Private islands have long been a stamp of the filthy rich—just ask Richard Branson or Shakira about their own island oases. Now, well-heeled travelers can also seek out their own slice of private island paradise, temporary (and expensive) it may be. Would-be castaways are even finding deals that make ultra-exclusive havens more accessible than ever before. So what are the perks of private island vacations? Here, we dissect four very special heavenly hideaways.
1. Cotton House, Mustique
The choice island of the British royal family, Mustique is best known for its '70s playboy hedonism, when barons and princesses threw headline-hitting scandalous parties. Cotton House, the sole full-service hotel on the isle, boasts plenty of awards alongside its impressive guest book brimming with celebrity signatures. Opulent mansions of the rich and famous, like those of Mick Jagger and David Bowie, speckle the remote hills. Private golf buggies enable the few privileged guests to explore nine bewitching beaches, where you'd be hard-pressed to see another soul.
The Resort: The 17 spacious pool suites span 13 lush acres. Plentiful activities keep the adventurous occupied with trails for hiking, diving, and boating charters (at an extra cost).
The Cost: From $1,100 per couple, per night.
2. Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
Private speedboats or seaplanes drop guests onto this islet of white sand, anchored amidst the translucent turquoise waters of the Maldives. Stylish trend-setting resort Hufaven Fushi boasts the world's first underwater spa alongside plush high-tech villas. Its dazzling array of celebrity frequenters (George Clooney, Kate Moss, Tom Cruise) only enhance the flawless recipe.
The Resort: The 44 sumptuous, fully loaded bungalows come with private infinity pools that fuse seamlessly with the sea. Relax in an outdoor saltwater flotation pool jutting out to sea, or set out snorkeling with the resident marine biologist. Chefs can prepare preferences off-menu to accompany the Maldives' most extensively stocked wine collection.
The Cost: From $2,225 per couple, per night.
3. Medjumbe, Mozambique
The decisive barefoot luxury private island experience, Medjumbe in Mozambique embodies absolute disconnection, starting with no phone signal (hardly surprising, on this remote swath of sand off the rugged Southeast African coastline). One of the last remaining bastions of untouched virgin beauty, a long narrow strip of sand splices into the gemstone ocean here, lapped by sea on both sides, while humpback whales swim just feet away. Beachfront chalets line one side of the island, while the other is windswept and rugged, for indulging in castaway fantasies.
The Resort: The 13 thatched beach chalets come with plunge pools and hammocks. Still waters are ideal for paddleboarding or sunset Hobie Cat rides to the reef.
The Cost: From $590 per person, per night.
4. North Island, Seychelles
Dubbed the "world's most expensive private island," the media hype for North Island reached frenzied proportions when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honeymooned here, followed by the Beckhams and Jolie-Pitts. Luxuriate in unashamedly high-tech, ultra-luxury, oversize villas in this Seychelles eco-sanctuary for endangered wildlife, featuring free-roaming giant tortoises.
The Resort: The 11 ultra-luxurious villas are each set on a vast expanse of beach. Boasting a no-menu concept, resort chefs meet guests to design meals to enjoy anytime and anywhere (i.e., private picnic lunches set up by personal butlers).
The Cost: From an eye-popping $4,829 per person, per night.
Writer Anisha Shah's quest for the best in luxury travel includes emerging destinations. Africa is close to her heart, as her father regaled her with tales of his childhood there. Combined with her Indian and Asian heritage and adoration of European grandeur, she's constantly darting across continents in search of the next big scoop.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Anisha Shah