vacation With Ryan Rupert.
Interesting fun fact: In the very original, 2012 draft of this book, Nula Island was founded by a ‘mysterious Hawaiian settler’ and some of the place names were Hawaiian, or adapted from Hawaiian words. Though the final draft doesn’t mention or confirm this, the place names never changed.
Excerpt from the original draft:
“Nula Island was named after a tsunami that wiped out everything thousands of years ago, Nula meaning ‘Ocean Wave’.”
(It wasn’t included because a tsunami wiping out everything is (a) far-fetched, and (b) makes zero sense. But yeah, it’s technically called ‘Ocean Wave Island’!)
Official Map Of Nula Island:
This is the official, professional artwork of the sketchy map I worked off of while writing the original draft of SOVWRR, which was done by Alina (CheckeredPanda). In the print books, you get a black and white version of it, and in the eBooks, you get a full-colour copy.
The island (and the book itself) was inspired by a holiday I took with my friend one week, to Daydream Island. During my book launch, I went back there to film a (completely cringe-worthy) vlog series at the many locations I drew inspiration from.
I’m going to walk you through each section, starting with that big stretch of yellow sand in the middle– this is the main beach (Sea Spray Beach) and it leads to the reception.
Sea Spray Beach
“If we went back the way we’d come, we’d head towards Sea Spray Beach—where the docks were for the dinghies . . . or taxis . . . or whatever they were referred to here. It wasn’t anything that concerned me, as I had no intention of travelling to the other islands. I skimmed over that part completely.”
Sea Spray Beach is the ‘main hub’ of the island, where people arrive and depart via the docks, and transfer to the other islands during their stay. It’s the first beach people see upon arrival, so there are always dance parties happening, kayaking and surfing on the other side (in the curved part), and it’s also where Ryan and Aubany’s rooms are located (though it isn’t shown on the map).
Sea Breeze Wing
“We were approaching a set of beach huts that sat by the edge of the sea on a small rocky cliff. The brightly painted doors were surrounded by a tropical garden of leafy green plants and hibiscus flowers. We followed the path until we found our hut, and Ryan slid the key card in the slot. The door swung open, revealing a spacious, bright room.”
I wanted to make all the rooms different in the novel, but I didn’t end up showcasing as many in the final draft as I did in the original. Every wing had a different look and feel to it, with different perks and, originally, a free pass to one activity.
“Two queen beds sat against a turquoise wall. They each had white bed sheets and blue and green, fern-patterned comforters on them. The pillows were big and white, and there were decorative blue and green pillows everywhere. I crossed the polished floorboards and peered out the glass doors that led to a balcony.”
South Nula / Tiki Village
“If we went south we’d end up at the Tiki Village and the boardwalk, where most of the island’s full-time residents lived. Unless I got a sudden urge for overpriced souvenir shopping, that part of the island didn’t sound too appealing.“
Though in the book it’s referred to as the ‘South’ of the island, this part of the island is actually located in the west via the map, where the patch of green is outlined by a red dotted line. It’s home to the Tiki Village, the museum, the majority of the residents, the boardwalk and the rainforest walk.
Savannah’s hotel wing is located on the boardwalk. In the original draft, it was mentioned that her room came with discounts on all the island cruises.
“Aubany, my room is amazing!” she said excitedly. “It has a private sundeck which looks over the sea, and a jacuzzi tub! Oh, and it has the softest king bed with yellow and orange sheets! Yellow is my favourite colour!” she said.
“What? We didn’t get a jacuzzi tub!” I grumbled. I pretended to sulk and we both laughed.
“Going north would lead us to the pools and the majority of the island’s most adventurous hikes. The brochure described the area as ‘an explorer’s paradise’, and claimed it had many secrets waiting to be discovered.“
This part of the island is home to most of the pools, the spa, and the main dining hall.
“There were two pools in this area, one smaller than the other. The bigger one had a swim-up bar, and the smaller one—closer to the gardens, had a bridge.”
“I followed her as she led me around the pools and down a secluded, pebbled path. We rounded a bend and found a small beach, hidden away from the rest of the island by a large, rocky cliff and a few palm trees. It was the perfect spot for two lovers. It even had a hammock.”
Palm Cove is a private, couples beach inspired by a similar beach on Daydream Island that can be difficult to find. In the original draft, it was actually named ‘Sunset Cove’.
“It didn’t erupt anymore, according to the island brochures, but I wasn’t exactly jumping at the idea of hiking up a volcano.”
Mt. Kapua is an old volcano, and one of Nula Island’s main hikes. At the top, there is a spectacular lookout.
“When we reached the top of the hiking trail, the view really was breathtaking. There were blue skies and sea for as far as you could see, and all the islands were scattered along the water like little dollops of green.”
There is also a cafe at the top.
“The café was small, and I noticed a little house behind it. Whoever ran this place clearly had no intention of hiking up and down each day.”
“Finally, if we went left, we’d head towards Pualani Island, where the golf course was located. But just before you reached the bridge that connected Pualani Island to the main island, you’d conveniently end up at the Sea Breeze Wing—a.k.a., my prison cell for the next six weeks.”
Pualani translates to ‘heavenly flower’, and in the original draft, Pualani was known for its abundance of tropical plants, flowers, and foliage growth. It’s located at the top of the map, and you get there via a bridge. Pualani Island consists of a mini golf course and a coffee shop. It’s the only island without any hotel wings.
“Pualani Island was the only island connected to the main island by a bridge, and I was thankful for that. We took a golf cart over because the walk would have taken forever… there was a café outside the miniature golf course. By the time we’d finished playing, we were starving, so all three of us decided to grab a bite to eat.”
The Lanakai Islands
“The Lanikai Islands were the perfect place for island hopping. There wasn’t much there, except for Josh and Renee’s accommodation and their accompanying pools. It was mainly a spot of tropical beauty that had been left untouched.”
The Lanakai Islands were secluded and private, and one of the two islands that could only be accessed via a dingey taxi. Because of how untouched the island is, it’s a prime spot for snorkelling, island hopping, and exploring caves– it’s even surrounded by a coral reef. Lanakai translates to ‘heavenly sea’, which was meant to represent the still waters and the beauty held within.
The Sunset Wing, where Ryan’s parents stayed, is located there– they’re the most expensive rooms available and they’re typically used as honeymoon suites.
Tarang translates to ‘wave’, and this is because the waves around Tarang island are always huge. There’s a restaurant located over there, which Aubany and Ryan visit, as well as the Aqua Lagoon, and the Jungle Wing.
“It was beautiful there. The lagoon was beneath the Jungle Wing, which was perched on a cliff. A waterfall fell from the cliff straight into the lagoon itself. It was bordered on either side by a curtain of ivy that concealed a cave. The edges of the lagoon were outlined with rocks.”
The Aqua Lagoon is located on Tarang Island, and is the main ‘pool’ out of all the islands.
Fun Fact: It’s not mentioned in the book, but the Jungle Wing is where Courtney’s room is located 😉
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Nula Island and the history behind it!