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TheStreet Open House

On Island Time

A Taste of Paradise

Most real estate brokers who sell islands also rent them.

Rentals give a unmatched taste of the private island experience, but with the comforts of a well-equipped shelter -- electricity, running water and a staff.

Prices for island rental range from a mere $84 a week on Pandan Island , Philippines, to $325,000 for a week in Musha Cay , Bahamas. Musha Cay can accommodate 20 guests in its five villas, each with a private beach; it also features a live-in staff of 30.

Another option for those who want to own islands but may be intimidated by the thought of being stuck alone in a remote area are the manmade islands off the coast of Dubai.

The Palms boasts a multitude of artificial islands; when viewed from above, three developments -- Jumeriah (scheduled to be completed in December 2007), Jebel Ali (2007) and Deira (2009) -- are shaped like palm trees. These "islands" will contain hotels, apartments and luxury homes. The luxury homes on Jumeriah are rumored to have sold out just three days after being marketed, in 2004.

The Palms' other human-engineered island complex, The World is an archipelago of three hundred separate islands, shaped like a map of the world.

Prices of The World islands range from $7 million to $1.8 billion. Virgin Group owner Richard Branson recently bought Great Britain; interested investors need to apply for the opportunity to place a bid on an island.

Though perhaps more secure than natural islands, some, like Tina Butler of mongabay.com, point out these developments are wreaking havoc on the Arabian Gulf ecosystems. While the waters will eventually clear once construction is finished, Butler wonders what will remain of Dubai's natural reefs.

Location, Location, Location

From Finland to New Zealand to off the New Jersey coast, any island shopper literally has the world from which to chose.

Tropical islands and those close to temperate mainlands such as the U.S., Europe and Australia are the most expensive.

If you've got your heart set on a tropical island, though, Palawan in the Philippines has lower prices than Caribbean counterparts: one can even find a few developable islands in the $100,000 range, a rarity in the tropical island market.

According to Private Islands Online, the Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama are up-and-comers in the market.

Most islands in this area are under a two-hour flight from Miami -- much more accessible than the Philippines.

A Slice of Nova Scotia Heaven
Photo: Private Islands Online

"Honduras is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, including a sparkling barrier reef and fascinating ruins," says Redmond. Private Islands Online currently has nine islands for sale in Panama, eight in Honduras and five in Nicaragua.

The 30-year old Vladi Private Islands agency, however, appears less enthusiastic about the region: it has no islands listed in Nicaragua or Honduras, and just six islands for sale in Panama. The Panamanian offerings include an intimate 3.5-acre island for approximately $570,000, and the large 4,200 acre Sevilla Island for $25 million.

Browsing through any of these realtors' offerings, though, the draw of your own islands is clear. Just envision the peace you'll feel, relaxing on your own private slice of heaven, gazing out into the sea.



Enjoy the Good Life? Email us with what you'd like to see in future articles.

Penelope Dane is a writer and sociologist living in Baton Rouge, La. She is currently working on her M.F.A. in fiction and conducting research on teen poetry.
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