Think that life on a private island is just for the Richard Bransons of the world? Think again.
There are private islands all over the globe — from the Caribbean to Canada to Fiji to Europe — and many of their owners are willing to rent them out. “For those who want the private island experience, it is definitely available for every market out there,” said Chris Krolow, chief executive officer of the marketing firm Private Islands Inc.
Prices and accommodations vary dramatically. Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands sleeps up to 28 people for $54,500 a night including meals and beverages, even alcoholic ones. For a little less — $37,500 a day — you and 23 of your closest friends can rent magician David Copperfield’s Musha Cay in the Bahamas, which comes with four luxury cottages, a chef, a swimming pool and a tennis court. At the other end of the spectrum is Eagle Island, off the coast of Darien, Ga., where you can enjoy such modern comforts as DirecTV and wireless Internet, starting at $400 a night for two.
Island experts suggest that would-be Robinson Crusoes first settle on their destination and budget. One important question to ask: How many houses and beds are available? The more people you can fit, the more affordable your island becomes.
Next, figure out what the price includes. Is transportation to and from the mainland part of the package? If you run out of supplies, do you have to pay for the trip to replenish them?
Then ask about any amenities. Do you have to bring your own food? Is snorkeling or scuba gear available?
“You get what you pay for in terms of accommodations and amenities,” said Krolow.
Here are some resources for finding your own private island:
• Web sites specializing in rentals and sales include Private Islands Inc. (647-477-5581; www.privateislandsonline.com/islandsforrent.htm) ,Vladi Private Islands (Germany: 011-49-40-33-8989 or Canada: 902-423-3202; www.vladi-private-islands.de/islandsforrent.html), or Unusual Villa and Island Rentals (800-318-8888; www.unusualvillarentals.com).
• Many vacation rental or house swapping Web sites occasionally list private islands. Homeaway.com lists some in Vermont and Minnesota. Airbnb.com also has a few, including Nanuku in Fiji for $2,000 a week.
• Become a lighthouse keeper. For a fee, you can sign up for one of Michigan’s lighthouse keeper programs, including the offshore Detour Reef Lighthouse at the northwestern head of Lake Huron (www.michiganlights.com/keeperbandbinfo.htm).