It’s not really a holiday when you’re surrounded by people you don’t know.
Private islands offer discerning travellers the chance to relax without maddening 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 11 islands will reset your energy and stress levels with next-level pampering and superior accommodation.
These are the 11 private islands that you should book for your 2023 escape.
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 North Island as been consistently named among the world’s best resorts since opening more than a decade ago. 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.
2. Laucala Island, Fiji
Where is it? Laucala 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 Laucala is a 1400-hectare private island sanctuary with dense rainforests, white-sand beaches. opulent accommodation, and fine food. Owner and Red Bull baron, Dietrich Mateschitz, has spared no expense on this stunning resort. Laucala has 25 Fijian-styled villas nestled next to beaches, the coconut plantation and the mountains. The crowning estate is the Hilltop Residence, a ‘resort in a resort’ with a private cook, chauffeur and nanny and panoramic views from the pool.
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.
Laucala Island, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 has 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.
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?
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 filled 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. 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.
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.
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.