I simply adore exploring The Great Sea. Many Zelda fans have maligned The Wind Waker for its sailing, at least in the original version, but this has always been my favorite aspect of the game. I’ve always seen it as a luxurious, languid, low-intensity game where the anticipation of discovery takes a front seat ahead of the action itself. Spotting the silhouette of a landmass on the horizon, charting a course, and sailing to an obscure location is one of the best experiences the game can provide, especially when doing some optional adventuring. Places like Windfall Island, Dragon Roost, and Forest Haven are certainly cool, but I love the allure of the more miniscule destinations. Which is your favorite optional island in The Wind Waker?

As a completionist player, I always appreciate these divergent isles. Exploring the caverns of Pawprint Isle or Cliff Plateau Isles for their optional treasures is a joy. So is engaging with islands which essentially constitute a seaside minigame. Horseshoe Island’s Deku Leaf golf, the Flight Control Platform’s gliding challenge, and Salvatore’s cannon game on Spectacle Island are all great examples. Sometimes the island’s very layout is a puzzle, like the Angular Isles or Rock Spire Isle. While brief, these islands add to the flavor of the game’s wonderful presentation.

However, I think my favorite islands in The Wind Waker are those with little to no actual content on them, if “on them” is even a concept that makes sense. For me, mystery is the central motivator for exploration in a Zelda game. Ultra-obtuse locations like Star Belt Archipelago and Five-Star Isles always fill me with a sense of wonder, like I can’t quite understand what happened here (besides cut content, I mean). That latter isle is especially memorable for me. The submarine in that area of the sea is right up against the extreme edge of the game world. A warning from The King of Red Lions not to proceed is a mysterious and thought provoking moment any time I play The Wind Waker.

What about you? What is your favorite optional island in The Wind Waker? Do you visit these islands whenever you play? Let us know in the comments below!

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