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The Secrets Behind Island Names: Exploring Their Origins and Meanings

Island Names

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Humans have always been fascinated by islands, from the sunlit Pacific Isles to the windswept Arctic island chains. These isolated land formations are surrounded by enormous water bodies; hence they hold some degree of mystery and attraction. What makes them even more enchanting? The names we have given them over generations.

Names are not just mere tags but rather, cultural symbols, historical references, and linguistic patterns. Island names often convey narratives about the original natives inhabiting them at first, the discoverers who stumbled upon them, or their defining features in terms of nature. It has therefore become necessary to appreciate where these names came from at a time when every corner of the planet is becoming accessible easily; this enables us to embrace the variety of cultures spread across our earth and develop stronger ties with these unique physical gifts.

Therefore let’s go on an expedition through the interesting world of island names so that we can find out where they come from and what they mean.

Island Names and Their Captivating Histories

1. Hawai’i: It is believed that the name “Hawai’i” originated from their native language which means “homeland” or “place of the gods.”

2. Bali: The name of this Indonesian island, however, has been thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word “vali”, which means “offering” or “sacrifice.”

3. Fiji: In fact, the name “Fiji” comes in its earliest rendition from the Tongan word, Viti that was used by its early settlers.

4. Lombok: Found in Indonesia, it is said that the name Lombok is actually Sasak and means “straight” or “chaste.”

5. Mykonos: This Cycladic island takes after Mykonos who was a grandson of Apollo as per Greek mythology.

6. Bermuda: Bermudas’ Spanish sailor Juan de Bermúdez is assumed to have given this name in 1505.

7. Zanzibar: Its name is translated as ‘coast of blacks.’ It was dubbed so because it served as an important trading post during the Spice Trade era and slave trade time for Arabs.

8. Galapagos: These Ecuadorian islands were named by Spaniards as ‘Galapagos’, an obsolete Spanish word meaning saddle because one of them looks like a saddle.

9. Easter Island – Rapa Nui, an island located in Chilean territory was discovered on Easter Sunday in 1722 by Jacob Roggeveen of Dutch origin so he named it Easter Island

10. Mauritius: Its name derives from the Dutch word “Mauritius”, who was a great prince in the Netherlands during the 17th century when it was colonized.

11. Bora Bora: It is claimed that the name “Bora Bora” means very first born in Tahitian and it takes this name as it is said to be the oldest of these islands of society

12. Santorini: This beautiful Greek island’s name actually originates from Latin language, Santa Irini, which stands for St.Irene after a tiny chapel by the same name.

13. Tahiti: The word Tahiti comes from tahi in their native language meaning a sea or ocean.

14. Cozumel: The origins of this Mexican island go back to Mayan times when Cuzamil meant the place of swallows in their dialect.

15. Palawan: Located in the Philippines, its Chinese roots speak Pa-lao-yu which means beautiful island.

16. Maui: According to Hawaiian mythology, the Maui demigod gave birth to the island which now bears his name because he was famous for many astounding exploits and adventures that he engaged himself into.

17. Bougainville: The French man Louis-Antoine de Bougainville gave his own surname to this Papua New Guinean island he discovered in 1768/1770.

18. Oahu: Its actual meaning according to Hawaiians is “the gathering place”.

The Big Island (Hawaii) Names and Their Meanings        

Name  Meaning 
Hawai’iHomeland or place of the gods
Mauna KeaWhite Mountain
 Kilauea Spewing or Much Spreading
 Kailua-KonaTwo Lava Flows
HiloRaging Billows
WaikaloaWaters of the Long Spear
WaimeaReddish Water
KealakekuaPathway of the God
 PunaSpring or Well

Cool Island Names

1. Bora Bora

2. Santorini

3. Maui

4. Bali

5. Capri

6. Fiji

7. Seychelles

8. Mauritius

9. Mykonos

10. Kauai

11. Lanai

12. Lombok

13. Bougainville

14. Samoa

15. Vanuatu

16. Tonga

17. Maldives

18. Grenada

19. Barbados

20. Antigua

21. St. Lucia

22. Bermuda

23. Bahamas

24. Galapagos

25. Cocos (Keeling)

26. Tuvalu

27. Palau

28. Nauru

29. Niue

30. Guam

Island Boys’ Names

1. Kai

2. Luca

3. Nalu

4. Koa

5. Reef

6. Bodhi

7. Finn

8. Ryder

9. Marley

10. Cruz

11. Milo

12. Kenzo

13. Alani

14. Kainoa

15. Makoa

16. Keanu

17. Kainalu

18. Kailani

19. Kahili

20. Kaimana

21. Nahele

22. Kaimoku

23. Keahi

24. Kaimalu

25. Kaimalu

26. Kanalu

27. Kahai

28. Kaipo

29. Kaleo

30. Keoki

Island Girls’ Names

1. Isla

2. Cove

3. Aloha

4. Kai

5. Naia

6. Lani

7. Kailani

8. Makai

9. Nalani

10. Keahi

11. Kona

12. Malia

13. Leilani

14. Kalani

15. Moana

16. Kaia

17. Mahina

18. Nani

19. Kaimana

20. Kalea

21. Pahili

22. Hanalei

23. Kawena

24. Kekoa

25. Lilinoe

26. Maile

27. Nalani

28. Nohea

29. Pohai

30. Ulani

Good Island Names

| Name             | Meaning               |

| Samoa            | Sacred Earth          |

| Vanuatu          | Our Land Forever   |

| Tuvalu           | Cluster of Eight      |

| Nauru            | Shaded Land           |

| Guam             | We Have               |

| Palau            | Village               |

| Niue             | Behold the Coconut    |

| Kiribati         | Our Possession        |

| Marshall Islands | After John Marshall   |

| Cook Islands     | After Captain Cook    |

| Tonga            | South                 |

| Bora Bora        | First Born            |

| Rarotonga        | Under the Clouds      |

| Aitutaki         | Carrying Burden       |

| Huahine          | Pregnant Woman        |

| Raiatea          | Bright Sky            |

| Tahaa            | Fragrant              |

| Moorea           | Yellow Lizard         |

| Tetiaroa         | Oblong                |

| Maupiti          | Double-Pointed Mountain |

Funny Island Names

NamePotential Meaning
Stank IsleAn island with a…distinctive aroma
Scratchy BottomAn island with an itchy sandy beach?
Funky DoricHome to some groovy ancient Greeks?
Chill Trill IsleA very laidback island with great bird-watching
BlurbatrazAn Island Prison for Bad Comedians
Gigg IslandWhere they mine laughing gas
Punny AtollAn island full of terrible puns
Isla De’BunkAn island of MythBusters
Flibberty Gibbet KeyNo one’s quite sure what this means
Tanglebunion QuayThe island for foot massage devotees
Bumbershoot ShoalsThe typhoon capital of the world
Jackanory IslandsStorytelling havens in the South Pacific
Kleinhuhnchen ArchipelagoGerman for “tiny chickens”?
Rantan IsleKnown for its wild rantings and ravings
Isle McGillicuddySettled by very Scottish immigrants
Boowackity KeyYou’ll be saying “blowback” when you see it
Fiddle Waddle AtollAn island of very clumsy violin players
Mishmash IslandA crazy blend of cultures and traditions
Higgledy Piggledy IsleNothing is quite in order here
Ohwowohwow CayThe beauty will make you say “Oh wow!”
Rumplefudge IslandFudge is so good it will rumple you up!
Gobblefunked KeyNo idea, but it’s fun to say
Mookurafuffoon AtollAn imaginary cursed island, maybe?
Bagabundits IslandPossibly home to thieves and scoundrels
Skedaddle IsleThe perfect place to make a quick getaway
Razzmatappling CayA fusion of razzmatazz and tapping dances
Tizzy Izzy IslandWhere the residents are in a perpetual dither
Flibbertigibbet KeyAnother fanciful name with no clear meaning
Furngibbled AtollWhat does that even mean? Let’s go there!

Dead Island Named Zombies































Pal World Island Names

Millpond Isle

Tranquility Cay

Serenity Key

Halcyon Atoll

Restful Retreat

Oasis Island

Becalmed Bay

Haven Harbour

Solace Shores

Zenith Isles

Azure Archipelago

Sapphire Sanctuary

Cerulean Coves

Lapis Lagoon

Turquoise Tides

Aquamarine Atolls

Teal Tropics

Seafoam Shores

Beryl Bays

Ultramarine Isles

Navy Narrows

Cobalt Cays

Indigo Inlets

Peacock Paradise

Robin’s Egg Retreat

Bluebird Bays

Cerulean Sanctuary

Loch Lomond Lagoon

Wedgwood Waters

Majorelle Mirage


From the analysis of island names, it is clear that these are not mere labels. They are more than just convenient tags; they represent cultures, histories, and stories encapsulated in a few words.

Every name of an island has a story to tell. Consequently, from Hawaiian Bora Bora and Fijian Vanuatu to others can be said to give us an insight into human life in general. The names of the islands remind us about our connection with nature by honoring them by mentioning famous landforms such as mountainous terrains found on the various islands or even their abundant vegetation and animal species. They speak of unique aspects of geography that make each island suitable for human habitation as well as its own self-contained ecosystem.

Names associated with these areas also show how people and their cultures have evolved over time. In fact, Bougainville, and Seychelles among many others imply “exploration.” Works like Zanzibar however when spoken sounds like some form of punishment.

The silliest things like this ‘Funky Doric’ or ‘Rumplefudge’, play on our imagination and sense of humor – both being qualities essential for survival during difficult times for humankind.

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