Tonga’s Got a Brand New Island. So, Uh, What’s It Worth?

We can’t remember the last time the planet Earth got a new landmass, so we were fascinated by the story of a new island sprouting in the South Pacific. Thanks to explosive volcanic activity, Tonga has a new neighbor about 40 miles north.

The first man to set foot on the new island, an intrepid photographer named GP Orbassano, told ABC Australia, “It’s not every day a new island appears in the middle of the ocean.”

Truer words, GP, truer words.

And while we’ve done our fair share of reporting on the allure of private islands, we’ve yet to see a new kid on the block, so to speak.

Intrigued by the true value of this fresh piece of rock, we reached out to Private Islands CEO Chris Krolow for his appraisal of the island. With over 750 islands for sale or rent in his portfolio, Krolow knows how to place a dollar figure on places where the sands are yours and yours alone.

He hears word of about 20 new islands a month, though islands this new don’t cross his desk every day.

Krolow said you’ll need to have a decent-size bankroll—and good luck securing a loan for a place that’s just got its head above water.

“Operating on the assumption that it isn’t underwater in a year, I’d say the following: Tonga’s islands are leasehold because the land is owned by the government, so the buyer is taking out a lease that I’d estimate would range from $750,000 to $1 million,” he said.

Besides the island’s size (just about a mile long), a number of factors go into pricing it. Krolow told us “proximity from mainland or airports, availability of drinking water, availability of nearby staff, general island features, and quality of beaches” all play a part in arriving at a final price tag.

And while agents who sell houses can consider comps when pricing a home, private islands are like snowflakes. Each one is different, so how do you set a price for a place beyond compare?

Krolow acknowledged the challenge he faces, but he said he has 15 years of sales data to draw on.

“Sometimes appraisals can be challenging if the property is rare and there aren’t any comparables to help set a price range,” he said.

Setting aside the comps conundrum, if you’d like to plant roots in some of the freshest land in the whole entire world, be prepared to drop about seven figures for your own slice of Pacific paradise.

Published by Erik Gunther on