British man bought island on a whim 40 years ago, still lives there with over 100 tortoises


Many of us joke about leaving our daily lives behind and running away to a deserted island. Brendon Grimshaw, however, did just that and is still living there 40 years later.

Grimshaw, a British man who used to be the editor of several newspapers in Africa, was on vacation in the Seychelles in the 1960s. His life took an unexpected turn when a small boy posed a strange question to him one day: "Would you like to buy an island?"

As the National Post reports, Grimshaw purchased Moyenne Island from its owners for only £10,000 GBP (about $16,000 CAD) just before midnight that evening. He moved to the island to live there full-time by 1972.

The random encounter with the boy lead Grimshaw and a local man named Rene Antoine Lafortune to revitalize the island and return it to its natural state. The pair planted 16,000 trees, built 4.8 kilometres of nature paths and brought 109 giant land tortoises to the island through purchasing and breeding them. Since the revitalization, Moyenne Island has become home to over 2,000 birds, including 500 endemic turtle doves. Grimshaw is its only permanent human resident.

Now, Grimshaw welcomes tourists to his island, charging them €12 (about $16 CAD) to come on land and explore the flora and fauna. Tourists can also visit the Jolly Roger Bar and Restaurant, pirate graves, ancient ruins and a treasure dig, according to a local tourism website.

Those pirate treasure sites aren't just for show either; rumour has it that Moyenne Island could be concealing more than $45 million in treasure. Grimshaw has made a couple of attempts to locate it but, so far, there's no sign of the treasure — at least not that he's telling anyone else.

The full story of Grimshaw and his island is told in the documentary A Grain of Sand. Here's a clip from the film featuring Grimshaw talking about his beloved home:

(Photo by Jean-Francis Martin via Wikimedia Commons)

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