The Best private island Resorts

Ultimate escape: that’s the feeling that the island is yours — all yours. You pass the day seeing only a handful of people, or no one at all, as you bask in the quiet relaxation that only a private island can offer. And yet you’re not a castaway on a deserted outpost. Instead, a soft massage, a gourmet dinner and a glass of wine await your whim. We considered more than 100 private island resorts to bring you these 12 destinations — from accessible favourites like the BV I’s Peter Island to one of the most stunning resorts in Tahiti. Come find the perfect island to call your own.


Tautau island resort

Tahiti. If you don’t want to be seen here, you won’t be. The staff of Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa on this motu facing the “Vanilla Island” of Taha’a is used to the paparazzi-shy, so you can land in a private helicopter and get private meals prepared in your private villa, on a private motu or in a private canoe. But when you’re ready to interact with Polynesian experiences, the executive chef will discuss how he cooked that day’s fish in the local spices; the dance instructor will teach you the fast Ori Tahiti or slow Aparima dances; and the masseuse will work “black gold,” locally grown vanilla, into your skin. All of this is in an iconic private-island setting —48 over-water suites and 12 beach villas with a backdrop that’s Tahiti at its most picturesque. You choose when, or if, you return to the real world.

Frégate Island

Frégate Island resort

Seychelles. This island was a paradise before the Frégate Island Private resort was built — and it still is. Few islands, private or otherwise, do a better job of providing world-class luxury to their guests while preserving the natural environment. Reserved sanctuary areas on the island help boost populations of rare magpie robins and terrapins. That love of nature carries over to the Rock Spa, run by what locals call a madam dibwa, “fairy of the forest.” All treatments are drawn from the fruits and vegetables grown organically on Frégate. While you could actually eat any of those treatments, better to try the Seychelles Creole dishes at the Plantation Restaurant. The beauty of it all is barely interrupted by 16 villas, each with a swimming pool measuring from 33 to 60 feet in length. It’s an ideal way to soak your body while soaking up paradise.


Matangi island resort

Fiji. As if half-square-mile horseshoe-shaped Matangi island isn’t hidden enough, Fiji’s only treehouse accommodations put the privacy literally over the top. Nestled in the foliage, these three split-level bures transport guests into the jungle. They and the other 10 bures all have beach views, of course. For an even more private beach experience, take a picnic lunch and snorkel gear over to Horseshoe Bay (and check it off Patricia Schultz’s official 1,000 Places to See Before You Die list). If you do crave more human interaction, take a boat ride west to join the excited divers in the incredible Somosomo Strait at the famous Great White Wall dive site. You’ll have to climb down from your treehouse, though.

Peter Island

Peter Island resort

British virgin islands. Gloating isn’t the best reason to visit Peter Island. But it can be fun, especially as you lie down for your Tropical Lime and Ginger Buff scrub in your private spa bohio overlooking Big Reef Bay. You can imagine the passing yachtsmen saying, “Wow, how can I get there?” The answer: only on the resort’s boat, and only if you have a reservation. If you really want to inspire envy, “buy out” all 52 rooms and three villa estates on this 3-square mile L-shaped island for your own epic event. Newly renovated ocean-view and beachfront junior suites plus new Indian medicinal treatments in the spa keep this favourite spot fresh amid the BVI’s classic sites. Politely wave back to those yachtsmen — or board the resort’s Silmaril sailing yacht and join them.

Sonora Island

Sonora Island resort

Canada. British Columbia is dotted with private islands — for fishermen. But Sonora Resort has a bit more than a cabin and a fish-cleaning station. This all-inclusive Relais & Chateaux luxury outpost includes guest rooms in 12 rustic-yet-modern lodges on the otherwise undeveloped and road-free Sonora Island. Across its 64 square miles, the beauty of the Canadian wilderness is everywhere. Bald eagles and black bears live among the red and yellow cedars while orcas and porpoises cavort offshore. The wildlife gets its own privacy when the resort closes November through April. But in the summer, guests can respectfully observe the animals. An eco-adventure boat tour goes to a nearby river where families of grizzly bears catch salmon. No need to fish yourself if you don’t want to; chef Matthew Stowe will be happy to serve you his fresh catch.

Lizard Island

Lizard Island resort sunset

Australia. The lizards are big; the clams are giant; the staff smiles are huge. During your stay on 4-square mile Lizard Island off northeastern Australia, the helpful staff members will do everything short of carrying you on the three-hour hike to Cook’s Look. Leaving the Azure Spa to go snorkelling in the Giant Clam Gardens, but left your mask behind? “I’ll take care of it for you,” says Noel, the deckhand and guide. Here the 40 villas have no locks, and the Great Barrier Reef has no end to its wonders. If you do get lonely on this island national park, visit the only other development here, the Lizard Island Research Station. Find out about the scientists’ efforts to study and protect coral reefs. Or if you want to be even more alone, pick up a fresh meal and enjoy a dinghy ride to Palfrey Island. The staff will do the work; your job is to do, well, whatever you want.

Pamalican Island

Pamalican Island resort

The Philippines. Like a nesting doll, the Amanpulo resort here offers a retreat within a retreat. Already Pamalican Island floats alone among the 7,000 islands of the Philippines, resting in the quiet sea in a group of islands known as Palawan. From the air, Pamalican looks like a green comet ringed with pure white sand. Walk along that beach, and in 90 minutes you’ll have circled the entire island, maybe seeing baby sharks and nesting turtles along the way. To fully escape even the few other casitas here — 40 cottages in the native style of bahay kubo dwellings — book the Nature Villa. The four-bedroom minicompound has its own open-air dining pavilion, courtyard and beach, with a staff of three. Retreat any more, and you’d be Robinson Crusoe.

Veli and Dhigu

Veli and Dhigu resort

The Maldives. In this island nation dotted with 80 resorts, it’s impossible to pick just one that’s the best — so here are two. Anantara’s Veli and Dhigu islands in the South Malé Atoll of the Maldives are connected by long walkways and free shuttles across the lagoon, sharing their collective eight restaurants and two spas among the guests of more than 100 bungalows and villas. Island chief Didi will kick off a night of dining with a story of the Maldives’ history. To learn more about the Thai and fusion dishes, sign up for the Anantara Cooking School. To claim a piece of the Maldives just for the two of you, enjoy a private meal just off Dhigu on an uninhabited speck of sandy paradise — with table and umbrella. (OK, that makes three islands.)

Pine Cay

Pine Cay resort traveldeal

Turks & Caicos. Other places say they’re “Old Caribbean”; the Meridian Club on Pine Cay means it. Of course, there’s a lot that’s new about the resort: new room upgrades, a new fleet of boats, new chefs and new environmentally conscious initiatives. The vibe, though, hasn’t changed since the resort’s inception some 35 years ago. That means a longtime staff, an unspoiled natural environment and a classic island lifestyle (no crowds, no TV and please, no cell phones). Enjoy any of the 13 suites right on the beach of this 1 ¼-square-mile island, or truly make yourself at home in a secluded rental house. Then kick back on a 2-mile-long, often deserted white-sand beach — because that is the timeless Caribbean.


akitua resort traveldeal

The Cook Islands. Only one resort lets you stay on the stunning Aitutaki Lagoon: the appropriately named Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa. Built on the small sand teardrop known as Akitua, 29 bungalows put guests steps from the water; seven more are actually over the water. They’re the only such accommodations in the Cook Islands and all a direct flight from Los Angeles. To enjoy the lagoon, step onto a windsurf board, hop into an outrigger canoe or jump in for a snorkel. You may never want to towel off — until you smell that night’s authentic feast sizzling in the umu kai earth oven on the beach. Few have had yellowfin tuna like this. Fall asleep to the rustling of the coconut grove and the ripples of the lagoon. You’ll feel one with the water.

Cayo Espanto

Cayo Espanto

Belize. This hideaway in the Cayes of Belize could grant practically any wish, except for smoked fish. So when a Cayo Espanto guest requested that, the chef constructed a smoker. The same thing happened when another guest wanted a Christmas tree. The resort flew one in. After all, a private island with only six villas — including the new over-water Casa Ventanas at the end of a 150-foot private dock — does have some limitations. So the real magic is in striving for no limits.

Star Island

Star Island resort

The Bahamas. The promise of a new “green” retreat in Eleuthera is why Star Island made this list. Imagine a private island resort that draws all of its power from solar shingles and small wind turbines and that has a marina with no gas, only sailboats and solar-powered electrical plug-ins. That’s what developer David Sklar imagined in his designs for Star Island, which stands for Sustainable Terrain and Resources. The 20-bungalow, 48-hotel-room resort still plans to have the amenities travellers expect, including a spa. Set to open late this year, the promising island could be an inspiring example.

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