The Island of Tenerife and LOST

Those LOST writers never cease to amaze me.  After watching this week’s amazing episode Ab Aeterno I wondered why they picked the Canary Islands as Richard’s homeland.  When I dug deeper and explored his particular Island residence, Tenerife, it became wonderfully clear why the LOST writers chose it.

Tenerife Island features a large volcanic mountain crater like LOST


Tenerife is a beautiful tropical island near Spain that features a large volcanic crater in the middle.  In LOST we have been told by Olivia Goodspeed in Season 4 that there is a volcano on the island.  If you look at the maps on this site you can see it.

Speaking of maps, Tenerife was called “The Island from Hell” or Isla del Infierno in Spanish in a map dating back to 1350.  This week’s LOST episode’s theme was that the characters on LOST were trapped in Hell on the island.


Tenerife was settled around 200 BC by the pre-Hispanic people called  Guanches who were discovered by the Roman colony Mauretania in 50 BC living in relics and caves since they had little in the way of technology.  According to legends the islands in the chain were believed to be the peaks of Atlantis, the mystical place that was sunk under the ocean in a humongous cataclysm.  In LOST, Jacob and/or MIB are known to shun technology and those two men may have visited or lived in a cave in a sheer cliff near the ocean.  From the flash sideways we know the island is now underwater (and maybe only the volcanic mountain crater is still above water) probably due to the Incident or some other huge catastrophe.

“Adam” from a museum in Tenerife


Here is a person from the ancient days still preserved in a museum in Tenerife.  It reminds me a bit of the Adam and Eve bodies found in the caves in LOST.  El Silbo is a whistled language spoken in the Canary island and is is an indigenous language, whose existence was known since Roman times.  On LOST we hear mysterious “whispers” on the island and the knife that Richard uses to try and kill Jacob (the same knife given to Sayid in Sundown) is of Roman origin.  From Lostpedia: The Knife itself is a pugio, a military dagger used as a sidearm by Roman legionaries. On the sheath, it depicts the Roman she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus.

From Wikipedia: Tanausu (died 1493) was the Guanche ruler of Aceró, on the island of La Palma (known to the original population as Benahoare), whose defeat by the Castilians marked the final conquest of that island. The island of Tenerife, conquered in 1495, was the last of the Canary Islands to fall under European control. His name has been translated as “The obstinate” or “He who has kidneys.In LOST, John Locke was conned into giving his kidney to his father.  He is an obstinate leader on the island, but maybe overruled by Jacob’s replacement.


In recent history, Tenerife is famous for the site of the deadliest airplane crash in aviation history.  Two aircraft collided during takeoff killing 583 people in the fog on March 27th, 1977.  [I am writing this on March 26th].  In LOST the characters realize they may have been part of a tragic plane crash that brought them to the island in 2004.  Due to the magical properties of the island, some of the inhabitants are transported to 1977 when a hydrogen bomb is later detonated which may have caused the island to sink underwater and disappear.

The Ghost Island: In ancient history, there is a legend that the Canary Islands also contains a magical ghost island called San Borondon (Saint Brendan) that when sailors tried to reach its shores the island was suddenly covered in mist and disappeared.  Some ancient sailors claimed to explore the island before it would disappear again into the sea.  Here’s a video of Lost island when it disappeared.  Click where it says “Watch on YouTube”

23 Responses

  1. Hey TLE, great info about Tenerife. I especially liked the info about the whistled language and the ‘island of hell’.

  2. I found the information in your Tenerife post really interesting – and that is a huge understatement! There are just too many similarities to the world of Lost to be imagined or ignored,

    It reminded me of one of the stories that were listed on Lost – Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It also took place on an island with mystical powers (mainly from the never seen “crazy” mother who cast spells on many of the characters that came to the island. She also cast spells on her own offspring there, who is that island’s monster).

    It is the story of 2 brothers. One, the rightful ruler of duke of Milan and the other brother who stole the title and had his brother and young niece banished. The duke and his young daughter somehow ended up on the island along with the crazy mother witch, her son who was deformed and referred to as a beast, and some spirit creature that she was holding as a prisoner on the island for not obeying her.

    Years pass and the neice is a young woman of marriageable age on an island with no prospects (what, you thought we could escape another love triangle? Nice thought, but no dice). The brother who upsurped the dukedom is on a ship with his heir, I believe, or someone of importance, and some other people. Prospero, the real duke in exile, creates a tempest – a horrible storm – that somehow enchants the sorceress and puts her to sleep, and meanwhile causes the brother’s ship to be drawn into the island.

    Ariel, the enchanted being held prisoner on the island, sings and the whole crew falls asleep (ok, so you just have to suspend belief in other stories like Lost.) . When they eventually wake up, not one has been hurt even though the boat is destroyed. They all have clean clothes and have been given comfortable places to sleep. I think food was left for them too.

    Anyway, the newly arrived brother and his companion / heir walk through the woods and talk about the past and wishes they could start all over again in life and undo some of what they’ve done. They are in a very real sense seeking redemption.

    Anyway, I could go on and on but just to summarize a few things this story has in common with Lost: whispers from unseen characters, a monstor that is frequently invisible, mystical creatures that can change forms, sounds that can create spells, 2 brothers in disagreement, a crazy mother of the monster, love, both unrequitted and requitted, and much thoughts about the differences and similarities between beasts and humans, destiny and choices.

    The Tempest was inspired by a shipwreck that occurred near St. George in 1609, It has connections also to the Bermuda Triangle. While some of the characters arrive on the island from Milan, others are shipwrecked there on a journey originating of Africa in what we now call Tunesia ( ) This play was also Shakespeare’s last play,

    I followed several links about The Tempest and followed some links to other stories (including episodes of Star Trek and Buffy) that carry these themes even further.

    From “In 1611, William Shakespeare wrote his final play, “The Tempest.” 445 years later, an obscure science fiction writer named WJ Stuart updated the Tempest’s plot into a story called “Forbidden Planet,” and created a modern myth. Forbidden Planet, more precisely the movie version, has become the classic cautionary tale for any scenario in which people become too powerful and control their environment too easily.”

    Forbidden Planet became a movie in 1956 and was known for using electronic sounds both in the movie and in the movie’s soundtrack. Refraining from posting so many interesting connections between The Forbidden Planet, The Tempest and Lost, I’ll just put down the imdb link about The Forbidden Planet: and its wikipedia link:

    Last, but not least, The Tempest is a play about finding middle ground, harmony and redemption. It presents each extreme and if the characters representing each trait can find the middle ground and its resultant peace.

    The Sea and the Mirror( ) (if that link doesn’t work it is on and then search for The Sea and the Mirror or Auden) is a poem . It is based on The Tempest. Auden wrote a commentary that is printed at that link, about the duplicity of human nature, most specifically as found on that island, and the attempts, both successful and unsuccessful to find redemption and the middleground. The middle ground is where redemption can be found as neither side of any of the traits or issues is “good”. The introduction, alone, sounds like it could be written as much about Lost as about The Tempest.

    Still within the introduction, there is a chart printed out showing the different traits and characteristics pursued and again, the connection to Lost and the characters we find on that island is jaw-dropping (although not so much as the Tenerife connection, I grant you, but still an incredible connection.).

    It lists the traits that represent the supposed good and evil but then shows in the center of each line, the middleground, which becomes obviously the best of all. At the top and bottom of the chart is a 3 section connection of the island to both the world and to heaven/hell. It is entitled PARADISE -Eden – Essential Being and the Ending is diagramming the “volunteer Journey” through the wastelands (darktower fans!) and “draining the swamp” leading to Purgatory where forgiveness connects the island to the oasis and forms Paradise.

    It is an awesome chart but copywrited and copy and paste were disabled.

    I’m sorry for so long a post and I wouldn’t expect you to read it outloud even if it wasn’t too late for your podcast. However, I got really excited by your find and following through on connections to it. This is what I love most about Lost.

  3. TLE, I never saw your reply to my last post before this until I heard it on your podcast. I just want to say thank you.

    I also want to put out 2 theories:

    1. Last weekes episode meant something like from the beginning of time. That is hardly 1867. I think the island goes back to biblical days or Romulus/Remus days. I think Richard has been in his role thru many incarnations and cycles since the beginning, as have all the island characters in the show. Weather reincarnation, parallel lives and/or many loops, they have been there, and that includes Richard.

    2. Smokey has 3 heads. We have seen them and we have seen them go and come in 3 separate parts that join up. We know Locke’s MIB is one aspect of Smokey. I think Hurley appearing when Richard was calling out, in mirror imaging of Locke appearing when Ben called, indicates he may be part of this trilogy. The most likely 3rd party is the man we call Jacob. In one sense I don’t buy this because I think there has to be a female part of the trilogy. Maybe they are the twins – the good mom and crazy mom? Or the fertility goddess? I don’t know. Perhaps the fate of the Kwons will let us know.

    Lost in one hour!

  4. I’m from Tenerife, and I’m very happy because on Lost, one of my favourites series, has done this reference about my island; and thank you for the wonderful information about Tenerife.
    ¡Vivan los guanches!
    (I’m sorry if my english isn’t very good)

  5. hi ,there dont know if you can help. my friend as asked me to find out dose the king of spain rule tenerife and if not who does , hope you can help me thank you regards Dorothy

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