They’re not making any more land… OR ARE THEY?

Okay, so maybe living in a converted bus isn’t for you. Maybe you want to own some actual land.

One theory we’ve all heard over and over for why real estate is always a good long-term investment is that “they’re not making any more land.” As it turns out, “they” may not be making any more land, but apparently you can make your own.

Richie Sowa's Spiral Island

What is Spiral Island II? It is a tropical island paradise floating on over 100,000 recycled plastic bottles. It is about 20 meters (60 feet) in diameter, always growing and improving.

From 1998 to 2005, Rishi Sowa hand-built and lived on the first Spiral Island, which floated on over 300,000 recycled bottles! It was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005. Rishi has now built an even better island at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, in a lagoon which offers shelter from bad weather! Rishi will continue to make improvements to the Island, so it will always be a eco-work-of-art in progress!

If you’re interested in learning more about this crazy idea, you can check out a bunch of videos about Mr. Sowa’s project, or hit his website, the Spiral Island Social Network.

With plenty of water, no hurricanes, and lots of yuppies addicted to bottled water, the Seattle area seems like the perfect place to build a spiral island of your very own. DIY waterfront property!

Hat tip: Boing Boing

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.


  1. 1
    Cheap South says:

    Imagine these all over lakes Union and Washington. Oh yeah, here they are called boat houses. Tiny homes, floating homes, tree houses, grain silo homes, shipping containers homes; I love these stories.

    By the way Tim, bottled water is so 20th century. It’s stainless steel reusable containers now. :)

  2. 2

    Note that it has an outboard motor.

  3. 3

    But if they did it in Seattle, they’d make sure it included native plants adjacent for salmon habitat, it would be called something like ” Domicile, on the Duwamish”, and cost 900,000 dollars.

  4. 4
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 3

    I’m pretty sure given the cost of shoreline access development like the old Roanoke Reef that the 900K isn’t far off. And you’ll only get those plastic bottles past the Shoreline Management Hearings Board if the price is right, so to speak.

  5. 5
    clarkm says:

    And what happened to all of the plastic bottles after hurricane Emily?

    Eco friendly – I think not!

  6. 6
    Lurker says:

    who cares, dude…he found WOMEN ISLAND!!!!

  7. 7
    Chuck Ponzi says:


    I think that loosely translates to something like “Island of our Lady”, not chick island. But, whatever floats your house.


  8. 8

    RE: clarkm @ 5 – I’m not sure what kind of bottles they use, but I doubt they have much of a life expectancy sitting in water. So even without a storm they probably would be an ecological problem in little time.

  9. 9
    EconE says:

    I took the picture for my avatar in Isla Mujeres. I love that place.

  10. 10
    Snigliastic says:

    RE: EconE @ 9
    I drove by that in my friend’s catamaran. Pretty neat idea, although butt ugly.

  11. 11
    Cheap South says:

    RE: Chuck Ponzi @ 7

    Actually, it does translate to Women Island. It was named by the Spaniards inspired by the Maya statutes (women) they found when they arrived.

  12. 12
    Astro Kermit says:

    That is pretty awesome. I call dibs on Greenlake.

  13. 13
    Brian Lonardo says:

    I’ve been to Isla Mujeres many times, going again this Dec. That place looks like it’s on the lagoon side of the island, facing cancun. I’ll definitely check it out this winter. Mujeres is awesome, very small, quaint and non-touristy. Highly recommended.

  14. 14
    WestSideBilly says:

    Great idea. Other than the fact that the bottles will start decomposing within a year or two, and pollute the water around the house with known carcinogens. Brilliant!

  15. 15

    I’m sensing an African Queen remake, except there aren’t any Germans, they’re corporate land developers. Casting would be a problem though. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep?

  16. 16

    I think styrofoam blocks would be a better floating medium. There again, they might break down over time. But wouldn’t they still last alot longer than the plastic bottles? I found a good use for my gallon water jugs. I cut the cap end off so the hole is slightly larger. I fill it with some slug bait and put it outside to kill those unsightly critters without harming any other wildlife. But then, I don’t this guy has slugs on his island.

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