The world's best private island holidays
Get away from it all – and them all – with our pick of the world's most exclusive getaways
Sometimes it's not enough to escape from the office. We need to get away from the world altogether.
Private islands, once the preserve of royals and titans of industry, offer just such an experience. And while many of them come with a price tag as breathtaking as their scenery, a few are extending their reach beyond the one per cent.
JA Manafaru, the Maldives
The Maldives consist of more than a thousand islands, strung out like a daisy chain in the Indian Ocean. Long a byword for honeymoon luxury, the country now offers even more exclusive places to stay through JA Resorts & Hotels. JA Manafaru nestles on the 35-acre Haa Alif Atoll (pictured above), 200 miles north of the capital Male (a seaplane trip takes 75 minutes). There are roughly 80 villas scattered around the site, ranging from beach bungalows with private pools to waterside villas with their own infinity pools.
Looking for even more seclusion? Take up their "Castaway Island" honeymoon package, where a dhoni (traditional fishing boat) will transport you to a completely uninhabited island (pictures at the top of the page) before lunch and leave you there for the afternoon with a gourmet hamper. There you can relax, snorkel and pretend you're in an (extremely) upmarket retelling of Robinson Crusoe.
Castaway excursions range from $205 (£158) per person for a day visit, up to approx. $410 (£316) per person for an overnight experience. Stays at JA Manafaru start at $623 (£475) per room per night on a B&B basis (flights are not included).
For more information or to book, visit jaresortshotels.com
Petit St Vincent, Caribbean
Reconnect with nature on the 115-acre volcanic island of Petit St Vincent. With a mix of forest and ocean views, its 22 cottages and villas are unencumbered by the distractions of Wi-Fi and TV. Instead, guests can enjoy the pristine beaches and warm Caribbean water, or charter the traditional sailing sloop Beauty for a day of island hopping, snorkelling and champagne from a 5,000-bottle wine cellar.
Activities range from the active - scuba lessons and underwater mindfullness - to the indulgent, including fine dining in the sand dunes and massages at the hillside spa. “There are beaches for every mood,” says Forbes, “including shallow, child-friendly ones and others that back onto rainforest.”
A stay at Petit St. Vincent starts from $1,200 (£870) per room per night, including three meals per day, non-alcoholic drinks and some activities.
See petitstvincent.com for more information
Isn't that the one with the statues? It is – but it also has boutique hotels and lodges. Officially part of Chile, this super-remote place is a five-hour flight from the mainland and world famous for its mysterious 900 or so moai, or stone monoliths. These are dotted around a landscape that's a striking mix of beaches, volcanic craters and lava formations.
Cox & Kings offers private tours of Chile and recommends adding a three or four-night stay on to one of its bespoke itineraries, departing from Santiago, almost 4,000km away. Try the 30-room Explora Rapa Nui, built from native volcanic rock and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There's an infinity pool and open-air hot tub, as well as five guided island explorations daily.
A three-night stay with Cox & Kings, with flights from Santiago (and a night there), is priced from £995 per person.
Coxandkings.co.uk provides further information.
They call it "blue safari", a bespoke getaway cocooned in an archipelago of impossibly white beaches and blue seas. Billed as Madagascar's first five-star eco luxury hotel, the Miavana "Island Sanctuary" is accessible only by helicopter from the mainland. It promises a truly exclusive stay.
Miavana, which means "coming together" in Malagasy, has a string of one to three-bedroom villas, each with their own private deck and pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. The temperature hovers around 30C all year round; guests can take the scuba diving lessons included in the price, or a helicopter safari to see the lemurs. The place can accommodate a maximum of 44 people, but if even that feels crowded, you can hire the entire island for $100,000 (£77,000).
Rates from $2,250 (£1,734) per person per night.
More information can be found here.
Quirimbas dhow safari, Mozambique
In the Quirimbas archipelago, paradise is the norm. The 200km stretch is a seemingly endless parade of untouched beaches amid azure seas. Africa specialists the Luxury Safari Company offers a unique way to see it all: a "safari" by dhow, a picturesque breed of boat.
Over the course of nine nights, you and up to five others will be transported from idyll to idyll, pausing to snorkel over the coral or sunbathe on the sands. The itinerary includes exploring fishing villages nestled beside mangroves and river channels, a night's camping, and a few days on Ibo Island to see its hauntingly beautiful old town ruins.
From £2,922 per person, including international flights and all internal arrangements based on two to three people; from £2,147 per person for four to six people.
For more information visit theluxurysafaricompany.com
Sindabezi Island on the Zambezi River, Zambia
Islands in the ocean are common, but how about staying on a river island? That's what's on offer from the Luxury Safari Company with Sindabezi, an island retreat on the Zambezi River that's home to just five exclusive cottages and the only deluxe bush camp near Victoria Falls.
This is island living with a twist. The open-sided thatched houses perch directly over the river, the main camp is on sand, but there's action up in the trees too, where there's a dining deck and star gazing platform. From there you can visit the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, go fishing or take guided walks around the area.
Call +44 (0) 1666 880 111 for a quote or email email@example.com
Isleta El Espino, Nicaragua
A short private boat ride away from the historic city of Granada, this exclusive retreat on Isleta El Espino ("espino" means hawthorn) overlooks the open beauty of Lake Nicaragua.
Featuring a swimming pool and massage facilities, but also a yoga platform and kayaks, this three-bedroom eco lodge – one in a treehouse – is ideal for people who want to relax but also keep active in stunning surroundings. Horseback riding on the cocoa and banana plantations, hiking and fishing are all available. At the end of the day you can sit back with a cocktail and take in the stunning views of the dormant Mombacho volcano.
Rooms from $105 (£81) per night.
Island Retreat, Greece
Tucked away in the Cyclades archipelago, but only one hour from Athens, this private islet retreat has been family-owned since the early part of the last century.
Home to just a smattering of old buildings and a chapel, the main villa is recommended for between eight and 22 people. It was built in the 1920s and has been renovated twice since, although its charming, olive tree-laden surroundings remain untouched. There are no permanent residents here, except for a few rescue horses, one of which can be ridden. As for amenities, a chef and full staff can be arranged, or if you want to do it yourself you can pick from a wide array of home-grown produce. If you ever need to remind yourself of civilisation, the larger island of Evia with its spa towns, rich history and beautiful forests, is just across the water.
Sleeps 12, from £6,700 per week.
Further information can be found here.