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Last updated: 3 November 2022

Pinch-yourself private islands you can actually book (and will never want to leave)

The ultimate get-away-from-it-all holiday, private islands take seclusion and exclusivity to new levels of luxury. These castaway retreats are desert island dreams come true, where a world of swaying hammocks and tropical cocktails awaits. Think over-water villas and treetop spas, infinity pools that stretch as far as the eye can see and uninterrupted views of starlit skies. If you’ve missed out on a holiday, honeymoon, or special occasion during the pandemic, why not make up for lost time on these indulgent-meets-idyllic islands.

1. Milaidhoo Maldives, Baa Atoll – Maldives

Milaidhoo Island

Part of Baa Atoll – a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the natural beauty of Milaidhoo Maldives is both protected and private. A true immersion in Maldivian life, wander along the endless wooden walkways stretching over the water, or sleep under the stars on a sandbank setting for two. For your very own piece of paradise, opt for the Beach Pool Villa or the Beach Residence – hidden amid lush tropical greenery, these spacious villas are set on private powdersoft beaches and offer ocean views from the King-size bed. Opening 180-degrees to the sundeck which has a swing chair, sun loungers, and private freshwater infinity pool, this is island life at its luxurious best. There are also specialist wildlife sessions on offer with the island’s resident marine biologist, for nature lovers to discover what makes whale sharks tick, why manta rays dance, what makes dolphins smile and help with identification and conservation practices.

2. Petit St. Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Caribbean

Petit St. Vincent

The castaway Caribbean island of Petit St. Vincent in the southernmost Grenadines is a private paradise all about laid-back, barefoot luxury. With just 22 cottages dotted about the sandy shores and windswept bluffs, this remote resort was social distancing long before the pandemic. Without the distractions of in-room technology, and with limited internet available on the island, guests are invited to completely switch off from the rest of the world. Room service comes Robinson-Crusoe style through a flagpole communication system, delivering anything from fresh fruit platters to stacks of syrup-covered pancakes straight to your hammock. To take things to the next tranquil level, meditate to the sound of hummingbirds flitting between the treetops at the island’s hilltop Balinese spa, with four open-air treatment rooms to unwind with a selection of all-natural body scrubs and healing herbs.

3. Calala Island, Nicaragua – Caribbean

Calala Island

Palm trees, turquoise seas and lazy hammock days – welcome to Nicaragua’s coast. This is the place to leave dry land behind and unearth a string of island pearls. Where eagle rays swim beneath jetties and sunsets don’t need a filter. Here, pristine private islands are home to Nicaragua’s ultra-luxury hideaway hotels – such as the four-suite Calala Island that redefines the castaway experience for modern times. Sip a morning mimosa in your hammock and stretch out on deserted beaches. Wiggle your toes in the warm, crystal sea and watch the wildlife dart about your feet. With breath-taking sea life and tropical temperatures, snorkels and masks (as well as sunglasses and floppy hats) are a must-have for Calala.

4. Baros Maldives, Malé – Maldives

Baros Maldives

Think Maldives and what do you picture? Villas perched over crystalline water, rays scooting through the shallows, white sands and blue seas to the horizon… Baros is all of this in full postcard-worthy perfection. But this is a resort with something extra. Fully committed to protecting its fragile paradise, Baros takes sustainability seriously. Under the guidance of the resident marine biologist, guests can get involved with a coral rehabilitation programme, to help replenish the vulnerable reefs around the resort. The Baros dive centre is fully eco-certified, and trips beneath the surface focus on respecting marine life. Behind the scenes, the resort works hard to minimise its impact on the natural environment, using biodegradable cleaning solutions, and recycled water to irrigate its gardens. So you can enjoy paradise with a clear conscience.

5. Pangkor Laut Resort, Lumut – Malaysia

Pangkor Laut Resort

Tropical jungle, rocky outcrops and the beautiful beach of Emerald Bay create a magical environment at Pangkor Laut Resort, an idyllic island paradise off the west coast of Malaysia. Choose from Sea, Beach, Spa, Hill or Garden Villas, each in individually unique settings and many with outdoor bathtubs. Relax on your balcony and take in the soul-stirring sea views with the high pitched calls of macaque monkeys in the background. Spend a lazy morning soaking up the sun next to one of the resort’s two swimming pools, or practise yoga on the Spa Villa Deck with a cooling sea breeze. For a more active afternoon, adventure-seeking guests can trek through the rainforest with the resident naturalist, or set sail on a traditional teakwood boat to explore the tiny islands that dot the Straits of Malacca.