Own Your Own Island

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- John Donne may have written "No man is an island, entire of itself," but at least anyone with a few million bucks can get an island of their own so they have a quiet place to think about what Donne meant. Maybe down by the boathouse or helipad?

Actually, once you get past the price of ownership, not every island for sale is a luxury experience. Whether looking at real estate brokers such as Coldwell Banker in the Bahamas or specialists such as Toronto's Private Islands, there's a little something for everyone in the warehouse. Some islands have accommodations ranging from the rustic to the luxurious, and some are totally pristine, ready for your Robinson Crusoe fantasies. There are bargains to be had, and plenty of money to be spent.

Here are some standouts, from most affordable to least.

Isla Gatun, Panama: $30,000
We'll start with a bargain: $30,000 will buy you all 0.74 acres of this island in Panama's Lake Gatun, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and a major part of the Panama Canal. There used to be a house on the land, but now all that is left is the septic tank and toilet. Oh and plenty of tropical gorgeousness with monkeys, parrots, toucans and tapirs as your neighbors. Isla Gatun is also minutes from a small marina with restaurants and cell phone reception and only a 40-minute drive from Panama City. The island also has some amazing game fishing for the non-native and notoriously ornery Peacock Bass.

Now for the downsides: Yes, huge ships will occasionally travel past your island as they take this shortcut from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Also, during the dry season there is a shortage of water in Gatun Lake, as it is drained every time the lock is opened, but environmental measures are being enacted to diminish water loss. The island is also not titled (like 95% of Panamanian islands), which means you'd be buying a Right of Possession, which is not as secure as buying a titled island. But for the price ...

French River Georgian Bay Island, Ontario: $485,890
Located in an area famous for its trophy walleye, bass, muskie and northern pike game fishing, the island is equipped with two cottages. One has hot and cold running water and plenty of living space. The second, bigger cottage still needs some work, but it has solar panels, a wood stove and plenty of rustic charm -- all for $485,890.

Ice Age glaciers sculpted this dramatic landscape out of pink granite cliffs, creating the French River Delta's thousands of islands opening to the Georgian Bay. The island is about four hours north of Toronto. American citizens are free to own property in Canada provided they have a permanent U.S. residence where they spend at least six months of the year.

Maude Island, Alaska: $1.5 million
Near Sitka in beautiful Southeastern Alaska -- which boasts a relatively mild climate -- this 1-acre island comes complete with a well-appointed home with large decks and a rustic stone fireplace for $1.5 million.

Watch Island, New York: $2 million
Watch Island is one of 1,800 islands in the "Thousand Islands" region of the St. Lawrence Seaway in upstate New York. The 1.3-acre island is listed for $1,950,000 with an impeccably restored, 6,500-square-foot Victorian mansion.

The turn-of-the-century house with four furnished porches, 10 bedrooms and a grand dining room with 12 windows offers unbeatable views of the seaway and sunsets.

The Victorian details in the wood paneling and grand staircase will make residents feel like royalty. The home is air-conditioned and centrally heated, and all four bathrooms have claw-foot soaking tubs or showers. A deep-water boathouse and extensive docking facilities accommodate plenty of boats.

Lake Glenville Island, North Carolina: $3.5 million
Lake Glenville is a mountain lake 3,542 feet above sea level in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. It's the highest man-made lake east of the Mississippi, and the 4.6-acre Summer Hill Island has a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house with antique pine wood floors -- all available for $3,450,000.

The dock allows easy access to boats and fishing in the lake, which is filled with trout, walleye, bass and catfish. Flagstones lead to a peaceful sitting area with stone fireplace.

Scott Island, British Columbia: $4.8 million
Just three miles across the Stuart Channel from the Vancouver Island town of Chemainus, Scott Island is a tree-covered, 5.26-acre island, easily accessible by boat, floatplane or helicopter. All yours for the low low price of $4,810,000.

Scott Island's main residence is a modern, 4,541-square-foot, bilevel home with five bedrooms and six bathrooms, an octagonal great room/entertainment area, an open kitchen/dining/family room and a separate living room with a brick fireplace. Attached to it is a 1,644-square-foot, self-contained caretaker's wing with two bedrooms and two bathrooms of its own.

The large and protected all-weather and all-tide harbor is another unique feature of this island.

La Casa De Las Fuentes, Florida: $7.9 million
For $7.9 million, not only do you get a 46-acre island near the quaint fishing village of Homosassa, Fla., you get a historic 11,000-square-foot Spanish Mediterranean-style home (pictured). The island is on the gulf side of Florida, about an hour and 20 minutes north of Tampa, and there is no limit to the gorgeous views of the surrounding islands of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.

Great Sale Cay, Bahamas: $9.9 million
Great Sale Cay, a 370-acre, undeveloped Caribbean island with a protected harbor, is on sale for $9.9 million, billed as a great potential ecotourist resort. It is a satellite cay in Abaco, the most developed of the Bahamas' outer islands. Good bonefishing flats will appeal to the angler, and graceful manta rays feeding in the area will amaze the adventurous scuba enthusiast. The flight from Miami to Abaco takes only 70 minutes.

Nautilus Island, Maine: $10.6 million
It may not be in the tropics, but $10.6 million will get you a pied a terre in Maine's Penobscot Bay, where the 37-acre Nautilus Island has remained under the protection of one family for more than 130 years. The property includes a six-bedroom main residence with a stone piazza and pool overlooking the bay.

Among the many comforts of the island is electricity, delivered via a submerged cable to the mainland. The island also has its own vineyard, a two-bedroom farmhouse and a guest cottage at the edge of the island's protected anchorage with a 200-foot-pier and mooring.

The property on Nautilus is being offered with full groundskeeping equipment and a 23-foot boat. It is also mostly furnished, and the furnishings are pretty cool. The boathouse has been converted into a bar with a kitchen and stone fireplace. The island also has perennial gardens, a tennis court, a barn for storage and lighted walking paths.

Emerald Cay, Turks and Caicos: $49 million
This total villa complex on Emerald Cay is connected to the Turks and Caicos mainland by a remote-controlled bridge from a 2.32-acre island that is on the market for $48,500,000. Yup, that's $49 million, rounding up. Some of the amenities on the island are a home theater, three-story library, 6,000-bottle wine cellar, two adjoining swimming pools with a waterfall and tennis and volleyball courts. The living areas are designed in an opulent Tuscan style with soaring columns, 24-foot cypress ceilings and massive glass doors.

Petra (Massaro) Island, New York: If you have to ask, you can't afford it
This 11-acre island is in Lake Mahapac, a stone's throw from New York City, and has architectural significance (and controversy) in spades. Both result from its two homes -- designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed the complex in 1950, at age 83, and construction wasn't completed until Joseph Massaro, a sheet-metal magnate, bought the property in 1991 intending to bring Wright's original plans to life. There was much wrangling over access to Wright's plans, and the fidelity of the finished structure to the architect's vision is disputed, but what is built on the island -- it has its own helicopter landing pad -- is spectacular by any standards. This is only priced on request, so talk to your bank and make an offer!

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