Private paradise: the top ten luxury islands to fall for
Signature explores the places where you can unwind in absolute seclusion, far away from the cares of the world in your own private slice of paradise.
Images courtesy of Wilderness Safaris, North Island, Seychelles
Where is it? Thirty kilometres from the main island of Mahé, nestled among the inner granitic islands of Seychelles. 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 island has 11 villas created from local materials, each one a private beach home, moulded around knotted trees.
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.
Images courtesy of Nikki To.
Where is it? In the Kadavu Island Group, a 45-minute flight from Nadi on Fiji’s main island. Best for diving the Great Astrolabe Reef with turtles, manta rays and whales. Signature will be visiting once Kokomo opens in autumn, so stay tuned for our verdict.
The vibe As the private passion project of Australian property developer Lang Walker, Kokomo promises privacy and exclusivity. Accommodation ranges from the owners’ residence on the beachfront, five hilltop residences elevated amid tropical rainforest, or a choice of 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? Laucala is one of a trio of islands off the coast of Taveuni, but 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 Our editor’s favourite is a 1400-hectare sanctuary where dense rainforests and white-sand beaches set the scene for opulent accommodation, gracious hospitality and fine food. Owner and Red Bull baron, Dietrich Mateschitz, has spared no expense: 25 Fijian-styled villas sit upon 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 Discover the underwater world in the DeepFlight Super Falcon submarine. On land, take a jaunt across the rainforest, beaches and coconut plantations on a horseback tour.
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.
Images courtesy of Justin Mott.
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.
Images courtesy of Thanda Island.
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? Tropical Queensland’s most northerly resort is only accessible by private plane 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. It’s truly epic.
The vibe Breezy design and the laidback Tropical North Queensland atmosphere are best enjoyed with a sunset dinner or beach picnic. The island is set in a national park spanning more than 1000 hectares, with 24 beaches, a turquoise lagoon and the seemingly endless coral of the Great Barrier Reef. There are 40 suites, designed to evoke the relaxed air of a holiday home. The Pavilion is set on its own point for spectacular sunsets 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.
Images courtesy of Oetker Collection.
Where is it? A 15-minute flight or 1.5-hour boat ride from Mahé in the 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. Each of the 16 Private Pool Residences is tucked into the rocky coastline, while the three-villa Banyan Hill Estate offers 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.
Ones to watch
Connect with Madagascar’s fascinating endemic wildlife when Miavana makes its official debut in April 2017. There will be 14 villas dotted along the island’s beaches.
SIX SENSES ZIL PASYON, SEYCHELLES
Six Senses brings its wellbeing expertise to the dramatic island of Félicité, with 30 environmentally conscious villas designed to capture the majesty of the ocean.