11 Years Living Off-Grid On A Self-Built Island (full tour)

There is a quote that perfectly sums up today’s story.

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan

Tonga is a beautiful Island Country, but rarely does a destination wiggle its way into our hearts forever…it’s people that have that effect.  And we’ve been friendship rich here in Tonga!

Luckily, we’ve been able to share some of these beautiful friendships with you.  First, it was Kjell and Adriana, then Johnny and the boys at the boatyard, Marty the ReWilding man, John (the Kiwi Al Pacino), and now Ben and Lisa.  (Just typing out all their names floods my mind with memories and makes me smile.)

But it was meeting Ben and Lisa that answered a gnawing question that enters my mind every time we sail into a new port.  What happens if we love it so much, we don’t want to leave?  According to our new friends, the answer is obvious: You build out a tiny island like it’s a boat…but toss in a couple of really cool treehouses for that je ne sais quoi.

Join us for a trip to the island of Fetoko, a tour of a magical homemade resort, and what is no doubt one of the most beautiful sunny days we’ve had in weeks!


A big thanks to Ben and Lisa for letting us share their island home and their story.  If you couldn’t tell, they are pretty low-key people, so they don’t have social media accounts.  But should you find yourself in Tonga once the borders open again, you can always say hello (or stay with them) at the resort:





Ups, downs, and all around, we share it all. We’re able to do so because people like you show up each week, read, watch, comment, share, shop our gear store, and toss a tip in our production jar. If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (34)

  • Mary

    What an amazing story! Grandma and I sat here together in amazement together. What great adventurers they are! It’s amazing to see what they’ve accomplished pulling resources from the island and building such incredible individual spaces for their guests! It makes me want to go over just so that I can see what they’ve done!

    You should hurt grandma‘s comments, how did he figure that out? How did he know to do that? Anyway, I told her you were just as smart as he is… well maybe anyway. Love you! Grandma sends her love!

  • JUDY Goodson

    Ben and Lisa were quite an inspiring couple, but their life of true isolation the majority of the time is not for me!

  • Steve G

    I don’t care if they had help building out that island, they have done a fantastic job. If my wife and I had started when we were 20, we wouldn’t be that far along, nor looking that nice when we hit 65. I kept thinking $$$$, the only thing cheap there is the sand and shells. Very nice video. I am sorry you are stuck in Tonga, but watching this makes me envious that I couldn’t be that “unlucky”.

  • Alan Solomon

    I could not help it. I watched this a second time.
    I love the fact(s) that they get the first light.
    They get the freshest air.
    The water is amazing*
    They want Nature to take over the island*
    I love the bamboo*
    I love the dogs and Hopi*
    I feel educated about Tonga history now. It is more familiar so I am more comfortable. I could watch this again* Thanks

  • William Domb

    Love our Zorb! But where do you find a hill in Tonga?

  • Diane Silverstein

    I will be happy to work at Mandala for the rest of my days!! What a stunning place. The natural beauty is awe inspiring! Loved hearing about the building of the resort. All four of you are awesome storytellers! Jason and Nikki, remain well and happy and I look forward to seeing your next video!

  • Hank Heyns

    Awesome video one of my favorites, that couple reminds me of you two. Love how you both chose the road less traveled……………

  • Pam McClure

    Wow. So cool!

  • Pat

    That was a great video. What a very unique place and thank you both for bringing this to us while we stay locked down by Covid.

  • David R. Austin

    Great Video …. I am new to your website and have been binge watching your travels. I look forward to your next edition.

  • Deborah Kerr

    Amazing! Thanks for the tour!! 🏝⛵️🌊

  • Adrian M

    I am so jealous, stuck here in a freezing cold and miserable UK. I hate you😇. You have been to some amazing places but this one is gonna be hard to beat

  • About Creativity

    Very good. The maintenance is not for me. I love to discover and explore new people, places, and things on the planet. Mars, Moon, and Cosmos soon? Nikki Wynn I want all your family´s dreams to come true and thanks for sharing your journey on YouTube.

  • Mike

    I guess the insurance problems got resolved, then?

  • Alan Solomon

    Like everyone else said, Wow. What a place. What a great life. They definitely earned it and had fun doing it. Wow. Great and amazing place to go and visit if not stay.
    I consider the two of you like many, many other people but there is at least one BIG difference and that is you get out and do what you dream about where others stagnate! That being said you attract others along the way who do the same. Sometimes, like in this case, the dream is one quest or one goal at a time and it turns into an amazing scenario over the years and decades like this. I think there are many people out there, where you are, that are the same! You seem to run into them a lot. Like the family from Texas you met and lived on their boat for a bit and then there was Pip the cat who created his own fan club and then there was Mark and his crisis while he surfed the world and on and on and on and on….. As I said before awesome and wonderful. Living life to the fullest.
    Thank you for all the awesomeness…

  • lisa & ben, higgs & boson & hopi

    Thank you so much, Jason & Nikki, for sharing our story in such a beautiful way. You guys always create such fantastic videos and we are honoured to be a tiny part of your amazing story ❤️
Thank you to all of your viewers for such heart-warming comments! 💛

  • Cecilia

    This video ended too soon! Love watching your adventures. Thank you for sharing! ❤🙏🏻

  • Steve Gibbons

    I’m in Sydney and I look forward to my “fix” with you guys 1st thing in my Monday. That’s was until today! Mandala Mandala where have you been? We have been regulars to Fiji and desperate for a change. We are ocean people and our 3 kids aged 17 15 10 struggle with the lack of adventure during COVID. I’ll be contacting Lisa & Ben today and get the scoop on a visit in the not too distant future I hope. Wishing you happy trails & I hope we can share a few cold ones when you visit Australia. I can put you onto a few sweet places to rest and enjoy the serenity of an Aussie bushland setting.

  • Rob Franks

    Great video, as usual. Very enjoyable. Can’t wait to travel again to destinations such as this.

  • Edward A Grant

    Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention Ben’s building techniques. Doing all of his concrete mixing by hand? My goodness, if any of you have ever tackled a DIY project with hand mixing concrete, you will understand the labor involved in the creation of this structures! I would love to see their typical menu for the on-site restaurant and learn more about this Paradise isle.

  • Edward A Grant

    Ed Grant
    Oh my goodness! Paradise found here for sure! These great folks are so talented and “Real”, that their “resort island” looks absolutely perfect. They seemed to have covered all the bases when it comes to creating a place that is so very gentle on the environment by using Mother Nature’s elements to create fresh water, electric power and a clever way of handling the sewage issue! Love that their pets were so friendly toward you, following each place your toured. This should be on a list of “Best Of’s” and their business will hopefully grow thanks to your posting. Thank you Curiosity Crew for sharing this with us.

  • Michael

    Muy bueno! Thanks as always.

  • Greg Dobbyn

    Great video!! – those guys have put a ton of work into that place and its just gorgeous. About the same time you went from the RV to boating I went from Boating to RVing. Learned a tremendous amount by watching your RV videos. Just wondering if there is anything you miss from your RV days??

  • WC

    exceptional place, exceptional story about exceptional people, told by exceptional story tellers. That was truly inspiring. Thank you!


    Some of your first videos I watched were you promoting RV parks, places and resorts. A decade later you still have the knack for telling a story and promoting a ‘I want to go there on my next vacation’ feeling.

    I’m so glad that I found your videos and that you still enjoy making them.

  • Tom Fitch

    Very cool! And…I’ve never seen an Aeropress loaded up-side-down before – brilliant!

  • Marc Montero


  • Jim Lindsey

    Wow!! What a spectacular place. Love the story behind it. Great job on telling the story – this is one of the best videos you have put out.

  • Mark Byron

    Amazing documentary on Fetoko. Thanks for making this one.

  • Michael Magill

    What a great video, thank you Nikki and Jason for letting us tag along. What a beautiful island, that Ben and Lisa built from scratch. That would be the most amazing vacation spot , that would give you , one to live on and sail on a luxury yacht and then have peace and tranquility on their island, think this island is almost “Pardise” . Well to me anyway! Love the views from the drone that was above the island. You think “Treehouse” and you expecting sparse accomadations, and then you open the door and go “Wow” 5 Star, well maybe more , just one amazing structure after another. That is one place i am puttingon my list of places to visit.


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