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. If you're looking for an extraordinary Christmas gift to buy this holiday season, click through our edit of the best private islands available to buy now, and find your own piece of paradise.

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.

Wheeler Island

Connecticut, US
Credit: Daniel Milstein Photography

There may be no swaying palm trees or fish-filled lagoons here, but Wheeler Island has plenty to enchant a new owner. Nicknamed the “Queen of the Thimble Islands” this small but perfectly formed chunk of land is the perfect escape for stressed-out city folk.

At the heart of the island sits an eight-bedroom cedar-shake home, which is being sold furnished. Currently used as a holiday home, it features a bright colour palette with quirky themes, including stars and stripes and rubber ducks. The three-storey property could be easily converted for year-round use and already has a spacious eat-in country kitchen with granite worktops. The top floor serves as guest bedrooms, but it could be reconfigured into a spectacular master bedroom, offering views over the Long Island Sound.

The property has two wraparound porches and an outdoor fireplace. There would be room to build a small pool but there is also a private beach for swimming off or launching a kayak. It might be worth taking the time to explore the area: legend has it that in the 1600s Captain William Kidd buried a chest of gold somewhere in the Thimble chain while fleeing pirate hunters.

The island has been considerably modernised since the days of Captain Kidd and year-round electricity and water is already in place. A granite dock offers easy access, and the village of Stony Creek is only a couple of hundred metres away across the water. Once ashore, the town of Branford, Connecticut, and its rail connections back to the city are a short drive away.

Wheeler Island is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for $2.9 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 for AUS$16.5 million.

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.

Spanish Water Private Island

Willemstad, Curaçao

The very last island left to develop on Curaçao has now come to the market – and it’s up to you to decide whether to turn it into your own private getaway or maybe an exclusive resort. In Southern Curaçao – away from the hurricane belt – Spanish Water Private Island is an untouched 2.9-hectare plot located within Spanish Water Bay, with its several residential communities and marinas. Largely undisturbed by humans since pre-Columbian times, it is home to flora found nowhere else except Curaçao’s Christoffel National Park.

Previously classified as a conservation habitat, it is now a Restricted Development Area, with requirements including a permanent green zone between existing development lots and the unobstruction of natural channels to ensure rainwater reaches the mangroves. For now, the island is only accessible by boat, but in their development project the current owners have included plans for a birdwatching tower which would double as a helipad – and the 16-kilometre trip from the airport would require just five minutes of flight time. “The current development plan would convert the green island into a residential community consisting of 10 luxury villas and one or two marinas, complete with a lighthouse,” says Ray Seijs of Sotheby’s International Realty. “All the research made by the different island institutions, and by the owner group itself, for the island infrastructure and residences, is available to the buyer,” he adds. “These extend to sun and wind measurements, utility costs per villa, construction time frames and methods including megayacht marina installation options.” Included with the island is a 482-square-metre landing situated within the gated community of Jan Sofat nearby, which can be used to facilitate transportation, with permits to build a jetty and car park.

For mooring, the buyer will be spoilt for choice. To the east of Spanish Water Private Island lies Santa Barbara Plantation, a gated community with an 18-hole Old Quarry Golf Course, a Peter Burwash tennis complex and the soon-to-be 1,200-hectare Sandals Resort and its two marinas. And directly opposite is Seru Boca Marina, with 135 slips for 30-metre yachts, and the Barbara Beach Marina, with 12 slips accommodating boats up to 68 metres, which has already been visited by 69-metre Spectre, 45-metre Blue Ice and 66-metre Hampshire.

Spanish Water Private Island is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for $8.8 million.

Isla Maná

Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil

Located in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state, Isla Maná is surrounded by the emerald waters that give the Costa Verde coast its name. Only three kilometres from the port of Bracuí, and a three-hour drive or 20-minute helicopter ride west from the city of Rio itself, Maná is part of an archipelago of 365 islands in the fashionable bay of Angra dos Reis, known for its white beaches and amazing diving.

Hidden within the tropical greenery covering its 6.2 hectares is a series of properties: a 120-square-metre main house, four bungalows, a caretaker’s house and a boathouse, all offering scope for development, either into a grand private residence or a boutique tourism venture. The main house comprises a living room, two bedrooms, a dining room, an impressive kitchen and a dramatic wooden decking area for al fresco dining. The four bungalows each serve as a private suite with a bedroom, bathroom and breathtaking ocean views. The bungalows share an additional decking zone, with covered dining area, leading on to a bar at one end and the glittering waters of the Atlantic at the other. Pathways connect the main house to this area, snaking through lush flora and linking the island’s buildings to a helipad and dock. Maná also has its own solar-powered electricity network, stone-carved freshwater pool and palm-fringed landscaped lawn for sunbathing or enjoying a barbecue while sipping a caipirinha.

Isla Maná is listed for sale with Vladi Private Islands for $3.5 million.

Katafanga Island

Lau Islands, Fiji

Located in Fiji’s unspoiled Lau Islands, Katafanga has all the credentials to become a world-class luxury resort. One of the last freehold islands in the South Pacific, it has had a considerable amount of groundwork put in place. There is already a ring road, runway, reservoir and staff housing on the 90-hectare site. Twenty high-spec villas are also under construction, leaving a new owner free to come in and complete the development with their vision.

At 1.6 kilometres long and only 500 metres wide, Katafanga is covered in palm trees and tropical vegetation and is surrounded by sugar- white beaches. But it’s the 2,000-hectare turquoise lagoon surrounding the island that’s likely to be the biggest draw for future visitors. Encircled by a vast, healthy reef, it’s home to schools of tropical fish and bioluminescent organisms which light up at night.

Katafanga is an hour’s flight from Nadi International Airport, and by boat, the island is just over 200 nautical miles from Port Denarau Marina. Fortunately, there is a natural 60-metre break in the coral reef, which will allow superyachts to pass through and enjoy a sheltered anchorage within the lagoon.

Katafanga Island is listed for sale with Vladi Private Islands for $17 million.

Isola delle Femmine

Sicily, Italy

Sitting 300 metres from the shoreline, Isola delle Femmine is just a quick tender (or an ambitious swim) from the toe of Italy – but it feels like it belongs to another time and place. The 15-hectare island, which is being sold by one of Italy’s aristocratic families, boasts a landscape covered in mandrake, mallow and erba stella, and dominated by an old watchtower.There are many rumours as to how the oval- shaped islet got its name. The most popular tale is that 13 Turkish maidens were banished by their families for misdemeanours and ended up shipwrecked there for seven years. Although there is little evidence for this, there are plenty of relics from the island’s genuine history, including Ancient Greek and Roman stone basins and a well that dates back to the Middle Ages.

The old watchtower was damaged during the Allied landing in Sicily in the Second World War but could be used as the starting point for a new development. The island’s shores are predominantly white pebble but there is also a sandy beach in a cove, which provides the best landing spot for small boats. Depending on the plans, it might be possible for the new owner to apply for tax incentives and funding to help secure the future of Isola delle Femmine.

Isola delle Femmine is listed with Christie’s International Real Estate for €1.6 million.

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