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Traveling Landmass

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"He wants us to move the Island."
John Locke, Lost

A landmass (usually an island) that is always on the move across the waters, making it difficult to find. Because of this, it's thought to not exist by most people, until one of the main characters finds it.

This may overlap with Turtle Island, when the reason the landmass moves around is because it's on the back of a large living creature.

See also The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. Supertrope of Floating Continent and Mobile City.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Futaba-kun Change!: The Shimaru homeland, which floats around because it is really a crashed spaceship that let the moss grow on the hull a bit over the years.
  • One Piece has many examples. Most are sky islands and would thus belong to Floating Continent, but there are a few on the ocean surface too:
    • Thriller Bark is an artificial example of one that can also be steered. This was once a normal, stationary island, but Gekko Moriah and his crew managed to tear it off and convert it into their ship, which they've since used to travel around. That being said, Moriah prefers to park it in the Florian Triangle, a foggy region where he can capture people passing by and, with his Mad Scientist crewmate Dr. Hogback, use them for his human experimentation.
    • Zou is notoriously difficult to find and moves around too much to be charted on any maps. Exploited by the Minks, a civilization of Beast Men who live on Zou because Zou moves around and thus they can stay away from the people who would persecute them. Minks instinctively know where to find this place, and being a Mink or consulting one are the only reliable ways to reach it. Zou turns out to be an example of Turtle Island, however, as the island is actually a colossal elephant walking along the ocean floor with his back above the surface. He has been given orders centuries ago to never stop moving and never go near any other populated landmass, which is why Zou is near impossible to locate. He also had orders to never attack anyone, which were rescinded when the elephant comes under attack and Mononosuke, discovering he can give commands, orders the elephant to defend himself.
  • The second Non-Serial Movie of the anime adaptation of Ranma ½ revolves around Togenkyo, an island dominated by a mountain-sized peach tree that floats freely in the Pacific Ocean, with vague suggestions that its residents can at least loosely steer it. The fact it floats isn't even the most remarkable feature of the island; that would be the magical spring on it which transforms whatever it touches into a human man. Unfortunately, contamination of the island's waters by this particular spring means that women who reside there can only give birth to sons, forcing the natives to kidnap brides from foreign shores when they come of age.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Doom Patrol: The Doom Patrol is allied with Danny the Street, a sapient, talking, mobile, transvestite street able to move from city to city, including at one point getting the team into the "city-like" base underneath the Pentagon.
    • Justice League International: Kooey Kooey Kooey isn't always on the move, but sometimes it decides to wander for a bit.
  • Marvel Universe: Krakoa, the Island that Walks Like a Man! and, to a certain extent, Spragg, the Living Hill.

    Folklore and Mythology 
  • Classical Mythology: Greek myth has the floating island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Their mother, Leto, had been cursed by Hera to be unable to give birth anywhere on land or on any island, with the wording in ancient Greek specifying "firm land" or "solid land"; as such she was only able to give birth once she reached Delos, which as a floating raft of land did not count as land for the purposes of the curse. Delos was later anchored to the seabed with four pillars, rooting it in place and transforming it into the stable island it is in the modern day.

  • The Areas of My Expertise: The 51st state of Ar, or Hoqhoq as the residents call it, is a floating plateau that moves through the skies of North America by unknown means and is known to sporadically disappear altogether.
  • Dinosaurus Klex takes place on two floating islands that broke from the ancient supercontinents Gondwanaland and Laurasia. On the islands, time flows differently, which is why today the dinosaur prince Klex is still searching for his princess on his adventures. The floating islands are steerable in a limited way, and are naturally inhabited by dinosaurs and other extinct and endangered species.
  • Discworld:
    • Jingo: The island of Leshp is a giant pumice dome that gets filled up with gas, rises to the surface, floats around a bit, then sinks again every couple of hundred years after causing a war or two.
    • The official explanation (in the Discworld Companion) for some discrepancies about Chimeria (originally said to be the home of Hrun the Barbarian in The Colour of Magic, so probably near the Hub; mentioned in Jingo as one of the Klatchian countries; and shown on the Mapp as being near Llamados) is that it wanders about a bit.
  • Humanx Commonwealth: Quofum, a planet, has an annoying habit of not being there when one goes to look for it. It turns out that the entire planet is some kind of dimension-hopping starship.
  • Lizard Music: The lizards' island moves around, and is sometimes closer to shore and sometimes farther out, which is one reason it's so difficult to find.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: The island of Drift Avalii is drifting across the ocean and one would have to know its route to find it. There used to be trade between it and the Malazan Empire, but all the trade ships were lost and the island and its inhabitants were forgotten, which — as far as the latter ones are concerned — may be for the best, because Drift Avalii houses the Throne of Shadow, the possessor of which would have power over the Shadowrealm. It was put there to be out of everyone's reach in the first place, after all.
  • Oliver and the Seawigs has a whole species of walking islands, which travel upon the ocean floor. Oliver goes looking for his parents with one that he names Cliff.
  • The Stone Raft (A jangada de pedra): The Iberian Peninsula, for no identifiable reason, simply breaks off from Europe at the Pyrenees one day and goes tootling around the Atlantic. The sociological and bureaucratic implications of this sudden mobility are explored, as well as its effects on a Ragtag Band of Misfits.
  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle: Spider Monkey Island. Explained as a freak volcanic bubble during island formation creating a huge air pocket to serve as a float. When the rock at the top of the volcano drops down, it punches a hole in the bottom to fix the island in place.
  • The Witches of Karres: The titular planet is one of these. The residents like it that way, and control where it goes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost: The Island is constantly moving, thanks to a strange pocket of mystical energy.


    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest VI: One shows up to take people to a heavenly island far away, getting them good and drunk on the way. It's increasingly obvious that it's crewed by demons and leads the party to the second Archfiend, but once that's settled it serves as the party's ship in the dream world (and as a Trauma Inn).
  • Final Fantasy IX:
    • The "Chocobo's Air Garden" will hover over one of six random locations on the world map. Once you've been there, its current location can be found on the player's map, but before that it's identifiable by the circular shadow on the ground beneath it (hard to spot if it's over water). Getting there the first time requires the player to dig up all six pieces of the map to the island (which is really just a series of clues to the locations it might be found) by playing the Chocobo Treasure Hunt Mini-game and leveling up the Chocobo's abilities so that it is able to fly AND the use of a Dead Pepper every time the player wants to return to the Garden.
    • The Air Garden gets you access to the last couple of Chocobo treasure maps, the optional super-tough side boss Ozma (but not the ability to HIT it with attacks, that's a whole other side quest), and the most difficult but most rewarding area to play the treasure hunt minigame (helpful if one is trying to pick up some of the semi-unique rewards).
  • Paper Mario 64: One NPC thinks he's seeing one off the docks of Toad Town, as one day it's pretty far away and the next it's right next to the docks. It turns out to be a whale who requests Mario's help.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Mirage Island does not move around, per se — when it's found, it's always in the same spot — but it tends to drift in and out of existence, appearing and disappearing on a random basis.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Angel Island moves through the sky, and the original Japanese manuals say that the sea-bound island of the first game also moves around.

  • Tower of God:
    • The forest wherein walkhaiksong HQ is located can be transported as Urek Mazino's Space Compression power.
    • Multiple shineuh (heavenly god fish which look like space whales) are speculated to be this trope.
    • The sea cow on the 21st floor was able to contain Urek for long enough a time for him to be deemed a problem on the floor.
    • Since TOG is such an expansive universe it's been said that there could be islands like this.

  • NationStates: This is the official explanation for how Nations can move between Regions. It's given all of one line about entire nations being airlifted by helicopters and is Played for Laughs when it is mentioned at all.

    Western Animation 
  • The Magic Key: Clutterland is a floating garbage-covered island that is propelled through the sea by a bunch of people named either “Mary” or “Bob” rowing. (No, that doesn’t make any more sense in context.)
  • Noah's Island: A polar bear called Noah travels around the world on a floating volcanic island, picking up lost, ostracized and endangered animals and trying to get them to live in harmony. Also noteworthy as rare example of this trope that can be steered to a limited extent, using a sort of Bamboo Technology thruster system powered by the huge pool of molten lava in the centre of the island, which was left by the meteor that's responsible for it breaking off from a larger landmass in the manner of an iceberg. Well, it makes about as much sense as the rest of the show's premise.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Continental drift. It's just so slow only geologists notice. Australia, the fastest-drifting continent, moves only 2.7 inches (~6.9 cm) per year. As a consequence, island chains can appear to "travel" as the suboceanic crust slides across "hot spots" beneath the seabed. Individual islands erode away as new ones crop up from volcanic activity, but the overall effect is a continual conveyor-belt "flow" of islands spread out in whichever direction the seabed is moving. Hawaii is the most famous example.
  • The island of San Serriffe, from a famous April Fools' Day hoax.
  • Icebergs. Sometimes used as temporary islands.
  • Astrophysicists now suspect that there may be stray planets (the official term is "Rogue Planet") wandering around in interstellar space, which were pulled out of their orbits when another star passed near their own.
  • Terry Pratchett's Leshp (above) may be based in part on the Roundworld island of Ferdinandea, an island near Sicily that rises above sea level after periodic volcanic eruptions, only to disappear again after it is sufficiently eroded. When it made its most recent appearance in 1831, it was claimed as territory by four nations (The United Kingdom, France, pre-Italian-unification Naples, and Spain).
  • Phantom islands — islands which were reported to exist on maps, but which don't actually exist — have been noted for centuries. While most of these vanished by the early 20th century, Sandy Island, a purported possession of France, persisted until the 1970s, when it was noted by the French to be nonexistent. However, it had been entered into the World Vector Shoreline Database, and because that database was frequently used by scientists, it persisted in numerous maps into the 21st century. In 2012, an Australian ship sailed through the purported position of the nonexistent island and submitted new data. The island was then stricken from all maps and the various databases which it had been entered into. The nonexistent island had persisted on maps long after satellite imagery revealed there to be no island at that location. There as still at least two left, namely Sefton Reef and Yosemite Rock, both near Robinson Crusoe Island. The US Department of Defense lists them as "Existence doubtful" on their Operational Navigation Chart. It should also be noted that some Phantom islands may actually have existed when they were discovered, but later ended up being submerged due to tectonic movements or volcanic activity.
  • Pumice rafts are large rafts of pumice produced by seaside and undersea volcanoes. As pumice is less dense than water, it floats, and can form large, temporary floating islands before they break up in the ocean. The largest recorded raft was 30 miles wide and 300 miles long. Tying into phantom islands, it is currently believed that the aforementioned Sandy Island may have actually been a pumice raft that was mistaken for an actual island.
  • Some islands only exist from time to time as islands, otherwise existing as shallow sub-surface mounds of sand and gravel. Tidal action can create and destroy these islands on the scale of mere years, making their existence very temporary.