Building your very own perfect island isn't easy. To get the best results and maximise your score, there are a lot of hidden systems you have to please to get the 5 star Island Rating in Animal Crossing: New Horizons - so here’s what you need to do.
Your effort won't be for nought, however. There are three main reasons to start the quest for a 5 star Island Rating. The first is street cred, and access to the defacto endgame of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Originally, Tom Nook tasks you to make your island as appealing to visitors as possible. So once you build your campsite at the beginning of Operation K, the metagame of building up your star rating really starts.
After this point and you start getting visitors, you can ask Isabelle to grade your efforts at Residential Services, and offer advice on how to improve your Island Rating.
This is generally how you get familiar with the concepts of what does and doesn’t work on your island, and how to keep things from getting cluttered.
It’s quite similar to the Happy Home Academy S Rank system - which we have a page on, here - but with fewer bonuses.
The second reason to chase a 5 star Island Rating is to get the DIY recipe for the Golden Watering Can, which will let you tend to significantly more flowers before it breaks. We have a full page on all of the Golden Tools, here.
Finally, the last reason to snag a 5 star Island Rating will be the piece-de-resistance for all of you horticultural hombres: the lily of the valley. This is a unique flower which will randomly grow on your island - but only if you fit that 5 star criteria.
Once a lily of the valley has appeared, you can dig up and store it so another one can grow. These elusive flowers are a big status symbol in the Animal Crossing community, and show you’re a real hardcore villager who’s not to be taken lightly.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 5 Star Island Rating - The Basics
Just like with home decoration, there are a lot of detailed, hidden systems with a deep level of minutiae you can dig into if you really want. However, if you’re just looking for some actionable tips to improve your Island Rating, then check out the following list.
Then we’ll take a deeper-dive look into why some of these things work.
The official Animal Crossing companion guide - which is a beautiful and useful product which you can look into picking up yourself, here - reports that Island Ratings are graded based on two main criteria: “Development” and “Scenery”.
Development awards points based on the infrastructure and buildings you’ve set up on your island, including the shops, bridges, and inclines, as well as bought furniture and fences.
Whereas Scenery awards points for how you arrange crafted furniture and natural flora to best express yourself.
The companion quotes the scores that you need to achieve to score a 5 star Island Rating as the following:
|Animal Crossing: New Horizons 5 star Island Rating bands
|Island Star Rating:
Here are a few basic tips on how to get up to these scores:
- Keep your island clean and free of weeds - eg. don’t leave loose resources and items, especially trash like cans and tires, lying around
- Decorate your island with DIY and bought furniture, not just trees and flowers
- Use a good amount of bought furniture, since it’s tougher to get Development points - you get extra points if it’s the kind of thing you would find outside.
- Try to naturally space out your furniture as points-of-interest - stuffing too much into an area will be penalised as cluttered
- Make aesthetic use of fences to bolster your Development score
The most difficult balance of all of those is not making your island cluttered. To achieve a 5 Star Island Rating, you need to make flower beds, displays and dioramas absolutely everywhere across your island - but not so close that they're overlapping each other to the point of being overwhelming.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 5 Star Island Rating - Trees and Flowers
Again, according to the official companion for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, each and every fully grown tree and flower on your island is worth 1 Scenery point to your cause. This is why sprawling fruit orchards and rows of color-coordinated flowerbeds are so good for your Island Rating.
When you’re trying to hit that magic 450 Scenery points, it makes sense to have large groups of flowers. They not only look great but quickly add up to a sizable portion of what you’ll need for a 5 star Island Rating.
The same goes for trees. Visit other people’s islands to collect different kinds of fruit and make an orchard - which also gives you a steady stream of items to sell. Or better yet, plant 10,000 bells in a glowing hole to make a money tree, then move it later.
Animal Crossing New Horizons 5 Star Island Rating - Furniture and Fences
Again based on official sources from the companion, we know that DIY furniture feeds your Scenery score, while bought furniture feeds your Development score. Prioritise placing one or the other based on which of your areas is lagging behind.
For DIY Furniture, apparently three main things are important: uniqueness, type, and proximity.
You will receive the biggest point bonuses for placing lots of unique DIY furniture items that are all different “types” - eg. a table, a chair - close to each other, without going overboard.
For example, in the picture below they've used lots of different items liberally, but with careful curation so that it's not messy.
Strike the balance by building usable scenes - like a picnic area, barbeque, or campfire - out of lots of different types and pieces of furniture. Just don’t stuff things into every single space and you should be fine.
As for bought furniture, this is important for your Development score. Here, apparently more expensive items are judged more favorably, and should be what you prioritise in your display - with the companion stating that furniture worth more than 20,000 bells gives the biggest bonuses.
But to most effectively boost your Development score, you should incorporate fences, bridges, and inclines into your designs. These give good bonuses to your development score, and help not just with the practicality of your island, but look good too!
Remember to weed your island thoroughly to make sure you have enough space for all of these items - and to avoid penalties.
You’ll need some capital to afford all of this, so we also have pages on all of the bug prices, as well as the fish prices in Animal Crossing: New Horizons - not to mention a page on where to get the best turnip prices too!