The Whirl Islands (Japanese: うずまきじまWhirlpool Islands) are a small archipelago located between the mainland of Johto and Cianwood City, on Route 41. Beneath the sea, a maze of dark caves sprawl, with explorers able to travel between the four islands with some amount of difficulty. Deep within these caves, Lugia can be found once the player has obtained the Silver Wing and Tidal BellSS.
Named after the dangerous whirlpools that surround them, some parts of the Whirl Islands are mysterious and largely inaccessible. Children in Olivine City are told that bad kids are sent to the islands.
As explained in Pokémon SoulSilver, the Whirl Islands used to be one large island. At some point in time, there were two countries fighting over the island. Lugia, the guardian of the island, got upset and cast lightning bolts to tear the island into four pieces. It then disappeared into the deep end of the waterfall basin, longing for the invisible trust between people and Pokémon to manifest once more.
The depiction of the islands is far different in the anime. Instead of being deserted, it contains many towns and other inhabitable areas. The Whirl Islands are home to the Whirl Cup, a competition held once every three years for Pokémon Trainers who specialize in Water-typePokémon.
Rumors circulate that families of Lugia reside there. A mother Lugia and her baby, Silver, were sought by Dr. Namba and did, in fact, reveal themselves.
There are four main islands, with many smaller ones scattered throughout. Together, the islands in the archipelago form a spiral shape.
The table below shows the islands which make up the Whirl Islands:
The Whirl Islands appeared briefly in The Show. After the Kimono Girls held a performance detailing the history of Ecruteak City and the Legendary Pokémon that used to live there, Lugia itself stirred in the waters of the islands as if in response to its story being told.
The Whirl Islands first appeared in Really Remoraid, where Morty was able to locate Gold and Silver there at Lt. Surge's request. The two Pokédex holders had been brought to the islands by Entei to recover after they had been defeated by the Masked Man at the Lake of Rage. After dealing with a herd of wildSandslash, Gold and Silver were attacked by Lugia. Crystal, having arrived at the islands as well, soon joined the other two Trainers in their battle against Lugia. Gold was eventually able to lodge Lugia's mouth open with his cue stick, thus preventing it from using Aeroblast anymore. During the battle, the Pokédex holders' threestarterPokémon evolved simultaneously. Although Crystal came close to catching Lugia, the Poké Ball that she had tried to use on it turned out to be empty. As the group's Pokédexes' tracking functions couldn't find Lugia either, they came to realize that someone else had managed to capture Lugia before Crystal's Poké Ball made contact with it.
In Curious Kingdra, Silver traveled to a secret chamber in the Whirl Islands. In order to access it, he needed to use all the different Water-typeHM moves to get past the natural obstacles protecting its entrance: his Gyarados's Whirlpool to calm down a raging whirlpool, his Kingdra's Waterfall to split up the waterfall covering the entrance, and his Feraligatr's Surf to ride across the pool of water in front of it. In the chamber, he encountered its owner, Lance, whom he returned the Tyranitar he had borrowed from him to, after which he demanded information about the Masked Man's plans from him. Using the clues at his disposal, Lance was able to figure out that the Masked Man's goal was to control time itself.
In Dealing with a Koffing Fit, Silver returned to Lance's chamber, only to find Clair there instead of Lance. Clair, having been unable to contact her cousin for a while, had come to investigate the chamber to see if she could find Lance there. However, the two soon found themselves surrounded by a massive group of Koffing. Silver was easily able to defeat them all with his Pokémon, even stealing a suspicious item from one of them in the process. As a result of all the experience gained during the battle, Silver's Sneasel and Murkrow then proceeded to evolve into Weavile and Honchkrow, respectively. Following a clue from Clair, Silver decided to head out to the Safari Zone next.
The Whirl Islands first appeared in Let's Survive This Sea Battle, where Gold and Chris arrived there. In The Truth About The Mysterious Whirl Islands!!, they encountered a talkingSlowking, which demanded that they leave immediately. However, since Gold and Chris's wooden raft had been destroyed by Team Rocket, they could not leave even if they wanted. Slowking revealed that it was in possession of a rubber dinghy, which it agreed to hand over to them if they fulfilled a request for it. They agreed, and Slowking took them to a giantBlastoise, which had lived on the islands for a hundred years, but had grown violent recently. Slowking tasked them with defeating it, but even super effective or combination moves could not deal enough damage. Eventually, though, Gold managed to lure Blastoise into Slowking's home cave, where it fell into a pond full of Chinchou, whose combined Spark attacks were enough to defeat it. A gust of wind then blew Slowking's Silver Wing into Gold's hand and Lugia appeared, challenging Gold.
In A Serious Crisis!! The Battle With The Lugia, Gold and Chris tried to fight Lugia, but their attacks phased right through it. Even when Chris's Cyndaquil's Flame Wheel seemed to have an effect on Lugia's wing, the damage was quickly healed off. Deciding on a tactical retreat, Gold and Chris escaped through an underwater tunnel in Slowking's pond, coming out from another pond on the other side of the islands. Chris, having noticed that Lugia's form was affected by getting into contact with fire and water, figured that Lugia was actually composed of gas, held together by Psychic powers. Impressed by their observational skills, Lugia trapped Gold on a small islet in the midst of a pool of lava and offered him one chance to either defeat it or surrender. Gold refused to give up, so Lugia shattered the islet, disappering as Gold had his Pokémon use Water Gun to solidify the lava and avoid falling into it. He and Chris tried to solidify more lava for him to get back to solid land, but the solidified lava started to crack under his feet. As Chris made a desperate jump to save him, they and their Pokémon were suddenly transported into an underground cave, where they met the real Lugia, who told them that the Lugia they had defeated had been just an illusion. Slowking told them that the real Lugia had to stay in this cave in order to support a stone pillar that was supporting the islands. Even though Lugia hadn't been fighting at full power due to being ill, it still admitted defeat and offered a prize to Gold and Chris. They wished for a ride to Cianwood City, so they boarded an illusionary Lugia to travel there.
In Let's Fight For The Future!!, when the Black Tyranitar attempted to jump over the sea from Cianwood to Olivine, Gold used his Silver Wing to call Lugia for assistance. Responding to his cry for help, an illusionary Lugia appeared over the Whirl Islands as the Black Tyranitar was flying over them, blasting it straight back to Cianwood City.
In Generation II, the player needs to go down a waterfall if they want to find Lugia, which can be done without the WaterfallHM move. In Generation IV, the Waterfall HM move is required to go down waterfalls, but the layout of this cave is somewhat different and doesn't require going through any waterfalls in the first place.