Top ten private islands for secluded escapes

Trend forecasters predict a rise in demand for private islands among affluent travellers

Aglittering stretch of white-sand beach, attentive butlers catering to your every need, and a whole island to yourself in a far-flung corner of the world - there are many reasons why holidaying on a private island holds so much allure. The coronavirus crisis has made many travellers nervous about crowded destinations, and high-end travel companies have reported a rise in demand for private islands, yachts and jets. Here, we highlight 10 outstanding isles that ,can provide your clients with all the privacy and service they crave, without the tourists to crowd their space. With numerous slices of he,1ven dotted around the globe, the only problem might be deciding which to pick. 

Banwa Private Island, The Philippines 


A mere speck of an island off the coast of northern Palawan - a two-hour seaplane flight from capital Manila - this exclusive new resort is rated one of the most expensive private islands in the world. Reported to have been 10 years in the making, the tiny but oh-so-luxurious 15-acre Banwa opened in 2019 with all the toys an adult playground might need. There's a nine-hole golf course and world-class tennis court, a limousine tender and Lagoon 360 Catamaran, and unlimited spa treatments. The island also offers access to one of the world's top dive sites, the Unesco World Heritage-protected Tubbataha Reef, home to blacktip sharks, dolphins and hawksbill turtles. 

Book it: Full-island buyout starts from $35,000 per night (maximum 22 guests) and non-exclusive charter starts from £2,300, plus 12.5% VAT and local tax.

North Island, The Seychelles

A honeymoon destination for the likes of George and Amal Clooney and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, this private island resort turned nature conservancy boasts a serious stamp of star approval. While some private islands are little more than a fragment of land, North Island is closer in size to Monaco, with four sun-bleached beaches punctuated by leafy tropical palms, giant granite peaks and just 11 luxury villas. Owners and renowned safari camp architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens injected some high-octane glamour too, 'including an achingly beautiful clifftop infinity pool, a Padi dive centre housed in a coral building and bespoke in-villa dining from its team of masterly chefs. If it's a taste of the high life your client is after, look no further. 

Book it: Lusso offer seven nights from £25,910  per person In a Presidential Villa on a fully inclusive basis. It Includes flights with British Airways and helicopter transfers.

Isla Palenque Private Island Resort, Panama

One of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World, this 400-acre tropical island off the Pacific coast of Panama feels like a true desert island, with swathes of rich primary forest inhabited by howler monkeys and green iguanas, seven secluded beaches at the end of a network of hidden paths, and a sacred archaeological history left behind by pre-Columbian civilisations. Indeed, it was Robinson Crusoe which inspired owner and architect Benjamin Loomis to buy and live on the island for five years, sleeping in a creaking hammock on the island's sandy fringes while dreaming up its eight beachfront casitas, six-room villa and farm-to-table eatery, all of which take up just 5% of the island. 

Book it: Cox & Kings offer six nights from £2,200 per person in a casila on full-hoard basis Including flights. 

Voavah Private Island, Maldives

Opened in 2016 and located in the esteemed Baa Atoll Unesco Bisophere Reserve, Voavah is the first exclusive-use private island to be managed by Four Seasons. Formerly used as a picnic spot for guests staying at the brand's nearby Landaa Giraavaru resort (which guests of Voavah are free to use), the five-acre island is now home to seven rooms, spread across three living quarters, with capacity for up to 22 guests. It's idyllic in every sense, with bone-white beaches framed by verdant greenery, gin-clear waters inhabited by manta rays and the twinkling Indian Ocean stretching as far as the eye can see. Whether your client wishes to be ferried across the horizon on the island's own yacht or to party the night away on its ocean-lapped shores, Voavah's blissful isolation and ability to cater to a client's every whim might just be its biggest draws. 

Book it: Hummingbird Travel offers a net rate of $48,787 per night for exclusive takeover of the property.

Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

Located 140 miles northeast of Singapore ,n Indonesia's far-flung Anambas archipelago, Bawah Reserve might be one of the most remote private islands going - but it's a riot of life and colour when you arrive. Six jungle-clad islands rise majestically out of three aquamarine lagoons, ringed by 13 ivory beaches Guests can stay in jungle lodges, beach suites or overwater bungalows (there are 35 eco-villas in total) and spend their days frolicking with triggerfish, enjoying the open-air spa or hiking through rainforest. This year, Bawah will open Elang - six, adult-only cliffside lodges. 

Book it: Carrier offers eight nights from £10,985 per person, including one night at Raffles Singapore. The price includes business class flights from Heathrow lo Singapore, and seven nights In a Beach Suite with meals and non-alcoholic drinks Included.

The Brando, French Polynesia

This secluded eco-resort takes its name from film star Marlon Brando, who once lived on this island and described the French Polynesian atoll of Tet1aroa as "beautiful beyond my capacity to describe". He was not wrong. With waters streaked all shades of blue, crescent-shaped beaches cloaked in white sand and coral gardens thriving with life, the Brando's pristine beauty feels almost otherworldly. The property's 35 villas are tucked into the island's jungly interior, hidden among magnolias and exotic birds. The Brando - also known for pioneering sustainable concepts such as seawater air-conditioning - is all about harmony with nature and 1s where former US president Barack Obama came to write his memoirs.

Book it: Carrier offers 70 nights from £27,285 per person staying in a one bed villa on an all-inclusive basis. The price includes business class flights to Tahiti via LA and Internal flights.

Azure Ouilalea Private Island, Mozambique

An endless vision of white-sand beach peppered with towering baobab trees and tangled mangroves, wild and remote Azura Ouilalea feels like a true castaway island, despite being just a 30-minute helicopter ride from Mozambique's Pemba airport. The rugged stretch of land, stumbled upon by Britons Christopher and Stella Bettany (owners of popular sister island Azura Benguerra), is home to nine rustically chic seafront villas, four beaches, a breezy open-sided restaurant serving crayfish and crab, and the island's very own wine cellar. That aside, there's little on the island bar 180 species of migrating birds, a collection of resident turtles which take to its beaches to lay eggs and Mozambique's only house reef, accessible directly from the main beach, making it a fantastic option for keen snorkellers and scuba divers. 

Book it: Abercrombie & Kent offers seven nights' all-inclusive from £5,000 per person staying in a Kaskazi villa with beach view.

Laucala Island, Fiji

Choosing your favourite private island in Fiji is like choosing your favourite child - it's impossible. But Laucala Island, a mountainous chunk of land fringed with fertile coral reefs and bright white-sand beaches, owned by the creator of Red Bull - manages to stand out from the crowd. Just 25 thatched villas lie nestled among the island's 3,000 acres of verdant rainforest and coconut plantations, leaving ample room for all the activities a castaway could want. There's a championship-standard golf course designed by David Mclay Kidd, kitesurfing, rainforest hiking and a flotilla of nine watercraft ranging from jetskis to traditional outriggers - all delivered with Fiji's infectious Bula spirit. 

Book it: Abercrombie & Kent offers a seven-night stay from £17,500 per person based on two people sharing. Includes flights and transfers.

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Footwear is always optional on the two rainforest-covered isles that make up Song Saa. This famed beach resort, lolling in Cambodia's southern and remote Koh Rong archipelago, is home to 27 thatched stone villas, strewn across the jungle canopy or perched over the warm sea. Guests are in for the full eco-luxe experience here: interiors of rustic timber, earthy stone and sleek marble sit alongside modern luxuries such as sunken bathtubs overlooking the ocean and deliciously scented Aesop toiletries. The interlocking islands are set in a 100-hectare marine reserve, which Song Saa helped to establish. Guests can kayak through dense mangroves, search for starfish with a marine biologist or enjoy a night-time dip in bioluminescent waters. 

Book it: Carrier offers eight nights from £13,890 per person In a one-bed villa on an all-inclusive basis. The price includes business-class flights from London to Ho Chi Minh City, internal flights and a speedboat transfer.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

The holy grail, the original, the trailblazer - no list of private islands would be complete without Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island. He may have sought to re-mortgage it recently, but this bucket-list destination 1n the Caribbean is one of the best-known private isles in the world, attracting a star-studded roll call of names including Princess Diana, Kate Winslet, George Michael and Mariah Carey. Branson, who first visited the island in 1978, said the idea of buying a private island was initially a ruse to impress now-wife Joan Today, it's a playground for the ultra-rich, hired out for exclusive use for no more than 40 people, or opened up to smaller groups on so-called Celebration Weeks.

Book it: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights from £127,400 for up lo 40 people. The price Includes flights, transfers, all meals and drinks, watersports and airport lounge passes. 

Erica Rich

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