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8 Private Island Retreats to Daydream About

Minor Resorts

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) as it may be. Would-be castaways are even finding deals that make ultra-exclusive havens more accessible than ever before. 

El Nido Resorts
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Lagen Island

WHERE: Philippines

From Manila, it takes a plane, a car, and three different boats to get to Lagen Island, but the journey is worth it once you see the over-water bungalows nestled against a stark limestone cliff. Bespoke experiential travel is the name of the game here and upon arrival, guests will be introduced to an activities coordinator who will help plan your time. Opt for cave exploring, hiking, having a picnic lunch on a deserted island, experiencing the surreal beauty of nearby Miniloc Island’s dazzling lagoons, or just lounging and soaking up sun at the resort. With so many guests out on day trips, you’ll have the entire place to yourself.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss out on a traditional Philippine hilot treatment, a massage that combines ancient techniques and local herbs.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Philippines Guide

Song Saa Private Island
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Song Saa Private Island Resort

WHERE: Cambodia

This multiple-award-winning resort is the ultimate in barefoot luxury. Set on two small islands (Song Saais Khmer for “sweethearts”), the resort is a 40-minute speedboat trip from Sihanoukville. The villas all have private pools and there are three categories: jungle, oceanview, and overwater (perched on stilts), which are all partly created and tastefully decorated with driftwood and recycled old fishing boats. Dining menus change daily and the exquisite meals can be savored in a variety of spots around the islands. With a world-class spa, daily yoga, and a plethora of waterborne activities, you can do as much or as little as you please.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Cambodia Guide

Vahine Island by Paolo Gamba [CC BY 2.0]
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Vahine Island Resort

WHERE: French Polynesia

Only 20 minutes by boat from Tahaa and 30 minutes by boat from the Raiatea airport, this exclusive hideaway paradise is on a 10-acre private island north of Tahaa. Spectacular far-reaching views take in the main island and extend to Raiatea, Bora Bora, and Huahine. Three units are over water, three on the beach, and three hidden among a riot of tropical flowers. The restaurant features local seafood and exotic flavors with a French touch. There's also horseback riding available. Internet has recently been added.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s French Polynesia Guide

Minor Resorts
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Huvafen Fushi

WHERE: Maldives

Private speedboats or seaplanes drop guests onto this islet of white sand, anchored amidst the translucent turquoise waters of theMaldives. 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 enhances the flawless recipe. 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.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Maldives Guide

Minor Resorts
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WHERE: 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 13 thatched beach chalets come with plunge pools and hammocks. Still waters are ideal for paddle boarding or sunset Hobie Cat rides to the reef.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Mozambique Guide

Wilderness Safaris/Austen Johnston
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North Island

WHERE: Seychelles

Dubbed the “world's most expensive private island,” the media hype forNorth 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, oversized villas in this Seychelles eco-sanctuary for endangered wildlife featuring free-roaming giant tortoises. 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).

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Seychelles Guide

Turtle Island
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Turtle Island Resort


Hosting a maximum of 14 couples at a time who are privy to as many private beaches—not to mention the services of a friendly Fijian staff numbering more than 100—Fiji’s Turtle Island Resort presents the ultimate in seclusion and romance. Set amidst the lush greenery of the Yasawa Islands chain, the 500-acre isle renowned for its Blue Lagoon setting (twice pictured in the films of the same name), Turtle Island welcomes honeymooners with private beaches for two (perfect for champagne-and-lobster picnics), and all-inclusive activities like sunset horseback rides, sailboat lagoon tours, side-by-side treatments in the new spa (one couples' massage is included), and guided scuba diving. Couples share spacious “bures,” private timber cottages with soaring thatched roofs, king-size canopied beds, sunken Jacuzzi tubs, and even tongue-in-cheek his-and-hers side-by-side toilets—all with the services of a personal “Bure Mama” (think butler, in the form of a motherly Fijian figure). All-inclusive pricing covers all meals and beverages (including free-flowing vintage wines, cocktails, and champagnes), which can be enjoyed on a seaside perch or floating pontoon for two, or via communal dinners with the rest of the guests.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Fiji Guide

One & Only Resorts
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Hayman Island

WHERE: Australia

Just off Australia's Queensland coast in the Great Barrier Reef-fringed Whitsundays chain,Hayman Island's resort combines the best of luxury digs and pristine nature. Of the 210 guestrooms, try one of the eight light-flooded Beach Villas (designed by the same architect behind Aman resorts) for the ultimate in couples' indulgence, with private pools and beach butler service, or the secluded Retreat Rooms, nestled under a tropical garden canopy. Opt for sunset cheese-and-wine picnics on secluded beaches; twilight dining next to waterfalls or by the beach; or activities like snorkeling or diving on the Reef, tennis or golf putting, catamaran sailing or seaplane flights, or simply lounging by the lagoon or iconic pool.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Great Barrier Reef Guide