Living in a large metropolitan is chaotic. From waiting in line at your favorite dinner spot to getting onto a crowded, hot train for your commute to work, you’re never exactly alone in the big city. Constantly surrounded by fellow comrades, who are running to their next meeting or Tinder date, finding solitude can be a little tricky. So, running away to an island in the middle of nowhere seems like the best escape from life’s hectic schedule. But if it’s a traditional island retreat you’re after, Santa Cruz del Islote off the north coast of Colombia, may not be your ideal location. Dubbed as the most crowded island on earth, its almost 1,200 habitants live on a landmass the size of two soccer fields. It’s overly cozy, crowded and a tight squeeze, but locals describe life on the island as calm and peaceful. Surprised? So were we.
Santa Cruz del Islote is home to 90 houses, two shops, one restaurant, one all-ages disco and a school – all packed onto 2.4 acres. It’s four times as dense as the borough of Manhattan and with no high rises in sight, the island is covered with small houses linked by a maze of alleyways. The main economy of the island is fishing, with some locals travelling to nearby islands to cook, clean and provide guides for tourists. There is no doctor, only a few hours of electricity a day and no running water or sewage system. But despite the limited resources, locals on the island live a happy and peaceful existence.
The island has no police force but they don’t need it - crime is nonexistent. There is a strong sense of community amongst the residents, where people take care of each other’s children, no doors are ever locked and if a person is ever in need, they can count on their neighbors to help them out. Residents describe the island as paradise—they have everything they need in a .004 square mile radius. With limited space, residents of Santa Cruz del Islote seem to have cracked the code. Sure, their houses are cramped but their hearts are full.
It’s an important lesson in being content with what you have and finding solitude in the most unlikely places. Santa Cruz del Islote may be the most crowded island on the planet but its acclaim should be in how its residents have learnt to live together in harmony, without any room (literally) for error.