Updated on January 7, 2019
On opposite coasts of the American continent are two much-beloved, long, and narrow small islands. One is famed for having been purchased for $24 dollars in 1626. The other is famed for having the warmest water north of Mexico. The former is, of course, the island of Manhattan in New York, USA, and the latter is, obviously, Savary Island in British Columbia, Canada. But which long and narrow island is more worth visiting?
The answer to this question has been subject to debate for years.
Having had the great privilege to visit both, Kim & I decided it was up to us to share with you all the details you need to decide once and for all. Here is a side-by-side analysis of the most important distinguishing characteristics of everyone’s two favorite long and narrow islands. Which will you decide on?
Savary Island vs. Manhattan
Manhattan has many restaurants. There’s something for everyone and you can find something to eat 24/7.
Savary Island has one restaurant named Riggers. It’s menu consists of pub food so, like Manhattan, there’s something for everyone. They also have beer on tap from Townsite brewery, which is on the mainland, and a TV for watching sports. Riggers is not always open. When we last visited on Canada Day long weekend, in the beginning of July, it had yet to open for the summer.
Manhattan has subway lines, many taxis, ridesharing services like Uber, horse-drawn carriages, and more. It is also quite walkable. Roads crisscross the island, which make it easy to get anywhere.
Savary Island does not have any paved roads. Years ago, a landslide washed away the main dirt road that traversed the island. There are no plans to repair it. It can still taken by bike or foot, but vehicles must now take a less direct route. Biking and walking around the island is recommended anyways. Hitchhiking is common and welcome too, especially since Uber has yet to be introduced (internet is limited), but can be hit and miss due to infrequent vehicle traffic. There is one taxi company that shuttles visitors between the pier and their cabins. Guests are encouraged to ride in the back with their luggage.
Manhattan is very safe. Their police force is well known. You are very unlikely to have any issues there, but are advised to be cautious nevertheless. Lock your doors and keep your valuables in a safe. Also be careful when crossing streets because there is a lot of traffic.
Savary Island does not have a police force. Nevertheless, feel free leave your kayaks unsecured by the water, though you might want to consider doing like the locals and “hide” your paddles a couple hundred feet inland as a security precaution. There’s almost no traffic to beware of, nor are there bears or harmful snakes. We did, however, hear tales of someone being kicked by deer and a family that was terrorized by a couple of sea otters who took up residence under their porch.
Manhattan has many theatres, clubs, and bars, among other places of entertainment to choose from for a night out.
Savary Island has a bar, which is also its restaurant, Riggers (see: Restaurants). Other popular nighttime activities include making bonfires by the beach and playing board games at home. Code Names was a favorite during our most recent visit.
When on Manhattan, you may choose to go to a fitness club, for a jog in Central Park, or a bike ride around the island.
On Savary Island, our friend Tom has his own outdoor home gym on the west side of the Island. We also recommend natural fitness pursuits such as running and throwing rocks on the beach. There is also an outdoor ocean-view wooden tennis court by the pier. The cracks between the planks make for a game of exciting, unpredictable bounces. Paddling, biking, and jogging are also popular pursuits on Savary.
Manhattan is famous for its clam chowder, which you can enjoy at various restaurants around the island.
Savary Island clam chowder is not currently on the menu at Savary’s only restaurant, but you can (and should) make your own. Clams can be easily harvested at the beach by Indian point. Last year three of us collected 469 in twenty-five minutes. All other ingredients should be brought with you to the island.
Manhattan has a wide variety of shops. It’s safe to assume that whatever you desire may be purchased somewhere on the island.
Savary Island has one general store that is lightly and variably stocked with essentials. It’s safe to assume that whatever you desire cannot be purchased on the island, so bring everything you need with you. Savary also has a farmers market every Tuesday in July and August.
Final Verdict: Savary Island or Manhattan?
As you have certainly discovered, the battle between Savary Island and Manhattan for the title of best long and narrow small island is too close to call.
Here’s our final recommendation: If you prefer an overwhelming—maybe paralyzing—amount of choice, noise, and activity, Manhattan is for you. Otherwise, for a much more relaxing getaway where you will never be overwhelmed with choice, noise, or activity, try Savary Island instead.
Chris & Kim