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‘Absolute seclusion’: 13 private islands you need to book now

Private islands offer discerning travellers the chance to relax without crowds. Once you step ashore, you’ll feel the tension in your shoulders subside, your breath slowing to mimic the pulse of the ocean. Whether you spend six days or six months, each of these luxury islands will reset your energy and stress levels with next-level pampering and superior accommodation. These are the luxury private islands that you should book for your future escape.

1. Pelorus Private Island, Great Barrier Reef

Where is it? Accessed via a 30-minute helicopter journey from Townsville or a private superyacht, Pelorus Private Island is an utterly secluded and indulgent hideaway nestled amongst the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

Best for Relaxation and barefoot adventure such as diving and snorkelling, guided jet ski and sea bob tours, reef fishing, visiting the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) and boat charters.

The vibe Northern Escape Collection redefines ‘utter seclusion’ with Pelorus Private Island. Embraced by pristine waters, superb fringing reefs, and a lush verdant hillside, the location boasts a naturally isolated single sprawling residence featuring four luxurious suites, making it the only luxury private island residence in the region.

Must-do The island provides access to the untouched wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island, Australia’s largest island national park, home to rainforest-clad hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife and diverse flora – so hiking is an essential experience at this destination.

Pelorus Private Island

2. COMO Laucala Island, Fiji

Where is it? COMO Laucala Island is one of a trio of islands off the coast of Taveuni. Guests can fly in directly from Nadi International Airport on Fiji’s mainland to the island’s own airstrip.

Best for A wholly sustainable and local Fijian cultural experience, sheltered beneath the coconut groves.

The vibe COMO Laucala Island is a 1400-hectare private island sanctuary with dense rainforests, white-sand beaches. opulent accommodation, and fine food. No expense has been spared on this stunning resort. COMO Laucala Island has 25 Fijian-styled villas nestled next to beaches, the coconut plantation and the mountains. Each Residence has its own elegant lounge, private pool, spacious sundecks and outdoor baths. You will also receive the services of a Tau – Fijian for ‘friend’ – who can assist you with anything you need during your stay.

Must-do You must book a long, rejuvenating Swedish massage on Tadra beach, with champagne of course. We also recommend a jaunt across the rainforest, beaches and coconut plantations on a horseback tour.

Read: A look inside COMO Laucala Island, Fiji – one of the world’s most exclusive resorts

COMO Laucala Island is a private paradise

3. Miavana by Time + Tide, Madagascar

Located on the largest of five islands in a remote archipelago off northern Madagascar, the resort is an ultra-private retreat for A-listers. The coral-fringed island is home only to the resort, a small village of thatch-roofed huts and lemurs. The resort has just 14 villas with private butlers, cavernous living areas, separate lounge rooms, two airy bathrooms and an outdoor shower. They all open to sprawling private gardens dotted with multiple sunbeds around an ellipse-shaped pool. All-inclusive activities include gourmet dining with top-shelf spirits, and some wines, guided jungle walks, snorkelling, scuba dives, boat cruises and guided island excursions. The sustainable island retreat not only takes excellent care of its guests, but the local community and environment, too. Rates start at around $3,400 per person per night.

Read: This ultra-luxe Madagascan resort shares an island with lemurs

4. North Island, Seychelles

Where is it? This gorgeous private island is nestled among the inner granitic islands 30 kilometres from Mahé.

Best for Escaping the limelight for a casual beach experience where nothing is prescribed and everything is on offer. Shoes are optional.

The vibe Since opening more than a decade ago, North Island as been consistently named among the world’s best resorts. It embodies perfection and discretion without ever feeling stuffy. The private island has 11 beachfront villas moulded around knotted trees and crafted from local materials.

Must-do Take part in the ongoing Noah’s Ark conservation programme and learn about the rehabilitation of the island’s native plant and animal species.

Read: A luxury sojourn at North Island, Seychelles

5. Kokomo Private Island Resort, Fiji

Where is it? The second of our private islands in Fiji, Kokomo is a 45 minutes flight from Nadi in Kadavu Island Group.

Best for Diving the Great Astrolabe Reef with turtles, manta rays and whales.

The vibe Australian property developer Lang Walker crafted Kokomo as a passion project and it promises privacy and exclusivity. Kokomo has five hilltop residences elevated amid tropical rainforest and 21 beachside villas.

Must-do Venture along the island’s forested walking paths and soak up the views from the island summit.

Read: Six-star Fijian luxury at Kokomo Island Resort

6. Amanpulo, Philippines

Where is it? In the Cuyo Archipelago, just an hour by private plane from Manila.

Best for Diving into a tropical island cliché, complete with blinding-white sands and translucent turquoise waters.

The vibe Aman’s understated elegance meets the brilliant waters of Pamalican Island at this secluded retreat, ringed by 5.5 kilometres of powder white-sand beach and seven kilometres of marine life-rich reef. Architect Francisco Manosa was inspired by traditional Philippine houses in his design for each of the 58 Casitas and Villas, with vaulted wooden ceilings, coconut shell tables and Cebu marble bathrooms.

Must-do Look closer at the stars with the island’s refracting telescope.

7. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Where is it? A 45-minute boat ride from Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia.

Best for Finding harmony with nature, loved ones and yourself.

The vibe Indulge in sunrise yoga, snorkelling in the marine reserve among turtles and seahorses, or guided tours of the rainforest to your heart’s content. The 27 overwater, jungle and oceanview villas are built with sustainable materials, using natural and salvaged materials to create synergy with the sea, the rainforests and the local culture of Cambodia. Private infinity pools and the opportunity to dine under the stars on your deck add a final five-star polish. Dining at Song Saa is a sumptuous, enriching affair, with a focus on fresh, sustainable and locally produced food.

Must-do Experience the Song Saa Sanctuaries. Just be sure to leave your preconception of a ‘spa’ back on the mainland; these sanctuaries are dotted across the island for a holistic rejuvenation that encompasses everything from massage to nutrition and meditation to hiking and gardening. The result is said to be transformative.

8. The Brando, French Polynesia

Where is it? Tetiaroa is a 20-minute plane journey from Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport.

Best for Natural splendour influenced by a sacred royal (and Hollywood) history.

The vibe It’s easy to see why Marlon Brando fell in love with the private atoll of Tetiaroa and made it his personal sanctuary: pristine isles surround a turquoise lagoon where nature is nurtured. The all-inclusive luxury resort features 35 thatched-roof villas, each with its own private beach area and pool, ensuring tranquillity goes hand in hand with sustainability.

Must-do Float, swim or dive through the lagoon and deep waters around the island and see all of its vibrant marine life.

9. Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

Where is it? In the British Virgin islands, a 30-minute boat ride from Tortola.

Best for An adventure-filled getaway with up to 34 of your nearest and dearest.

The vibe Sir Richard Branson’s private island paradise immerses you in his laidback lifestyle with outdoor activities (there’s even a zipline). Necker is been designed for exclusive buy-outs. So if you’re not planning on booking the whole island, keep an eye out for ‘Celebration Weeks’ when you can book an individual room.

Must-do: Get competitive with a day of Beach Olympics or an ‘Amazing Race’ challenge. Games might include Champagne Diving and Sumo Suit Wrestling. Follow it up with dinner from the floating sushi bar in the Beach Pool.

10. Thanda Island, Tanzania

Where is it? In Tanzania’s Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, a 45-minute helicopter flight from Dar es Salaam airport.

Best for An exclusive post-safari jaunt where you can swim among whale sharks; it’s almost like having the Indian Ocean to yourself.

The vibe As the first-ever villa member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Thanda is your private beach house, only available on a sole-use basis. The look is Cape Cod meets East Africa, down to the copper bathtub and striped chaise longues beside the pool.

Must-do Explore the recently discovered sunken city, possibly dating back to 50AD. Could it be the the legendary Roman city of Rhapta?

Read: Close encounters with whale sharks at Thanda Island, Tanzania

Villa outside, Thanda Island
Thanda Island, Tanzania

11. Lizard Island, Australia

Where is it? Lizard Island is Tropical Queensland’s most northerly resort. Guests will need to book a private plane to access the island from Cairns Airport

Best for An intimate escape on the world’s most famous reef. If you’re an angler, however, time your visit to coincide with the annual black marlin game fishing tournament.

The vibe Relaxed breezy design combines with laidback Tropical North Queensland style at Lizard Island. This is a holiday with sunset dinners and beach picnics. It’s also a place to get back to nature. Lizard Island is part of the Lizard Island National Park, which comprises Lizard, Osprey, Palfrey and South islands and Seabird Islets along with Eagle Island. This unspoilt 1000 hectare paradise has 24 beaches and a turquoise lagoon. Plus guests also have direct access to the Great Barrier Reef.

The resort’s 40 suites feel more like a holiday home. The best of all is The Pavilion, which has spectacular sunset views over the Coral Sea.

Must-do Go from snorkelling or diving the day away to rejuvenating in the Essentia Day Spa and lingering over fresh seafood at Salt Water Restaurant.

Read: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef hotel review

12. Fregate Island, Seychelles

Where is it? A 15-minute flight or 1.5-hour boat ride from Mahé in Seychelles.

Best for Unrivalled beauty and interactions with 2000 resident Aldabra Tortoises.

The vibe This Oetker Collection masterpiece property offers elegance and the sort of refined silver service more commonly found in urbane hotels. The resort has 16 Private Pool Residences tucked into the rocky coastline. Step it up a level and book the three-villa Banyan Hill Estate if you want open-style living on an opulent scale. The resort is currently under refurbishment and will reopen in  2024.

Must-do Dine on high in the Treehouse, perched in an old banyan tree. Or choose your ingredients before a gourmet experience at the heart of the plantation.

13. Félicité Island, Seychelles

Where is it? A short speedboat ride from La Digue or 20-minute helicopter flight from Mahé.

Best for Outdoor activities: hike through the deep jungle of Félicité, bike around La Digue Island, or canoeing around Coco Island.

The vibe Six Senses Zil Pasyon is the sole resort on Félicité. Secluded and spacious, one- and two-bedroom villas are surrounded by tropical vegetation with unsurpassed ocean vistas. Plus all come with private infinity pools and butler service. Villas are nestled into the granite stone offering a true nature meets luxury accommodation.

Must-do A romantic sundowner. Relax into oversized beanbags while enjoying champagne and handmade samosas, watching the sun set into the horizon from the island’s best (and arguably world’s best) viewpoint.

This article originally appeared in volume 36 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.