As long as I've remembered, I've wanted to buy a private island. Having a random patch of land somewhere holds almost no appeal, but an island is totally different. An island is like your own little country, with complete control of everything within its borders.
I'd looked at getting an island before. As it turns out, they're not much more expensive than buying normal property. There's a site called Private Islands Online that has a ton of listings, which I'd pored through on many occasions. A problem always arose: the cheap islands are in far away inconvenient spots, and the close islands are all crazy expensive. Buying an island remained a fantasy.
Then, six weeks ago, a good friend of mine sent me a listing to an island in Canada. Wouldn't it be cool to buy an island, he asked? I clicked and was shocked-- Canadian islands are cheap AND close. They may not fit the archetype of the tropical private island, but the climate wasn't why I wanted the island. I wanted to share a miniature country with some friends and see what we could build.
"I am literally 100% on board," I replied back.
We started sending links of islands back and forth. I was staying with family in New Jersey at the time, and my cousin also became fascinated with the idea of an island. We stayed up late scouring the internet for listings of islands for sale.
Quickly we gravitated towards islands near Halifax. It's drivable from Boston, and there were many islands within a 1 hour radius of the airport. The islands fluctuated in price, but we finally found the perfect island. It was five acres, less than an hour from the Halifax airport, and totally affordable if split ten ways.
I sent emails out to twenty of my good friends and awaited replies. A day later I had seven confirmed yeses, which I figured was enough to count on getting ten people, so I made an offer on the island, which was accepted. Another three people trickled in over the following week, bringing us up to our full roster of ten people.
This past weekend four of us flew into Boston and made the ten hour drive to Halifax, where we closed on the island. We slept there, made bonfires, caught wild crabs, cut a trail through our forest, and spun around the harbor on a boat we ordered from Amazon. We scrambled around the rocky coastline and pushed our way through the forest. I felt like a kid again, just like when I explored the forest behind our house.
Over the years we'll build up the island, doing most of the work ourselves. We'll build a communal building with a shower, kitchen, lounge, and bathrooms. Each owner of the island gets to pick a spot on which to build their own little structure to sleep in. Together we'll build infrastructure, gardens, a fire pit, and whatever else we can come up with.
Right now we have a fun place to camp and explore, but I hope that some day our little island becomes a retreat where we can go work, read, or get away from the city. Further down the road I hope it can be like a private summer camp for our families. There's also been some talk of holding a really awesome workshop/event there with some of our blogger/tech friends.
The interesting thing about the whole process of buying this island has been that it has seemed too good to be true the whole time, even as we chopped down trees to make a path through the forest. It's funny how huge lifelong dreams can become practical and be made to happen within a matter of weeks. Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking outside the box and doing a little research, rather than assuming it's impossible or impractical.
I didn't take very good pictures, but you can get the general idea from those above. Right now the forest is so dense that it's really hard to get many good vantage points.
How much did you pay for the island?
HI Tynan, Matthew Murphy here(Previous Owner). I couldn't be more excited for you guys. As sad as I was to see my little slice of paradise go, I am so thrilled to see it will be used in such incredible way. I hope to visit you guys some day when I am back home to Nova Scotia. That is of course if my passport allows me access into island country. I wish you guys the best of luck!!!
Congrats Tynan, this is awesome!
One thing you and your friends might also want to look into is establishing a food forrest on your island. I don't know how familiar you are with Permaculture, but I think your island would be the ideal spot for creating an awesome retreat that also provides you with a lot of food (without any work...).
This video is a bit on the long side, but it's an awesome introduction into food forrests and permaculture.
Let me know if it was of any value!
Totally into this! Thanks for the video-- I'm on 3g internet on a bus right now, but will watch this later.
I also just found this, a 72hr free online permaculture course (which is usually taught around the world for a lot of money). God this sounds like spam, but it isn't, I just signed up myself, I swear! :D
The "regenerative leadership institute" is not widely accepted as legitimate in the permaculture community: http://permacultureactivist.net/RegenerativeLeadership-CommonCircle-AmericanPermacultureAssoc.htm
I don't normally feel jealous, but when I do, it's about owning private islands.
I've been to tropical paradises. It's nice when times are good, but if shit hits the fan, the locals aren't going to treat you fairly.
Nova Scotia may be one of the best spots due to fresh air, clean food, cool climate, and friendly sparsely populated neighbors. Just make sure you eat tons of little fish and their livers for the vitamin D from lack of winter sun.
Good thing you got permanently banned from the submarine and not the island. Definitely come out next summer and help us get some permaculture going!
Time to dust off that permaculture certificate I got at LostValley.org. Considering I ended up studying along with Jena Malone, I wouldn't be surprised if we meet Ellen Page up there. That would be surreal.
Long live the food forest...
Typical white american consumer. You don't know why, but you are instinctively compelled to purchase, possess, and subjugate anything and everything you can. And due to cultural indoctrination from watching way, way too many movies, you only feel actualized when you have imitated what you have seen on the big screen -- 'adventure islands' and all. Of course, once the novelty of being able to smugly inform anybody and everybody you know that you've 'bought an island' wears off you'll abandon it. Years after which, when asked by family or friends about your famed 'Island' you'll just cringe inside and explain 'I'm not doing that anymore'.
Yes, how horrible to try to BUILD something. Just because you don't have the guts or the wherewithal to get off your ass and do anything except spew your pathetic hopelessness in an online comment forum.
In the dictionary, next to 'Rain on my parade' is this comment. (See also: 'Piss in my Cheerio's' and/or 'Sour Grapes')
I am actually more concerned with the impact that this fine sir will have on an otherwise virgin ecosystem.
Tynan, I encourage you to become true stewards of the land. You invested in this property. Think about how you can maintain the island's "Wilderness" for your grandchildren out to ten generations.
Build a trust, place limits on the use of the island.
Consider learning the ecology of the place before you start cutting paths and picking places to build permanent structures. In fact, if you truly want this to be a place of rest and solace for you and your kin, consider not building permanent structures.
What I see above is an extremely sensitive ecosystem that can easily be decimated within a generation.
Help keep the Wild Wild!
Congrats on the island! What a fantastic project!
And I suppose the mudhut you are typing this from in the middle of undeveloped swamp is kicking the high life for you? You calling yourself Robinson Crusoe?
Oh, sorry, I forgot. You used a COMPUTER to type what you typed in a place called "civilization". Guess what? Civilization is comprised of those huge, monstrous places called CITIES, developed from natural surroundings (gasped) that were "subjugated and possessed" by evil, evil people like Tynan... who clearly wants to live life like they do in the movies. Because he's white and American.
Hard for me to fathom why this comment got 22 upticks. Are people really this insanely disdainful?
You sound bitter. Maybe it would be good for you to get outside, you know, like experience some trees, rivers, rocks.
Maybe on an island somewhere.
Far, far away.
From normal, rational people.
What is the projected rate that the ocean is rising at? That is one worry I have when it comes to pputting my life savings into an island.
Oh my god, this is literally the coolest thing I've heard of anyone doing in months. Huge props and congrats. That's the kind of thing most people dream their whole lives of doing, and yet never do it.
What are the rules about building? Do you need planning permission?
Make that island chase you, buddy.
It's been nearly a year since we bought an island near Halifax. We went in being completely clueless, our only salvation knowing that we were completely clueless and would have to learn a lot. And boy, have we. I've spent more time on the island than in my RV over the past couple months, and it's begun to feel like a second home. The rhythms of the island and the environment around it have become familiar.
When we bought the island, it was nearly completely wild. The previous owner had cleared a small area where he'd intended to build a small cabin, but otherwise the island was so dense that it was nearly impenetrable. Our first night there we were excited to venture into the woods, and gave up immediately upon seeing how close together the trees were.
We now have a trail system so extensive that it's hard for me to keep it all straight. In fact, yesterday we ended up widening the wrong trail, and were surprised to end up at the tide pools rather than a 15 foot tall rock we call Eagle Rock. On our first trip we carved a trail from the clearing to the center of the island, going north. Since then we've expanded the trail system to branch from the center point to the east, and to the west. There's a half-finished trail that goes north to the ocean, a half finished trail that goes south on the west side, and a finished trail that connects the clearing and the fire pit area.
What a treat it is to visit the South Pacific. People always ask what Fiji is like and I always say the same thing. Fiji is simply breathtaking. The beauty is unmatched and the locals are extremely friendly.
We spent our days basking in the vibrant sun–fanned by the relentless ocean breeze. At night, we were lulled by a moonlight that seemed much closer to the earth than normal. If that wasn't enough, we sang soft rock from the early 90s while trying feverishly to follow the words attached to a television monitor...Karaoke anyone? We laughed and drank Kava- Fiji's traditional drink of choice, comprised of a ground root soaked in water. Always open to new experiences, I took the cup offered to me by a charming man with grey hair and leathery brown skin. I held the cup, which was more like a small bowl between my hands, and I drank. Kava is beloved by native Fijians. The drink had an earthy flavor. Once down, my tongue went numb in some places. On the bright side, I felt more relaxed–one of the benefits of drinking Kava.
We stayed at an all-inclusive resort run by native Fijians on the private Matamoanoa Island. The island is located about 2 hours from the airport by ferry. The ferry ride over was an amazing journey. The views were astounding and the weather was perfect. We zipped along dropping off passengers at islands scattered in the sea. As we approached Matamoanoa, we were greeted by nearly a dozen people standing on the beach singing a lovely welcome serenade. "Bula" the Fijian word for welcome was stated then and we felt that way during our entire stay.