8 Exclusive Private Islands

Everyone wants to get away from it all for a while. Of course, whether that’s through your own private hideaway or a relaxing vacation, most people have to choose one or the other. But with a bit of money saved up, you can join the elite of the world in owning a solution to both. These islands aren’t necessarily the most remote or extravagant islands (although there’s plenty of both here). What they all share in common is unmatched exclusivity, where your company on the island can be the wealthiest of the wealthy…or perhaps just a family of turtles.

1. Ni’ihau

Ni’ihau is famously known as Hawaii’s “Forbidden Isle,” and for good reason — it’s private property. Bought by a private family in 1864, the island is home to fewer than 200 people, for whom Hawaiian is the primary language and English second. Although now home to a military base and some hunting tourism, Ni’ihau’s rules are still very strict in terms of visitors – even for the native’s relatives. A notable exception was made in 1992, when parts of the movie “Jurassic Park” were filmed on location. Historically, “The Ni’ihau Incident” — where a Japanese pilot crash-landed on the island returning from Pearl Harbor, was captured and then escaped with the help of Japanese locals — is considered to be a major factor in the eventual Japanese-American internment during the rest of World War II.2.Wakaya

Wakaya is one of the 332 gorgeous islands that make up what we know as Fiji. It is not the source of the controversial and popular Fiji Water (said to be drawn from an artesian aquifer on the main isle of Viti Levu). Instead, Wakaya is the island that company founder David Gilmour (no relation to Pink Floyd) bought in 1973. In addition to building a village, a marina, a gym and a school, Gilmour also built a 10-bungalow resort named Wakaya Club and Spa. A night at the resort will set you back a cool $7,600 plus taxes, but that hasn’t deterred Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, Spain’s Prince Felipe and others from making a visit.

3.Santo Stefano

For those who are looking to invest rather than visit, there are a couple options. If you’re in the mood for something Mediterranean, there are worse options than Santo Stefano — just under fifty miles from Naples, neighboring beautiful Ventotene island, and hosting a number of older rustic buildings. One in particular will probably catch your eye — an 18th century prison built to hold 600 inmates. While the prison is not currently included in the sale of the island, listing indicated it could be added in for the right price. As the asking price is a mere 20 million Euros, why not splurge a little?

4. Taprobane

If you’re picturing an island getaway, you think of relaxing first and foremost. But imagine your stay lasting a little longer, and all sorts of activities come into mind — sailing, making tropical cocktails and eventually writing/drawing/composing a magnum opus. Taprobane is one of the smallest islands on this list, but it has played host to a large number of artists — and many of them drew particular inspiration from their stay. Since being founded by the Count de Mournay, this Sri Lankan satellite has played host to author/composer Paul Bowles, painter Balthus and pop singer Kylie Minogue who immortalized the island in her song “Taprobane (Extraordinary Day).”

5. Moyenne

The glamour and wealth of owning a private island is made very apparent in some of these destinations. Yet Brendan Grimshaw’s private island is as far from lavish as humanly possible. While Grimshaw hosts walking tours on the island and offers a small restaurant for the tourists, much of the island was restored to natural habitat by his own hands. Despite rumors that the island holds buried pirate treasure, two digs have come up empty-handed. Grimshaw’s greatest treasure is much simpler — a population of more than 100 land tortoises. The eldest is in his seventies and is named Desmond, after Grimshaw’s godson.

6. Skorpios

If the name of Skorpios is not instantly known, its owner’s should be to anyone alive in the ’60s. Aristotle Onassis, in addition to being one of the wealthiest men on the planet, was also the second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who he married on the island in 1968. The couple lived there for a time and Aristotle, his son, and his daughter Christine are all buried on the island. A 2001 census revealed a population of two on the island — likely caretakers, as the current owner (and Onassis’s granddaughter) Athina lives in São Paolo and for years did not even have an active Greek passport.

7. Double Island

Off the coast of Australia and protected by the Great Barrier Reef, Double Island offers a serene southern Pacific getaway. In addition to being used in television shows like “The Mole,” the island has also been a resort for local gold miners and has been used as cattle grazing land. Of course, the island is probably most important to the Djabugay Aborigine people. In their religion, Double Island is the resting place of the great Rainbow Serpent Gudju Gudju, ancestor of all creation.

8. The World

Of all of Dubai’s ambitious projects, perhaps none have quite the lack of hubris that The World does. A series of artificial islands created from dredged sand, the man-made archipelago from Dubai’s state-owned Nakheel Properties was planned to have almost 300 islands laid out in simulation of a world map. Stars were rumored to be buying some for homes and investors bought various islands for commercial use — the “Ireland” isle was at one point in development to host villas, an Irish Pub and a recreation of the Giant’s Causeway. Unfortunately, the market’s collapse in 2008 resulted in an almost complete abandonment of the project with no development save for a show home on one of the islands. Nakheel has been building on the mainland while they restructure their billions in debt, and the islands themselves are reported to be slowly eroding back into the sea.

Greek island for rent

Island-hopping around Greece is one of the most glorious travel activities imaginable until you arrive in Corfu or Santorini or Crete and realize that thousands of other holiday makers had the same idea. If only you could have an island to yourself….

Well, now you can.

Having grown tired of asking cash-strapped Athens for money, Michalis Patros, mayor of the Halki (sometimes Chalki) Islands, has decided to put one of his islets up for rent. Should the Halki municipal council work out leasing details, the tiny island of Alimnia will be available for rent beginning in 2012.

Alimnia is a 4.6 square mile (7.4km) island in the Dodecanese archipelago. Although it has been uninhabited since 1966, Alimnia is a favorite day trip for visitors to Rhodes, which is about four miles away. If you’ve ever been on a boating excursion in the Greek isles, this is one of those land masses where your motorboat or catamaran drops anchor for an hour or so in order to allow you to sun, swim, snorkel, and soak in the scenery.

Rental fees for Alimnia have yet to be disclosed, but one would have to assume renting an island for private use could be pretty pricy. It is also unclear what a potential investor would get should he or she decide to rent Alimnia. An abandoned island doesn’t have towel service and a swim-up bar, for instance. Further, I wonder how or if the Halki council will prevent day trippers from stopping by the island once it has been rented out?

At any rate, a Greek island can be yours if you can afford it. Should this scheme work, I have a feeling Alimnia will be the first of many islands up for rent as Greece looks for new ways of raising funds during tough economic times.

Photo Flickr/Francesco Sgroi

The top ten most affordable private island retreats in the world

Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf” put together a collection of the ten most affordable private island resorts in the world. The lineup has something for everyone – from a one bedroom shack on the Falkland Islands, to a six bedroom mansion on the side of a cliff – with private diving facilities.

Buying your own private island may be out of reach, but with rates starting at just $100 a night, you can relax on your own island and enjoy a week of luxury without anyone around you. In most cases, the only inhabitants of these islands are the animals – and a once-a-day delivery of meals to your private villa.


The Brando eco-friendly beach resort to open in 2011

Did you know that Marlon Brando owned (and now his estate owns) an entire French Polynesian atoll 35 miles from Tahiti? Did you also know that Brando dreamed of creating an eco-friendly resort on the atoll? Well both are true, and by 2011 Brando’s dream will be a reality, thanks to Richard Bailey, CEO of Tahiti Beachcomber.

Bailey was a longtime friend of Brando’s and had been working with him on the project before Brando’s death in 2004. Bailey owns four InterContinental resorts in Tahiti and will use some of the same sustainable technology used at those resorts to make sure The Brando has as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible. One technology will use a pipe to bring cold water up from the depths of the sea and use it to provide cool air to the rooms – a practice that will have zero environmental impact.

The resort, which will be the only one on the 13-island chain of Tetiaroa that Brando bought in 1965, will feature 47 luxury villas, each with its own plunge pool, plus a spa, fitness center, and a resort pool. Activities at the resort will include snorkeling, scuba diving, and exploring the nearby islands and Tahitian culture. No word on how much a stay at the luxury eco-resort will cost, but no one ever said saving the environment didn’t come with a price.

[via ShermansTravel]

New Peter Island wants to help make a new you

Peter Island Resort & Spa is celebrating a new look with a fresh deal. The largest private island resort in the British Virgin Islands has refurbished its 32 ocean-facing rooms and 20 beachfront junior suites and wants to show off the new look. Hey, if you just got a makeover, wouldn’t you? So, the property is offering up the “New Us, New You” package, which runs through October 31, 2009.

Remember, this is Peter Island, so you’re going to have to put out some cash, but you’ll get plenty for it. For $2,780 (or $4,020 for a junior suite), you’ll get five nights and only pay for four. On top of that, the resort is throwing in three meals a day and access to resort activities, including windsurfing, kayaking and the like. The best part – in my mind, at least – is the 75-minute Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage. The private yoga class for two doesn’t do much for me, but if you’re into yoga, I imagine you’d like it.

While you’re in the 10,000-sqft spa, check out some of the other treatments, as well. There are 13 types of facial available, with everything from collagen to caviar to botanical extracts.

If you need a reason to go relax on a private island that keeps even its own guests to a minimum, this is probably it.