Most memorable moments from Survivor: Cook Islands

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images /

Survivor: Cook Islands is one of the more popular seasons in the show’s history. What were the most memorable moments from season 13?

Survivor: Cook Islands gave us the likes of Yul Kwon (winner of the season), Ozzy Lusth, Parvati Shallow (winner of Survivor: Micronesia and almost Survivor: Heroes vs Villains), Jonathan Penner, and Candice Woodcock (now Cody). With that stacked lineup of a cast, it was inevitable that Cook Islands would go down as one of the best seasons in the show’s history.

Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments from season 13.

Dividing Tribes by Ethnicity

Cook Islands went for controversy right off the bat, dividing the contestants into four tribes of five players each. The tribes were divided based on ethnicity, which would not go over well these days and went over about as well as one would have expected it to back in 2006.

This was highly regarded as one of the worst twists ever in the show’s history and fortunately hasn’t been attempted since.

Billy Loves Candice

There can’t be a post on most memorable moments from Survivor: Cook Islands without the infamous Billy/Candice romance storyline, which to this day is still one of the funniest moments in the show’s history.

The backstory is that heavy metal musician Billy Garcia knew he was going to be the next to go from his tribe after they had lost the immunity challenge. Candice and the rest of the Raro tribe was standing nearby and Candice told Billy that her tribe loved him.

Billy heard that as “I love you” and told Candice he loved her as well. This tidbit then came out at tribal council that evening when Billy told Jeff Probst that he’d found love in this game and “Her name is Candice”. Even after two decades worth of Survivor memories, the reaction Jeff gives to Billy telling him this is still a top ten moment for me. It’s priceless and is definitely one of the most memorable moments from Cook Islands.


In Survivor: Thailand, there was a moment in the fifth episode where Jeff Probst asked the remaining contestants if any of them wanted to switch tribes. No one bit at the opportunity, but that didn’t stop Survivor from attempting this exact same twist again years later.

On Day 19 in Cook Islands, Probst asked the Raro and Aitu tribes if anyone wanted to mutiny and join the opposing tribe. After giving it some thought, Candice stepped off the Aitu mat and Jonathan followed soon after.

It went from a 6-6 ball game between the tribes to Raro having an 8-4 advantage. The mutiny was arguably the most memorable moment from Cook Islands and paved the way to the Aitu 4 making it all the way to the end despite being down four players at the time of the mutiny.

Message in a Bottle

On Day 24, an immunity challenge was held and Probst revealed that the losing team would open up a bottle with a concealed message inside after they voted at tribal council that evening. Raro lost the challenge and after they sent Rebecca Borman to the jury, they opened the bottle up hoping for a merge.

Instead, the bottle informed them that they’d be voting out a second member right then and there. Raro opted to boot Jenny Guzon-Bae and even though Jenny wasn’t the most exciting player, fans of the show couldn’t help but feel bad for her for being on the wrong end of this terrible twist.

This twist truly felt rigged to give Aitu a fighting chance at the merge and it’s hard to believe that had they been the losers of the challenge, that their message would have had the same instructions. It feels like had they lost, the message would have said “Congrats! You have merged!” instead.

Final Three

The contestants and fans were thrown for a loop when it was announced that this season would have a final three competing for the million dollars and not the traditional final two. It was obviously shaping up to be either Yul or Ozzy’s game to win depending on who made it to the end, but with this twist, both were able to make it to the end and fight for their right to be named Sole Survivor.

Yul narrowly won in a 5-4-0 vote and Ozzy has been attempting to make it back to the finals ever since losing in Cook Islands, but has failed to do so.

What a Cast!

Even with the vast majority of the Cook Islands cast being recruited, this season gave us some truly great players, including Yul, Ozzy, Parvati, and Jonathan, all of whom have returned in later seasons. Parvati even went on to win Survivor: Micronesia and has become one of the best players of all-time despite a not-so-great first outing in Cook Islands.

Ozzy has returned three times since his first stint on the show and has never been able to make it back to the final tribal council, though he did come awfully close in Survivor: South Pacific when he was brought back as a captain.

When people look back at Survivor: Cook Islands, the cast is what stands out the most because of how legendary some of these players have gone on to be.

Next. Ranking Every Season of Survivor. dark

What were your favorite moments from Survivor: Cook Islands?