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Keeping busy on your Private Island


After spending a few vacations in warm tropical climates, lazing around with your significant other, you both decide during a rum fuelled brainstorm to make it a full time gig and buy a private island. Freedom at last from all those big city stresses…

Moving from the bright lights, the best restaurants and movies at your fingertips, to kerosene lamps and quiet isolation is often a strange adjustment. The adjustment will also depend on what amenities are close at hand. If your island is close to a busy mainland, you can board the dinghy and head across the water to socialize or enjoy modern conveniences.

You enjoyed your lazy trips to the Caribbean in the past, but when you arrive on your private island for good, you might feel isolated. Count on a settling in period, to get used to spending your time at a slower pace. If you’re a real Robinson Crusoe type, growing and catching your own food, in addition to private island maintenance, might occupy all your time. If you are newly retired, on a fully developed island, with the intention of taking it easy, you might wonder what to do with your time. On holidays, you were enchanted by the stress free life and thought you’d like to live like that full time. After a career in business or a house full of children, having so much time to yourself may take some getting used to. It’s a great idea to have a real interest or hobby before switching to island time.

Life’s a Hobby

The hobbies of an island dweller are all enviable activities involving sun, sand and water. Island hobbies of the great outdoors will include gardening, boating, fishing, and diving. For those more inclined toward indoor activities, reading, writing and handicrafts are all worthy pursuits. Regardless of your interests, you should do as much preparation as possible before leaving land, whether it’s getting your diving gear in order, or building a well thought out library.


For the Green Thumbs

Preparation is especially important for the gardeners among us. Gardening in a temperate climate is often easier, with regard to pest control and fresh soil. Tropical gardening has its own special challenges, and you would do well to seek local advice to save yourself a lot of trial and error. With good soil and water, the tropics can yield gardens full of beans, tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, eggplant, onions, watermelons, limes and bananas. Having a grey water cistern is a good idea when you can’t afford to dip into your real cistern. The garden should have some shelter from wind as salty breezes can burn and ruin a garden. You will also want to protect against hermit crabs,land crabs, coconut crabs, and whatever else you have on your island, maybe pigs, goats and chickens. Tom Neale, in his famous island adventure, “An Island to Oneself”, couldn’t figure out why his garden was flowering, but not producing fruit. There were no bees. Neale decided to pollinate the blossoms by hand, finally able to grow produce.

Working for a Living

Depending on where your island is located, you may be able to support your island habit with an actual job. You might be more of an entrepreneur, preferring to find a missing niche and fill it. If your island is in the United States and you are an American, working for a living should be straightforward. In more tropical locales, work permits can be harder to get; the government doesn’t want to steal jobs from qualified locals. It’s possible to teach English in many parts of the world. Or, you could start your own business. Hiring locals to work for you will help speed the approval process. If you have a solid and comfortable boat, you could offer charters to tourists, taking them fishing or snorkelling. Create handicrafts like painting, pottery or jewellery and sell them to tourists. If your garden or fishing is so successful that you have surplus, you can sell the spoils of your labour to local resorts.