PRIVATE ISLAND ESCAPES
Our experts share their favourite private island hideaways
Few things compare to holidaying at a private island resort. If what you’re after is utter seclusion and perfect peace, in a location off-limits to everyone but the staff and perhaps a few other guests, then a private island is the only way to go. Here are a few of our favourites from around the world.
Indian Ocean Idyll
Ile Des Deux Cocos - Mauritius
If you’ve neither the time nor fortune to go completely ‘off-grid’, or if you’re looking for somewhere special to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or even pop the question, Ile Des Deux Cocos might just fit the bill.
Reached by private speedboat, the island is 200 metres from sister property LUX*Le Morne, a quiet resort set against the backdrop of Le Morne mountain, on the southern coast of Mauritius. Surrounded by the coral-filled Blue Bay Maritime Reserve, it can be taken exclusively for overnight stays and has everything you could possibly wish for from a private island escape.
The villa, built in the 1920s by the British Governor of Mauritius, has been completely restored to its former glory. It features a shaded Moroccan-style courtyard, a fragrant garden laden with bougainvillea, a swimming pool, a lavishly furnished lounge and dining room, and two bedrooms. What’s more, you have access to your own private speedboat, housekeeper, valet and chef.
“Ile Des Deux Cocos has long been the best-kept secret in Mauritius – a totally secluded private island with a Moroccan-inspired villa, a picture-perfect beach and an outstanding team of staff.”
Spend your time snorkelling in calm turquoise waters, or in a hammock under a palm tree with a book. Or stroll around the island on a sandy path, building up an appetite for the wonderful beach barbecue that awaits you after nightfall.
Tagomago – Ibiza, Spain
There’s no place in the world like Ibiza for hair-down partying, swish restaurants and a boho vibe that permeates every style-laden corner. And now there’s a new way to do it. Unfeasibly for this popular part of the Med, an uninhabited island just 900m north-east of Ibiza is the location of Tagomago, a show-stealing villa that will leave your guests open-mouthed.
As you can imagine, it lends itself rather well to a party – this is the place to hire for a landmark celebration – with five sprawling en-suite bedrooms, vast daybeds, wide rooftop terraces, an open-plan kitchen complete with private chef, a seductive pool, 24-hour security and a dedicated team at your beck and call.
Away from the villa, pathways cross the 148-acre private island, which has its own nature reserve, bird sanctuary and a lighthouse dating back to 1909. Or descend into the ultra-clear Mediterranean waters to scuba dive around shoals of barracuda.
“The Mediterranean’s most exclusive private island.”
With your own speedboat and captain on standby, dip in and out of Ibiza, just a five-minute ride away. We recommend shopping in the old town, long lunches at Salinas Beach and sunset cocktails at Experimental Bar.
A Private Playground
Thanda Island - Tanzania
Play out your castaway fantasies in absolute style – with up to 20 of your friends or family. Only available to hire in its entirety, ultra-private Thanda Island, 16 nautical miles off the coast of Tanzania, provides the perfect place to celebrate a family reunion, a special occasion, or to host a private party. And with all the champagne you can drink already included in the rates, you’ll be the most relaxed host imaginable.
There’s powder-soft sand, a lush green interior, and encircling water so clear the colourful corals beam from below. You’ll find ﬁve bedrooms in the main villa, four suites in the traditional bandas and plenty of room to breathe, especially around the modernist glass-sided pool, which becomes the centrepiece for many a gathering. By day, you can jet-ski, ﬁsh, play tennis or simply laze in a hammock with a glass of something bubbly. By night tuck into a Swahili feast of samosas, prawn and coconut curry, fresh lobster and tiger prawns as big as langoustines.
“Arrive by helicopter directly onto the beach, remove your shoes and embrace barefoot living on this relaxed island where Swahili charm blows in on the breeze from Zanzibar.”
Diving trips off nearby Mafia Island are easy to arrange, and instructors in everything from yoga to kite surfing can easily be flown in.
Petit St. Vincent – Saint Vincent & The Grenadines
The Caribbean is ever-popular and deservedly so. Swaying palm trees, turquoise water, and a persuasive Caribbean vibe that has us drinking rum punch at noon. But imagine enjoying all this on a private island paradise?
Introducing Petit St. Vincent, or PSV to those in the know. This gorgeous slice of heaven has 122 acres of lush tropical jungle, ringed by marshmallow-soft beaches. Set back from the beach are 22 one- and two-bedroom Caribbean chic cottages – available individually or taken together for one epic private party.
Maroon your tribe here and you can ﬂit between the island’s three gorgeous beaches, ﬂop into hammocks or take a snorkelling trip to the clear waters of Tobago Cay, stopping off for a picnic on a deserted coral atoll.
With no vehicles, barely a building and little wifi (though the wifi is excellent in Reception if needed!), this is the place to connect more deeply with family and friends, surrounded by nothing but birdsong and the ocean.
“So private are these cottages that if you dined on your veranda instead of at the restaurant, you could easily spend a week here and see no one but the staff.”
Hike to the top of Marni Hill, the island’s highest point, for views of almost the entire Grenadines archipelago: the purple hills of St Vincent in the north; Grenada just about visible to the south, and in between, Mustique, Canouan and the sublimely beautiful Tobago Cays.
Calala Island – Nicaragua
If none of the above feel quite remote enough yet, then perhaps pack your bags for Calala Island. An hour’s flight and a two-hour boat ride from Managua, Calala is one of the Pearl Cays, a string of pocket-size islands off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
The ten-acre Crusoe-esque island is the epitome of barefoot luxury, with just four beachfront suites built from sustainable hardwoods and shaded by towering palms. Named after local communities, they each come with a king-size bed, small deck, a hammock for two and a sofa to take in the sunset.
Seriously good food belies the laidback atmosphere, with a Michelin-quality chef pushing culinary boundaries by using locally sourced produce to create wonderful tasting menus. There’s ample opportunity to burn off the calories thanks to complimentary kayaks, paddleboards and dinghies. The snorkelling and fishing are both also excellent, but if all that sounds too strenuous, head instead for the pool (complete with swim-up bar) or to the spa among the mangroves.
“Robinson Crusoe with fine dining and first-rate cocktails.”
The island is a nesting site for critically endangered hawksbill turtles and in season you might be lucky enough to see them hatch.
Kokomo Private Island - Fiji
Metres away from the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest and best-preserved barrier reefs on the planet, Kokomo Island is a water lover’s delight, with terrific snorkelling and diving available straight from the beach. Head out by boat and the scope of sea life expands exponentially, with turtles, manta rays, dolphins and even humpback whales all regularly seen within the island’s fringing lagoons.
Spread across 140 acres of white-sand beaches and lush rainforest, this is Fiji’s most exclusive private-island resort. The 21 beachside villas, all with private pools, and five hilltop residences are filled with authentic Fijian touches – shell mobiles, rush matting and traditional sculptures – and have walled gardens heady with the scent of frangipani.
In the kitchens, executive chef Cory Campbell – fresh from a stint at Noma – champions local producers and oversees the island’s farmers and fishermen, chickens and beehives, not to mention the organic two-hectare garden complete with vanilla plantation and every type of fruit and vegetable imaginable.
“The style is part contemporary, part classic South Pacific, and the craftsmanship throughout is exceptional.”
As you’d expect, water sports take centre stage here, with fishing, sailing, kayaking, surfing, snorkelling and diving just some of the many options. But it’s not all there is to do. For a break from the big blue, try yoga or a meditation session at the spa, trek to waterfalls on neighbouring islands, or take a tour of the island’s farm.
NIHI Sumba - Indonesia
Consistently ranked among the best hotels in the world, NIHI Sumba – an hour’s flight east from Bali – is a Robinson Crusoe experience for the 21st century. That is if Robinson Crusoe arrived to find a spa hidden in the jungle on a dramatic cliff edge, a beach cinema, breathtaking villas with individual freshwater pools, one of the finest surf breaks in all of Indonesia, horse riding on the beach, fabulous dining and even a chocolate factory.
Accommodation in each of the villas is simple yet luxurious: expect crisp white bed linens, furniture carved from local wood, open-plan living and panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Here you can be as relaxed or active as you want. Have a lie in or enjoy yoga at dawn. Catch up on a novel by your pool or learn to surf with world-class instructors. Snorkel with turtles or enjoy weaving with women from the local village. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. There’s an energy here that’s hard to put your finger on; it’s a wild and rugged place that feels like Bali might have done 100 years ago.
“Despite being only an hour’s flight from Bali, the island of Sumba is little visited by tourists and remains blissfully rooted in traditional customs.”
For a real treat try the spa safari. The day starts with a 90-minute guided walk past rice paddies and through rolling countryside to a clifftop location where breakfast is prepared. There’s then time for a dip in the ocean before you’re taken to enjoy a massage in a private treatment room with sides open to catch the gentle trade winds.
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