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Thinking about purchasing your very own private island? Explore North America's diverse island landscape with our shortlist.
By Emma Al-Mousawi | May 19 2021
Peppered across the coastline and tucked within the confines of picturesque lakes and rivers, the USA is home to thousands upon thousands of islands. This can make buying your own piece of private island paradise in American waters tricky, with endless choices spanning all the way from the wild coasts of Alaska down to the sun-kissed Florida Keys. To make life easier, Elite Traveler has curated a shortlist of some of the best private islands for sale in the USA today.
Each island that has made the cut offers its new owner something unique. So whether it’s kayaking amongst the unspoiled wilderness of Washington’s designated marine park or mooring up on a superyacht in Key West, our selection of private islands for sale in the USA has you covered.
Maine is renowned for its rugged coastline, dotted with beautiful New England-style homes and Cape Cod-reminiscent lighthouses and harbors. It is one of the reasons artists have been drawn to the state for centuries.
Sheephead Island is located close to Maine’s center and during low tide is reachable from the mainland. On the market for $7.95m, the island is an artist’s paradise, complete with its own sun-filled artists’ studio and 65-acres of woodland trails, wide beaches and tidal pools to draw inspiration from.
There are two residences on Sheephead. The main five-bedroom house built in colonial style is light and airy with spectacular views of Penobscot Bay. A second four-bedroom home is located away from the main property and features its own private beach. The island also benefits from a boathouse, deep-water dock and mooring to its north, providing protection from Maine’s winds and prevailing seas.
Another piece of New England bliss can be found on Wheeler Island. Located just 75 miles from New York City but what feels like a world away, it is priced at $3.3m.
Spanning just over two-thirds of an acre, this small but perfectly preened hideaway features its own sandy beach and pristine emerald-hued lawns.
The island’s turn-key eight-bedroom home was built in 2001 but can be transformed into whatever its new owner desires, with the scope to transform the third floor (currently guest bedrooms) into a spectacular master suite.
A private island sanctuary a stone’s throw from New York City seems like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what you get with Columbia Island. Just off the coast of New Rochelle, the two-acre island was originally used to house the CBS broadcast tower in 1941; a handful of owners later and it has been transformed into a distinctive four-bedroom residence, completely powered by solar energy.
The eco-conscious property offers spectacular vistas from every angle but the best by far is from the roof, offering unique views of the Big Apple.
The best thing about purchasing Columbia Island however has to be the fact that the buyer gets not one but two private islands, with the larger neighboring Pea Island thrown in. Take just a two-mile boat or kayak journey from Columbia Island’s shores and you will arrive at five acres of lush undeveloped land and open beaches. The possibilities are endless.
The cheapest on our shortlist of private islands for sale in the US by far is the Pacific west coast island of Harnden, which can be yours for $777,000.
Surrounded by the picturesque 564-acre Sucia Island Marine State Park, the 2.24-acre island is located in the Salish Sea. Home to sea lions, humpback whales and orcas, Salish is one of the planet’s largest and biologically rich inland seas and Harnden Island would act as the perfect base to explore this unique corner of North America.
The existing petite a-frame camping cabin currently acts as a cozy bolthole but the island could equally benefit from something altogether grander, subject to planning.
Those looking for something more tropical should head south to the Florida Keys, home to North America’s only barrier reef and over 1,500 islands – some are developed while others remain completely untouched.
The incredible 26-acre Pumpkin Key is the former, featuring a three-bedroom home, two caretaker’s cottages and a dock master’s apartment. Luxury amenities also include a 20-slip marina capable of accommodating a superyacht, tennis courts and a helipad (Miami’s famous South Beach only a 10-minute chopper ride away.)
The most expensive of all to make our shortlist of private islands for sale in the USA at cool $95m, Pumpkin Key also offers spectacular development opportunities, with one suggested development of 12 stunning-bay fronted homes already on the table.
Possibly most appealing of all however is the fact that the island also comes with a coveted mooring at the exclusive Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, which features amongst other things, its own landing strip for private jets.
Staying in the south, Little Hawkins Island – part of Georgia’s Golden Isles – is connected to the mainland by bridge and is just a couple of miles from the luxury resort of Sea Island.
Developed over eight years by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, this tree-laden hideaway boasts a private hacienda-style resort featuring three residences (including a 6,000-sq-ft master with pool) and a waterfront club, designed by American architect, Tom Price.
Spanning four acres, the tranquil island is surrounded by marshes and acts as a haven for all sorts of native wildlife, from turtles and otters to deer.
Care for the environment was paramount to this stylish resort’s design and a green geothermal system provides the energy required to heat, cool, and control humidity for all four buildings.
The final destination on our shortlist of private islands for sale in the USA is Petra Quay. Positioned just 50 miles north of New York City – or 15 minutes by helicopter direct from the heart-shaped island’s private landing pad – it boasts two houses designed by legendary American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The smaller of the two properties is a cottage designed by Wright in 1950. Allegedly set to be much bigger, it was scaled back due to budgetary constraints. However, Petra Quay’s subsequent owner decided to resurrect Wright’s original plans in 2007.
A sprawling 5,000-sq-ft cantilevered main residence was erected and its silhouette now stands elegantly over Lake Mahopac. The stunning property is thought to be one of the largest Wright homes ever designed and features his typical calling cards of geometric shapes, expanses of concrete and stone and around 1,500 sq ft of skylights. However, as it was built posthumously, some purists refuse to accept it as an authentic work.