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A world map of private islands (some are a steal!)

There's something special about islands - in some cases, it's the price tag

Image: TD Architects

If you’re ultra-rich, why not buy an island? But some private islands are not that expensive at all…

Key Takeaways
  • In fiction or reality, islands exert a special attraction on the imagination
  • For the ultra-rich, owning an island is the ultimate luxury
  • However, some islands are affordable even with a modest budget

Ontario, an unexpected hot spot of private island ownership

Image: TD Architects

Your own private island

An island is a whole world in manageable miniature. That’s why in fiction, they’re the ideal setting for controlled experiments, be it in political philosophy (Utopia), platitudinous piracy (Treasure Island) or problematic paleogenetics (Isla Nublar).

Real islands too kindle the imagination. You don’t need to be a cartography buff, but it helps. Either way, whether traced on a map or visited in person, there’s something irresistible about the arbitrary confines of an island. Is it the promise of solitude, the potential for peace of mind?

Perhaps it is the illusion that you are World King, even if that world can be circumambulated in an hour. For some, however, that illusion comes with a very tangible attribute – a title deed.

Some of the more affordable islands on the map can be found in New England and Canada’s Atlantic provinces

Image: TD Architects

Where are the oligarch islands?

Scattered around the world are islands small enough (or with owners rich enough) to come with a ‘keep off’ sign; these are essentially private yachts permanently anchored to the ocean floor, isolated from the rest of us by the water that laps their shores. This map shows a fair selection of these private islands, fringing the coasts of the world’s continents.

Some coasts more than others, though. The map’s legend conveniently covers Eastern Europe, Russia and China. Does the legacy of communism mean these countries frown upon oligarchs owning entire islands?

Conversely, there are clearly a number of private island hotspots around the world:

Three of the most expensive private islands are in the Caribbean – the biggest one is in Brazil

Image: TD Architects

Putting the Bahamas on the map
  • The entire eastern seaboard of North America is dotted with private islands, from Nova Scotia in the north all the way down to the Florida Keys.
  • Perhaps the only time the Bahamas get an outsized spot on a world map; Florida’s neighbor is teeming with private islands – including one of the cheapest and one of the most expensive on the map. The rest of the Caribbean is not doing too badly either.
  • Here’s looking at you, Central America. Is that flock of private dots entirely contained within Belize, or is there spillage into Mexico?

Who wants to own a piece of Venice?

Image: TD Architects

Feature from the Venice lagoon
  • A nice collection of dots along the North America’s West Coast, but more surprising is the congregation of private islands in Ontario.
  • In South America, a striking collection of big’uns, with Brazil’s Ilha das Pacas taking the cake.
  • In Europe, there’s an abundance of private islands in southern Sweden, Italy but especially Greece.
  • As one might expect, the combination of excellent climate and a multitude of paradise-like islands and atols in the Pacific puts those islands nations prominent on this map.

Greece abounds in private islands. Turkey only has a few – including the prison island housing PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan

Image: TD Architects

Private paradise or private prison?

The islands on the map, which dates from 2015, are color-coded for price. From lightest green: up to €5/m2 ($4.6/sq yd) to darkest: €500-€5,000/m2 ($464-$4,642/sq yd). Their size on the map reflects actual size: Brazil’s Ilha das Pacas, the largest island on the map, is about 150 km2 (60 sq mi) – about three times the size of Manhattan.

Owning your own private island doesn’t have to break the bank. The five cheapest islands, labelled in blue, range from €37,000 ($41,000) for Small Island, USA to €53,000 ($59,000) for Forbes Island, Canada (the latter with some forest property on the mainland thrown in).

An overview of some of the private islands in Asia/Pacific, including the most expensive one on the map: Rangyai in Thailand

Image: TD Architects

Pacific retreats

On the other hand, if you do have the do re mi, here’s where you could spend it on:

  • Cave Cay in the Bahamas. You get change for €83 million (app. $92m)
  • Macapule Island, Mexico: not even €88 million ($98m)
  • A collection of three Mexican islands, Venado, Pajaros and Los Lobos. Yours for €92 million ($102m)
  • Pumpkin Key, Florida. A mere €101 million ($112m)
  • Rangyai Island, off Phuket in Thailand: just over €147 million ($163m).

As mentioned, the map is a few years old. But don’t worry, there are still islands for sale. Hen Island, Ontario can be yours for under $26,000. At the other end of the spectrum, Rangyai is still for sale. Same price (or best offer).

The world’s private islands are unevenly distributed. Africa and the former communist bloc are underrepresented on this map

Image: TD Architects

Unevenly distributed

Map reproduced with kind permission by TD Architects. Image found here.

Strange Maps #994

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

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