Looking to buy your own island? This one's for sale

Colleen Kane, special to CNBC.com
The sunset over the island of Tanera Mor.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

Looking for a unique gift for that extra-special someone? Or a new home for a small community? Consider Tanera Mór, a private, self-sufficient island that's for sale in Scotland's northwest coast. The island — that was the setting for the 1973 popular film "The Wicker Man" — has a breathtaking, rugged landscape.

Tanera Mór is the last inhabited island of the 17-island Summer Isles archipelago. The owners are taking offers from £1.95 million. That works out to $2,379,567 for the 760-acre landmass, which is about 1.2 miles wide and about 1.6 miles long.

On the market since 2013, the island is also available as three subdivided lots, each with its own jetty and houses. Lot 1 is 231 acres and selling for just over £700,000 (about $850,000). Lot 2 is 196 acres and is priced at £430,000 (about $523,000). Lot 3 is 333 acres and priced at £820,000 (about $997,000). It comes with two additional small islands and a tidal island.

Owners Lizzie and Richard Williams married on the island and lived there until recently. Lizzie's parents purchased the island in 1996 and passed the property to their three children in 2010. In 2014, when Lizzie and Richard Williams, the last year-round residents, moved out, the Summer Isles officially became uninhabited. Here's a look at the island and what it has to offer.

A rich history

The overhead view of Tanera Mor, the last inhabited island of the 17-island Summer Isles archipelago.
Photo: Tom Baker

Tanera Mór is the main island of the Summer Isles archipelago, located about 1.5 miles from the mainland of northwestern Scotland. The fictional island in the 1973 cult classic "The Wicker Man," called Summerisle, is said to be inspired by these islands. The islands' histories include the Vikings, stone circles and a monastery dating back to 300 AD.

Natural wonders and wildlife

Tanera Mor has an abundance of natural features.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

A main attraction of this island is its natural beauty. Tanera Mór features multiple beaches, cliffs and coves over its approximately 7 miles of coastline. The Williams have worked to restore its ecosystem by planting more than 164,000 native-species trees over 15 years. And the more recent lack of sheep has allowed other plant life to thrive.

Situated on the warm Gulf Stream, the island is a good location for spotting dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks. It's also a rest stop for wildlife headed elsewhere. Birders can watch for seabirds, including Arctic terns, great northern divers, grebes and little auks. (Much more on the wildlife here.)

Tanera Mor is also featured in the Scottish Wildlife Trust's first snorkel trail and has views of the aurora borealis.

Traditional stone cottages

Tanera Mor’s nine houses are mostly traditional stone-built cottages.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

The island's nine houses are mostly traditional stone-built cottages, with the current housing stock capable of sustaining a population of about 30. Two of the habitations have broadband service, and another has landline telephone service.


Historic jetties

Tanera Mor's historic stone pier is listed on the UK’s Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

The Summer Isles weren't ever very populated, with about 120 residents just over a century ago. Many of those long-ago residents were employed by a once-robust herring trade.

Tanera Mór's historic stone pier and former herring curing station are both grade B listed on the United Kingdom's Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.


Historic structures

Tanera Mor houses an old schoolhouse, a café and a post office.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

Other structures include the old schoolhouse (the island's largest structure), a cafe and a post office (set up in a former boathouse) and the former herring curing station, as well as a shed that is rented to an offshore fish farm.

The Tanera Mór post office has been operational since 1970. Its Summer Isles stamps, often depicting wildlife of the island, are prized by philatelists.


Renewable energy

Tanera Mor’s greenhouse.
Photo: Tim Winterburn

There are two 1-kilowatt wind turbines on the island and other off-grid features, like a freshwater treatment plant, diesel generators, inverter and battery arrays to provide electricity.

One feature the island doesn't have: roads.


Sailing, swimming and fishing

Rainbow over Tanera Mor
Photo: Tim Winterburn

The obvious potential use for the island is reviving and claiming a heaping portion of its established holiday use, which is continued today in the form of cruises to the Summer Isles.

Popular activities include swimming, boating, diving and fishing for mackerel, cod, pollock, coal fish and ling.