Investors buy Caribbean island, turn it into a 'micronation'

tropical island
Photo credit Getty Images

What started as an ambitious project in 2018 to crowdfund the purchase of an actual Caribbean island has become a reality. Now, a group of investors are turning their tropical paradise into the world's newest "micronation."

Located just off the coast of Belize, Coffee Caye is the world's first crowdfunded island. It was purchased in 2019 for $180,000 after a campaign named "Let's Buy an Island" raised more than $250,000, according to Curbed.

The 1.2-acre uninhabited island is better known to its investors as the Principality of Islandia and their goal is to start a micronation.

"Who hasn’t dreamed of making their own country," Gareth Johnson, co-founder and CEO of the project, told CNN. "If a bunch of regular people can make this work, perhaps it can be a force for good."

A micronation is an entity that claims to be a sovereign nation but is not recognized by any other government or major international organization, according to WorldAtlas.

Co-Founder Marshall Mayer said Islandia has a national flag, anthem, its own government and hundreds of online citizens.

"Many of the initial investors were really into traveling off the beaten track, including to places where there were micronations, and they were interested in [creating] an island where you can make your own rules and laws," Mayer told Travel + Leisure. "But we are a tongue-in-cheek micronation falling squarely within the laws of Belize."

A handful of investors and tourists made landfall on the island in early 2022, CNN reported. They took the first-ever walking tour of Islandia -- you can go end to end in mere minutes -- and spent the weekend dreaming of what the future could hold for Islandia.

The island is highly accessible, only a 15 minute boat ride from Belize City, but you feel secluded "surrounded by salty sea air, water lapping on the shore, and palm and mangrove trees swaying in the wind," the group says on its website.

The next phase of the project involves attracting more investors to develop the island, support construction and turn the venture into a profit making enterprise. Mayer told Travel + Leisure he envisions building a sustainable venture of shipping-container-style accommodations or glamping tents that can be rented out.

Investors can currently buy shares in Islandia for $3,250 a piece. You can also support the project without investing and become a "citizen" for $19.99, or be officially declared a Lord or Lady of Islandia for $29.99.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images