How to Buy a Private Island (Which Is Cheaper Than You Think)

A permanent escape is actually well within your reach.

If you have chronic dreams of getting away from it all—really getting away from it all like a truly successful baller—escaping to your own private island is no longer a fantasy. You can buy one outright less than the price of a Brooklyn townhouse. According to Chris Kolow, the chief executive of the digital broker Private Islands Online, sales are booming, and it's a buyer's market. (The host of HDTV's Island Hunters, he fields up to 200 inquiries a day.) Properties are available anywhere from the U.S. West Coast to United Kingdom and, of course, the tropics.

The Exumas Cays in the Bahamas are especially hot. The 47-acre island Saddleback Cay, which has seven beaches and an 5,000-square-foot airstrip, is listed for $11.8 million via Sotheby's. Tahaa, a 7-acre private island in Tahiti, is going for $7 million. The 48-acre Crawl Caye, a World Heritage Site in the middle of a coral-filled turquoise lagoon in Belize, is a relative bargain at $3.9 million.

How to get started? Browse away online, then contact a broker. Most islands in the U.S. can be bought outright; in the tropics, you'll often buy a 30-year lease.

If sale prices are a bit too steep (or you want to try before you buy), renting is a popular option. An isle called Cayo Despanto in Belize goes for $500-$1,000 a night; Little Way Cay in the Bahamas accommodates 13 and is yours for $10,000 to $20,000 a night; Wadigi Island in Fiji is $2,000 a night. Most come fully staffed with cooks, servers and guides. The actor Steve Martin, who recently put his St. Barts villa up for sale, has been renting it out for $28,000 a week. Which means that if you're not desperate to escape your neighbors, picking up your own isle can be an excellent investment.

Here are some islands for sale and rent. And for more advice on piling on the cash, here's The Best Way to Earn $500,000 in Your Spare Time.

Tahaa, Tahiti

Tahaa, Tahiti

17.5 acres, $7 million.

Saddleback Cay, Bahamas

Saddleback Cay, Bahamas

47 acres with 7 beaches and a 5,000-foot airstrip, $17.8 million.

Moho Caye, Bahamas

Moho Caye, Bahamas

8.38 acres with 2,300 sq ft of beaches, $4.28 million.

Aegean Sea, near Greece

Aegean Sea, near Greece

3.9 million sq ft, $28.6 million.

Crawl Caye, Belize

Crawl Caye, Belize

48 acres, $3.9 million.

Cayo Iguana, Nicaragua,

Cayo Iguana, Nicaragua

5 acres, $750,000.

Little Whale Cay, Bahamas

93 acres, for rent $10,000-$20,000 per night.

Fregate Island, Seychelles

Fregate Island, Seychelles

720 acres, for rent $20,000 per night.

Isla Paloma Panama

Isla Paloma Panama

3/4 acre with 2-bedroom house, $380,000.


De Watteville Island, Ontario

4.87 acres, $1.26 million.

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