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. Click through our edit of the best private islands available to buy now to find your own piece of paradise.
The best private islands available to buy now
Those taking just a cursory glance at the particulars of Hummingbird Cay may well be inclined to raise an eyebrow. But it’s unlikely that anyone able to afford the $35 million (£25m) asking price will be particularly interested in the quality of the island’s current, rather timeworn, buildings. What they will be interested in is those two key components of property ownership: location and potential. And with Hummingbird Cay, you get both.
This is a 104-hectare unspoilt island in the Lower Exuma Cays, an area that has become the A-listers’ and billionaires’ retreat of choice for many reasons – shallow aquamarine waters, white sand beaches and fantastic fishing, diving and boating among them – all a pebble’s toss from a lush mangrove forest. All this, plus access that’s easy enough to make it convenient, yet just tricky enough to keep unwanted visitors at bay. The quickest access is via Great Exuma, a 15-minute private boat ride away. From Nassau it’s one hour by floatplane or five hours by boat.
Hummingbird Cay is all about addition. There’s the potential to build a much more substantial main property. The existing small-boat harbour could be extended to allow superyacht access and to provide dry dock storage for smaller vessels and toys, and there’s room for a 600-metre airstrip for light aircraft so you could fly in from Nassau or Miami, with onward international connections from there. A helipad could also be added. Agent Steve Donovan, of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty, says: “Being a private island, building restrictions are minimal, giving the owners limitless possibilities to what can be built. There’s plenty of room to build several huge houses or any number of smaller ones on an island this size.”
Alternatively, you could create a boutique resort. The island is already self-sufficient in power and water. A field of solar panels, located away from the properties, provides electricity, with the option to add more cells. A deep water aquifer produces fresh water, with a desalination plant as back-up. The balmy climate near the Tropic of Cancer, plus the fact that the island has three beaches (one of which, at 760 metres, is the largest private white sand stretch in the Exumas) would certainly be a draw for paying guests. Or you might want to make like other well-heeled and well-known expats living nearby, and keep it all to yourself…
Hummingbird Cay is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for $35 million.
With its rugged beauty and back-to-nature set-up, New Zealand’s Pepin Island has a lot to offer. Located in the sheltered Tasman Bay off the north end of South Island, its unspoilt landscape features rolling paddocks, native bush, sea cliffs and beaches – and there are extensive tracks around the island providing access to secluded coves rarely visited by anyone. The owner’s accommodation is in a seven-bedroom traditional weatherboard farmhouse. There is an assortment of farm buildings and shelters around the island, and three eco-chalets located in spectacular spots provide a chance to enjoy a night or two away from the world.
Pepin is a successful farm combining grazing, orchard, pine plantations and the option of discreet, small-scale tourism. The island is home to 2,000 sheep and 100 cattle, with the temperate climate and soil allowing all-year grazing. With fruit, macadamia and olive trees, plus your own water supply, you could almost be self-sufficient.
So far, so off-grid: but Pepin is actually connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway with gated access, allowing you to come and go as you please. A 20-minute drive away is the thriving city of Nelson, where there is both an international airport and Port Nelson, which has a dedicated superyacht pontoon with a total mooring length of 110 metres. With the America’s Cup World Series, the Prada Cup and the 36th America’s Cup still due to be held in Auckland this year, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to keep up with the superyacht crowd – or you can just close those causeway gates and enjoy the solitude.
Pepin Island is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for NZD 16 million.
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.
Little Ragged Island
There are opportunities to buy private islands… and then there is the opportunity to buy the largest private island in the whole of the Bahamas.
At 290 hectares, and with more than nine kilometres of shoreline, Little Ragged Island is a substantial offering indeed. A piece of typically Bahamian low-lying land, with maximum elevations of 12 metres, it is part of the 96-kilometre-long Ragged Island Chain, also known as the Jumentos Cays, on the far southern tip of the Bahamas bank.
“This largely undeveloped string of cays stretches in a gentle arc south of Great Exuma Island and offers rugged beauty, uncrowded anchorages, beautiful beaches and many opportunities for hiking, fishing and snorkelling,” says agent Ashley Brown, of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty.
This is real get-away-from-it-all territory, with stunning beaches, freshwater inland “cow wells” and sandbars and reefs to explore. It’s also a natural sanctuary for wild pink flamingos. And yet the island is within easy reach by both plane and boat, as there is an airstrip on neighbouring Ragged Island, which is just a five- to 10-minute tender ride away. For superyachts, there’s deep-water access to the eastern side of Little Ragged itself. Apart from one settlement on Ragged Island – Duncan Town, where the population stands at just 45 – the rest of the island chain is completely uninhabited. So those rosy flamingos may prove your closest neighbours.
Little Ragged Island is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for $19.5 million.
Fort Morgan Cay
As the name suggests, Fort Morgan Cay used to sit within the territory of the infamous Captain Morgan. The island’s fort was built to protect the pirate fleet in neighbouring Port Royal, which was taken over by buccaneers in 1502. The ruins of the 300-year-old fortress can still be seen today, but the 13-hectare island is now also home to a luxurious eight-bedroom house. Combining indoor and outdoor living, the accommodation offers nearly 1,000 square metres of lounges, shaded terraces and wide sun decks. All of the bedrooms are en suite, some with private outdoor showers, and feature natural interiors that blend in with the surrounding mangroves that cover about a third of the cay. Fort Morgan Cay has an additional 10 bedrooms for staff, as well as a kitchen, laundry area and a generator room. Power is provided via solar panels and batteries, but the new owner could put in an underwater cable to connect to the power grid in Port Royal (about a kilometre away).
Sitting on a coral reef, visitors can snorkel or dive directly off the ocean-facing side of the island. The other side, which faces the bay, is perfect for swimming and has three white-sand beaches. You can arrive, like the pirates did, by boat – now made easier thanks to three over-water docks. Alternatively, the island also has a 730-metre runway that can accommodate small propeller planes.
Fort Morgan Cay is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty, with POA.
Closer to Norway than to the Scottish mainland, this 26-hectare island in the western Shetland Isles is not for those seeking a ropical retreat. However, what Linga lacks in palm trees and pina coladas it makes up for with spectacular scenery – including rugged beaches, pastures covered in wild flowers and a one-hectare loch. And all for a remarkably affordable £250,000.
Located in the sheltered Vaila Sound, Linga has been uninhabited since 1934. The island has the remnants of two cottages and planning consent is already in place for a new owner to make it habitable once more. The permission means the two existing stone buildings could be renovated and an additional cottage, pier and agricultural buildings could be built. In order to ensure the island’s natural beauty isn’t spoilt, the development will need to have a strong focus on sustainability. The plans nclude a windmill and solar panels for power, septic tanks with reed beds for sewage and rainwater capture from the cottage and shed roofs to provide a fresh water supply.
The Shetlands consist of nearly 100 islands, of which fewer than 20 are currently inhabited. Linga is located less than two nautical miles from the largest island, Mainland, meaning that the main town and port of Lerwick are easily accessible. The town’s facilities might prove useful if you are after some extra Shetland wool to get you through the cold winter months.
Linga Island is listed for sale with Vladi Private Islands for £250,000.
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
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 €2.45 million.
As its name suggests, the five-hectare island of Ethereal, which sits less than a nautical mile away from the mainland town of Eretria in central Greece, is so beautiful that it has otherworldly qualities. Surrounded by crystal blue waters, its flora-covered shores are home to pomegranate, apricot, peach, almond and fig trees that were planted by its original owner. The island’s natural beauty hasn’t gone unnoticed – previous visitors include The Beatles, members of the former Greek royal family and the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.
The island is already equipped with two traditional Greek homes that were built in the 1960s. The main house has four bedrooms and extra guests can be accommodated in a bungalow on the largest beach. There is also a staff house with a further two bedrooms. Additional features include a picturesque chapel with hand-painted walls, and a Venetian-style stone tower, which previously served as a studio for the former owner, who was an artist. The island may feel like it belongs in another universe, but it is only 15 minutes by helicopter, or an hour’s drive, from Athens International Airport. It can also be easily accessed from the mainland by boat and has two piers on its west side that can be used for mooring.
Ethereal is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty for €7.5 million.
Sailors have been seduced by the natural beauty of Tahiti’s Society Islands for centuries and this eight-hectare motu (island) is likely to engender love at first sight. Perched on the vibrant reef encircling the island of Taha’a, famed for its vanilla, Motu Moie is a private getaway. The island’s palm-tree- studded interior is home to an owner’s bungalow and three beach bungalows for guests. There is also a caretaker’s house and utility buildings. Freshwater is supplied by a natural coral-filtered well and there is solar-powered electricity. Ideal for making the most of the surrounding turquoise waters, a sports bungalow houses equipment for snorkelling, windsurfing, kayaking, fishing, spearfishing, water skiing and sailing.
Despite meaning “far-away isle” in Tahitian, Motu Moie is surprisingly accessible. The local village of Pātio on Taha’a, with its food shops and a doctor, is within kayaking distance. A 25-minute tender across the lagoon will get you to Raiatea Airport, with daily flights to Tahiti and Bora Bora. Alternatively, the latter’s iconic volcanic peaks are only 10 nautical miles away by boat. The Society Islands may be famed for honeymooning hotels – Four Seasons, St Regis and Conrad all have outposts on Bora Bora’s shores – but Taha’a has remained remarkably untouched by the international tourist influx. As a result, Motu Moie presents an exciting opportunity to develop an exclusive luxury resort – or you might want to keep this love affair all to yourself.
Motu Moie is listed for sale with Christie’s International Real Estate for $6.5 million