This $11.5M private island off the coast of Nova Scotia is the ultimate self-sustaining luxury retreat

You can live on this self-sufficient private island in Nova Scotia for a year without ever having to leave. And it's now on the market for $11.5 million.

Georgie Mihaila
13 Min Read
Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Realty

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that our homes now have to be prepared for a whole range of things that might be coming our way.

On the shores of Nova Scotia, an idyllic 10-acre private island — anchored by a massive main lodge — is already fully equipped for the worst-case scenarios.

Built by an American after the 9/11 attacks, the island was “designed with security, seclusion, and self-sustainability in mind,” and has its own backup power source, heat, water, bunkers of canned food, producing fruit trees, greenhouses, medicinal plants, and everything else one might need to isolate if the situation requires it. But don’t go thinking ‘bunker’ or ‘shelter’.

Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the island is as upscale as it is self-sufficient and secure, featuring plenty of high-end amenities to complement its robust self-sustainability features.

It’s also up for grabs, listed for $11,500,000 (or CAD $15,800,000) with Ian Smith and Mariana Cowan of The Cowan-Smith Team with Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty.

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Strum Island, a 10-acre retreat surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Strum Island consists of nearly 10 acres of land, providing a tranquil and private setting just minutes from the mainland. The island features a main lodge with 9,500 square feet of living space, a boathouse, a beach hut, and staff quarters, among other structures.

Each building is equipped with its own security system and multiple security cameras, ensuring peace of mind for the residents. The island’s many other features include a year-round greenhouse, vegetable gardens, orchards, berry and herb gardens, and even a Lobster Temple for cooking and entertaining.

Built right after 9/11 as a safe retreat

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

After the 9/11 attacks, an American developer sought to create a secure yet luxurious hideaway. The goal was to build a fortified, resilient, and sustainable retreat where the owners could live without fear of external threats.

Strum Island was born out of this vision, with over two decades of improvements costing approximately $16 million CAD.

It took close to two decades to build & improve

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

 “In total, not including labor, the island’s improvements were done over two decades and cost approximately $16,000,000 CDN to bolster Strum Island so that it is fortified, resilient, and sustainable for many years to come,” the developer (who chose to remain anonymous), tells Fancy Pants Homes in an exclusive comment.

Set on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, close to Mahone Bay

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Located near the picturesque town of Mahone Bay, Strum Island offers the perfect blend of seclusion and convenience. Mahone Bay is known for its stunning coastal scenery and historic architecture, making it a charming and vibrant community.

“The Island is situated just outside the picturesque town of Mahone Bay,” the property’s caretaker, Anthony Smith tells us. “Located on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, this vibrant community is known for its stunning coastal scenery, historic architecture. The town is also famous for its iconic trio of churches that line the waterfront, which can be seen from the island.”

The island is just a short boat ride from the mainland — with Anthony estimating the distance at a mere 530 meters from wharf to wharf — or a quick 15-minute helicopter ride from Halifax airport.

Benefits from the milder microclimate of Mahone Bay

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Potential future owners need not worry as much about the famously harsh Canadian winters.

According to the property’s caretaker, Mahone Bay enjoys a unique microclimate due to its coastal location, resulting in slightly milder winters and stable summer months. This climate supports a diverse range of plant and animal life, with the island’s lush gardens and orchards thriving in this environment.

A self-sufficient island

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Strum Island is designed for complete self-sufficiency. It has its own sources of power, heat, light, water, and food, allowing residents to live comfortably without leaving the island for over a year.

The island is connected to the electrical grid via underground cables but also has backup generators and large propane tanks. Water is sourced from dug and drilled wells with UV filtration, ensuring a clean and reliable supply.

The developer says “There are various sources of heat, including wood, electric, hydraulic and in-floor radiant to ensure comfort. Two major backup generators are powered by propane with a two-year supply stored on the island. We drilled into an aquifer to provide Strum Island with its own pure, clean water supply.”

Everything you need to live for a full year

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Living on Strum Island means you have everything you need at your fingertips.

The island features extensive vegetable gardens, a greenhouse, fruit orchards, and berry bushes. Protein sources are abundant, with fish, scallops, mussels, and lobsters readily available.

See also: Post Malone’s $3 Million Utah Compound Doubles as a Doomsday Bunker

The Lodge: rooms, specs and features

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Spanning a little over 9,500 square feet, the main lodge consists of 6 bedroom suites, an massive great room, a formal dining area that looks like it could easily fit two dozen guests, a fully equipped kitchen, and plenty of space to entertain guests.

Notable rooms and indoor spaces

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

The great room features a hand-carved walnut bar with a hammered copper sink and Tiffany-style lighting. The lodge’s kitchen is equipped with dual Lacanche gas ranges and ovens, perfect for preparing gourmet meals.

The top floor houses an observatory offering spectacular 360-degree views with a traditional lighthouse-inspired Widow’s Walk above it (Taylor Swift’s Rhode Island house has one as well).

Plenty of space to accommodate guests

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

The Lodge at Strum Island has 6 large bedroom suites, each named after a great European artist, offering a mix of rustic beauty and opulence.

And the other structures on the island add to the tally. The boathouse, beach hut and staff quarters offer additional finished space to accommodate more guests or provide flex space for other uses.

It has a unique Lobster Temple for outdoor dining

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

What’s a Lobster Temple, you might be wondering? We had the same question — and luckily Anthony cleared things up for us:

Growing up the developer’s grandfather had a similar structure for cooking crab, to keep the fish smell out of the house. For similar reasons we have the lobster temple which is for cooking and eating lobster.

Beyond its practical role, the Lobster Temple “makes a fantastic gathering spot for outside meals and entertaining guests,” the lodge’s caretaker tells us.

Building the island was no easy feat

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

“First and foremost, Strum Island faced the formidable challenge of erosion, as many other low-lying islands in the region had slowly disappeared over time,” the property’s developer says.

“To withstand the test of time, we brought in more than 500 trucks carrying 5- to 10-ton boulders to recontour and build up the island around the front. The boulders were strategically placed to act like armor and create a seawall that is now about 30-feet high and 25-feet at the base at a 33-degree angle to withstand heavy waves. Additionally, every year, we assess and maintain the north side to ensure the retaining wall remains strong and does not erode even an inch.”

Restoring and strengthening the island’s ecology system

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

 “Second, we had to restore the island’s ecology system and strengthen it for long-term use. We removed nearly every tree except for a dozen and replanted approximately 50,000 trees and bushes, including hardwoods, softwoods, and vitamin C-rich plants, such as blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries and strawberries.”

“Our other goal was to ensure a sustainable firewood supply,” the developer adds. “We blended our own soil by using manure to prepare the ground with nutrients and planted medicinal plants, adding gardens and greenhouses to diversify the produce sources and allow for year-round production. The island is well-equipped with natural sources of protein, fish and shellfish, including scallops, mussels and lobsters.”

Shielding the house & other structures from natural disasters

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

“Third, the infrastructure and utilities were enhanced with undersea cables, which were brought from the mainland to deliver 72,000 volts of energy to the island, and impact-resistant glass was used to shield the buildings from natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes,” says the developer.

Strum Island’s previous stint on the market

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Strum Island was previously listed in 2020 for $21 million CAD during the COVID-19 pandemic but was taken off the market shortly after. The same agents (Ian Smith and Mariana Cowan of The Cowan-Smith Team) are handling the current listing, and the island is now available for $11.5 million USD or $15,800,000 CAD.

It also made an appearance on HGTV’s “Island Hunters”

Photo credit: Mike Rogers / Coldwell Banker Maritime Realty

Yes, Strum Island has had its share of fame, being featured on HGTV’s Island Hunters. It was also showcased on a popular YouTube travel channel called “Delightful Travellers”, whose hosts dubbed it “Canada’s Most Exclusive Private Island”. And I think that’s the best possible moniker this one-of-a-kind property!

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With a decade-long career as a digital content creator, Georgie started out as a real estate journalist for Multi-Housing News & CPExecutive. She later transitioned into digital marketing, working with leading real estate websites like PropertyShark, RENTCafé and Point2Homes. After a brief but impactful stint in the start-up world, where she led the marketing divisions of fintech company NestReady and media publisher Goalcast, Georgie returned to her first passion, real estate, and founded FancyPantsHomes.com