It sounds elitist and financially out of reach for most of us, but in reality, it’s remarkably easy-and in many cases quite affordable-to rent your own island! You just need to know the best places and some basic arithmetic.
Renting your own private island becomes financially accessible if you play the numbers game and divide the total cost by the number of people you’re bringing with you whether it’s family and friends (or both).
There are literally hundreds of islands available for rent all over the world, from postage stamp-size rocks off the US coast to tropical islands in the Caribbean.
Getting away from it all doesn’t have to involve a long overseas flight. The quiet, remote, and rustic Republic Island is a 2-acre getaway on the Michigamme River in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Starting at just $100 to $150 a night and sleeping up to 6 people, it’s a year-round destination for hunting, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and boating. But the island is best known for its fishing in summer and miles of snowmobiling trails in winter. This island rental also comes with a pontoon, canoe, and paddleboat.
Nautilus Island in Maine is a hugely historic site, best known as the place that Paul Revere’s troops captured from the British during the American Revolution. Sitting in the Penobscot Bay, this rugged island is home to an elegant Main House and several smaller buildings, including the Cape Cod Cottage that starts from $3,500 a week. Or, if you want to gather a group of friends or family, the entire island is available for rent for about $16,000 a week. We’re not talking about rustic living: The property includes a housekeeper and chef, wait staff, and even a boat captain. The island is a prime spot for duck hunting as well as typical New England activities like clamming, collecting
mussels, and pulling lobster traps. www.nautilusislandmaine.com
The location of Melody Key means you can spend time in Key West and then go to this quiet private island. The main houses are fully equipped and connected, but the vibe here is quiet, laid back, and a world away from the more touristy Key islands. This spot is best suited for small groups of adults, as the minimum age is 16 and no guests under 21 are allowed without adult supervision. For about $15,000 a week, this property sleeps up to 6 people and includes the services of a caretaker who is on call 24/7. www.melodykey.com
You can unplug completely at Little Deadman’s Cay off Long Island in the Bahamas. For one thing, to get here you really have to mean it. It requires flying on a propeller plane from Nassau (about 165 miles) to Long Island followed by a short boat ride, or taking a charter flight from Nassau (about $180 round-trip). There is only one three-bedroom beachfront home on the island, which is solar powered and supplemented with a windmill and a gravity shower. We’re talking no TV and limited amenities like basic kitchen supplies and a CHF radio telephone. So why would you want to take over this remote island? It’s downright beautiful, with nearly 10 acres of property, three entirely secluded beaches, natural swimming pools, snorkeling, and sunset views that you won’t want to miss.
Although renting a Tahitian island may sound like a dream, it’s entirely possible on Dream Island. Rates are only about $2,000 a week for access to three bungalows sitting on a private, 4-acre beach. I don’t like to throw around the phrase “tropical paradise,” but this is everything you can imagine about a South Pacific island: private, white-sand beaches, traditional bungalows, rich coral reefs with an array of tropical fish, and warm Pacific waters for surfing, swimming, and snorkeling. The good news is, if you need more structured activities or nightlife, Moorea is only 3 minutes away by boat. www.dream-island.com
Want to vacation like a rock star? Then you want to rent out a villa on the island of Mustique, one of the Grenadine islands in the Caribbean. In this case, you aren’t renting the whole island but one of a handful of staffed villas (including Mick Jagger’s six-bedroom mansion) or a room in the Cotton House Hotel. The vibe here is so upscale so that you can count on complete privacy and relaxation, but it’s also got the feel of a small community without the attitude of a more populated Caribbean resort. That’s why David Bowie, Princess Margaret, and Prince William and Kate Middleton can be counted among those who have frequented the island. Jagger’s villa costs at least $11,000 a week, but with space for 10, it’s not a completely outrageous price. www.mustique-island.com
Although a’ major fire destroyed much of the main house, Sir Richard Branson’s private island is still a major destination for vacationers looking for a luxury escape in the middle of the Caribbean.
Necker Island is comprised of 74 acres of land, with immaculately kept grounds and fully staffed accommodations. Rates aren’t cheap, starting at about $56,000 a night for up to 28 guests (when the Great House is completely rebuilt). But the total bill for all this is surprisingly inclusive: all meals, drinks, at least 60 staff members, sailboats and speedboats, water sports equipment, and a whole lot more.
Not included is the Necker Nymph, Branson’s three-person aero submarine. www.neckerisland.com
The remote island of Vamizi, off the northern coast of Mozambique, is a dream vacation for nature lovers. Located within an archipelago of tropical coral islands, Vamizi is part of the Maluane
Conservation Project, so the landscape is pristine, with plenty of opportunities for whale watching, shore-based fishing, sea kayaking, and a whole lot more. But insiders know Vamizi as one of the top secluded diving spots in the world, with more than 400 species of tropical fish among the rich coral. Again, you’re more likely to rent a villa rather than the entire island, but with only 10 beach houses, this is the kind of place where the wealthy go when they really want to get away. www.vamizi.com
There’s only one private island off the coast Sri Lanka and only one villa on that island. The rocky, 2.5-acre island of Taprobane was built by a French count in the 1920s and has remained an exclusive destination ever since. What’s truly unusual about this Weligama Bay island is that you don’t need a private helicopter or boat to get there. During low tide, you can wade there, and staff members will transport your luggage with the help of elephants!
Most people want sun, sand, and surf, but there are a surprising number of alternate options through brokers that handle regions throughout the world. How about a Croatian lighthouse on the tiny island of Dugi Otok or a private nature reserve in South Carolina’s Low Country? Check out Private Islands Online (www.privateislandsonline.com) for some of the more offbeat and unusual. If the Caribbean is your dream destination, Island Hideaways (www.islandhideaways.com) specializes in this region. Whether you’re looking to honeymoon on North Island like Will and Kate or rent an uninhabited island, Vladi Private Islands (www.vladi-private-islands.de/islandsforrent.html) offers anything and everything.