A Private Island Off the Coast of Maine Sold for $339,000—But There Was a Catch

Duck Ledges Island is a serene oasis with an unexpected backstory
a small island with a house on it
Duck Ledges Island is a 1.5-acre private island off the coast of Maine and after nearly two decades, the owner is selling it. Photo: Dean Tyler

When real estate agent Billy Milliken listed his private island for sale last June, it was neither where nor what one would expect. Listed for $339,000, the 1.5-acre Duck Ledges Island is not in a tropical Caribbean paradise, but rather wedged between Acadia National Park and the Canadian border, off the coast of Maine. With only one small dune shack a few feet from the coast, the small plot is as rustic as they come. And though its price was compelling, it was this unexpected caveat that captured the news cycle’s eye last summer: Whoever bought the land would first need to spend a night on the remote isle.

Milliken built a 540-square-foot cottage.

Photo: Dean Tyler

Milliken’s rationale for this request was rooted in his love for the homespun escape, which he purchased unexpectedly in 2007. Like many private islands, the only way to access Duck Ledges is by boat, so when Milliken was offering a tour of the place to a prospective buyer, he was fully prepared to sell it that day. However, something about the new potential owner didn’t sit right with Milliken: The man brought with him enough firearms to start a small army, and he intended on using them to slaughter the island’s wildlife for fun. Milliken didn’t deem the man worthy of the island’s natural beauty and, along with the owner, refused to sell it to him.

So Milliken bought Duck Ledges Island himself, spending the last 15 years falling deeper for its secluded lure. He fixed it up, too, building a 540-square-foot cottage that’s as quaint and charming as the island itself. Over the years, he had brought his family and friends for alfresco dinners and campfires, sharing the majesty of the unassuming island with anyone willing to become the victim of a few mosquitoes. But when he purchased a bigger island nearby—11 acres in total—he knew he couldn’t give Duck Ledges the attention it deserved and put it back on the market, enthusiastically willing to sell to anyone who could be not just an owner, but a steward of the home. Though beautiful, the island is uninhabitable in the winter due to extreme weather and doesn’t have running water, so the request to have a future owner spend the night was also a way to ensure buyers knew what they were getting into. 

The cottage may be quaint, but it’s big enough for family gatherings.

Photo: Dean Tyler

As Insider reports, that unique buyer was found in Charlotte Gale, a massage therapist from New Jersey who purchased the island for its asking price. According to Insider, Milliken appreciated that she only took a small backpack out with her on her visit, and felt she’d respect and honor the small piece of paradise.

The views are quite pristine—especially from the bedrooms.

Photo: Dean Tyler

Since purchasing the private island, Gale has spent days on its shore, cooking in the small hut and swimming in the ocean when the weather is pleasant. To make the place more “her,” she’s brought out antique cast-iron garden urns, which now stand throughout the isle. Because of the lack of running water, she doesn’t live here full-time but regularly makes trips in the summer, staying for a few nights at a time. “It’s breathtaking out there, and the island changes every day,” Gale tells AD. “I’m constantly humbled by the beauty of nature here.”