If you’ve ever wanted to buy a tropical island but know you can’t afford it, there’s a group you need to know about.
That’s because the small group of investors bought shares to crowdfund the purchase of an island through a project called “Let’s Buy an Island.” The 1.2-acre island, Coffee Caye, lies off the coast of Belize.
Here’s what’s even more interesting. Coffee Caye is no longer just an island, it’s a micronation now known as the “Principality of Islandia.” It’s important to note though, that as a micronation, the Principality of Islandia claims to be an independent state but it isn’t recognized by the international community.
That’s an important distinction. Gareth Johnson, co-founder and CEO of the project, says, “We are as close to a nation as you can get, without getting an army and a navy,” according to CNN. Nonetheless, Coffee Caye is still within the borders of Belize and follows the laws of the nation, according to the Principality of Islandia.
A Developing Nation
The project began some 15 years ago when Johnson thought it would be fun to buy an island and start a micronation. His next step was to buy the domain name letsbuyanisland.com.
The plan moved forward when Johnson talked to friend and fellow travel enthusiast Marshall Mayer.
“When Gareth first put the idea to me, I thought God no, this will never become a reality,” Mayer, now co-founder of Let’s Buy an Island, said, according to CNN. “But he began to explain how much an island might cost, and we realized that actually, there are parts of the world where buying an island was much more realistic than I’d ever thought possible, especially if we clubbed our funds together.”
The two then began looking for investors and began selling shares. By the way, shares cost $3,250 each. Importantly, investors may purchase multiple shares, but each person is only allotted one vote in the democratic decision-making process, according to Let’s Buy an Island.
After the group looked at a number of possible islands, it purchased Coffee Caye in December of 2019 for $180,000 plus tax.
A Private Island
Let’s be frank: Investing in Coffee Caye isn’t for someone who wants to vacation in paradise and sit near the pool. The uninhabited and undeveloped island is small – taking only minutes to walk from one end to the other. And while one side does have a beach, the other side is bounded by thick mangrove trees.
So what’s it like to own an island?
“It’s an amazing feeling to step onto an island that you’ve invested in and own,” Mayer said, according to CNN.
A Look Ahead
Johnson explains that turning Coffee Caye into a micronation is an “experiment with democracy itself,” according to Travel and Leisure.
Mayer, meanwhile, considers creating a micronation to be done “tongue in cheek,” and aspires to regenerate the island’s coral reef, according to CNN. His long-range plans lean toward turning shipping containers into accommodations or developing glamping tents that may be used by investors as well as tourists.
Ultimately, however, the micronation Principality of Islandia is a democracy. That means its future, including if and how the island will be developed, will be decided by all of its investors.
You can learn more about Let’s Buy an Island, including the legality of buying an island and information about buying shares as well as what exactly that entails on the nation’s FAQ page.
The Principality of Islandia is a micronation experiment. You can learn more about what that means, as well as how the micronation will be governed on the micronation’s website.
While you’re thinking about islands, be sure to read our Mexico and Caribbean content, including Our 7 Favorite All-Inclusive Resorts In The Caribbean 2022. You can also read all our Belize content, including 14 Reasons To Fall In Love With Picturesque Placencia, Belize.