Shawn and Jill Ritchie

Shawn and Jill Ritchie

My wife and I met on a cruise in Aruba 23 years ago, so it was an island that brought us together. I was with friends and she was with family, but the crazy part is that when I asked her where she was from, she said, “Medina, Ohio.” It turned out my office was 10 minutes from her house. We started dating and ended up having our wedding in the Bahamas because we loved the islands so much.

Now, we’ve become big fans of Chris Krolow’s show, “Island Hunters.” Chris did an episode on Motu Teta, a private island in Rangeroa, Tahiti that we’d rented 10 years ago, and it inspired us to go back and stay there again. The peace and quiet that you have on a private island is incredible. You’re not surrounded by 10,000 people or even 10 people – it’s just you and your closest family members or friends. If you want to fish, or if you want to snorkel or dive, you can do it right off your island. The sounds of the sea and the birds are so relaxing; it transports you to a different place in this world.

More recently, we took another cruise with our two sons, who are 11 and 13. The first stop was Belize, but my older son broke his brother’s collarbone while they were wrestling in the room, and my son and wife had to stay on the boat. I made a promise to my son that when his shoulder healed we’d come back to Belize.

Fast forward about six months: I went on a fishing trip to Placencia, Belize and fell in love with that part of the country. We went back as a family and that’s when we really started discovering the islands in that area and decided it was where we wanted to buy a house. Belize is so laid-back, it’s English-speaking, and the people are so friendly there. It’s kind of like stepping back in time 20 years; you feel like you really can get away from it all.

However, we were struggling to find a house that was the right fit. One night, we were watching “Island Hunters” again and it just clicked. Now, we’re actually on the show! You’ll have to watch later this year to see which island in Belize we purchased, but we only looked at completely undeveloped options. We’re working on creating our own high-end private island rental, complete with chef, activities coordinator and fishing guide. It’s a similar concept to Motu Teta.

A lot of people think it’s not feasible to own an island, or they just can’t afford it. “Island Hunters” does a good job of demonstrating that there is a budget for everyone, from a half million dollars all the way up to $25 million. If you can dream it, you can make it happen. There is an island out there you can own.

Shawn and Jill Ritchie

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