These Are The Most Exclusive Islands In The World

Wynand Van Poortvliet

Is the thought of vacationing on a tropical island the only thing that’s keeping you going right now? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, there are a few places you should really visit before climate change does too much damage. There are some island paradises, however, that aren’t accessible to the public at all, and that most humans will never be able to visit. From private islands where the guests are mainly royalty to a piece of Hawaii where the inhabitants live there by invitation only, these are the most exclusive islands in the world.

Niihau, Hawaii 

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In 1864, Kamehameha V, the king of Hawaii, sold the 69.5 square-mile island of Niihau to Elizabeth McHutchison Sinclair for $10,000 in gold, with the promise that Sinclair and her descendants would faithfully protect the island’s inhabitants and the culture of Hawaii. Sinclair’s family held on to that commitment and today, Niihau is privately owned by Sinclair’s great-great-grandchildren, Bruce and Keith Robinson. Known as Hawaii’s “Forbidden Island,” Niihau has only 170 residents as of its 2010 census, all of whom speak Hawaiian as a primary language. The island uses only solar energy and has no plumbing or running water, and residents who move away have to ask permission to return, which is not always granted. Visitors may only come to the island if invited, though a limited tourism industry is in place in order to help sustain Niihau’s economy.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

All 74 acres of land on Necker Island, part of the British Virgin Islands, are owned by billionaire Sir Richard Branson, though it was entirely uninhabited until the late 20th century. As you might have seen in the news, Branson’s most recent guests were the former president and first lady of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama, who spent their well-earned vacation doing fun things like sunbathing and kitesurfing. The entire island operates as a resort and can accommodate around 30 guests.

Desroches Island, Seychelles 

There are plenty of private islands in the Seychelles, but Desroches, which has a population of around 100 people and is only three miles long, is secluded enough that Prince William went there on his honeymoon. Most of the island is covered in forests and coconut trees, and the surrounding islands are uninhabited.

Copperfield Bay, Bahamas

Located in the southern Bahamas, Copperfield Bay is a chain of islands owned by none other than David Copperfield. His first purchase, Musha Cay, is 150 acres and is accessible to 24 guests at a time. Surrounding islands have names like Forbidden Island, Secret Cay, Enchanted Island and Imagine Island. In 2011, Copperfield told one publication that his island happened to be home to “this liquid that in its simple stages can actually do miraculous things — brown leaves turn green. It is natural. Simple organisms that are near death are rejuvenated. So we don’t know about the effects on humans, but we are doing research and development.”

Gardiners Island, New York

Gardiners Island, which has been privately owned by the Gardiner family of Long Island and its descendants for the last 400 years, is located in Gardiners Bay in Long Island’s East End. The island was first settled by Lion Gardiner as a proprietary English colony, and is the only remaining estate in America that is part of a royal grant from the English Crown. The island itself is 3,318 acres, and the family estate is considered the oldest in the country. Conservationists and special visitors (like Ernest Hemingway) have been allowed on occasion, though intruders are subject to “shotguns and dogs,” according to The New York Times.

Robins Island, New York 

Privately owned by American hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, Robins Island is a 435-acre island in the Peconic Bay in Suffolk County, Long Island. Bacon has done much to maintain the island and is committed to conserving its natural landscape. Today, Robins Island is populated by ospreys, crows, oystercatchers and other birds, and Bacon himself is an avid bird watcher who has been honored by the Audobon Society. Robins Island is not accessible to the public, but the wealthy financier reportedly hosts “traditional English-driven pheasant hunts on the island for wealthy guests” every now and then.

St. Philips Island, South Carolina

Since 1979, this 4,700-acre island oasis off the coast of South Carolina has been owned by media mogul Ted Turner, although it’s currently on sale if you have an extra $25 million. The island is accessible only by boat, and Turner’s family and friends have used the private island for decades as sailing and fishing retreat. Giant oaks and alligators abound, and Turner’s son, Teddy, has compared the place to Jurassic Park. Construction on the island is limited to a maximum of 10 future homes so that the natural diversity of the island can continue to flourish, which included a cougar during at least one point in time.

Surtsey, Iceland

Formed by a volcanic eruption that lasted from 1963 to 1967 off the southern coast of Iceland, the island of Surtsey is named after Sutre, a fire giant from Norse mythology. Surtsey is mainly home to plant and animal life like puffins, gulls, geese, ravens, seals and orcas, though a small solar-powered hut is used by visiting researchers. Scientists are extremely careful not to leave any human imprint on the island’s ecology, though one year, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “some renegade boys from the nearby Westman Islands had rowed up to Surtsey earlier in the spring and planted some leftover potatoes from their personal food cache.”

North Sentinel Island, Bay Of Bengal

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North Sentinel Island is inhabited only by the Sentinelese, an indigenous group that has resisted outside influence and is typically unwelcoming to non-natives. The Sentinelese are among the last humans to have been largely unchanged by modern civilization, and may face threats like violence from outsiders and diseases against which they have not developed immunity. The remaining population on the island is believed to be anywhere from 15 to 400 people.

Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil 

Also known as Snake Island, this tiny island (11 acres, or .17 square miles) is home to a critically endangered species of snake, the golden lancehead pit viper, which is venomous. Isolation on the island has enabled the viper to adapt quickly to its environment, and today the population of vipers is so large that it is considered too dangerous for humans to visit. only the Brazilian navy and approved conservationists are allowed to visit Ilha da Queimada Grande.