The Trip Fantastic

How to shoot the moon for maximum (or minimum) big bucks

    Photo: Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

RENT YOUR OWN TROPICAL ISLAND
The Impossible Dream: Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Cost: $22,500-$36,000 per day, all-inclusive. You Get: a staff-to-guest ratio of almost two to one at Virgin Records magnate Richard Branson's private 74-acre island hideaway. The ten-bedroom main house is an airy Balinese-style villa. By day, scuba, snorkel, and windsurf—then hit the three freshwater pools and two hot tubs. Contact: Limited Edition by Virgin, 800-557-4255, www.neckerisland.com

The Affordable Dream: Seabird Key, Florida Keys
Cost: $4,495 per week for four.
You Get: your own private ten-acre key, a three-bedroom tropical-hardwood house with a wraparound porch, cathedral ceilings, and a path leading straight to sea-foam green water. Grab a snorkel and fishing gear and hop into the canoe, kayaks, or the 19-foot runabout to hit Sombrero Reef. Contact: Seabird Key, 305-669-0044, www.seabirdkey.com

SAIL YOUR OWN PRIVATE YACHT
The Impossible Dream: The Mediterranean on the Trinity II
Cost: $90,000-$95,000 per week for up to ten guests (add up to $22,000 for food, alcohol, and gas). You Get: a 140-foot home with teak decks, marble bathrooms, Jacuzzis, and a crew of eight, including a gourmet chef. Indulge in windsurfing, scuba-diving, and fishing. Sunset cocktails and night swims are de rigueur. Contact: Ocean Voyages, 800-299-4444, www.oceanvoyages.com

The Affordable Dream: The South Pacific on the Tamara
Cost: $16,870 per week for up to eight guests, including meals and gas You Get: to see the Marquesas aboard the 57-foot catamaran Tamara, snorkeling, swimming, and scuba-ing yourself silly (BYO scuba gear). The three-person crew will keep you on course, well fed, and versed in South Pacific lore. Contact: Ocean Voyages, 800-299-4444, www.oceanvoyages.com.

SKI BOTTOMLESS CANADIAN POWDER
The Impossible Dream: Heli-skiing in the Cariboos
Cost: $112,745 per week for ten guests, all-inclusive. You Get: unlimited vertical, a helicopter, 925 square miles of untracked fluff, and two expert guides. Retire in rustic elegance to Valemount, a private lodge with vaulted ceilings, Jacuzzi, two masseuses, and a pastry chef. Contact: Canadian Mountain Holidays, 800-661-0252, www.canadianmountainholidays.com

The Affordable Dream: Cat-skiing at Island Lake Lodge
Cost: $3,927 per person for seven days, all-inclusive. You Get: 5,000 skiable acres in British Columbia's Lizard Range that remain accessible even when it's dumping. Cedar Lodge has eight bedrooms, each with a private deck and soaker tub. You'll ski with two guides, and only 12 clients per cat. Contact: Island Lake Lodge, 888-422-8754, www.islandlakelodge.com

TAKE A HEMINGWAY-STYLE SAFARI
The Impossible Dream: Africa's great parks by air
Cost: $14,980 per person (minimum of six). You Get: Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa via your own private Cessna 402, hopping for 12 days along the Great Rift Valley. Repose at night in the most luxurious safari digs in East and South Africa. Contact: Bushtracks Expeditions, 800-995-8689, www.bushtracks.com

The Affordable Dream: Tanzania on the Northern Circuit
Cost: $2,875 per person. You Get: the same big game on this 12-day classic looping from Kilimanjaro. Bed down at a permanent tent camp. A guide leads you to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti. Contact: The Africa Adventure Company, 800-882-9453, www.africa-adventure.com

LIVE LIKE A KING
The Impossible Dream: Villa Paradis de la Mar, Cap D'Ail, France
Cost: $35,000 per week for up to 12. You Get: a belle époque villa frequented by Garbo, with seaside views of the sunny coastline from Cap Ferrat to Monaco. A formal dining room, pastel walls, marble and parquet floors, and a 330-foot terrace contribute to the airy grandeur—as do the towel warmers and full-time chef and housekeeper. Contact: Provençal Estates, 978-453-7839, www.provencalestates.com

The Affordable Dream: Villa Controni, Vorno, Italy
Cost: $12,000 per week for up to ten. You Get: a 19th-century Lucchese estate with its own castle ruins, chapel, wine cellar, and olive-oil press. There's also a swimming pool, walking trails, and an adjacent equestrian center. An on-site manager cleans and dishes local advice, and a full-time private chef whips up local Lucchese specialties. Contact: Tuscan Estates, 978-453-7839, www.tuscanestates.com

REALITY TECH:
OLYPMUS STYLUS 400 DIGITAL CAMERA Good news: Price tags on high-end digital cameras are falling as fast as features and quality are rising. The new Olympus Stylus 400 packs a four-megapixel, magazine-photo-quality punch with a 3x optical zoom lens in a weatherized body that allows you to snag shots of breaching humpbacks without fear of sea spray. The diminutive point-and-shoot tucks into a shirt pocket but doesn't skimp on features, like a QuickTime movie setting. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, software, and USB connection included. ($450; 800-622-6372, www.olympusamerica.com)

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