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January 27, 2024updated 01 Feb 2024 12:07pm

The 7 most luxurious private islands for sale

Nothing says luxury like a private island. These are the best on the market

By Livia Giannotti

With the promise of adventure, relaxation and discretion, it is of little surprise private islands are enduringly popular with the rich and famous. From the Barclay brothers to Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, only a privileged few ultra-high-net-worth individuals have bought their own luxurious slice of paradise. 

[See also: The best buying agents for prime property]

‘There is definitely a romantic element to owning an island and to either nurture or to create your own personal paradise,’ says Edward de Mallet Morgan, Knight Frank’s head of international super prime property sales.

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Interest in private islands was piqued during the Covid-19 pandemic when the prospect of retreating from the world was particularly appealing to UHNW families who could afford to escape the threat of illness and government restrictions. 

Yet it is not often as simple as sailing up on a yacht and setting up a home. There are numerous practical considerations. ‘Islands must create their own water with a desalination plant, must produce their own power usually through generators,’ continues de Mallet Morgan. There is also extensive infrastructure required. The amount of work puts off some prospective buyers who ‘want to be able to buy these islands turn-key’.

Considering the realities of logistics and sustainability is crucial, but buying a private island is still the stuff of dreams. From Italy and the Bahamas to French Polynesia, Spear’s has scoured the globe to reveal the seven most luxurious private islands for sale. 

Motu Teta, Rangiroa (French Polynesia)

9.5 acres, £1.881 million

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Sunset on the private beach
Motu Teta island provides unmatched privacy / Photo: Vladi Private Islands

Any private island offers privacy – it’s in the name. But only a few offer the level of seclusion that Motu Teta provides. Located 90 minutes away by boat from the nearest airport (Rangiroa), its position guarantees tranquillity and peace. For de Mallet Morgan, ‘people who buy private islands, want to have a degree of remoteness, want to be master of their own destiny and very often to use it as a hard break from the world, to truly switch off and spend quality time with family members’. 

The pristine sand of the Polynesian island is surrounded by miles of crystal-clear water, which only adds to the serenity of the place. The developments of the island are eco-friendly and in Tahitian style, with bamboo wall panelling and warm colour tones. The two constructions – one main villa and a guest bungalow – can comfortably host 10 guests.

Santa Maria, Sicily (Italy)

28.4 acres, £14.611 million

A beach with pine trees and a statue
Santa Maria is a wild, Mediterranean dream / Photo: Vladi Private Islands

Santa Maria is a truly unique private island. While it is developed for domestic use – it has accessible water and electricity – it is a wild, Mediterranean dream. From maritime pines to an olive grove (which produced no less than 1,500 litres of olive oil in 2016) and donkeys, Santa Maria looks nothing like the typical Bahamian private island but it embodies the natural beauty of Sicily. Even better, it only takes 15 minutes to arrive by motorboat from the closest Sicilian town of Marsala.

The true luxury of this private island lies in the unrivalled historic buildings located there. Not only it is home to a huge Sicilian-style mansion, but it also boasts a 16th-century chapel. It should therefore be no surprise that Santa Maria is considered an archaeological site – a status that protects it from any kind of nuisance or pollution.

An important point to be considered is the relatively shallow water that surrounds the island (around 5ft), making it impossible for large boats to get close.

Crown Pigeon, Eleuthera (Bahamas)

11 acres, £35.092 million

A villa on the beach at sunset
Crown Pigeon boasts three luxurious beachfront villas / Photo: Bahamas Sotheby’s International Realty

Crown Pigeon is the ultimate combination of adventure and comfort. Just neighbouring the famous Bonefish flats, it is known as a great fishing and angling spot. Its ideal location next to Harbour Island also allows for visits to Dunmore Town’s colourful New England architecture and to the renowned pink sand beach. However, guests don’t need to go anywhere to enjoy the heavenly beauty of the Bahamas. Crown Pigeon Island has its own picturesque beaches and all the facilities to make a perfect beach day, including a bar, a beach club and plenty of swimming and sunbathing spots.

The developments on the island are particularly luxurious, with 15 rooms divided among three huge beachfront villas, which also have their own terraces, patios and deck spaces. Crown Pigeon also boasts a 4-acre harbour equipped with two boat lifts, a floating dock and a hauling ramp.

Pumpkin Key, Florida Keys (USA)

26 acres, £74.701 million

Island view from above with blue ocean
Pumpkin Key offers privacy just a stone's throw away from vibrant locations / Photo: Vladi Private Islands

While most owners use their private islands on weekends or holidays, Pumpkin Key has enough luxurious features for true island living. It is located in the famous Florida Keys, only 10 minutes away by helicopter from Miami or by boat from Key Largo’s Ocean Reef private club. Members of the nearby club can use the private spa, marina and jet airport. Despite being just a stone’s throw away from vibrant locations, Pumpkin Key offers privacy and peaceful sandy beaches with spectacular sunset views.

The main home has three bedrooms and a huge veranda with a pool, perfectly located in front of the ocean. Island life is made easy by features such as the two caretaker's cottages, a dock master’s apartment and a marina able to accommodate a mega-yacht. The helipad – which can also be used as a tennis court – is located in the centre of the island, and golf cart paths can take guests anywhere they’d like to go.

Little Whale Cay, Berry Islands (Bahamas)

40.03 acres, £22.858 million

Island view from above with blue ocean
Little Whale Cay offers the utmost intimacy / Photo: Knight Frank

With its seven bedrooms spread over three residencies, Little Whale Cay offers the utmost privacy and intimacy. Each accommodation has its own sitting room, kitchen and terraces, with the main villa, Little Whale House, offering an open-plan sitting room, a dining room, a study and a commercial kitchen. Staff can be accommodated in purposefully built classic island-style houses.

Magnificent views are visible from the numerous facilities, including a tennis court, an infinity pool and a fitness area. The island is also equipped with a 2,230ft runway, two harbours, an aircraft hangar and a sea barn.

A unique feature of Little Whale Cay is its native flock of flamingos, peacocks and ducks, which will not only satisfy nature enthusiasts but also add charm to the already spectacular sights.

Hummingbird Cay, Exuma Cays (Bahamas)

236 acres,  £27.633 million

An island with sunset background
Hummingbird Cay is famous for its reach sea life / Photo: The Agency Bahamas

The natural beauty of Hummingbird Cay is already luxurious on its own. But the white beaches of the private island also offer two main accommodations with commercial kitchens, eight bungalows and caretakers cottages.

Not only that, but Hummingbird Cay is also a haven for boat lovers. In addition to its harbour, it boasts a boathouse and convenient docks. The island is also famous for its rich sea life, as the family who currently own it has made notable contributions to marine science and nature conservation.

The main beach (Sonova Beach) is 2,500 ft long, offering several possibilities for developments or family activities. There are also two additional beaches.

Royal Island, North Eleuthera (Bahamas)

403 acres, £33.628 million

For those looking to spend paradisiacal holidays with large groups of family and friends, Royal Island is the ideal place. With five one-bedroom villas on the beach, a guest house, and plenty of luxurious facilities including Spa rooms, a gym, a seaside pool and a restaurant, the island can host over 15 guests – without compromising privacy or comfort.

The extensive developments also allow for a wide range of activities. Not only the island is approved for a major marina, but there is also the possibility to add an 18-hole golf course. The closest airport is only a 15-minute boat ride away, in the reputably idyllic North Eleuthera. Accessibility to the island allows for guests to come and go more regularly and easily, and for resources – especially fresh food – to be smoothly delivered. 

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