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8 Exclusive Private Islands
Ni'ihau is famously known as Hawaii's "Forbidden Isle," and for good reason -- it's private property. Bought by a private family in 1864, the island is home to fewer than 200 people, for whom Hawaiian is the primary language and English second. Although now home to a military base and some hunting tourism, Ni'ihau's rules are still very strict in terms of visitors - even for the native's relatives. A notable exception was made in 1992, when parts of the movie "Jurassic Park" were filmed on location. Historically, "The Ni'ihau Incident" -- where a Japanese pilot crash-landed on the island returning from Pearl Harbor, was captured and then escaped with the help of Japanese locals -- is considered to be a major factor in the eventual Japanese-American internment during the rest of World War II.
Wakaya is one of the 332 gorgeous islands that make up what we know as Fiji. It is not the source of the controversial and popular Fiji Water (said to be drawn from an artesian aquifer on the main isle of Viti Levu). Instead, Wakaya is the island that company founder David Gilmour (no relation to Pink Floyd) bought in 1973. In addition to building a village, a marina, a gym and a school, Gilmour also built a 10-bungalow resort named Wakaya Club and Spa. A night at the resort will set you back a cool $7,600 plus taxes, but that hasn't deterred Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, Spain's Prince Felipe and others from making a visit.
For those who are looking to invest rather than visit, there are a couple options. If you're in the mood for something Mediterranean, there are worse options than Santo Stefano -- just under fifty miles from Naples, neighboring beautiful Ventotene island, and hosting a number of older rustic buildings. One in particular will probably catch your eye -- an 18th century prison built to hold 600 inmates. While the prison is not currently included in the sale of the island, listing indicated it could be added in for the right price. As the asking price is a mere 20 million Euros, why not splurge a little?
If you're picturing an island getaway, you think of relaxing first and foremost. But imagine your stay lasting a little longer, and all sorts of activities come into mind -- sailing, making tropical cocktails and eventually writing/drawing/composing a magnum opus. Taprobane is one of the smallest islands on this list, but it has played host to a large number of artists -- and many of them drew particular inspiration from their stay. Since being founded by the Count de Mournay, this Sri Lankan satellite has played host to author/composer Paul Bowles, painter Balthus and pop singer Kylie Minogue who immortalized the island in her song "Taprobane (Extraordinary Day)."
The glamour and wealth of owning a private island is made very apparent in some of these destinations. Yet Brendan Grimshaw's private island is as far from lavish as humanly possible. While Grimshaw hosts walking tours on the island and offers a small restaurant for the tourists, much of the island was restored to natural habitat by his own hands. Despite rumors that the island holds buried pirate treasure, two digs have come up empty-handed. Grimshaw's greatest treasure is much simpler -- a population of more than 100 land tortoises. The eldest is in his seventies and is named Desmond, after Grimshaw's godson.
If the name of Skorpios is not instantly known, its owner's should be to anyone alive in the '60s. Aristotle Onassis, in addition to being one of the wealthiest men on the planet, was also the second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who he married on the island in 1968. The couple lived there for a time and Aristotle, his son, and his daughter Christine are all buried on the island. A 2001 census revealed a population of two on the island -- likely caretakers, as the current owner (and Onassis's granddaughter) Athina lives in São Paolo and for years did not even have an active Greek passport.
7. Double Island
Off the coast of Australia and protected by the Great Barrier Reef, Double Island offers a serene southern Pacific getaway. In addition to being used in television shows like "The Mole," the island has also been a resort for local gold miners and has been used as cattle grazing land. Of course, the island is probably most important to the Djabugay Aborigine people. In their religion, Double Island is the resting place of the great Rainbow Serpent Gudju Gudju, ancestor of all creation.
8. The World
Of all of Dubai's ambitious projects, perhaps none have quite the lack of hubris that The World does. A series of artificial islands created from dredged sand, the man-made archipelago from Dubai's state-owned Nakheel Properties was planned to have almost 300 islands laid out in simulation of a world map. Stars were rumored to be buying some for homes and investors bought various islands for commercial use -- the "Ireland" isle was at one point in development to host villas, an Irish Pub and a recreation of the Giant's Causeway. Unfortunately, the market's collapse in 2008 resulted in an almost complete abandonment of the project with no development save for a show home on one of the islands. Nakheel has been building on the mainland while they restructure their billions in debt, and the islands themselves are reported to be slowly eroding back into the sea.