[Top 10] Animal Crossing: New Horizons Best Island Layout - Which To Choose

Animal Crossing New Horizons Best Island Layout - Which To Choose
Just relaxing on Eventide.

Choosing a default island is difficult, and finding inspiration for your town’s layout is harder. That’s why I've made this list of the best default and customized maps! I'll explain the reasoning behind each choice, and help you determine which islands suit your preferences.  

[Top 3] Default Animal Crossing Layouts

If you think a handful of default maps exist, you’re incorrect! A Reddit user named gamingchibix found 95 start-up islands after doing extensive research. She also grouped them under three categories: east, south, and west rivers. The names indicate which direction the rivers flow on each land.

After reviewing all layouts, I picked the most appealing ones from each category and ranked them. These are for people who don’t plan to terraform their land, but still want a unique island! My choices are based on the island’s sectioning, placement of the Resident Services building, and other criteria.


3. Best East River Layout

This one comes with a designated middle section!

This category features one river flowing south and another flowing east. As a result, a large piece of land is in the lower right corner. The Resident Services building is on the island's right, and a part of the green land protrudes to the sea on the same side.

The island above caught my eye because of its sectioning. The top, right, and left areas aren’t too spacious or too small for your creative endeavors. There’s also room in the middle for unique decorations, like a monument or an extravagant museum garden. The Resident Services building isn’t far from the center, so you won’t have to walk far to get there.

What’s Great About This East River Layout? 

  • It has an open area on the right side.
  • There aren’t too many or too few ponds.
  • All parts of the island are spacious.
  • You can do a lot with the middle section.
  • The natural waterscape is pretty.

Choose This East River Layout If…

  • You don’t feel like landscaping. 
  • You don’t feel like waterscaping.
  • You like natural-looking islands.


2. Best West River Layout

Wow, it's so evenly spaced!

West river layouts have a river flowing to the west and one to the south. Consequently, a large amount of land is in the lower left corner of the island. Unlike east river layouts, most west river maps have green land extending to the ocean on the left side. The Resident Service building is also on the island’s left.

This specific layout is simple and evenly spaced. The island’s three sections give plenty of space for players to experiment with, and that’s what Animal Crossing is all about! The second tier is also big enough for a separate area. What would you do with that land? The sky’s the limit!

What’s Great About This West River Layout?

  • The layout is one of the simplest.
  • It has evenly distributed land.
  • The rivers curve a little.
  • The second tier is very spacious.
  • The ponds are spread out.

Choose This West River Layout If…

  • You prefer your Residential Area to be on the left.
  • You want all parts of your island to feel open.
  • You want a big second tier area at the back of your island.


1. Best South River Layout

It's symmetrical—for the most part.

These layouts are the best because they are the closest you’ll get to a naturally symmetrical island. They usually have a gigantic piece of land at the bottom of the map, since two rivers flow downward. The Resident Services area is often very close to the middle of the island too. 

This island is the most symmetrical, making it a lovely view. I advise putting the Able Sister’s Taylor Shop and Nook’s Cranny around the Resident Services building so the area can be a large plaza. Visitors don’t have to walk far to reach it since the site is near the entrance!

What’s Great About This South River Layout?

  • It’s as symmetrical as you can get with a default layout.
  • It has plenty of ponds.
  • The Resident Services building is close to the entrance.
  • It has a sizeable piece of land on the beach for a lighthouse, a picnic area, and other ideas.
  • There’s ample open space at the bottom.

Choose This South River Layout If…

  • You care about symmetry, and you don’t want to terraform. 
  • You don’t want to do any landscaping.
  • You want your Resident Services area to be near the island's center.


[Top 7] Best User-Customized Layouts

This part of the article goes out to all the dedicated Animal Crossing lovers who took creativity to a new level. The artistry and passion of these players shows in their designs. Although several were left out, here are some of the best Animal Crossing layouts I’ve seen.

7. Gardenia

I never thought of making heart-shaped waterfalls.

This masterpiece of a fairytale island is by Elle. Its layout is for those who enjoy medium-level terraforming with a bit of unique waterscaping here and there. Elle's landscaping skills are challenging to match but don’t feel impossible to master.

The waterscaping drew me to this island. Gardenia's customized rivers don’t appear artificial, giving the layout a natural feel. The creator gives her island an exciting twist, with heart-shaped waterfalls near the entrance and a statue area in the top right corner.  

Gardenia has several pathways, but they don’t show on the map since they’re custom-designed. Keep this in mind when planning your map layout in Animal Crossing.  

What’s Great About Gardenia?

  • Its simpler design makes terraforming seem less intimidating to replicate.
  • The flow of the rivers is natural.
  • The heart-shaped waterfalls are cute.
  • The open field to the right leaves room for other creative ideas. 
  • The museum has its own island, which isn’t common.

Choose Gardenia’s Layout If…

  • You’d like to try terraforming but want to start with something that’s not too complex.
  • You enjoy hopping on tiny plots of land rather than using a bridge.
  • You want your villagers to live far apart from each other.


6. Meribella

So. Much. Waterscaping.

Next is the mermaid island of Meribella. This town by Kat, pays homage to the Lost City of Atlantis by incorporating tons of seashells and custom-patterned waterscaping. The waterscaping may seem easy since there aren’t any complicated curves, but it still takes time and patience. 

The angular plots of land make the island appear organized; the neighborhood also looks pristine, given its calculated spacing. Kat put every part of the island to good use, so all areas have plenty of room. It’s best to use less tiered land to make your island feel open.

What’s Great About Meribella?

  • It’s organized.
  • The spacing between houses is perfect.
  • The plots are rectangular, so they’re easy to copy.
  • All the rocks are in one spot.
  • The waterscaping is beautiful.

Choose Meribella’s Layout If…

  • You enjoy waterscaping most.
  • You like open concepts.
  • You like rectangular plots.


5. Helevorn

The path is so cute!

The natural aesthetic is underrated, but I adore when people incorporate their love for nature into their island layouts. That’s why Helevorn earned a spot on this list. Mellryn’s island is an excellent example of a natural yet striking town. I love how the resident houses are scattered across the island, giving each character their own area to enjoy. 

The pathways stand out in Helevorn. It guides people through the island in a way that isn’t confusing or overwhelming, giving the island a cohesive structure. Stepping stones are a great way to diversify your pathways.

What’s Great About Helevorn?

  • The stepping stones add a unique touch.
  • The path is clearly defined.
  • The waterscaping is natural.
  • The second tier is roomy.
  • It has lots of ponds.

Choose Helevorn’s Layout If…

  • You like neighborhoods far apart from each other.
  • You like the buildings far apart from each other.
  • You like natural layouts.


4. Eventide

What an amazing use of tiered land!

Then there’s the lovely Eventide by Koala. It’s another nature-oriented island with several trees and flowers to emphasize its beauty. It’s hard to forget such an intricately designed town.

The waterscaping is most memorable compared to other characteristics of this island. The small waterfalls and little plots of land add more flavor to the place. Note how the creator cleverly uses a river and land to divide the neighborhood area from the rest of the island. This is a brilliant alternative to using fences or bushes for sectioning off your village.

What’s Great About Eventide?

  • Houses are at the back.
  • The other buildings are all at the front.
  • The waterscaping is beautiful.
  • A long river traveling across the island separates the land.
  • There’s a spot where you can view the entire island.

Choose Eventide’s Layout If…

  • You love to waterscape.
  • You’d like to add a second tier to your island.
  • You want your residents’ houses to be separate from other buildings.


3. Sour Sap

The placement of the user's house is fitting for a mayor.

Soursapcrossing beautifully expresses her love for greenery and the color pink through her decorations. Although there’s a castle and some statues, she allows plant life to shine in her designs. Almost every spot is filled with pink and green plants, and the color combination is gorgeous.

Soursapcrossing serves us excellent symmetry with Sour Sap. The user's house is centered, giving her abode a sense of royalty. The neighborhood arrangement also ensures residents’ homes don’t impede her creative abilities. This neighborhood design is a great idea if you want to build areas that take up a lot of room.

What’s Great About Sour Sap?

  • The neighborhood is far back.
  • It’s symmetrical.
  • It has a gigantic second tier.
  • The museum area is enormous.
  • There’s a second plaza for Nooks Cranny.

Choose Sour Sap’s Layout If…

  • You like symmetry.
  • You don’t want to spend too much time waterscaping.
  • You want your house to be centered.


2. Eldia

You gotta love that uniformity!

Katy steps up the symmetry with Eldia. Like the previous islands, her town also has a natural style, with a few Japanese decorations sprinkled across it. These embellishments give Eldia a serene ambiance.

This user’s town is highly satisfying with its finely chiseled rivers and clean-cut neighborhood. Even the bridges are perfectly aligned with each other! You should view the layout as you go when designing islands this symmetrical. You may have to correct some major mistakes if you don’t, and that won’t be fun.

What’s Great About Eldia?

  • It’s incredibly symmetrical.
  • The waterways are all the same width.
  • Your home is in the center.
  • It has heart-shaped ponds.
  • It has a designated neighborhood area.

Choose Eldia’s Layout If…

  • You love symmetry.
  • You love terraforming.
  • You love waterscaping.



Bathers would be flattered!

Forget symmetry, we have a genuine work of art here. The Animal Crossing subreddit blew up when a user posted their Blather’s-inspired island. I can’t imagine how long it took to make it!

Of course, Agatas takes the cake regarding complex and satisfying island layouts. The organization of the houses baffles me the most. It’s imaginative and neat, so the houses don’t appear too far apart or too close together. I also admire the craftsmanship of the waterscaping, especially the part below the housing area. The unassessed fossil in the background is the cherry on top. 

It won’t be easy to execute this layout. I’d print out a blown-up version of the map if you want to replicate it. 

What’s Great About Agatas?

  • It’s detailed.
  • It’s modeled after Blathers.
  • It’s creative.
  • The housing arrangement is nice.
  • The usage of different tiers is impressive.

Choose Agatas’ Layout If…

  • You love Blathers.
  • You’re good at terraforming.
  • You’re good at waterscaping.


You may also be interested in:

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[Top 10] Animal Crossing: New Horizons Best Friends

You'll likely find CaLea tending to her island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Nothing is more important to her than making sure her villagers are happy - and making sure they never leave.
Gamer Since: 2006
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Top 3 Favorite Games:Diablo, Life is Strange, The Sims 4

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