The words “private island” can send even the least romantic pragmatist spiralling into starry daydreams of turquoise waters, gentle sea breezes, glorious tranquility and obliging personal butlers. The associations are not unfounded: such island retreats do exist, and they beckon with promises of unrivalled luxury.
Here are just five of the best. As for what they all have in common? Pristine sun-soaked beaches, lush flora, dreamy decor and unparalleled privacy. And, importantly, a drive to preserve the delicate ecology of their paradisiacal locales.
North Island, Seychelles
The epitome of barefoot luxury, the ultra-exclusive North Island in Seychelles houses only 11 private guest villas. Eco-conscious celebrities love it: Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymooned here, and so did Amal and George Clooney. Part of the appeal is North Island’s highly applauded conservation and rehabilitation programme, which uses profits from the resort to not only preserve but restore the biodiversity of the island by replanting vegetation and reintroducing endangered species.
Petit St. Vincent, Caribbean
It’s impossible to truly relax when email and social media are constantly tugging at your sleeve like an attention-starved child. For a true escape, try Petit St. Vincent — an island without cars or technology. In the absence of phones, wifi or TVs, guests can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the tropical island with its white sands and swaying palms, and instead use a charmingly old-fashioned flagpole system to call for service. The resort also strives for sustainability: water comes via a desalination plant, ingredients are picked fresh from a chef’s garden, and those scrambled eggs on your breakfast plate are gathered daily from the island’s 200-odd organic chickens.
The Brando, French Polynesia
Once the private getaway of Godfather Marlon Brando, this island opened its arms to luxury-seeking travellers in 2014. To keep the human imprint at a minimum, the resort hosts no more than 80 guests at any given time — but what a visual and tactile treat awaits those guests! Every detail is carefully considered in this quiet hideaway, while the island itself — or more accurately, the cluster of islets which form the glittering, coral reef-crowned Tetiaroa atoll — is indescribably beautiful. The Brando has a conservation center tasked with protecting the native flora and fauna, a solar energy system, and air conditioning powered by sea water.
Isleta El Espino, Nicaragua
You don’t have to venture far from mainland Nicaragua to find privacy and tranquility — Isleta El Espino is a mere 10-minute boat ride away. The small islet houses a beautifully designed eco-lodge complete with locally-made earthenware tiles and hand-carved furniture, where you’ll be waited on with impeccable service. It’s also environmentally friendly: the site uses off-grid renewable energy, water is recycled on site, and delicious meals are prepared by the resident chef using ingredients plucked straight from the islet’s organic garden.
Bedarra Island, Australia
Bedarra Island’s nine private villas are tucked amoungst 45 verdant hectares of tropical rainforest — so if it’s a combination of raw natural beauty and absolute luxury you’re after, you know your little heart is going to palpitate with joy when you land atop the island’s soft, warm sands. Bedarra is where you go to spend lazy days playing tennis in the sunshine, snorkelling in turquoise waters, dining on chef-made delicacies or packing a gourmet picnic hamper and launching off in a dinghy to a nearby, completely deserted island for a romantic private lunch. The resort’s sustainability initiatives include re-vegetation programs, solar hot water systems and tropical rainwater collection for drinking.