What do you get a person who has it all? Their very own private island, of course. This is exactly what many among the rich and the famous thought and they got themselves a private island as a special gift. Perhaps the ultimate symbol of wealth and success, owning a whole, separate piece of land exclusively for you sends a strong signal to the world that your money can buy you almost anything – and it also offers you some much-desired peace of mind and relaxation. It does help that usually these private islands are in exotic places, with turquoise sea waters and a mythical number of sunny and warm days every year. But is this indulgence really so exclusive? We take a look at the most prestigious – and expensive – private islands and then venture to guess how we could get ourselves one. Or at least the illusion of owning one!
The World’s Most Expensive Private Island
The most expensive private island in the world belongs hands down to Larry Ellison, co-founder and CTO (formerly also CEO) of Oracle, a multinational computer software company that specializes in databases. According to Betway Casino’s billionaires list, where Ellison features in the top 10 with a fortune of $58.5 billion, he went from millionaire at 42 to billionaire in just 7 years when he was still one year away from being 50. He is very well-known for his lavish lifestyle, including purchasing luxurious homes, racing yachts and a love for extreme sports – all of which were made into a book published by Harper Collins Publishers in 2003, aptly titled The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison *God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison.
With this sort of résumé, it could be none other than him that currently holds the top spot in terms of expensive private islands. The tech tycoon bought the Lanai Island in Hawaii in 2012 for $300 million – which got him a 98% share, while the State of Hawaii and private individuals still own the remaining frugal 2%. While, technically, he does not own all of the island, he does own roughly 90,000 acres, a whole town with 3,200 residents and a golf course on which every hole has its own ocean view – Bill Gates reportedly enjoyed it so much that he had his wedding ceremony at the 17th hole.
Eager to get a taste of that life? Ellison’s island is home to two resorts in the Four Seasons family. For a mere $21,000, you can get a night at their penthouse suite, featuring three bedrooms, an all-around view to the ocean, and a TV screen that drops down from the ceiling. You can also get a good look at the Polynesian artworks that decorate the resort, valued at millions of dollars, enjoy a walk around the native botanical gardens, stop to marvel at the waterfalls and koi ponds, or play golf, of course. If you like to venture outside of the resort facilities, you can sign up for a horseback tour of the island or take to the skies for flying lessons and sightseeing from above at $1,600 – sounds like a bargain, really.
How to Get a Taste of Island Ownership – for Life or for a Night
If you believe in environmental causes and get friendly with Leonardo Di Caprio, second on the Credit Angel homeowners’ list of most expensive islands, you might be able to score an invite to his own private Blackadore Caye island in Belize. Leo plans to turn his 104-acre island (roughly the size of 76 American football stadiums) into an environmentally friendly paradise on earth, complete with spas, private villas, and dining. He hopes to have it ready in 2018. Blackadore Caye is also conveniently located very close to the famous barrier reef in Belize and, apparently, the lowest temperature you could get is close to 67F in January. For all this, the famous actor paid just £1.35 million (roughly $1.86 million today).
Famous UK business magnate Richard Branson also claims a spot on that list, having bought the Necker Island of the British Virgin Islands – a very appropriate move for the founder of the Virgin group – in 1997, only six years after founding his company. He paid £207 million (over $285 million) for 74 acres he likes to enjoy with his celebrity friends. The island suffered damage from a fire in 2011 and then found itself again in the path of Hurricane Irma in 2017, which stormed the Caribbean at 185 miles per hour. The nearby luxurious Bahamas were affected, too, which are home to private islands by actors Johnny Depp and Eddie Murphy.
So, if you are not up for just renting out a humble penthouse suite at the most expensive private island in the world but are looking instead to buy one, fear not – there are still options. There are quite a few islands for sale for under $500,000, including the Opal Caye in Belize (extra bonus: you might get to hang out with Leo at the barrier reef), Motu Karatae in French Polynesia, or the 40-acre Nawi Island Lots in Fiji for a quarter of a million. If you still think that is a bit steep, try Airbnb for renting your own tropical paradise at the Bahamas – be it a secluded villa or a whole, tiny, unspoiled island. You might have to give up electricity for few nights though – but, really, it only adds to the mystique and romance of the getaway.
If you really want to rub shoulders with Leo and Johnny while enjoying nature and spectacular waters, now you know what you have to do. Owning an island, even if it is for a just a few nights, might not be as exclusive as it sounds.