For the ultimate in seclusion, a stay on a private island – untouched and unreachable by the world at large – is a daydream indulgence most people have fantasised about. If you have ever wished for your very own personal paradise, here are some of the world’s most exclusive islands for hire. And even better, some of these secluded isles are just a short plane ride away.
Over Yonder Cay, Bahamas
The epitome of barefoot luxury, Over Yonder Cay is just one hour’s flight from Miami and 30 minutes from the capital, Nassau. Located in the Exumas
island chain, the 29-hectare island can accommodate up to 28 guests in four indulgently appointed and eco-friendly villas, powered by three wind turbines and a solar field. With ideal year-round temperatures, pristine surrounds, a nine-hole golf course and attentive yet unobtrusive staff, Over Yonder Cay is a gem worth a pirate’s bounty.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Owned by Sir Richard Branson, the entrepreneur’s private island and favourite hideaway amasses to almost 30 hectares in the Virgin Islands (of course!) ringed by coral reefs and turquoise waters with soft white sand underfoot. Necker can be exclusively hired for up to 30 people, or individual rooms across the alfresco-style Great House and six Bali Houses can be booked during select weeks. Do as little or as much as you like with a spa, tennis
courts, pools, watersports equipment and fine dining all available.
Cayo Espanto, Belize
A full-service private island resort off the Caribbean coast of Belize, this new Central American luxury locale is ideal for the watersports enthusiast as it is situated on the second largest barrier reef on the globe, affording exceptional diving opportunities. Only a seven-minute boat ride from the town of San Pedro in Belize and under two hours’ flight from Miami, guests can snorkel straight out into the clear aquamarine sea from their beachfront bungalow villa (there are seven premium abodes on offer) or survey the view from your private plunge pool in paradise.
Song Saa Island, Cambodia
In the relatively undiscovered and undeveloped Koh Rong archipelago, lazing in the Gulf of Thailand, Song Saa is Cambodia’s first private island. Meaning ‘the sweethearts’ in Khmer, the twin islands of Song Saa are blessed with pristine rainforests, coral reefs and shimmering pearlescent sands that you are sure to fall in love with. Just a 35-minute boat transfer from Sihanoukville, the resort surrounds blend seamlessly with nature from the holistic sanctuary treatments to the 27 jungle, ocean view or overwater villas.
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Taprobane Island, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s only privately owned island spans just one hectare and sits off Weligama Bay on the country’s southern coast. Less than an hour’s helicopter ride from Colombo, access to the idyllic isle is simply on foot or by elephant. Tiny Taprobane Island boasts just one villa, an octagonal pavilion-style house that can accommodate up to 10 guests. What Taprobane lacks in size though, it makes up for in blissful surrounds with a private chef on hand, an infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean and tropical gardens.
Dolphin Island, Fiji
How to improve on the innate and childfriendly hospitality of the Fijian islands? Anchor yourself in the secluded surrounds of Dolphin Island, just 20 minutes’ boat ride from Viti Levu. With a recent enhancement referencing the breezy ambience of the South Pacific courtesy of renowned interior designer Virginia Fisher, the five exquisite thatched-roof bures (including an alfresco hilltop sleep-out) ensure the utmost privacy for up to eight
guests on the petite five-hectare island dotted with towering palms.
Makepeace Island, Australia
A stay on a heart-shaped island almost guarantees an intimate interlude. The petite yet perfectly formed Makepeace Island, just a few minutes’ upstream from Noosa in Queensland, is a sanctuary where 20 select guests can luxuriate in three Balinese-style villas and the fourbedroom Bali House accommodation on the 10-hectare isle. Another Richard Branson venture, hedonists and romantics will find plenty to love here, including the centrepiece lagoon pool, 15-person heated spa, outdoor cinema, two-storey Balinese pavilion with river views and world-class culinary offerings.
Pumpkin Island, Australia
Part of the Keppel Group, the charmingly named Pumpkin Island is a gem within the riches of the Great Barrier Reef. The resident flatback turtles certainly think so, as the rare species is unique to the area. While the sugar-crystal sands are fine for the local wildlife, other visitors to this six-hectare privately owned island may prefer staying in one of five self-catering cottages, which can accommodate up to eight people in each eco-friendly abode. It’s affordable luxury with the whole island at your disposal.