August 15, 2022

No man is an island, but many men can pool their cash and buy one. 

When a group of travel enthusiasts set their sights on buying an island, they knew they couldn’t afford the endeavor on their own, so they crowdsourced the funds via the Let’s Buy An Island project. 

“When Gareth first put the idea to me, I thought God no, this will never become a reality,” project co-founder Marshall Mayer told CNN of Gareth Johnson, founder of extreme travel company Young Pioneer Tours. “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.” 

In 2019, a year after setting out to buy a 1.2-acre uninhabited island dubbed Coffee Caye off the coast of Belize and rebirth it as the Principality of Islandia, Mayer and his fellow founders had raised $250,000 for the cause. “People really bought into the concept,” Mayer said.

In Dec. 2019, the group bought the blip of land for $180,000 plus tax. 

Investors recently took a trip to see the island in person.
Richard Collett
crowdfunded island coffee caye
Buoyed by the positive interest, the group is already looking for their next island to purchase.
Richard Collett
crowdfunded island coffee caye
According to Marshall Mayer, the co-founder of Let’s Buy An Island, the group has almost sold out of available shares in the current island have a 10,000-person waiting list.
Richard Collett
crowdfunded island coffee caye
By Dec. 2019, the group had raised $250,000 towards their goal.
Instagram

“It was a crazy leap of faith to take, but our initial goal of buying an island, we’ve done it,” said Mayer, who has since proposed to his girlfriend on the island. “But the next phase, where we go to next, we never had any plans because we didn’t know we’d make it this far.”

There are, however, some established goals. Mayer sold investors on the idea of buying Coffee Caye not just so they could say they owned an island, but so they could turn it into a micronation, an independent country which claims independence but is not recognized by world governments. 

See also  Save 78% on this electric toothbrush and get a travel case and brush heads

The group has already made a national anthem, flag and government of elected investors for the Principality of Islandia, and are currently floating ideas to do everything from raising a statue of Lenin to constructing an underwater sculpture garden of world dictators on it.

The micronation, Mayer explained, is intended to be seen as “tongue in cheek” but also a fun escapist experiment with integrity.

“Who hasn’t dreamed of making their own country?” said Johnson, who has so far visited the island three times. “Particularly in a post-Trump, post-Brexit, Covid world. If a bunch of regular people can make this work, perhaps it can be a force for good.”