Docastaway founder Alvaro Cerezo answers the beck-and-call of unplugged travel with escapes to the world’s last untrammeled islands.
Alvaro Cerezo, a free-spirited Spaniard with an insatiable sense of wanderlust, spent years exploring the globe. His unique travel company, Docastaway (“Do Castaway”), includes a portfolio of remote, unspoiled islands perfect for the traveler who really wants to get away from it all. The perpetually sun-kissed entrepreneur tells us why everyone should want to be stranded on a desert island.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO CREATE A TRAVEL BUSINESS AROUND DESERTED ISLAND ESCAPES?
I was always a castaway myself. Every year since I was 19 I would pick a new island to strand myself on and I’d see if I could survive off the land and sea. I spent one month on an island in India. I thought it was fun and realized other people might enjoy the simplicity of island living, too.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE ISLANDS IN YOUR PORTFOLIO?
Finding the places is easy. You just need to go explore. I’ve taken over 400 travelers to around 30 islands throughout Polynesia, the Philippines, Melanesia, Indonesia and the Caribbean. The hard part is working with the people who live around these islands. Their education is usually very low, they don’t understand Western standards and they really have a hard time understanding the castaway concept. I need their cooperation to ensure the islands stay deserted. They don’t understand how people can enjoy being alone.
WHAT MAKES THE PERFECT DESERT ISLAND?
Isolation. When I first launched I didn’t know exactly what clients wanted. When I was on an island for months I liked when fishermen passed by because they’d bring me fish. But my clients only stay a few days, maybe two weeks. They want to be completely alone.
Every year since I was 19 I would pick a new island to strand myself on and I’d see if I could survive off the land and sea.
YOUR PRICES ARE QUITE AFFORDABLE, RANGING FROM $85 TO $415 A DAY. WHO IS THE IDEAL CASTAWAY?
If you think about real castaways from the past, they weren’t castaways by choice. Social status didn’t matter. If you were rich or if you were poor, you could still end up shipwrecked on an island. I wanted to stay true to that. We get all types of people, from backpackers and millionaires to adventurous honeymooners and solo people who want to come test their survival skills.
YOUR PORTFOLIO IS BROKEN INTO TWO CATEGORIES: COMFORT MODE AND ADVENTURE MODE. WHY GIVE TWO OPTIONS?
First and foremost, I wanted Docastaway to be a company that helps people escape civilization. Some people want to really see if they can survive being stranded on an island. They want to test themselves. These are special people. Maybe a little crazy. Most people don’t want to suffer during their holidays. They want the comforts of modern life. They want food, shelter and, bug spray.
ADVENTURE MODE SOUNDS LIKE SURVIVOR. IS THERE ANY DANGER INVOLVED?
The biggest threat is having a coconut fall on your head or being caught in a current in the ocean. It’s really hard to starve. These islands are full of coconuts and crabs. We leave people with a cookpot, a few bottles of water and a machete. It’s easy to make a bamboo lean-to for shelter. Many of our islands are close to the mainland where we have a team standing by in case of an emergency.
HOW DO YOU KEEP THESE ISLANDS SECRET? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE START POSTING INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK PHOTOS OF THEIR TRIPS?
Clients have to sign a contract that they won’t publically post photos on social media. Sometimes they write nice reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor and we have to take them down. If we start sharing the locations of our islands, backpackers will show up, and we’ll need to take the island out of the portf olio. People go to places like Thailand expecting to find paradise and it feels just like California or Spain. There are very few places where you can really be alone. I think that is something that will become more and more valuable with time.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ISLAND?
My favorite islands aren’t on the website. They’re just for me.
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