Hours from anywhere and maybe hard to get to, these places offer the opportunity to live out a fantasy of seclusion and exclusivity.

There is getting away from it all, and then there is going off the grid — on a remote island somewhere in a patch of blue. Hours from anywhere and maybe hard to get to, these places require effort and usually a unique mindset for the more-than-one-time visitor. But the reward they offer is equally one-of-a-kind: the opportunity to live out a fantasy of seclusion and exclusivity.

Mauritius
This tropical Indian Ocean paradise, more than a thousand miles off the southeast coast of Africa, is ringed with white powdery sand beaches that call honeymooners to them, along with the luxury resorts like the Oberoi and the Grand Mauritian. Uninhabited when Dutch settlers first arrived in the 17th Century (the island was home to the dodo bird — but we know how well it turned out for that particular native), Mauritius underwent French and British rule until it achieved its independence 50 years ago. There is a mix of African, Indian, Chinese and European cultures, but locals mainly speak a French Creole. A stable political and legal system and modern infrastructure, including high-speed Internet, makes the island attractive to foreign buyers, and it is also an international financial centre. There are direct flights to Mauritius on British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, South African Airways and Air Mauritius, and it is about a 10- to 11-hour flight from Europe. It is also a popular destination for those with sea-going yachts and for cruise ships sailing from South Africa.

Non-resident buyers are restricted to two types of property: Integrated Resorts Scheme (IRS) where the entry level is $750,000 and buyers get citizenship after three years. The other is the Real Estate Scheme (RES) where entry level is $500,000, but “only certain schemes offer access to citizenship”, advised Berry Everitt, MD of Chas Everitt International Property Group. “Properties in these schemes are typically freehold, stand-alone villas with at least three bedrooms on 1,000sqm of land within a secure golf-course or estate development.” Prices can go up to $3 or $4 million for top properties.

Further reading
The Independent Daily: English-language newspaper

Cape Verde
This archipelago of ten islands is also off the coast of Africa, but Cape Verde is in the Atlantic. A Portuguese colony for 500 years, its mix of West African, Portuguese and Brazilian cultures have produced some of its most famous exports: singers like Cesoria Evora. There are four international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Sao Vincente and Boa Vista, with packagers like Thomson flying in holidaymakers on the five-and-a-half hour flight from the UK. TAP Portugal and XL Airways fly here, and it was rumoured that Ryanair was also going to launch a route from the UK. The islands are not as green as the name would have you believe, but there are excellent water sports, including surfing and windsurfing. The local rum is called “grogue”, the main ingredient in Cape Verde’s drink pontche, which is especially nice at sunset overlooking the harbour in Mindelo on Sao Vincente or one of the beaches on Sal.

Property here is typically either a private villa or apartment blocks, with new properties built to European standards. On Sal a two-bed apartment costs between 85,000 and 200,000 euros, while a villa can start at 350,000, but go quickly to 500,000 euros. “It is possible for a non-resident to obtain a mortgage from a Cape Verdean bank,” said Terry Hobbs, agent and media manager for Property Showrooms, “as long as they can prove they have the means to repay it”.

Further reading
Cape Verde Web: basic info on the most visited islands and towns

Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly are Britain’s tropics. Off the tip of Land’s End in Cornwall, their climate is moderated by the warm Gulf Stream, giving residents of the five inhabited islands (there are 140 islets in the archipelago) tropical blooms and teal-blue waters. In London’s grey February, cheery Scilly daffodils in the stores are a welcome sight, but the islands’ economy mainly relies on tourism. Reachable by ferry or helicopter from Penzance, or a short flight from Cornwall or Bristol, there are no direct flights from London.

St Mary’s is the largest island and the capital Hugh Town has the most freehold properties (where you own the house and the land it is on), whereas on other islands the majority are leaseholds (you own the house or flat only; however these can be as long as 99 years). A period granite cottage with beach access sells for around 550,000 pounds, whereas one in Hugh Town with a harbour view goes for 425,000 pounds and a new construction flat for 250,000 pounds.

Further reading
Wild Scilly Magazine: the flora and the fauna of the isles
Simply Scilly: Comprehensive tourism site

St Pierre and Miquelon
These two islands are a Gallic aberration in North America, an honest-to-goodness French department in the Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland, where you pay with euros and connect your calls through French telecom services, but with a bit of Canadian bonhomie thrown in. St Pierre is the larger island and can be reached from Canada by plane or ferry. It is about a three-hour flight from Montreal, and two ferries from Fortune in Newfoundland travel year round to the islands. St Pierre is connected to Miquelon by a sandy isthmus, and is about an hour away by boat.

The brightly-hued wooden clapboard or shingled buildings and treeless landscape — the wood is imported — give the islands a dream-like quality. Many have a sheltered garden at the back and an external porch called a tambour that keeps the cold and snow from entering the house (they are 800 miles north of Boston). The oldest houses are from the 19th Century. On St Pierre a three-bed, two-bath house is 180,000 euros, while houses on Miquelon are smaller but with more land and cost about half that. One of the only things that are not under French rule is their tax code, which is 100% autonomous, and therefore their real estate taxes are very low. “It’s pretty much an open market,” said Thierry Basle, director of Sodepar, the organization in charge of development and promotion of the islands. “People are very flattered when an outsider decides to come and stay on our islands.”

Further reading
L’Echo des Cap: digital editions of regional magazine

Fiji
Even the name is a whisper of silky South Sea breezes lifting the frangipani and palm fronds against a velvety tropical sky. The islands of Fiji are true paradises, whose reputations survive political coups and being the setting for the final episodes of this season of the US reality programme the Bachelorette, and whose bone-white beaches and coral atolls teeming with tropical fish are catnip to honeymooners and sunseekers.

Permanent residents have an easier time buying property here, and if you own, you can obtain a three-year residency that is renewable. Buyers can find empty lots on the oceanfront, as part of a development, and many luxury resorts have fractional ownership of villas and bungalows, but those with grander dreams can also become part owner of a private island. Developers on Nukudrau Island are selling lots for $795,000 a piece (how much you spend on the South Pacific dream home is up to you), accessible by seaplane. Much land in Fiji is allocated as native land and buying it is complicated. It is better to look at freehold properties, like those on Vanua Levu, the second largest Fijian island. On Viti Levu, the largest island, a luxury property with 1,500ft lanai, an open-air porch, and four bedrooms, and close to Suva, the capital, is $2.75 million.

Further reading
The Fiji Times: English-language news, business and events