A permanent escape is within your reach.
If you have chronic dreams of getting away from it all — really getting away from it all — escaping to your own private island is no longer a fantasy. You can buy one outright less than the price of a Brooklyn townhouse.
According to Chris Kolow, the chief executive of the digital broker Private Islands Online, sales are booming, and it's a buyer's market. (The host of HDTV's Island Hunters, he fields up to 200 inquiries a day.) Properties are available anywhere from the U.S. West Coast to United Kingdom and, of course, the tropics.
The Exumas Cays in the Bahamas are especially hot. The 47-acre island Saddleback Cay, which has seven beaches and an 5,000-square-foot airstrip, is listed for $11.8 million via Sotheby's. Tahaa, a 7-acre private island in Tahiti, is going for $7 million. The 48-acre Crawl Caye, a World Heritage Site in the middle of a coral-filled turquoise lagoon in Belize, is a relative bargain at $3.9 million.
How to get started? Browse away online, then contact a broker. Most islands in the U.S. can be bought outright; in the tropics, you'll often buy a 30-year lease.
If sale prices are a bit too steep (or you want to try before you buy), renting is a popular option. An isle called Cayo Despanto in Belize goes for $500-$1,000 a night; Little Way Cay in the Bahamas accommodates 13 and is yours for $10,000 to $20,000 a night; Wadigi Island in Fiji is $2,000 a night. Most come fully staffed with cooks, servers and guides. The actor Steve Martin, who recently put his St. Barts villa up for sale, has been renting it out for $28,000 a week. Which means that if you're not desperate to escape your neighbors, picking up your own isle can be an excellent investment.
Here are some islands for sale and rent:
Tahaa, Tahiti, 17.5 acres, $7 million
Saddleback Cay, Bahamas, 47 acres with 7 beaches and a 5,000-foot airstrip, $17.8 million
Moho Caye, Bahamas, 8.38 acres with 2,300 sq ft of beaches, $4.28 million
Aegean Sea, near Greece, 3.9 million sq ft, $28.6 million
Crawl Caye, Belize, 48 acres, $3.9 million
Cayo Iguana, Nicaragua, 5 acres, $750,000
Little Whale Cay, Bahamas, 93 acres, for rent $10,000-$20,000 per night
Fregate Island, Seychelles, 720 acres, for rent $20,000 per night
Isla Paloma Panama, 3/4 acre with 2-bedroom house, $380,000
De Watteville Island, Ontario, 4.87 acres, $1.26 million