The island challenge (Japanese: 島めぐりisland-visiting) is a rite of passage for burgeoning Pokémon Trainers in the Alolaregion. Trainers can partake in these rites when they turn 11, which involve traveling through each of the four major islands of Alola and completing various trials (Japanese: 試練trial) on each. The goal of those taking the island challenge is to become the strongest Trainer, known as the island challenge champion.
Participants in the island challenge are given an island challenge amulet to identify them. The island challenge consists of a number of trials on each of the Alola region's four islands, with each usually headed by a Trial Captain. Trials are not limited to Pokémon battles; they may involve finding designated items or a test of knowledge, among other tasks. Trials are all difficult tasks that require Trainers to prove themselves. To complete the trial, the Trainer must defeat a Totem Pokémon in an SOS Battle, which allows the Totem Pokémon to call an ally Pokemon to assist them. Some Totem Pokémon can call more than one ally. It is stated that there are 7SM/8USUM trials active at any given time, though not all of them may be presided over by a Trial Captain.
The final trial on each island is called the grand trial (Japanese: 大試練grand trial). In the grand trial, the Trainer must battle the island kahuna. If they complete an island's grand trial, they are recognized as having cleared all of that island's trials and can move on to the next island.
During a trial, the player cannot flee from battles (including with Teleport), Roar will fail, Wimp Out and Emergency Exit will not activate to allow a Pokémon to flee nor switch, and wild Pokémon cannot be caught. If the player leaves the trial site before completing the trial, they have to start the trial again. Upon completing a trial, the player earns a Z-Crystal.
In this trial, the player must find and battle two YungoosSUS/Alolan RattataMUM and a GumshoosSUS/Alolan RaticateMUM. The Pokémon can be found in the dens scattered around the cavern. Along the way, the player will face two Team Skull Grunts and battle one of them. Once defeated, the two grunts will unknowingly help the player finish the trial.
This trial begins with Lana leading the player through Brooklet Hill, requesting an investigation into the cause of splashing water in the area, with the help of their new ride Pokémon, Lapras. Upon reaching the Totem's Den, the player must defeat the Totem Pokémon, which emerges from the splashing water in the center. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the trial site is merely in the Totem's Den, and the explicit trial consists of simply defeating the Totem Pokémon. It is revealed later in the trial that the cause of the splashing water are some Dewpider and some Solo Form Wishiwashi, and the player has to defeat them before moving downstream. There are also other Trainers in the area, which will challenge the player if eye contact is met.
In this trial, the player has to find ingredients hidden in the trial site, and battle some Pokémon, respectively two Fomantis and a Sudowoodo to retrieve them. However, there is a method to avoid battling the Pokémon in the Lush Jungle. After collecting all of them, they are used to create an aroma that lures the Totem Pokemon.
In this trial in Pokémon Sun and Moon, the player has to help Sophocles open a security door by answering several audio questions and fighting Pokémon in between. After answering the last question, the player battles the Totem Pokémon. After defeating the Totem Pokémon, Molayne will also congratulate the player and gift them with a Steelium Z.
In this trial, the player has to take a photo of the Totem Pokémon in the Abandoned Thrifty Megamart. After drawing the attention of the Totem Pokémon by photographing other Ghost-type Pokémon in the area, the player follows the Totem Pokémon to the back room and battles it after taking a photo of it. After photographing the other Ghost-type Pokemon, a Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, respectively, will promptly attack the player.
In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the player's experience with Poni Island's portion of the island challenge is a bit different than that of the other islands. While Poni Island does have a Trial Captain named Mina, whom the player briefly meets, she does not have any trial for the player. Instead, Hapu's grand trial is the player's first challenge on Poni Island. After that, the player is confronted by a natural trial at the Vast Poni Canyon on their way to the Altar of the SunneS/Altar of the MooneM.
In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, however, Mina has a trial ready for the player, and all the trials are done in a different order, starting with the Vast Poni Canyon trial, continuing with Mina's trial after the events surrounding Necrozma, and concluding with Hapu's grand trial, which has been moved to Exeggutor Island.
Vast Poni Canyon trial
At the end of the Vast Poni Canyon, before the player can reach the Altar of the SunneSUS/MooneMUM, the player must defeat a Totem Pokémon who guards the entry point. A Jangmo-o and a Hakamo-o will also assail the player before they reach the Totem Pokémon.
In Mina's trial, appearing only in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the player begins by battling Mina, who will reward the player with the Pink Petal upon winning. Next, she orders the player to defeat the other Captains in Alola and receive their petals (with Nanu taking Acerola's place). Each Captain will offer to take the player to the next Captain's location after obtaining their petal, and some Captains (depending on the version) challenge the player to battle them before giving out their petal.
In the past, after clearing all trials and grand trials, usually challengers would head to the summit of Mount Lanakila and have a final trial, where they have to defeat all four kahunas in a row in order to be acknowledged as an island challenge champion. However, this final trial ceremony has now been replaced with the newly founded Pokémon League. Becoming the Champion earns the player the Island Challenge Completion stamp, getting all outsider Pokémon regardless of level to obey the player.
In this trial, the player must find and photograph four elusive Pokémon. Upon capturing each Pokémon in a photo, they will attack the player. The first two Pokémon the player can find are Jangmo-o, who are followed by a Hakamo-o, with Totem Hakamo-o being the final subject.
In the anime, the island challenge is a way for Trainers to obtain Z-Crystals, and it is said to have been created in order to raise Trainers to love and protect the islands of Alola as well as the people and Pokémon who inhabit them, as explained in To Top a Totem!. The challenges are made up of lesser trials which must be passed before challenging the island kahuna in a grand trial. These trials are not presided by Trial Captains, and trialgoers are able to freely challenge a Totem Pokémon without having someone providing guidance or supervising them. Most Totem Pokémon are said to follow the lead of their island's guardian deity.
All trials seen so far work similarly to the Vast Poni Canyon trial from the games, with Trainers being rewarded by the Totem Pokémon itself if successful in battle. However, Hala contradicts this by noting that it is rare for a Totem Pokémon to directly give the Z-Crystal to the Trainer themselves. Another difference lies in the fact that completing all trials in an island is not required for a battle with the island kahuna; Trainers will earn the right to face off against a kahuna after completing just one trial.
In The Dealer of Destruction!, the final trial atop Mount Lanakila was acknowledged, but was said to have been long since abandoned. Unlike in the games, where this trial consisted of battling the four Island Kahunas in a row, this former trial simply involved a battle between those who had cleared their island challenge.
Sun was given his first trial by Lana, and was tasked with defeating the totem of Brooklet Hill, a School FormWishiwashi. Eventually, he completed the trial by defeating the lead Wishiwashi, causing it to revert back into its component Solo Form Wishiwashi.
Sun's second trial happened at the Thrifty Megamart and was given to him by Acerola. For the trial, Sun had to take a photo of the Totem Mimikyu inside. He eventually managed to calm it down and captured it, allowing him to take the photo and complete the trial.
In the Pokémon Horizon manga
The island challenge has no age limit and is open to anyone of all ages. Akira was seen completing a trial on Melemele Island by defeating a Totem Lucario, as well as completing Olivia's grand trial later on.
Although it is made clear that adults cannot take part in the island challenge, several adult NPCs are among the people who may attempt Ilima's trial while the player is tasked with substituting for a Trial Guide at Route 2.