What is it about private islands that makes us dream about them so? Many of us have done it, we sit there in front of our computer, in the office, on a cold and rainy day and dream of a warm tropical place, where we are far from all the craziness in our lives. We long for that place where there is no one else on the beach to interrupt the feeling like there is no one there to disrupt that perfect feeling of peace. Is it the sense of isolation that attracts? Or perhaps the idea of exclusivity that is usually associated with being on a private island? After all, we certainly do not want to find ourselves deserted on an island without all the creature comforts we have come to love. So how do we find this without shipwrecking ourselves?
There are private islands all around the world, from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Islands. So many private islands in fact that there is an entire website dedicated to the buying and selling of such islands. So many that one may think it is not as exclusive as we may have thought. But the term private island implies just that, a private place we will not get access to without a personal invitation. The good news is that there are some private islands that can make that office day dream a bit more accessible than we thought.
I have discovered several island destinations around the world with hotels that are indeed open to the public yet maintain the island unto themselves. Each providing the exclusivity, comfort, and sense of seclusion we expect in a private island escape. From casual to contemporary there is an island just for you.
Velaa (its name derived from the generations of sea turtles that flock there to nest and hatch) is a small island located in the exotic Noonu Atoll about 187 kilometres north of Male in the Maldives. Velaa is a resort comprised of 45 private villas, houses and exclusive residences, sleeping from 1-10 guests.
The resort also includes a romantic pool residence which can only be reached by boat,just in case you did not think the other villas were secluded enough.
It is elegant yet authentic. Complete with several restaurants and lounges the island resort has built a one restaurant (Tavaru) and wine cellar reminiscent of a tented tree house. It is several stories hight will a winding staircase on its exterior all the way to the top. Of course, if you do not want to walk there is always the elevator. There is no roughing it here.
Located just three miles from San Pedro in the calm waters of the Western Caribbean, off the coast of Belize, Cayo Espanto is very much an intimate, five-star resort. The island only covers four acres. It has only six casual yet comfortable villas and an over-water bungalow.
Service on the island is what stands out with a staff to guest ratio of two to one, you will always feel as if you have the entire island to yourself. Each villa has a private sea front, its own fresh water pool and verandah complete with alfresco showers. With a maximum of only eighteen guests you will never feel like the island is too small.
More of a retreat than a resort, Azura Quilalea is a wholly uninhabited island paradise surrounded by the pristine waters of the Quirimbas Archipelago marine sanctuary just off the coast of Mozambique. Nine seafront villas in a refined ‘Robinson Crusoe’ castaway style will make you feel you are far from the rest of the world.
To enjoy the marine life around the island you do not have to go far. From the main beach you can walk out into the ocean to snorkel or scuba dive. To see humpback whales, visit between July and November and you’ll find nesting turtles from November to April, and dolphin pods year-round.
Unspoiled in the Guld of Thailand, Song Saa is Cambodia’s first luxury private island resort. The owners have made great efforts create a destination that contributes to sustainable tourism in Cambodia. All of the water used on the island is carefully treated and reused, ensuring that no waste is released into the environment. They have re-introduced native vegetation around the resort and use driftwood and recycled timber from old and discarded Cambodian fishing boats in villa furniture and construction. They are a luxury retreat with a conscience.
The resort spans the islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve established by Song Saa to safeguard the islands’ reefs and marine life. Song Saa features 27 jungle, overwater and ocean view villas, enjoying expansive terraces — all with private swimming pools.
Ron Otto is Onwer of Best in Spain.