The best private islands available to buy now

Whether it’s a private island owned by a celebrity trying to escape the paparazzi, or the retreat of a superyacht owner prized for its deserted anchorages, a private island is the most exclusive holiday home that money can offer. Take a look at our edit of the best private islands available to buy now to find your own piece of paradise.

Angra dos Reis

Brazil

located just four nautical miles off the coast of Angra dos Reis, a lush Brazilian municipality meaning “Creek of the Kings” in Portuguese, sits a picture-perfect tropical island that’s fully established and ready to welcome a new owner. With palm trees, a private beach, a swimming pool and four separate properties, this 2.5-hectare island even comes with an 11-metre speedboat for easy access to Angra dos Reis.

There is accommodation for 12 guests across the island’s four properties. The principal building holds four people and is endowed with indigenous stone, polished wood floors and full-height glass windows throughout. And while the property is fundamentally contemporary, its thatched roof, antique furniture and bare stone walls give the property an authentic Brazilian feel to mirror its lush and unspoilt surroundings.

Leading out of the main property, a series of winding stone pathways link the three guest bungalows and a boat house among the manicured gardens. Each has king-sized beds, en-suite bathrooms and uninterrupted ocean views. And, while the island may be secluded in Costa Verde, it benefits from a helipad that could ferry guests quickly off to Rio de Janeiro, which lies 90 nautical miles down the coast.

Home to more than 300 islands, Angra dos Reis is primed for superyacht discovery, with sheltered coves, dive sites and empty beaches. Where better to set up your Brazilian bolthole?

This Angra dos Reis island is currently for sale with Vladi Private Islands for $15 million

Santa Maria Island

Italy

Each year, the Italian island of Capri welcomes more than two million people to its picturesque shores. Its rugged coastline and remarkable anchorages attract visitors from the world over, who are in search of the classic Italian elegance that Capri promises; it’s not surprising, then, that Porto Turistico di Capri is home to some of the world’s most expensive superyacht berths.

But what if you could bottle the charm of Capri and uncork it on your own Italian island – free from bustling crowds and berthing fees? Santa Maria Island may be the answer. Lying 160 nautical miles south of Capri, just off the coast of Sicily, this rugged land mass of 11.5 hectares is already home to swaying palm trees, a small 16th-century chapel and an olive grove – which in 2016 saw the production of 1,500 litres of organic olive oil. The principal property on the island is a 460-square-metre belle époque mansion, but there are also staff lodgings and animal shelters in place for the island’s resident donkeys.

With its own generator and rainwater recovery system for domestic use, Santa Maria has the foundations for self-sufficiency. At the same time, it offers accessibility as the island is within striking distance of the domestic Vincenzo Florio Airport, with links to Rome. If it were to become a hub for international jet-setters Santa Maria would need some nurturing, but, as it is, the island is primed and ready for a new owner craving a secluded Italian island escape.

Santa Maria Island is currently for sale with Vladi Private islands for £14.2 million

Great Island

Darien, Connecticut

When you think of an island paradise, what probably springs to mind is a small patch of exotic land far from anywhere. However, this 24-hectare island on the East Coast of America has all the ingredients of an island retreat – a 24-metre yacht berth, a 12,000 square metre manor house, reminiscent of a classic Italian villa and a 30-metre yacht berth – but with a direct connection to the US mainland by a causeway.

Having been home to the same family for generations, Great Island lies on a secluded isthmus in Darien, Connecticut, just a 50-minute drive from Manhattan, New York. Developed by baking powder tycoon and American industrialist, William Ziegler, the sprawling 10-bedroom manor house, is set back from the island’s rocky western coastline and faces a small group of green islands that lie just off the coast. There is also an additional guest house, a caretaker’s cottage, a 19th century farmhouse, and a quaint seaside cottage all dispersed among the island’s extensive grounds.

The world-class equestrian centre is, however, the beating heart of the island. Designed by Rafael Guastavino – who is famed for his work on Grand Central Station and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York – the equestrian centre has 18 stables, both indoor and outdoor riding manèges, a polo field, and numerous paddocks. There are also riding trails across the island.

With more than a kilometre of coastline, the island presents a rare opportunity for a superyacht owner in search of an island with equestrian facilities. But its connection to the mainland, means that you can relish in the joys of island life without the headaches that often accompany ownership of an isolated property

Great island is currently for sale with Douglas Elliman for $100 million

Little Whale Cay

Berry Islands, The Bahamas
Credit: Vladi Private Islands

Few places on earth could exemplify paradise better than Little Whale Cay, a 16-hectare private island sitting in the Bahamas’ Berry Island chain, just 130 nautical miles south-east of Fort Lauderdale. With immaculate palm-tree-lined white beaches, a paved 600-metre landing strip and even its own flamboyance of flamingos, Little Whale Cay is a turnkey island, which is close enough to Florida to fly in for lunch.

Developed in the art deco era of the 1930s by Bahamas pioneer Wallace Groves, Little Whale Cay has three secluded beachfront houses large enough to accommodate 12 guests. The main two-storey residence, Little Whale House, has two double bedrooms, a large living room, chef’s kitchen and external fireplace designed to catch the Bahamian sunset while the chef serves up the catch of the day from the barbecue. Additional facilities, which will keep even the keenest of fitness fanatics entertained, include an infinity pool, tennis court, yoga deck and gym.

Surrounded by coral reefs and turquoise lagoons teeming with green turtles and manatees, a deep-water marina makes the island an excellent prospect for a superyacht owner. The new proprietor will, however, have to share the island with the flamingos, Bahama woodstar hummingbirds and domestic peacocks (which can be traced back to Wallace Groves’ bird collection) that also call the island home.

Little Whale Cay is listed for sale with Vladi Private Islands, POA.



Leaf Cay

Exumas, The Bahamas
Credit: Savills

Spread across 12 hectares of verdant untouched paradise, Leaf Cay offers a unique opportunity for a yacht owner looking to put their stamp on a private retreat in the Exumas. The triangular-shaped island has three powder-white beaches with a slightly elevated interior covered in tropical vegetation. It contains two sizeable lakes, one of which would make an ideal setting for a small private marina. The island is also surrounded by deep aquamarine waters, which would offer multiple protected anchorages.

For those not wanting to arrive by boat, Leaf Cay sits just five nautical miles north of Great Exuma, which has a 2,000-metre runway. It is also just 1.8 nautical miles south of the famous Bock Cay, which is reportedly undergoing development of an 18-hole golf course.

Planning permission is already in place on Leaf Cay from the Ministry of Environment to build five cottages with support buildings, and for the creation of marina facilities. With the private island market booming as more people seek a private oasis following the pandemic, the island could also prove to be a sensible investment option.

Leaf Cay may feel like the epitome of Exuma privacy, but its proximity to Great Exuma and other private cays means that it is well connected – not so much an isolated land mass, but a link in one of the world’s most enviable island chains.

Leaf Cay is listed for sale with Savills for $7.5 million.

Crown Pigeon Island & Cays

Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Credit: Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty

In the mid-17th century British puritans, known as the Eleutheran Adventurers, settled on the islands of North Eleuthera and Harbour Island. Life was hard, and their main source of income came from helping wrecked ships that hit the surrounding coral reefs. Rumour has it they boosted their business by luring the ships to their peril. Set in between these two points, this five-hectare island was central to the action.

Today, Crown Pigeon Island offers a decidedly less hazardous way of life, with three spacious villas and five additional guest cottages spread across the shores of its three white-sand beaches. The accommodations are connected by walking and cart paths that weave between native foliage, orchids and established kitchen gardens. There is also a beach club and bar on the north beach, which is perfect for watersports and swimming, plus a dedicated barbecue spot.

The island is easily accessible by boat and at its centre sits a two-hectare marina, which is reached from the leeward side of the cay. The marina may not be able to accommodate superyachts but it does have room to berth four centre-console vessels, and there are also two boat lifts, a hauling ramp, a floating dock and a boat house. The island is connected to Eleuthera by cable and there are several transformers in place for additional homes and facilities. It also has a large water-maker system, organic composter, back-up generators, water pressure systems and high-speed internet, all ensuring it is a long way from its puritan past.

Crown Pigeon Island & Cays is listed for sale with Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty for $44.4 million.


Royal Island

Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Credit: H G Christie, affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.

With a deep natural harbour, miles of white sandy beaches and more than 174 hectares covered in lush tropical foliage it’s no surprise that in the noughties Royal Island was earmarked to become one of the Bahamas’ leading resorts. In 2007 it was given approval for a large marina and an 18-hole golf course, but the financial crash meant they never came to fruition.

Some initial development did get underway, however, and the island is already equipped with five beachfront villas. The shoreside accommodation blends in with the vibrant foliage and each retreat has a wraparound balcony and direct access to one of the island’s untouched white-sand beaches. A Welcome Centre has also been completed, with spa rooms, a gym, and a restaurant. Adjacent to the community buildings there is also an oval pool, which overlooks a protected, curved bay.

Located 65 kilometres northeast of Nassau, it is just a 15-minute boat ride from North Eleuthera, which has its own small airport. With so much untapped potential here, it might be tough for a new owner to decide whether to keep Royal Island as a private kingdom or create a tourist empire.

Royal Island is listed for sale with Christie's International Real Estate Private Islands for $45 million.



Pumpkin Island

The Keppels, Australia

Less than eight nautical miles from the town of Yeppoon on the Queensland coast, Pumpkin Island is a private retreat with a colourful history. The six-hectare island was a working oyster farm until the 1960s when a couple fell in love with its natural beauty and challenged the owner to a game of poker. They won the game, which gave them the opportunity to purchase the island for £60 and open a hostel. The couple welcomed their first guests in 1964.

The current owners bought the island via slightly more traditional methods in 2003 and set about transforming it into Australia’s first carbon positive island resort. Now on the market for only for the second time, it’s home to just seven cottages, which are powered by wind and solar energy (the island offsets 150 per cent of its annual carbon emissions). Up to 34 guests can enjoy its boho-chic accommodation, with large private decks offering front row seats to the magnificent sunsets and passing whale and dolphin pods. Its shallow shores provide incredible off-the-beach snorkelling opportunities, and keen divers can explore the surrounding dive sites of the Keppels. The new owner will also have the opportunity to purchase an oyster lease, allowing guests to shuck their own oysters off the rocks.

In keeping with its eco credentials, infrastructure on the island has been kept to a minimum but there are staff quarters, a manager’s office and a machinery building to help keep things running smoothly. Two registered moorings mean that you can keep your own yacht shoreside and the island has its own 36-passenger ferry, the Pumpkin Xpress. There is also a helipad for even quicker access from the mainland.

Eagle-eyed readers, or those who are fans of a tipple, might recognise the island from its starring role in commercials for Castlemaine XXXX. The Queensland brewery leased the island between 2012 and 2015, renamed it XXXX, and used to offer all-expenses paid trips for customers that found “the lucky gold can”. Pumpkin Island certainly seems to be the golden ticket for a green-minded hotelier seeking their next adventure.

Pumpkin Island is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty , POA.

Cave Cay

Exumas, The Bahamas

Something about the Bahamas makes celebrities want to stay. Johnny Depp bought Little Hall Pond Cay in 2004 after falling in love with the area while filming Pirates of the Caribbean. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and singer and Shakira invested together on Bonds Cay, in the Berry Islands District. Lenny Kravitz and Eddie Murphy also purchased property there. They are not alone – after all, what superyacht owner has cruised the Bahamas without dreaming of owning their own slice of paradise?

Right in the heart of the Exumas, a group of 365 islands surrounded by sapphire waters (and home to the famous swimming pigs), Cave Cay sits just north of Musha Cay, the 280-hectare private island owned by David Copperfield. Reaching Cave Cay by yacht is not a problem thanks to its deep-water harbour (3.6 metres at low tide) and floating concrete dock system with 35 dock slips. For those flying in, there is also an 854-metre private airstrip which makes frequent visits a breeze. With lush vegetation, unspoilt beaches, and elevations of up to 12 metres, it’s a place of remarkable beauty. The main house, which is ready to move into, is located on the highest point of the island, affording 360-degree views on your very own tropical paradise.

Cave Cay is totally self-sufficient, with water and power supplied by a diesel generator, and the possibility to add solar power. You might be tempted to keep it all to yourself, but the island is fit to run as a commercial operation: approvals include a marina and a hotel with unlimited rooms. A clubhouse is also currently under construction, alongside a restaurant with shower and bathroom facilities, plus three guest houses with hotel rooms and suites. When it comes to further developments, plans have been drawn for 38 buildings totalling 70,000 square metres, including a three-storey houseboat with a marina shop on the ground floor and a two-storey residence overhead, alongside staff and maintenance buildings. It could be fully operational in six months, and all building materials and equipment are included. Also bundled into the sale price are a 36-metre landing craft and a dredger, and there’s a large excess of compact sand which could be sold to neighbouring islands. A team of six employees, familiar with the island, will make the handover process to the new owners smoother. Tempted? No one could blame you.

Cave Cay is listed for sale with Christie’s International Real Estate for $60 million.

Vatuvara Private Islands

Northern Lau Islands, Fiji

In the market for something a little more substantial than a single slice of paradise? Look no further: not one but four islands are part of this lot in Fiji’s pristine Northern Lau group.

Valued at $65 million (£46.9m), the most developed of the four is the 324-hectare Kaibu, home to the Vatuvara Private Islands Resort, which is certified organic and runs on solar power harvested from its own Tesla Solar Farm. It also comes with a water desalination plant, a four-hole golf course and its own marina. With just three secluded seaside villas that blend into the landscape, the discreet island is where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to escape to while touring the Pacific. Each villa has private beach access, an infinity pool and a massage bure (thatched bungalow). Kaibu is just over an hour by private plane from the capital Suva, or from Nadi on the western coast of Fiji. There’s an all-weather concrete airstrip, and included in the overall sale price is the resort’s Twin Otter aircraft.

The remaining three islands are less developed, but no less striking in beauty. The 1,249-hectare Kanacea ($25 million) is made up of seven volcanic summits rising to 259 metres and is surrounded by fringing reefs and white-sand beaches. It’s known as “the farm”, providing much of the fruits, vegetables and herbs cooked in Kaibu’s kitchens as well as having a commercial coconut plantation. Also nestled in the archipelago is 41-hectare Adavaci ($7 million). The smallest of the four islands, it is virtually untouched by tourism despite boasting a picturesque tropical landscape and several beaches.

Finally Vatuvara ($55 million), considered by some to be the most beautiful island in Fiji, is an unspoiled 486-hectare island covered in forest and surrounded by coral reef. The islands’ buyer will also acquire the Vatuvara Foundation, a charity that aims to protect Northern Lau’s precious marine ecosystems. It works on implementing conservation programmes, promoting scientific research and empowering local communities. This is not just a place to escape to, but a real opportunity to contribute to the sustainable future of this stunning corner of the world.

Vatuvara Private Islands are listed for sale with Vladi Private Islands for $155 million.

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