We all have the castaway dream: alone on an island paradise, living freely, at peace, at one with nature and the one’s we love. You can experience this in real life at exclusive island destinations across the world, where solitude and pure escapism also encompass indulgent service and five-star luxury.
A private picnic or invigorating coconut scrub on a deserted stretch of beach; a rainforest hike to a series of breathtaking waterfalls; combing small villages to find handmade crafts; napping in a thatched bure, listening to the rolling ocean, faint chirps of exotic birds and gentle breezes fluttering through palm trees overhead. Whatever you dream of, these tranquil island getaways will truly take you a world away.
PETIT ST. VINCENT
Petit St. Vincent, an idyllic oasis in the Grenadines, is the definition of a hideaway. This tiny, privately owned island resort resides on an islet bordered by colorful coral reefs and powder sugar-soft beaches. Here you’ll enjoy unsurpassed privacy and relish in the complete sense of isolation. Enjoy the views from your private one or two bedroom oceanview or beach front villa. Want service? You need only to hoist a signal flag outside your cottage. Relax and sip a delightful cocktail at the beachside bar or select a bottle of Champagne or wine from the well-stocked wine cellar. Visit the nearby dive center, managed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, where naturalists and marine biologists offer boundless insights into the local marine life.
Set on the private island of Pine Cay, The Meridian Club offers 13 private rooms along a stunning two mile beach. This jewel of the Turks and Caicos is ideal for those in search of the timeless spirit of the old West Indies. A sanctuary for beach lovers who want to get away from it all, the enchanting blend of coral reefs and calm bays creates the ideal conditions to plunge into the inviting waters. Spy vibrant-colored coral and fish on dives and, in-season, witness majestic whales as they pass close to the island. Year-round light breezes also make near-perfect conditions for sailing, windsurfing and parasailing.
For the ultimate in secluded oceanfront living, Cayo Espanto is a private four-acre islet near Ambergris Caye, Belize. Here, everything is quiet, evoking a pervasive sense of calm. With only 7 beachfront villas, this is a true island paradise. Wherever you stand, sit or lie on this property, you’re rewarded with postcard-perfect ocean views. On the west side of the island, you can take in the fiery warm glow of spectacular sunsets, then drift off to a blissful slumber before waking to the warmth of another glorious day.
With an exotic collection of 365 cays and islands to call its own — many of which are uninhabited or underdeveloped — the Exumas are like a smaller collection of islands within the Bahamas. Daily diversions in this idyllic island system includes hiking past plantation ruins, pirate lairs and a massive whale skeleton at Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park; basking in the sun on Tropic of Cancer beach, one of the country’s most gorgeous stretches of sand and sea; exploring nearby uninhabited islands while passing by private island retreats owned by celebrities and the rich & famous; and, for any Instagrammer worth his or her salt, getting your picture taken while swimming with friendly pigs at Big Major’s Cay with a private luxury day trip from Ray and Justin at Exuma Watersports. Exclusive accommodation options range from luxury all-inclusive in a beachfront villa at Sandals Emerald Bay – complete with world class golf & spa; a private villa rental at Fowl Cay Resort – a private island; or escape to your own private island at Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay with luxury guest houses and magical escapes.
About a 45-minute ferry ride off the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Holbox Island hosts the world’s largest known congregation of whale sharks in the summer months and thriving populations of native pink flamingos year-round. Beyond nature, the island — completely void of cars and most other reminders of globalization — flourishes with a small boho-chic downtown, wide swathes of quiet beaches, mom-and-pop-run beachfront bungalows and colorful beach bars. Go for the local favorite lobster pizza, a signature dish at restaurants across the island, and settle in to boutique luxury accommodations like beachfront favorite Casa Las Tortugas.
If it’s Old World charm and romance you’re after, then Nevis, the smaller sibling to nearby St Kitts, is the place. This compact but perfectly formed gem centered by Nevis Peak, a lofty, dormant volcano, covers just 36 square miles and has been luring starry-eyed couples for as long as anyone can remember. Life moves slowly on Nevis, aided and abetted by beguiling boutique resorts with dreamy suites, several of which are centered on old plantation properties amid manicured grounds. When you’re ready to venture away from your resort, romantic activities range from sunset horse rides along the beach to watersports at Oualie Beach, where Nevis Yacht Charters offer private tours. For the ultimate escape on Nevis, the Four Seasons Resort is a small, colonial style secluded beachfront retreat offering golf, spa, sailing school and over the top luxury.
Sailors know the British Virgin Islands as legendary cruising grounds. Here, in places like Virgin Gorda, Peter’s Island and Tortola, you’ll find sheltered marinas with good anchorages and small hotels popular with yachters. Even better, you can sail to these various islands without going outside the reefs into the ocean. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to continue on from Virgin Gorda. The allure comes from the almost primitive feel of this 10-mile long island: There’s little shopping, few restaurants outside of the hotels, and the only major attraction is a snorkeling spot called The Baths, where rock grottos on the shoreline form natural pools. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Ready to go . . . check out the unique mix of small eclectic luxury beach and marina resorts including Little Dix Bay, Scrub Island; for the ultimate in privacy and luxury Richard Branson’s Necker Island retreat; and for a truly unique and personalized escape consider a fully staffed bareboat charter on a 58’ luxury catamaran from The Moorings.
This tiny sun-kissed island-nation is host to an improbable 365 white sand beaches – one for each day of the year. Living history unfolds at Nelsons’ Dockyard National Park, named after former resident Admiral Horatio Nelson. The restored naval dockyard dates to the 17th century and today hosts Antigua Sailing Week, one of the Caribbean’s most anticipated spring events. For the brave at heart, zipline high atop the rainforest canopy. Brag-worthy catches tempt fishermen offshore, and dive outfitters take full advantage of the scores of vibrantly colored tropical fish along the reefs of Dickenson Bay. As an added bonus, Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport, a hub for small aircraft, offers multiple daily flights to both St. Barth’s and St. Kitts & Nevis, making this the perfect jumping-off point for a true Caribbean adventure. For a true Caribbean getaway look to these luxury tipped exclusive island retreats: all-inclusive luxury in a unique rondoval villa, with private plunge pools and butler service, at Sandals Grande Antigua; Hermitage Bay an authentic Caribbean boutique resort; Carlisle Bay, a haven of seclusion and relaxation; and Jumby Bay Island, a private island resort set 10 minutes off the coast of Antigua.