Minor SPOILERS warning - I'll try to keep them to minimum, but they are needed for completeness of this guide
So you have a mid-level account, probably iron than do not have 90+ yet, or even just created a new account few minutes ago and made it member... And you wonder now what can be done in the Arc? Then this guide is for you.
Yes, you can't gather resources directly, but there are still enough things to do, in preparation for that moment. As an example, on Amlugnes I can only gather pos/neg energy there, and by not even selling any of it yet already have all but one upgrade (commodities cost) unlocked. Here's how:
First are the Sojobo's contracts:
Collecting driftwood/sea shells gives 375 chimes each.
All other contracts give 150 chimes, and nice chunk of XP in relevant skills (that's combat, until you can gather anything in the Arc).
He will assign you only things that you have the levels to do.
Second is collecting washed ashore items on the uncharted islands and selling them to the shop, and can be usually done alongside the contracts.
If you are close to any of the Ports skill level 90, and hence to unlocking the Cyclosis island, then you should hold on selling the driftwood/sea shells/berries since you can sell them for better price there.
When you've collected 5 driftwood, bring them to Boni to complete the Flag Fall miniquest - you'll get 500 chimes (a nice boost for the start), and an ability to claim islands. Though I'll recommend to keep to small voyages until you have good chimes income rate, and to claim any of the large islands you get from treasure maps while skilling outside the Arc. You'll not be able to use anything on the claimed island anyways, and amount of washed ashore items on it will be even less than on the smallest island. So you have plenty time to find your "perfect" island.
And this brings us into the berries - yes, you can use them even without having the level! All you have to do is find stone/storm-berry seed in one of the chests on the unchurted island, and you have another source of income: you can plant them, and then collect them for the usual amount of berries and seeds but no XP. They still provide a nice pile of chimes when sold (again Cyclosis is better, if you can).
Now about spending chimes:
Unless you are lucky to find a seed already, your best income is contracts, so you should upgrade first the number of contracts available. You start with 3 contracts per day, and can increase it to 7 per day: +1 per tier, 4 tiers at 2.5k chimes and 2 taijitu each = 10k chimes and 8 taijitu total.
Now the voyages - you'll need supplies, and you have only 5 free supplies per day. At the beginning, if you are lucky, you'll need only 3 voyages per day to complete the 3 available contracts (all the combat ones can be done on single island each). And each contract will give you enough chimes to buy at least 6 more supplies, enough for one small voyage. But next step after maximizing contracts number you'll want to decrease supplies cost, to increase your income even further. Starting at 25 chimes per supply, it can be lowered to 10ea: 5 tiers at 3k chimes and 2 taijitu each = 15k chimes and 10 taijitu total.
Now you can look at the 3 remaining upgrades:
» commodity sell price increase - probably not yet relevant to you, if you're reading this guide - will not affect most of the items you have access to, so you can leave it for later, when you have spare chimes or going to be able to create these commodities soon.
» commodity per day increase - cheap enough to max (3kc+2t), I'll recommend to get it next, unless you want something from the unlocks first.
» supplies cap increase - 8kc + 8t to max - good to have, unless you are already preparing for the commodity sell price upgrade
» get the cosmetics whenever you feel like it'll not hinder your income flow much, or if you really want that one thing.
» utility unlocks - they can wait until you can actually put them to good use (e.q. Whale's Maw deposit box is useless until 91 fishing).
» other stuff - whenever you think it'll be good investment for your chimes, they're not the focus of this guide already.
Special note for Journal teleports - until miniquests (90+ in various skills) you can tele only to Port Sarim docks, and Waiko - mind that before deciding to buy it, although it does give you quick access to Arc, if you have not unlocked Ports yet.
Ways to continue/complete some parts:
Cyclosis - needed for better shops, one message in the bottle, to complete the birds part of the Journal, and to unlock final Turtles island without 95 div
It's unlocked thru Player owned Ports = you need 90+ in any of: Agility, Construction, Cooking, Divination, Dungeoneering, Fishing, Herblore, Hunter, Prayer, Runecrafting, Slayer, Thieving. If any of them are really close to 90 then just go for it, otherwise consider this:
90+ Divination: access to all the parts of the Turtles, including 2 more bottled messages.
90+ Slayer: access to shadow realm of the Aminishi with one more message in the bottle, and the Dusky bird for those that can't use NXT.
With only divination you'll be able to complete the birds part (using NXT, and relying on other players to spawn the skilling birds for you), and together with slayer you can also unlock all the castaways.
And that's all for this guide - the rest of the things in Arc require you to get your skills up, and there are enough guides online for that!
Thanks to Ker Laeda for this one! Last updated Feb. 6th 2017