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What’s It Like to Own a Tropical Island?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 16, 2024
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Many people dream of living on a private island, but few ever get the chance to make it a reality – unless you happen to be ridiculously wealthy.

In the early 1960s, Brendon Grimshaw, an English newspaper editor living in East Africa, was far from a billionaire, but he happened to be in the right place at the right time. In 1962, during a trip to the Seychelles, Grimshaw was offered the chance to buy a tiny uninhabited island – Moyenne Island, just 0.038 sq miles or 0.099 sq km – located to the north of the Seychelles' largest island, Mahé, for around $10,000.

He moved there permanently in 1972, but remarkably, Grimshaw didn't let becoming the owner of a paradise island change him. Rather than making huge profits (he reportedly turned down offers of up to $50 million) by selling to developers, Grimshaw devoted his life to preserving the island's wildlife, which now includes 16,000 trees, a collection of native bird species, and dozens of free-roaming Aldabra tortoises, supported on the island through a conservation and breeding program.

One man and his island:

  • In 2009, the Seychelles created Moyenne Island National Park – it is the world's smallest national park and by some estimates, it has more species per square foot than any other.

  • Grimshaw had the help of a young local man, Rene Antoine Lafortune, who helped him clear the overgrown vegetation, create paths, and plant trees. Lafortune eventually came to live on the island, too.

  • Moyenne Island is just 0.25 miles (0.4 km) long and 0.19 miles (0.3 km) wide, with a coastline under 1.24 miles (2 km).

  • Visitors are permitted on Moyenne, though there are no hotels and no jetty. There are rarely more than 50 people on the island at one time. There's one restaurant, the Jolly Roger, which serves local seafood dishes.

  • Brendon Grimshaw died in 2012. He was buried on Moyenne, next to his father (who had come to live with him in 1981) and two pirates whose graves he discovered.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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