7 of Africa’s must-stay private islands

There is something particularly romantic about the idea of a deserted island, a place untouched untouched by urbanisation and the hassles of everyday life. Crystal clear waters, white beaches, and peace and quiet beckon. But though a Robinson Crusoe-style shipwreck might appeal to some, most of us prefer to stay with rather more of life’s luxuries around us. We’ve therefore sought out Africa’s most exclusive private islands where you have all the benefits of a desert island, combined with every comfort.

North Island, Seychelles

Time and again North Island has won awards for its exclusivity, its conservation efforts, and its remarkable natural beauty. There are just 11 villas on the island, all made from natural materials and perfectly in keeping with the landscape. Guests have the opportunity to learn about the incredible wildlife – in particular indigenous flora, Seychelles blue pigeon, and Hawksbill and green turtle – from the Environmental Team, and to participate in the ongoing rehabilitation of the island. Start the day with a holistic spa treatment as the sun rises, and end it at the West Beach Bar as the sun sets pink and gold on the horizon.

Mumbo Island, Malawi

Right in the middle of the Lake Malawi National Park, this small island is completely covered in greenery, giving it a jungle feel. The island camp sleeps just 14 guests, and all the accommodation is made from natural materials. Beds are comfortable but there’s a strong temptation to sleep out on a hammock on the deck, cooled by the natural breeze. Mumbo Island has exceptional green credentials: no litter is left on the island, lighting is solar powered, and water is harvested and carefully conserved. It’s a paradise for watersports lovers: you can kayak around the island’s coastline, snorkel and scuba dive, and swim with the island’s only mammals, the spotted-necked otter.

Bird Island, Seychelles

During the months from May to October, Bird Island lives up to its name: hundreds of thousands of sooty tern come to the island to breed. It’s a dream come true for bird lovers, and guests can walk amongst them on a nature walk. Bird Island is widely considered to be one of the finest eco lodges in the Seychelles, and the owners have gone to great lengths to ensure guests do not disturb the wildlife. There are no artificial lights at all on the island, to ensure turtle hatchlings don’t get confused by the light and so can find their way to the ocean easily. The added bonus is that the night sky is completely unpolluted by light, enabling unrivalled star gazing.

L’ilot, Mauritius

L’ilot is an island utopia in the Mauritius archipelago, accessed from the mainland via a narrow bridge. A single villa, built as a family home 60 years ago, sits atop the volcanic rock with 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean. Once you’ve set foot here it’s unlikely that you’ll leave at all, whatever the duration of your stay: lazy days comprise of breakfast on the veranda, dips in the sea, and barefoot walks along the sand. Fisherman pop by with fresh lobster and other treats from the day’s catch; the local baker delivers croissant and warm bread by bicycle. L’ilot is the ultimate place to relax.

Fregate Island, Seychelles

2,200 giant aldabra turtle roam free on Fregate Island. They live side by side with hundreds of endangered hawksbill turtle, marine bird life, and the Seychelles magpie robin, which the island’s conservation team has miraculously saved from extinction. Each of the luxurious residences on the island has a private pool, should you want a change from swimming in the sea, and there’s the option to have private spa facilities as well.

Pemba Island, Zanzibar

The crescent shaped island of Pemba lies just off the coast of Zanzibar in the warm Indian Ocean. The Fundu Lagoon has 18 rooms, each one of which is unique, and a lantern-lit dining area right on the beach. The atmosphere after dark is quite magical. The neighbouring island of Misali is part of a marine conservation area, and when you visit it on a day trip from Pemba, you’ll find that the white sand beaches are only disturbed by turtle. There simply isn’t another person in sight.

La Digue, Seychelles

La Digue is a natural oasis surrounded by azure waters. The sandy beaches are perfectly white, strewn with occasional boulders and fringed with palm trees. But though the location is indisputably film set perfect, and early settlers did think that here they had discovered the Garden of Eden, it is the wildlife that is the real draw. Seychelles’ giant tortoise roam around the old plantation house at the centre of the estate, and the Veuve Reserve boasts exceptional birdlife, including the endemic and critically endangered paradise flycatcher.

Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Herlina Kwee says:

    They look lovely, especially La Digue, Seychelles. Seeing the giant tortoise and other endangered species will be quite an experience. One day …

  2. Hannah tan says:

    Wow the pictures are beautiful! Nice informative write up on how Africa is more than just the animal safari. Definitely on my to go list!

  3. Cathy says:

    A private island must be almost everyone’s dream! I love that the Seychelles island is known for its conservation efforts, things like that are such a bonus for me. I think a lot of people look at conservation and eco-friendliness as a bonus these days – it’s definitely necessary. Bird Island sounds like a great place to stay though, I bet there’s lots of perfect photography opportunities

  4. Sarah says:

    All of these islands look so amazing, I really want to explore them. North Island, Seychelles looks very photogenic and would be a great honeymoon location. The jungle like secluded feel at Mumbo Island, Malawi looks absolutely magical, this would be a dream location.

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