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See also the disambiguation page for Exile Island.

Exile Island is a game-changing twist used in Survivor. Exile Island is a small campsite apart from the actual tribe camps where one or two contestants will be left, banished for a predetermined period of time. Though in seclusion, the banished castaway(s) will often have a "consolation prize" such as a clue to the location of a Hidden Immunity Idol that may or may not be hidden there.


Terry banished at Exile Island in Panama.

The premise of Exile Island is simple: To force someone (though still depending if there is another twist) to live on his/her own on an uninhabited island. The logic is that the banished player will be separated from their tribe, unable to strategize and will be out of the loop until a predetermined period of time. This twist provides more emphasis on the social aspect of the game, for which players can have an open opportunity to gossip and/or to campaign the ouster of the exiled survivor. However, all these can backfire, as Exile Island provides clues to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol, which may or may not be hidden on the island. Clues will constantly be handed in every episode, though it does not guarantee the player truly finding the Idol (especially if the Idol had already been found by someone else). This will add more mystery in the game as suspicion would arise between the castaways regarding who really has the Idol.

Usually after winning a Reward Challenge, aside from the reward itself, the winning tribe (or individual/group, if merged) will also have the power to send one person from the losing tribe/team to Exile Island.

During the pre-merge phase, if a tribe switch takes place with an odd number of castaways, the odd person out will be automatically banished to Exile Island. They will rejoin the game after the following Tribal Council, as a member of the tribe that loses a member at that Tribal Council. Not being on any tribe, they cannot compete in any challenges, nor vote or be voted out at that respective Tribal Council.

Banished players will be given a machete, a pot, and a piece of flint to fend for themselves. They will usually be reunited with their tribe in time before the next Immunity Challenge, though there are exceptions.

In Kaôh Rōng, the twist was used only once, and instead of sending the exiled to another location, the victim was simply banished to the camp of the dissolved tribe, To Tang.


A happy Janu during banishment.

The concept of Exile Island was first introduced in Survivor: Palau, when a single contestant was made to stay alone on a beach as an added stipulation for being the first bailout from an Immunity Challenge. This distinction went to Janu Tornell, who was immediately sent to live alone overnight. The incident however was only a one-time twist. The twist later became an official part of the game in Survivor: Panama (even meriting a subtitle in the season's logo) and a number of subsequent seasons.


There have been strategies and other factors that can be considered in banishing a player over the course of the series:

  • Send the same person multiple times so that only that person receives the clues of the hiding place of the Hidden Immunity Idol (could also potentially brand them a threat);
  • Send the losing tribe's strongest or resident food provider, assuring their tribe will grow hungrier and weaker come the Immunity Challenge.
  • Send one person multiple times so that their tribe will question that player's loyalties and motives;
  • Send the tribe's weakest member in challenges to weaken the tribe further and break their spirit;
    • Send a person to Exile Island following a combined Reward/Immunity Challenge which also grants them immunity from Tribal Council
  • Send a person to Exile Island can be also a fitting revenge plan following a betrayal;
  • Send the most likable person to demoralize their tribe;
  • Send an ally, or themselves to gain access to a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol.

Exile Island and the Hidden Immunity Idol

Terry unearths the Hidden Immunity Idol.

See: Hidden Immunity Idol

Though players may feel alone and uneasy during their banishment, there is a silver lining about staying on the dreaded island - a clue to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol that may or may not be hidden somewhere on Exile Island. But recently, Exile Island was merely reduced as a decoy; with players discovering that the Idol is hidden back at his/her tribe's camp (if the game is still in its intertribal phase, players can safely assume that there are two Idols, one hidden at each camp).

Hero Duels

First used in Survivor: San Juan del Sur, Hero Duels are Reward Challenge duels in where the castaways meet in an arena called the Hero Arena. There, each tribe must choose only one representative from their tribe to play a round of rock-paper-scissors, after which the winner will give his tribe the right to choose first which among their tribe members will compete in the challenge. The representative would then compete against a castaway from the other tribe (during Survivor: San Juan del Sur before the tribes were switched, the other tribe must choose the loved one of the representative chosen by the other tribe).

The winning castaway wins a reward for their tribe, while the losing castaway will be sent to Exile Island. In addition, the winning castaway must then choose from his own tribemates who would join the losing castaway on Exile Island.

Twist History


Janu would be the first person to be exiled, after being the first person to bail out of the Last Gasp Immunity Challenge.


On Day 1, all sixteen castaways were sent to the island, with the host telling them about the twist. Immediately after the revelation, the castaways were immersed into their first Reward Challenge. The losing tribe, Bayoneta, would then leave one of their own on the island. After a harrowing game of rock-paper-scissors, Misty Giles was forced to stay there. After the incident, Jeff then revealed the existence of the Hidden Immunity Idol.

On Day 4, the four tribes were integrated into two new ones. Bayoneta and Viveros were abolished, spreading the fifteen remaining players across the new Casaya and La Mina tribes. The odd player out, Bruce Kanegai, was automatically exiled, but later rejoined the game on Day 6 as a member of Casaya to replace its recently lost member, Melinda Hyder

For the rest of the game, Jeff announced that the tribe that wins the Reward Challenge would also get the power to banish any member of the rival tribe to Exile Island. During this time period, La Mina's Terry Deitz would obtain the Hidden Immunity Idol. On Day 15, the tribes competed in a combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, where it was revealed that not only would they win reward and immunity, but the winning tribe would then pick one person from the losing team and send him/her to Exile Island. Sally Schumann (La Mina's last female member) was sent there, thus forcing the existent all-male alliance to turn on each other and vote out Dan Barry.

After the merge, on Day 19, the merged tribe Gitanos was divided into three groups of three for their next Reward Challenge. The winning tribe would send two people, one member from both teams to Exile Island. Sally, Bruce, and Aras Baskauskas won the challenge and chose Danielle DiLorenzo and Austin Carty to stay on Exile Island. Up until the final five, the same rules applied, though only one person was exiled per episode. In a precarious situation, Terry was left alone unallied. Not only was his La Mina Alliance wiped out by the Casaya Alliance, but he was sent to Exile Island numerous times.

On Day 34, the winner of the Reward Challenge, Aras, chose Cirie Fields to join him on the reward, while Terry and Danielle were exiled together.

On Day 38, Exile Island was retired, though the final three castaways, Aras, Danielle, and Terry revisited the island for the Rites of Passage ritual to celebrate their fallen comrades and burn the skull, after which they headed to the venue of their Final Immunity Challenge.

Cook Islands

The premise remained the same, but during the four-tribe phase of the game, the tribe that lost the Immunity Challenge got to decide who to exile. Jonathan Penner was first to be exiled by the Manihiki tribe as punishment for stealing a chicken initially caught by the Puka Puka tribe during the Day 1 marooning. Yul Kwon was second to be exiled by the Aitutaki tribe, and found the Hidden Immunity Idol. Thereafter, Candice Woodcock would become a frequent visitor to Exile Island, especially after the Mutiny, where she became the frequent target of Aitutaki's punishment.


While the premise of Exile Island remained the same as it was in the two previous seasons, but no Hidden Immunity Idols were hidden on the island. Instead, two idols were in play, with one hidden at both camps. 


Prior to the merge, two people, one from each tribe, would go to Exile Island and had the option of looking for the Hidden Immunity Idol together, or separately. After the merge, only one player is exiled at a time. This season however marked the first time that Hidden Immunity Idols were hidden both on as well as outside of Exile Island. 


When a person is exiled, they can choose to get a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol or to stay in a roofed shack with a bowl of fruit. If the player chooses the clue, they may only sleep outside the hut. Those who chose not to look for the idol is allowed to stay in the hut and consume the fruit inside. After being exiled on Day 7, Sugar Kiper found the idol and held onto it until Day 36.


Similar to Micronesia, two contestants, one from each tribe were sent to Exile Island where they would choose between two urns. One contained a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and a mutiny option, while the second contained nothing.

San Juan del Sur

This season was the first to use the Hero Arena, in lieu of the planned Redemption Arena, due to a last-minute change decided on by the producers, reusing the already-built set. During the pre-Tribe Switch phase, where all of the castaways' loved ones were in opposing tribes, each tribe must choose a castaway that still has a loved one in the game, in which that castaway must face their loved one from the tribe to duel. On this season's Exile Island, the two castaways sent there must each choose an urn, similar to the Tocantins format, in which one contains a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol found at their beach, and the other one containing nothing.

After the merge, the castaway that would be sent to Exile Island would be determined by the Reward Challenge, usually grouped by teams. The winning team picks one castaway from the losing team to be sent to Exile Island. Unlike before the merge, only one urn would be available (as there is only one castaway sent there at a time) but would guarantee it would contain an idol clue.

Kaôh Rōng

Although not an official Exile Island, the former To Tang camp was used in a similar fashion following the tribe switch on Day 12. With thirteen players left, the odd player out, Julia Sokolowski, temporarily lived at To Tang camp. It was said that the switch was supposed to happen when fourteen players were still in the game, but fell through due to a prior medical evacuation. Julia returned to the Gondol tribe to replace its lost member, Anna Khait.

Game Changers

At the second tribe switch on Day 14, Debbie Wanner drew a package which did not contain a buff. As such, she was left without a tribe and was exiled. Exile turned out to be not an island, but a large ship stocked with luxuries uncommon to the game of Survivor such as food and shelter. Debbie was given a surprise visit by Survivor: Caramoan winner John Cochran, who acted as a sounding board with whom Debbie could discuss strategy. After offering her tips to get further in the game, Cochran presented to her an Advantage Menu - Debbie could pick a fake Hidden Immunity Idol kit with which to fashion a decoy idol, an extra vote, or an advantage for her tribe in the next challenge; she chose to take the extra vote.

David vs. Goliath

After the tribe switch on Day 10, Carl Boudreaux was sent to Exile Island after being the only person to not receive a new buff. There, he was given the opportunity to find the Idol Nullifier. After the next Immunity Challenge, which Vuku lost, Carl sat in at Tribal Council before joining the tribe.

Survivor 41

Erika spends two nights on Exile Island.

On Day 12, the castaways were divided into two teams of five and competed in a Reward/Immunity Challenge. Two castaways were not assigned a team (Erika Casupanan and Naseer Muttalif). After the challenge was won, the winning team had the option to give one of the two sit-outs immunity with them and send the other to Exile Island for two days. The winning team selected Naseer, exiling Erika. On Exile Island, Erika was informed of the Hourglass twist; she was given a choice by Probst to leave the game as it is, or reverse the challenge outcome by breaking an hourglass. She broke the hourglass, granting herself and the losing team immunity, and stripping immunity from the winning team.

Survivor 42

On Day 12, the castaways were divided into two teams of five and competed in a Reward/Immunity Challenge. Lindsay Dolashewich and Rocksroy Bailey were not assigned a team, and their fate lay in the hands of the winning team. After winning the challenge, the orange team selected Lindsay to join them on the reward, simultaneously granting her immunity and making the decision to send Rocksroy to Exile Island. There, Rocksroy was given the hourglass to ponder over. Ultimately, Rocksroy destroyed the hourglass, stripping immunity from the winners and transferring it to himself and the losing team.



Survivor Gameplay
Challenge Advantage · Do-It-Yourself Challenge · Duel · Family Visit · Immunity Challenge (Final Immunity Challenge) · Immunity Idol · Immunity Necklace · Medallion of Power · Reward Challenge · Survivor Auction
Edge of Extinction · Ejection · Evacuation · Final Tribal Council · Jury · Quit · Redemption Island · Snuffer · Sole Survivor · Tiebreaker · Torch · Tribal Council · Urn
Alliance · Pagonging · Split Vote (Strategy)
Social Dynamics
Final Two · Final Three · Merge · Tribe

Battle of the Sexes · Blood vs. Water · Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty · Old vs. Young · Returning Players · Schoolyard Pick · Tribes Divided by Ethnicity

Tribal Council-Related

Advantage Amulet · Do or Die · Double Elimination · Double Tribal Council · Extra Vote · Hidden Immunity Idol (History) · Idol Nullifier · Joint Tribal Council · Juror Removal · Legacy Advantage · Knowledge is Power · Shot in the Dark · Vote Blocker · Vote Steal


Advantage Menu · Buried Treasure · Day Zero · Exile Island · Fake Merge · Fire Token · First Impressions · Ghost Island · Haves vs. Have Nots · Hourglass · Island of the Idols · Kidnapping · Looting · Mutiny · One World · Reward Steal · Summit · The Outcasts · Tribe Leader · Tribe Switch

Fan Favorite Award · Lawsuits and Legal Action · Ponderosa · Reunion Show
Buff · Confessional · Luxury Item · Rites of Passage · Survivor Rulebook · Ulonging