Documenting isolation is notoriously difficult for species with vast polymorphic populations. High proportions of shared variation impede estimation of connectivity, even despite leveraging information from many genetic markers. We overcome these impediments by combining classical analysis of neutral variation with assays of the structure of selected variation, demonstrated using populations of the principal African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Accurate estimation of mosquito migration is crucial for efforts to combat malaria. Modeling and cage experiments suggest that mosquito gene drive systems will enable malaria eradication, but establishing safety and efficacy requires identification of isolated populations in which to conduct field‐testing. We assess Lake Victoria islands as candidate sites, finding one island 30 kilometers offshore is as differentiated from mainland samples as populations from across the continent. Collectively, our results suggest sufficient contemporary isolation of these islands to warrant consideration as field‐testing locations and illustrate shared adaptive variation as a useful proxy for connectivity in highly polymorphic species.