The Fern Islands Archipelago, or more specifically Ginger Island, is the main home of the new 1.5 end game content for Stardew Valley. While the island is full of secrets to be found and golden walnuts to collect, finding your way there can be quite time-consuming if you don’t know what to be collecting. So, avoiding spoilers, here’s a guide to unlocking the island, the requirements to get to the new area, and some time-locked tips that may make your trip easier.
There are several checks the game makes before releasing the player to the island content, as the island can be quite dangerous and costly to get to. First and foremost, the Community Center needs to be completed. The goals to completing it will vary depending on your playthrough and whether you opted into the ‘remixed’ bundle goals rather than the default array, but this is the single most time-consuming check on the list. The Community Center almost always requires materials and harvestables which are season-locked, but with careful planning and budgeting, they can all be obtained within the first in-game year.
The true speedrunners out there can usually obtain these harvestables within the first couple days of winter if they play their cards right. The Community Center itself warrants its own guide, given the variety and depth of the different items needed to complete it, not to mention the monetary cost of the Vault bundle, which sits at a hefty 42,500g in total. But while we go through the seasons, there are a couple things we can prepare in advance.
1: Befriend Willy
Our ticket to Ginger Island resides in the back of the Fish Shop, behind the new door situated behind the counter. While we cannot enter the room itself until after the Community Center is fixed, we can get hints to its use by becoming buds with the local fisherman. Willy tends to be easy to find, so working time into your regular schedule to talk to him often will quickly raise your friendship with the NPC, as will giving him gifts or completing his requests on the Help Wanted Board.
While the Help Wanted board is not guaranteed to have a request from him, and quests or items requested there will net you a hefty sum of coin as well as nearly 10x the base friend points gained by just talking to him. This works for every friendable NPC in the game, and as of the 1.5 update, you can track whether you’ve talked to a given villager during a day in the game in the Relationship tab. For more detailed information, consider visiting the Friendship page on the Stardew Valley wiki.
2: Gather the materials ahead of time.
While you will receive a letter from Willy shortly after completing the Community Center telling you to come to the back room of the Fish Shop, the boat will need some pricey materials before it can be fixed up. It’s recommended to collect these materials ahead of time, as they will be a little more challenging to collect than your standard wood or stone. You need:
Hardwood can be collected from Mahogany Trees or by breaking Large Stumps and Large Logs with an upgraded axe. It also can be harvested daily from the stumps in the Secret Woods, netting around 12 Hardwood per day. Without growing your own Trees or saving the Hardwood from the stumps and logs scattered around your farm, it takes over half an in-game month to gather the wood, so stock up!
Battery Packs are a little easier to collect passively, provided you have a couple Lightning Rods placed around your farm. Once struck by lightning during a storm, the rod will ‘pulse’ before producing a single Battery Pack the next day. You should receive at least 1 Lightning Rod for completing the Community Center Bundles, and more can be crafted once you reach Foraging Level 6.
And finally, Iridium Bars. These are accessible in the lower caverns of the Mines and are much more predominantly available in the deeper levels of the Skull Caverns. It’s the best end game resource for upgrading your tools, but make sure you hold onto at least 5 bars if you want to get to the island quickly, as they can be a frustratingly rare drop when you’re running low on them.
From there, it’s smooth sailing to the balmy Ginger Island. The Boat operates in a similar way to the Bus, except you won’t be limited to only going when Willy is around like you are with Pam and the Bus. Willy’s shop will also be unlocked a little earlier, allowing more time for island adventurers. The boat ticket can be a little pricey, at 1,000g every time you take the trip, but hopefully by that stage of the game you have some money saved up already.
So, set sail! I hope you like castaways and parrots, as the island has secrets jammed into every nook and cranny. Players will have their work cut out for them trying to find them all: I’m still working on it myself!