Why settle for a private beach when you can have a whole island to yourself? While you might have heard of Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s personal paradise in the Caribbean, there are plenty of other islands around the world that can be yours for the asking… and a few hundred thousand dollars. Here are some of the most exclusive.
1. Musha Cay, Bahamas
Back in 2006, illustrious illusionist David Copperfield purchased this island for a cool $50 million. Since then, he’s added another 10 islands to his holdings to complete a mini-archipelago in the Bahamas’ Exumas chain. The main atoll has five colorful, colonial-style villas that can accommodate up to 25 guests, which has been enough for famous guests including Oprah, Johnny Depp, Bill Gates, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who actually got married here. Vacationers also have access to the arsenal of beach toys including jet skies, Hobie Cat sailboats, a catamaran, two Boston Whalers and a 37-foot yacht. In the evenings, the staff can set up an outdoor movie theater on the beach and even arrange bespoke fireworks displays.
2. North Island, Seychelles
When the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, a.k.a. Will and Kate, decide to spend their honeymoon on a private island, it’s worth taking note. The royal pair chose North Island in the Seychelles, also a favorite of pals David and Victoria Beckham, as well as American royalty, Angelina Jolie-Pitt and Brad Pitt. What’s the draw? This private island (and eco-reserve) in the Seychelles has just 11 decadent villas, each of which overlooks its own powder-white beach, and has its own private garden, outdoor shower, and plunge pool. The resort’s chef meets with each guest to tailor individual menus for the day, which can be enjoyed in the villa, on the beach, or over the course of an excursion... all set up by a personal butler, of course. Just be sure to save a bite for the 160-year-old tortoise named Brutus who calls the island home.
3. Bedarra, Queensland, Australia
Forget the crowds in Cairns and the hordes on Hamilton Island. If you want a more exclusive way to experience Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, head to this eight-villa retreat (for a maximum of 16 guests) about two hours south of Cairns and six miles off the coast of the mainland. The bungalow-style villas here are perched among 110 acres of untouched tropical rainforest overlooking the Pacific. The feeling is Robinson Crusoe meets contemporary comfort, i.e. gourmet beach picnics and romantic dinners on deserted islands. While here, guests can also take advantage of various activities including snorkeling and scuba-diving the outer reef as well as scenic helicopter flights.
4. Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Nicaragua
This island is in the middle of Lake Nicaragua rather than the ocean, and has a prime location near the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Granada Isletas and the picturesque Mombacho Volcano across the lake. There are just nine luxury casitas in all strung out through the jungle canopy. Guests here can take guided lake kayak tours, zipline through the treetops, hike up Mombacho, and visit the colonial town of Granada, among other activities. There’s also a small spa, and a restaurant that specializes in gourmet cuisine prepared using local ingredients… as well as specialty cocktails like the CaipiNica with local rum, soda, lime, and sugar.
5. Petit St. Vincent, Grenadines
This classic Caribbean hideaway is one of the larger private islands available, with a total of 22 accommodations (six two-bedroom villas and 16 one-bedroom cottages) that can house up to 44 people at a time. However, guest privacy is paramount, and while one-way intercoms connect the rooms to reception, guests can also signal their needs using a nautical semaphore-like flag system. The island boasts two miles of white-sand beaches in all, but there’s always the option of taking the private 50-foot sailboat out for snorkeling charters or sunset cruises before a dinner prepared from locally caught fish and produce grown right on the island.
6. Amanwana, Moyo Island, Indonesia
Leave Bali to the crowds, and instead visit Moyo Island, about an hour’s boat ride to the east, where you will have the entire 349 square-kilometer nature and marine reserve, and the 20-tent Amanwana Resort, to yourself. The luxury “tents,” are really more like suites, and are split between beachfront and jungle settings, depending on which you prefer. This rugged island is ringed by virgin reefs, which provide a pristine playground for snorkel and scuba enthusiasts. The hotel’s custom-built 100-foot Amanikan cruiser can be booked out for private excursions to nearby dive sites and Komodo Island to see the famous dragons in their native habitat. Afterwards, be sure to book a waterside spa treatment using Aman’s own all-natural, organic beauty products in the dedicated spa tent.
7. Turtle Island, Fiji
Five hundred acres of unspoiled island beauty and beaches are yours for the taking at this exclusive South-Pacific private island in the Fijian archipelago. Up to 28 guests at a time can enjoy the resort’s 14 traditional bures, or bungalows, fronting the island’s scenic Blue Lagoon (yes the one from the movie with Brooke Shields). Each of which comes with its own “bure mama” concierge to see to your every need, including impromptu champagne-and-lobster lunch picnics on a private beach. You’ll spend the rest of your time enjoying activities like scuba, snorkeling, horseback riding, sailing, and more.
8. Cayo Espanto, Belize
A relative newcomer both to the list of bookable private islands and jet-set destinations, this little Central American hideaway is just next door to popular Ambergris Caye. The island has just seven villas that start at 1,500 square feet, and each of which includes its own private walled garden, pool, and outdoor rain shower, not to mention king-size beds dressed in Yves Delorme linens. During the day, guests can dive in the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, or go fly fishing, visit the Mayan ruins of Caracol, and schedule in a few picnics on nearby deserted islands. Book the spa’s specialty Mayan Coffee Scrub & Cocoa Wrap, which harnesses the invigorating properties and age-fighting antioxidants of coffee and cocoa grown in the country’s interior highlands. It’ll be just what you need to work up your appetite for a personalized candlelit dinner of almond-crusted local grouper served at your leisure on your villa veranda.
9. Medjumbe, Mozambique
Mozambique has been making a splash lately thanks to exciting new hotel developments, and some of Africa’s, if not the world’s, most spectacular coastline. Medjumbe takes pride of place on a narrow sand island in the country’s Quirimbas Archipelago next to a channel where humpback whales like to frolic. It’s actually part of the Anantara hotel family, but getting the island to yourself is relatively easy since there are just 12 castaway-style thatched beachfront villas here, with colonial-chic touches like four-poster beds, whitewashed wooden walls, and antique-inspired furnishings. While here, guests can book private-island picnics, whale-watching excursions (from mid-July to mid-October), and enjoy any number of water sports.
10. Tagomago Island, Spain
You might have passed part of your misspent youth in Ibiza, but this under-the-radar Balearic island nearby is where you’ll want to head these days. It’s just about a mile long and a quarter-mile wide, and the only thing on it is a single five-bedroom villa that can accommodate as many as 10 guests. You won’t be spending much time inside, though, thanks to the plethora of outdoor spaces including an expansive pool deck and gorgeous terraces strategically placed for the best views of the island and the Mediterranean. The rest of the island has remained undeveloped because it’s actually a nature and aviary reserve, though that shouldn’t stop you from hiking its trails to the private beach where you can spend your days sunning or enjoying other more active aqua adventures including diving, fishing, jet skiing, sailing, and yacht charters. Oh, and if you do want to relive your hedonistic adolescence with a night out in Ibiza, simply reach it by helicopter or private boat.
11. Coco Privé, Kuda Hithi Island, Maldives
There’s no shortage of minuscule Maldivian destinations, but this one, just a quick seaplane flight from the capital Malé, only accommodates 12 guests at a time. This special speck of land has five small villas and one main residence with two floors, an open deck with a Jacuzzi, and the library, dining room, and wine cellar with an on-staff sommelier to help you pick out just the right wine pairings for your meals. Just offshore, there are reefs to dive and explore, but guests can also kayak, paddle board, water ski, or go deep-sea fishing, then relax back on land with a treatment at the private spa, or with custom yoga and pilates sessions. Folks who get a little stir crazy can take a private boat to the nearby resort of Coco Bodu Hithi for a day with other people or dinner at one of the resort's five restaurants.
12. Peter Island, British Virgin Islands
All you need is about $400,000, and this private 1,800-acre island in the BVI’s can be all yours for five nights and six days. Well, all yours, and up to 129 of your closest friends in a series of 52 suites and three private villas. Though Peter Island is just five miles from Tortola, you won’t get any of the rowdy crowds or yachting yahoos from over there. The island can even enforce an overhead no-fly zone for your celebrity weddings, and what have you. And what you have is five white-sand beaches, two restaurants, a 10,000-square-foot spa, and tennis courts for the active vacationers out there, not to mention any number of bookable beach and water activities. Those are à la carte, though.
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