With an area of 18.6 hectares (46 acres), it is the third largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands, and the second largest (after Thitu Island/Pag-asa) of the Philippine-occupied islands. It is 530 yards (485 m) wide, 330 yards (302 m) long, and its highest elevation is 30 feet (9 m).
The island is administered by the Philippines as part of Kalayaan, Palawan; it is located 47 miles (76 km) northeast of Pagasa Island (Thitu Island), the location of the Philippine defined major town of Kalayaan. Filipino soldiers are stationed on the island.
West York Island is covered with low vegetation and scrub. Outcrops are visible on the southern and eastern portion of the island during low tides. It is a sanctuary for giant sea turtles that lay their eggs on the island all year round. The high salinity of the ground water on the island retards the growth of introduced trees like coconuts, ipil-ipil, and other types; only those plants indigenous to the area, (mostly beach types of plants), thrive and survive the hot and humid condition, especially during the dry season.
Kalayaan municipal officials have proposed that this island be populated with civilian settlers "within the coming years".[vague] If accomplished, it will be the second barangay of Kalayaan (after Thitu Island/Pag-asa). However, only naval vessels are currently capable of reaching the island. An estimate of 300 million pesos (US$7.5M) will be needed to construct an airstrip, a docking site, some land reclamation and other structures necessary to support an isolated community.