Survivor Locations: Revamp, Return, Recycle

Cam Kuhn looks at which previous locations could be revamped for future Survivor seasons

With the upcoming Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X returning to the islands of Fiji, contributor Cam Kuhn looks at what other previous locations could be revamped for future Survivor seasons.

Survivor fans…here we go again. Where in the world is Jeff Probst?

After 32 seasons and 18 countries, Survivor is returning to one of Jeff Probst’s favorite locations: Fiji. And while Fiji was not one of the higher rated seasons, the location itself was nothing short of spectacular. Landing in the South Pacific ring of islands with its other Survivor sister locations: Samoa, Cook Islands, Marquesas, and Vanuatu; Fiji offers beautiful white sandy beaches, towering cliffs and crystal blue water ideally suited for water challenges.

Pleased with the decision to return to a gorgeous location that maybe wasn’t appreciated the first time, I decided to look at some other locations that Survivor could return to and revamp its setting.

 Photo Credit: PhillipC via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: PhillipC via Compfight cc


Vanuatu, much like Fiji, I believe is overlooked because of the overall outlook on the season. However, Vanuatu has just as much to offer, if not more, as Fiji. The water and beach shots were beautiful back in 2004 well before Survivor switched to high definition. The cannibalism theme mixed with the presence of volcanoes made for lots of interesting designs and graphics for challenges and Survivor props.

And lest we forget that Vanuatu had an earthquake, an earthquake!! And who doesn’t want to see a hidden immunity idol designed after the skulls of the dead? I think this location could very much be revamped and be very pleasing to the viewer’s eye.

 Photo Credit: anniemullinsuk via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: anniemullinsuk via Compfight cc


While I’m sure this would cost a very pretty penny, revisiting Australia would hit some hard-core nostalgia. Season two has more all-stars than any other Survivor season- coming in at 8, and it was the most viewed season of all time. It gives an exotic locale other than beaches and coconuts; it has stunning views of wildlife, and what I wouldn’t give to have another tribal on top of a waterfall.

Australia also provided for a lot of natural disasters- wildfires, floods, and massive thunderstorms. Would a true Survivor fan learn from the mistakes of their predecessors?

Photo Credit: mikkot02 via Compfight cc

Cook Islands

Much like many of the early Survivor installments, the lack of high-definition filming does not do a location justice. If you were to ask me where I think the most beautiful location is, I’d be pressed to say the Cook Islands. I wasn’t fond of the tribal council, as elaborate as it was, but I do like the shipwrecked theme. The location provides plenty of areas for water challenges, lots of beaches for camps, and maybe, this time, we will have a division other than down racial lines.

Survivor: Cook Islands filmed in summer of 2006, so what a perfect ten year anniversary to return and revamp? And as a Survivor superfan, I wouldn’t be able to escape the idea that I was walking the same beaches as Parvati Shallow, Jonathan Penner, Ozzy Lusth, and Candice Cody.

Photo Credit: magical-world via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: magical-world via Compfight cc


I miss stylized Survivor seasons. One could argue that China was the last truly stylized season. Right on the cusp of the HD switch, China provided stunning images and rewards like no other. Does anyone else remember that some of the rewards for this season included trips to the Great Wall, a Buddhist temple, and the home of martial arts? While the camps were a little lack-luster, the elements did not make it easy for the castaways, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that again.

China also offered a land-locked location where you could have water challenges, which is very rare for a Survivor location. I can’t imagine a scenario where we return to China, but I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Photo Credit: coconut wireless via Compfight cc


After a while, these South Pacific islands all begin to look the same. They all have the tiki-themed setup and provide the same overhead shots of waterfalls and miles of palm trees. However, if Survivor is looking for another Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty where they just need good beaches with good shots, why not return to the home of Boston Rob?

Located in Tahiti, Marquesas would probably look fantastic fifteen years later. It was the first location where castaways could be self-sufficient with what was provided on the island. And who doesn’t want to see the return of players eating fish that’s been sitting out in the sun? It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it certainly wouldn’t disappoint.

Photo Credit: A. Duarte via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: A. Duarte via Compfight cc


Tocantins is the only location post HD switch on this list. I really, really liked Tocantins as a season and a location, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. Similar to Australia, there’s gorgeous shots of waterfalls and powering rivers cutting through the country. The sand dunes were great for Exile Island and the large open fields provided for great challenge locations. I wasn’t super fond of the indigenous styled tribal-council, but I do think that this location could be revamped and redone the right way.

Photo Credit:


While I am in no hurry to hit the final season of Survivor, I have big dreams that not only will it be a battle of champions but that they will return to where it all started- Borneo. We haven’t been to Borneo in 16 years, and it’s home base for all true Survivor superfans. And as a contestant, I would feel alive knowing I’m walking the same beaches as the original sixteen. There’s something poetic about ending where you started, and I would not complain to put Survivor to rest in Borneo.

Photo Credit: jiashiang via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jiashiang via Compfight cc


My final and top choice to revamp would be Thailand. Rated as one of the bottom three seasons of all time, the location Thailand received no justice. The gold tribal council over the ocean was fantastic, the cliffs and caves were rugged and gorgeous, the exotic wildlife and pristine water made for great views of challenges and the locale. Thailand just as a country is stunning and the culture would provide for an easily stylized Survivor season.

And let’s get real, unless you’re a crazy superfan, does anyone really remember anything about Survivor: Thailand? I didn’t think so. Take me back, Probst, and let the hidden immunity idol revolve around something elephant themed. And gold buffs, all the gold buffs. Have I mentioned I really like Thailand?

That’s all, folks. Those are my eight locations I wouldn’t mind seeing again. But for now, I look to Fiji and get ready for another great year of tiki heads, bright colored buffs, and huts for tribal council. Until next time, Cam.


Written by

Cam Kuhn

Cam Kuhn is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas and proud super fan of Survivor. He works as an education consultant for a technology firm and blogs in his spare time. Cam has applied for Survivor 4 times since turning 18, written his college thesis on the communication styles of Survivor, and won Corinne Kaplan's season 32 cast assessment via auction.

12 responses to “Survivor Locations: Revamp, Return, Recycle”

  1. As a brazilian fan, I would love to see a Survivor’s season here. Besides Amazon and Tocantins, there is another places in the country that could be great locations for Survivor

  2. Man, I miss a lot of the older locations. Australia, China, Thailand and Vanuatu the most…but to be honest, I would really like to see Survivor try a different location entirely. Why not try somewhere with a colder climate? Like Alaska? Or maybe the North Pole? We’ve never done a season where Survivors have to survive in icy-snowy elements. I think that would be really neat, even if it ended up as a one time thing.

  3. While I really would love to see them hit Tocantis again, I just would die if they DID A SEASON IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR GOD SAKE! THEY NEED TO DO A SEASON IN MOUNTAINS, FOREST, THAT TYPE OF!

  4. I remember Jeff once saying he hated Marquesas and that they’d never return there. The no-no bugs were killer not only for the contestants, but also for the production. I would love to see Vanuatu return in HD!!

  5. I would like to see any African country! Something different, without a tropical beach as Tocantins, Gabon or China would be great. I also miss the stylized seasons. ;(

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