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.
A couple years ago I became obsessed with the idea of buying an island. I mean, I'd always been obsessed with it, but my obsession shifted from the idea of buying the island into the action of buying it. I wasn't fantasizing about the things I'd build on the island-- I was looking up property tax rates.
When I'd pull myself away from the tax tables and go back to thinking about what it would actually be like to have an island, all of my imagined scenarios involved my friends. I wanted it to be like a summer camp that we built and enjoyed together.
So I found an island off the coast of Halifax, put in an offer, and emailed twenty of my friends, asking if they wanted to buy this island with me. Nine said yes, so we bought it.
The whole process felt familiar, like deja vu. Then it hit me-- I'd done this exact same thing before in college when I organized five friends and we bought a huge school bus together. We gutted the bus, rebuilt the interior, and traveled all around the US and even to Canada with it.
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.