How to Overcome Your Fear of Spiders


I have always been afraid of spiders – I’m not sure why, but they just seem creepy. 


There are no dangerous wild animals in Tonga, and not many bugs, but they do have harmless spiders.



Ouleva Island, Tonga


We were on an uninhabited island, Ouleva, in the Haap’ai Group, an absolutely breathtaking island with white powder beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. We had this gorgeous Tongan island all to ourselves. 


Tonga – Ouleva Island

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Tonga – Ouleva Island

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I had read that there is only a big centipede (“molokau”), that had a painful bite, and a few non-poisonous spiders, but no other dangerous insects or animals, so we were totally at ease.



The Cabin on Ouleva Island


When we arrived, the owner showed us to a beautiful little cabin, with a canopy bed, and an open air bathroom and shower attached at the back of the cabin, very clean, very modern. We were staying at Serenity Beach Resort.


Tonga – Ouleva Island

We were unpacking, settling in, and I paused to use the bathroom. Sitting there, smelling the fresh jungle air, looking up at the trees and sky, I was completely enthralled with this open air bathroom and shower, integrated so beautifully into the natural tropical environment. 


Tonga – Ouleva Island Cabin

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Tonga – Ouleva Island

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When I looked towards the sink and glanced down a short wall, there was a big black fuzzy spider the size of my hand! And a baby spider, the size of a toddler’s hand!


I screamed blue murder!


T came running in,

“What’s wrong?! What’s wrong?!”


I pointed. 


T looked down, and his eyes popped open.


The spiders were shockingly big. The Mother spider’s eyes, huge and bulging, made it obvious that she was very frightened.  I was still sitting frozen to the toilet with equally big frightened eyes. Both of us were panic-stricken. As a Mother, I felt for her but the fear in me was greater than any sympathy.


Alarmed, T ran out, and for a second I wondered if he was leaving me there to defend myself. In a few seconds, he came running back in with a homemade grass broom from outside the front door.


Tonga – Ouleva Island


Mother and baby were still frozen to the spot, fear oozing out of every pore.


T did not kill the spiders, scared stiff, not moving at all.  He just scooted both mother spider and child off the edge of the raised floor, and back into the jungle. 


Suddenly the beauty of these natural surroundings seemed a little less idyllic.


I was paranoid for a few days after that, always on the lookout for spiders…


but I never saw one, and finally I relaxed completely.



Ouleva Island, a Paradise Island


Enjoying this paradise island – the place I had wanted to travel all my entire life – became the priority. 


Except for the owners, we were the only ones on this island. Meals were prepared for us, the cabin cleaned daily, and all we had to do was walk around and explore the little island, sunbathe, swim, read in the hammocks and watch sunsets. 

Haa'pai - Uoleva Is - Serenity Resort - Hammock & Beach


Then one day when I was alone in the cabin, I moved my suitcase from a corner to reach something else, and a gigantic black spider ran out from behind, and then he froze. I froze too! It was a stand-off.


He (or She) was so big that again I could clearly see his huge eyes open wide, and he was completely frightened out of his wits! I could feel his fear. I moved a little. He jumped an inch off the ground! He was more frightened than I was!!!


In that moment, he looked more like a cartoon spider or a frightened kitten than a scary spider.

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Spider Face

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Spider Face


The Moment


That was the precise moment that I got over my fear of spiders. That poor little (err… no – big) spider was ten times more frightened than I was, and so he should be frightened – I was at least ten times bigger than him!


His defense mechanism was to stand stock-still because if he tried to run, this big “creature” towering over him could just stomp on him. That was not likely in this case however, since his body was much wider than my foot.


In any case, it was a valuable lesson.


Whatever we are afraid of in life, when we really come face to face with the danger, it either turns out to be completely harmless, or we can handle it. I love the old saying, “99% of what we worry about never happens, and the other 1% we can handle”. 


Some might say it is odd that I am not afraid to travel to little known parts of the world, and yet there I was in Tonga, a place most people in North America couldn’t locate on a map, and I was afraid of a harmless spider. 




If you think about your fears, whether travel-related or not, this story may be a good analogy. Where did the fear come from? Is it logical? Have you tried to face that fear? What could you do to reduce that fear gradually? 


Or could you read about the thing you are afraid of and perhaps learn enough about it so that you recognize the fear is groundless? Could you just ignore it and forge ahead? Is facing your fears a reasonable option? I certainly didn’t go to Tonga looking to face my fear of spiders! But somehow that was one of the results.


It never ceases to amaze that travel always teaches you something, not only about other countries and other cultures, but so often something significant about yourself.


As a result of this experience in Tonga, I no longer fear spiders. In fact, any time a fear of any kind starts to creep into my consciousness, I remind myself of the Tonga spider, her eyes as big as marbles, the fear so obvious, and I remind myself that she was more afraid of me, than I was of her, and that unless my new fears are based on strong supporting evidence, they are just slowing down my experiences of life. 


What do you think? Agree or disagree?


What fears stop you from enjoying life? Have you ever had a fear that you overcame? How did you do it? 


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*This article was first published on Travel To Little Known Places in June 2013


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4 Responses to How to Overcome Your Fear of Spiders

  1. Good thing the spiders in Tonga are ‘harmless’…..must have been rather unnerving for someone to be bitten and then waiting to have the ‘non-poisononous’ factor be confirmed. It’s really nice to have the explanations to go hand in hand with your quality photos.

  2. travellittleknownplaces says:

    Thank you Marnee. I will never forgot that poor Momma spider’s frightened eyes!

  3. Joanne says:

    Very funny! Love the photos

  4. essd2013 says:

    Thanks for commenting Joanne! So glad you got a laugh reading this story.

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