Island Hunting is Contagious

It is fun to locate an island on a National Geographic map, find a resident amateur or encourage a ham to go to the island in need and then make a valid QSO. Even more enjoyable is the opportunity to meet the friendly group of Island Hunters who seem eager to help you work “a new one”. The excitement of the hunt is increased by the tolerable pileups, the minimal intentional interference, the need for only one QSO per island and the attitude that it is not a “life or death” need for a contact.

Many post-covid islands have been or will be activated soon.  Most of the 1200 island groups have been activated at least once.  The good news is that activators are always looking to reactivate the rare groups.  Island activators are also searching for or have plans to put a few brand new groups on the air in the near future.  Stay alert and be sure to read the DX News Sheet or other DX bulletins for islands you may need.

Have fun.  Chase band countries, islands, lighthouses, castles, parks, mountain tops, etc.

The photo below was an island expedition to Fidra Island, EU-123 by GM3VLB and myself.

History of Island Awards

Geoff Watts, a well known SWL and editor of the DX News Sheet developed the “Islands on the Air” (IOTA) award program in 1964. Many of the islands counting for IOTA also qualify as islands for the DXCC program so those who are active in DXCC have a head start. As IOTA grew in popularity, additional resources were required and the award was acquired by the Radio Society of Great Britain in 1985. The IOTA 50 year anniversary was celebrated in 2014 in Windsor, England. Thanks to IOTA, the interest in Island Hunting has increased rapidly which has encouraged other radio associations to create awards for working islands in their own countries.

Recently, the RSNA passed the program to some avid island chasers that modernized the program significantly.  Using its database , it recognizes island submissions based on prior valid operations.  Matching confirmations with LOTW, Clublog and Contest results, a QSL card is not required.  This has resulted in many stations making submissions for awards using only electronic approval and eliminates the need to send QSLs.  Still, QSLs may be sent to their Checkpoint if electronic recognition of a valid QSO is not available.  The end result is that the IOTA program is the second most popular award.

Covid epidemic almost completely shut down all award activations. Now that radio amateurs are permitted to enter semi-rare and rare countries and islands,  island chasing is back with a flourish.  Have fun and add to your IOTA total.

The photo below is just one of the many beautiful awards (Worked 1000 Island groups) issued by IOTA.

Island Hunting

These web pages are designed to assist you with learning more about the many challenging international ham radio island award programs. The original and still the most popular island award is IOTA (ISLANDS ON THE AIR) but there are many country and regional island awards which complement the IOTA program. It is important to note that not all islands valid for awards count for IOTA but part of the fun is to research the various awards. Hunting islands, meeting award requirements and submitting applications demands some basic knowledge.  QSLing is also an important component to seeking awards and I have provided recommendations of QSL practices for expeditions and Island hunters on the Island Hunting link. I hope that we can provide you with helpful suggestions to make the process of hunting islands and seeking awards easy and enjoyable.