The COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing are destined to transform the way we vacation for a long time, thus private islands are the acme of luxury travel. We’re searching for extreme wilderness retreats for those who enjoy a little pleasure and seclusion as we begin to dream of travel and return to the world. Most of these islands are rentable by the week or month, so you don’t have to buy one to experience its beauty and privacy. A private island is the only spot to go if you desire complete privacy and tranquillity in a spot that is off-limits to everyone except the resort personnel and a few other guests.
Here are some of our favourite retreats from across the world.
1. Isle of Eriska, Scotland
You’re only a 30-minute drive from seashore Oban on the Isle of Eriska, a 300-acre private island with a Relais & Châteaux hotel and spa, but you’ll feel completely alone, encircled by the untamed grandeur of Scottish lakes and mountains. Grab a pair of Wellingtons (they store them near the front door) and go about the lawns, or relax in the main house over the whisky menu. There are 16 guest rooms to choose from, and also a personal cottage and a spa suite. A warm swimming pool, exercise centre, and spa are available to all guests. If you’d like to include the Isle of Skye in your itinerary, you can combine a stopover here with a ride on the iconic Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, and then on to the Isle of Skye.
2. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
This newcomer to the Maldives private island market, which opened in 2019, has already created a reputation for itself with its extravagant amenities: The only issue you’ll have is deciding where to dine at this Maldives resort. This Waldorf Astoria hotel provides an incredible eleven dining options for a private island that offers unparalleled degrees of seclusion and barefoot luxury with only 119 beaches, reef, and overwater villas. Terra offers treetop gourmet dining, Yasmeen serves Arabian grilled meats and seafood, Li Long serves traditional Peking duck, and The Ledge serves Australian BBQ from Michelin-starred chef Dave Pynt. After all the food, relax with a Starlight Ocean Massage in the candlelit Spa Pavilion, where you can rest with a rhythmic session under the Maldivian sky.
3. Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
One of the most well-kept secrets in the Bahamas is this exclusive island. This modest family-run private island is a beautiful vision of white sand beaches drenched in crystal waters, situated just off the Andros Great Barrier Reef (the world’s third-largest reef). Select from one of the 27 villas, which are all isolated enough to leave you feeling like you have the entire island to yourself. Each room has a personal veranda with bougainvillaea flowers and an outdoor shower. Remove your slippers, feel the sand between your toes, and enjoy the moment. You may swim the adjacent coral or rent paddle boards or kayaks before finishing your day at the Bahamas’ only overwater spa.
4. Cempedak, Indonesia
This adults-only private island in the Riau Islands is just a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry port, where tranquillity reigns supreme Because each of the 20 houses is fashioned of environmentally friendly bamboo, you’ll feel at one with the lush forest landscape. Two beaches are placed directly in front of the hotel, with a third, more quiet beach just a short walk away. The meal is a delectable mash-up of whatever is seasonal and plentiful that day, such as grilled daily catch seasoned with Indonesian spices. Whatever you do, make a reservation at the Rock Spa, which is perched atop a cliff facing a mangrove bay. The spa offers multifaceted, regionally inspired therapies inspired by Balinese traditions, and all therapy rooms face the ocean—so you can relax while enjoying a pure natural Indonesian sea salt, lavender, rosemary, and grapefruit body scrub while listening to the crashing waves.
5. Kokomo, Fiji
Kokomo is one of the few spots in Fiji that combines tradition with a laid-back feel. It is located on the outskirts of the Kadavu archipelago, surrounded by the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the world‘s largest and most beautiful reefs, and is far from the mainland throng. The 21 coastal villas and 5 hilltop villas have unique Fijian details such as shell mobiles, rush matting, and classic sculptures, as well as walled gardens scented with frangipani. Kokomo, the creation of Australian real estate tycoon Lang Walker, has barely been open for eight months but has already made a splash. Kokomo is a culinary delight that has elevated this speck in the South Pacific to epicurean status.
6. Thanda Island, Tanzania
Thanda was a deserted blip in the ocean thirty kilometres off the coast of Tanzania until the Olofsson family took it up on a long lease a decade back. The family constructed a vast, solar-powered home with broad, wraparound verandas and five exquisite air-conditioned bedrooms, each with a four-poster bed, in the manner of a plantation house. Dive trips to neighbouring Mafia Island are simple to schedule, and kite-surfing or yoga instructors can be transported in on request. A floodlit tennis court is also available. Fresh lobster, grilled tiger prawns the size of langoustines, red-snapper ceviche, and seared tuna are among the menu’s highlights.
7. North Island, Seychelles
North Island, lying 1,000 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, is the shining star of Seychelles’ several white-sand islands, with only 11 ocean-view residences. You’ll have complete solitude whether you rent out the island or stay in one of the villas with personal plunge pools. Select from a variety of island activities such as snorkelling, diving, fishing, hiking, and cruising; an escorted swim with rare sea turtles is a must-do. With various environmental projects, such as reef and beach preservation, “luxury with a conscience” is at the centre of everything.
8. Bird Island, Belize
This beautiful secluded island in Belize offers ultimate isolation and privacy. This retreat accommodates up to eight people and has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, making it ideal for families or small groups of friends searching for a memorable getaway. Swimming and snorkelling are available in the brilliant blue sea, as well as sunbathing and swinging on the overwater swings.
9. Azura Quilalea, Mozambique
In the secluded Quirimbas archipelago, this is the first private island getaway to open. There are nine villas there, as well as four sandy beaches, baobab trees, and a coral-rich reef. With sandy paths and rough-hewn furniture, the owners spent £2.4 million on improvements while maintaining the castaway feel. With a refurbished dinky spa facing the beach and a revamped dining space serving mangrove crabs and crayfish tails, Quilalea reopened in 2018 looking more spectacular than ever. What better way to begin a day in Africa than with a baobab smoothie for breakfast and then snorkelling back to your room?