If what you want is utter seclusion and perfect peace, in a location off-limits to everyone but the resort staff and a few other guests, then a private island is the only place to go. Here are our favourites from around the world.

Gladden, Belize

This is probably the most reclusive island escape out there – and yet also the most indulgent, too. A place where it feels like you’re the only people on the planet but a Daiquiri is only a wave of the hand away. The geography of Gladden is what hooked in owner Chris Krolow: two mangrove-ringed islets, one in front of the other, a half-hour chopper ride from Belize City over the western hemisphere’s largest barrier reef. Krolow has placed a single villa on the first island and tucked the staff onto the second. Guests are left deliciously alone on their little Robinson Crusoe dot to mooch around the sleek, Mayan-inspired house, stretch out on a day bed by the pool or take a dip in the turquoise water. But the chef, manager and concierge are less than a two-minute boat ride away. There’s a privacy light that signals if the housekeeper has popped in to make up the room, the spa therapist is setting up for a massage in the palapa or a barbecue is being lit for a supper of chargrilled lobster and salad from the garden. From the roof terrace, the Maya Mountains shimmer in the distance and all around the island is calm blue. This is in a protected marine reserve, with whale sharks and pods of dolphins. The boat captain can organise mainland excursions (shopping in Placencia, a tour of the Mayan ruins), but the most sensible thing to do is just stay put. Until Leonardo di Caprio opens Blackadore Caye in Belize later this year, this is Central America’s shiniest island hideout.

By Susan Herring

  • Gladdenprivateisland.com

  • +1 416 728 4989

  • Villa from about £2,245 per night for two people (from £2,704 for four), full board


Bawah Island, Indonesia

Singaporean-based financier Tim Hartnoll chanced upon this collection of five uninhabited islands, three lagoons and 13 white beaches while sailing in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago five years ago. And he’s a quick mover. Just-opened Bawah is one of the world’s most exciting new hideaways: remote, beautiful and with bar-raising environmental policies. Days can be spent hiking through butterfly-filled primary rainforest, gliding over pink, purple and electric-blue corals in see-through kayaks, snorkelling with clownfish, triggerfish, parrotfish and, if you’re lucky, green turtles. Later retreat to the spa, where the Thai and Balinese treatments are included in the daily rate.

The 35 villas, 11 of which are stilted above the water, are made from recycled teak and local bamboo and fit effortlessly into the scheme of things, with their rustic-smart interiors, balconies, crisp white canopied beds and hammered-copper bathrooms. The big design statements have been saved for the main building, where a swarm of jellyfish chandeliers are strung across the dining room and a wispy octopus made from discarded fishing line dangles above the bar. The food is sunny and seriously good: luminous yellow seafood laksa, lemony scallop risotto and zingy salads plucked from the 800 square metres of organic gardens. After dark, the stars will stop you in your barefooted tracks, the silvery bay lit not by moonlight but by the glow of the Milky Way.

By Lee Cobaj

  • Bawahisland.com

  • +1 416 728 4989

  • Villa from about £2,245 per night for two people (from £2,704 for four), full board


The Brando, French Polynesia

Contained inside a living coral reef in the remotest South Pacific, the atoll of Tetiaroa is made up of a dozen white-sanded islets surrounding a five-mile lagoon so pure that its silvery blue can be seen from outer space. Arriving by six-seater private plane from Tahiti, as all guests do, is heart-stopping: the atoll glimmers as you approach. Coral gardens stretch hundreds of feet into abyssal depths and rare orchids surround freshwater pools. Marlon Brando first clapped his covetous eyes on it when scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty in 1963, and owned it for the rest of his life. It opened in 2014 as an ultra-polished hideaway, with two quiet restaurants, an immaculate spa and 35 glass and ironwood villas set back from a blinding beach amid thick trees. There are no sea-cluttering overwater bungalows characteristic of most Polynesian hotels here – everything feels entirely folded away, a place to dream and read, to the sound of the Pacific bashing against the distant reef. With just 80 guests (maximum) at any given time, the rest of the atoll is left untouched. Of course, every detail from the thread-count to the on-call butlers is as excellent as you’d expect, but the Brando has such head-lolling natural beauty it’s in a league of its own, with a blazing light that, in the early morning, hits the shallow waters as though they were an ocean of milk.

  • Thebrando.com

  • Doubles from £1,410


Vatuvara Private Islands, Fiji

If Vatuvara looks like a tycoon’s private retreat that’s because it is. The verdant, hilly 324-hectare island of Kaibu and its three neighbouring islands were all bought by Oakley founder James Jannard back in 2009, and the main villa, Delana, was built very much to his specifications. Although it only has one bedroom, the villa – made with thatch, local timber and stone – is on a mega scale and has a stone-edged infinity pool with views of the other islands and a dark-stone spa-treatment room with a hot tub and twin massage beds (one of the members of staff gives an excellent massage). The interiors are South Seas tropical with lemon-coloured contemporary sofas and stone sculptures of local gods. There are a further two one-bedroom villas, smaller in scale but similarly done out, and both have private pools. All three can be rented individually or together to create your own island hideaway. Days are spent diving or snorkelling, fishing for wahoo, tuna and marlin, or skimming across to one of the other similarly green and mountainous islands in the owner’s inflatable Naiad (used as the chase boat in the America’s Cup).

There’s also a slightly hilly four-hole golf course. Meals are a highlight, with Pacific Rim dishes such as pakapaka, a deep-water snapper steamed with a ginger tamarind emulsion, kokoda (Fijian ceviche), or sashimi. All are served with organic fruit and vegetables grown in manager Lynda Miller’s kitchen garden and orchard.

By Laurie Werner

  • Ultravilla.com

  • £73,560 per week for all three villas


Isola Santa Cristina, Venice

One of the most historic and beautiful islands in the Venetian lagoon, Isola Santa Cristina was once part of an archipelago known as Ammiana and, according to legend, named after Saint Christina whose body was secretly transported from Constantinople in 1325. The island, a 30-minute boat ride from the city, has been owned by the Swarovski family for many years and one of its younger members, René Deutsch, an Austrian businessman, and his wife Sandra recently opened it as an eco-friendly private hideaway and yoga retreat. The 30-hectare island is home to organic apricot, plum and fig orchards, fish farms and vineyards. In the nine-bedroom villa, filled with the couple’s private art collection, larch-wood floors with white walls and chalky colours give it a smart, almost beach-house vibe and the bedrooms, with lofty larch ceilings, are peaceful spaces. There’s an outdoor fireplace and pool terrace, shady gazebos and a rooftop altana with views of the island’s private lake and the lagoon beyond. From here it’s a 10-minute boat ride to Burano and its famous lace-making museum, or to Torcello with its Byzantine cathedral. For a night out, go to Venissa, the restaurant on Mazzorbo, for mazzancolle, or Da Celeste on Pellestrina for its fried catch of the day.

By Elise Frueh

  • Ultravilla.com

  • From £1,700 per night, minimum of three nights


Amanpulo, The Philippines

One of the smaller of the Cuyo islands in the Sulu Sea, just 500 metres across at its widest point, Pamalican is the tropical island of cliché, so white are its palm-fringed beaches, so many shades of blue and emerald the sea that laps them. It practically goes without saying that it’s surrounded by a vast coral reef where the diving is sensational. The only hotel on the island is Aman resorts’ superb Amanpulo, which is made up of 40 standalone casitas based on traditional Filipino rural houses, some on the beach, some in the treetops and each with its own buggy. And the only way to get here is by private plane; a Dornier 228-202K meets guests at Manila and flies them 288km south to the island’s private airstrip. If one is going to pick nits, it’s possibly worth pointing out that the hotel opened in 1993, and although a new spa opened last year, the casitas (and the bathrooms especially) are beginning to show their age, in design terms. But it’s heaven all the same.

  • Amanresort.com

  • Doubles from US$880 (about £590)


Kokomo, Fiji

Few places in Fiji combine culture with a barefoot vibe like Kokomo. It sits on the edge of the Kadavu archipelago, encircled by the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest and most immaculate reefs in the world, far away from the mainland crowds. The 21 beachside bures and five hilltop villas are filled with authentic Fijian touches – shell mobiles, rush matting and traditional sculptures – and have walled gardens heady with the scent of frangipani. The brainchild of Australian property kingpin Lang Walker, Kokomo opened only eight months ago but is already making waves. The kitchen is headed by Aussie chef Anthony Healy (fresh from three years ‘next door’ at Laucala Island) and is playing a major role in Fiji’s food renaissance, driven by his support of local producers. Healy manages six farmers and fishermen, 180 chickens and 10 beehives as well as an organic two-hectare garden with a vanilla plantation and every type of vegetable and fruit imaginable. His signature dish is a modern take on kokoda (raw fish salad), using coral-reef trout and fresh passion fruit. Pearl meat from Savusavu is new to the menu and you can finish with a soursop dessert, a prickly fruit with a hint of citrus. Kokomo is a feast of a place, putting this speck in the South Pacific on the epicurean map.

By Sarah Thornton

  • Kokomoislandfiji.com

  • +679 776 4441

  • Villas from about £1,550 per night


Thanda Island, Tanzania

One of the smaller of the Cuyo islands in the Sulu Sea, just 500 metres across at its widest point, Pamalican is the tropical island of cliché, so white are its palm-fringed beaches, so many shades of blue and emerald the sea that laps them. It practically goes without saying that it’s surrounded by a vast coral reef where the diving is sensational. The only hotel on the island is Aman resorts’ superb Amanpulo, which is made up of 40 standalone casitas based on traditional Filipino rural houses, some on the beach, some in the treetops and each with its own buggy. And the only way to get here is by private plane; a Dornier 228-202K meets guests at Manila and flies them 288km south to the island’s private airstrip. If one is going to pick nits, it’s possibly worth pointing out that the hotel opened in 1993, and although a new spa opened last year, the casitas (and the bathrooms especially) are beginning to show their age, in design terms. But it’s heaven all the same.

  • Thandaisland.com

  • From about £7,800 per night for up to 10 people. Includes a contribution to conservation and community projects in the region


Via : Condé Nast Traveller Magazine