Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
For many owners of private islands, the big purchase comes only after they've amassed unimaginable wealth and achieved fabulous success. But Sir Richard Branson, the man behind the Virgin empire, bought Necker Island well before the familiar Virgin logo was splashed across everything from airplanes to mobile phones and Branson became a household name. In a 2006 interview, Branson recalled purchasing the undeveloped island for a mere $100,000 in 1978, estimating the 74-acre (30-hectare) island's present-day value at somewhere around $60 million [source: Harper].
Today, Branson refers to the island as his home and favorite getaway, and it's easy to see why. Necker Island lies in the British Virgin Islands, surrounded by clear blue Caribbean waters, coral reefs and white, sandy beaches, and it now offers a number of guest villas in addition to Branson's own residence [source: Virgin Limited Edition]. Groups of up to 28 people can rent the island for around $53,000 per night ($1,893 per person per night), and indulge in activities such as sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing and kayaking. For an additional fee, you can explore the waters below the surface aboard the three-passenger "Necker Nymph," a one-of-a-kind aero submarine [source: Virgin Limited Edition].