There is something to be said for loneliness. A little calm does wonders for the soul. When you’re ready to take a break from the rides or roller coasters that are your life, a private island vacation is the perfect respite.
Getting there is often an adventure. This could mean you take a flight and then continue via water taxi, ferry, commuter plane, or better yet, a seaplane. The world already seems smaller and you’re happy about that, especially if you live in a big city like New York or Los Angeles.
Private islands are having a moment, becoming particularly popular since the pandemic as people want to travel but have concerns about safety and crowds. Choose to stay in a villa or cottage with your entourage instead of a mega hotel. You mingle with others as little or as much as you want.
After the past two years of little to no travel, it’s time to treat yourself. Start planning your private island getaway in paradise.
1. Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
My trip to Kamalame Cay in Andros included a flight, a commuter flight, a taxi ride to the dock and a water taxi to the island. The minute the water taxi docked on the island, it was like I had clicked my heels twice and was there – all the machinations to get there left my head. I was in another world. All that mattered was the beauty around me, the lush greenery, the beautiful white sand beach. Where was Mr. Rourke to welcome me to Fantasy Island?
The truth is, I didn’t need him. I had concierge Keith and his assistant, who were in the water taxi to meet me. They immediately made me feel like royalty, looking after me with big smiles, offering a cool refreshing towel, water. “We are here for you Miss Sheryl. What can I do for you, Miss Sheryl? was what I heard a lot throughout my three night stay. I loved every minute. High touch indeed. In Kamalame Cay, they get A-listers who value privacy. But even if you’re just you, while you’re at it, you’re also a star.
You might think you are in a movie. The resort is located right next to the third largest barrier reef in the world on 97 acres with groves of coconut palms, bougainvillea, stunning vegetation that rivals the sparkling blue of the blue sea for what most oohs and ahhs. The bungalows, villas, cottages and beach houses are spread over miles and you don’t have to worry about traffic as you cruise in your golf cart along the white sand roads. It mostly looks like you and Mother Nature. Even when it’s mealtime, or hanging out on the beach or the freshwater pool, there are just enough people to have a lively atmosphere.
You can do a lot, be it bone and deep sea fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, diving, playing tennis, biking, picnicking or relaxing watching a movie in the open air cinema. air, at the pool, sipping a cocktail at the Monkey Bar, or in a hammock along the beach. If you’re in a really calm mood, just step out of your back patio/deck and walk a few steps to your cabana, relax with a book, a glass of wine on the table and marvel at the sea in front of you .
A visit to the spa is a must. Kamalame has the only overwater spa in the Bahamas. It was the highlight of my trip. Spa maven that I am, this was my first experience on the water. I will never forget the blowing wind, the splashing of the sea and the thrill, a stingray swimming by during my Swedish massage. The full-service spa offers everything from facials, exfoliation, and wraps to personalized treatments.
When it comes to cuisine, the resort also impresses. For breakfast, opt for the lionfish and grits with an organic fried egg, a smoked salmon board with smoked Atlantic salmon, capers, diced red onions, cream cheese and a flame-grilled baguette. Breakfast? How about snapper and avocado sliders on sweet Bahamian buns. When it comes to dinner, for apps, conch fritters are a must for your belly content, entrees, Asian BBQ ribs, Kamalame surf and turf, and walnut greens curry. coco are a crowd pleaser. Order Sampson’s Special, a secret concoction you should probably only have one of.
Kamalame understands that it’s the little things. Every morning, a continental breakfast basket is delivered to your room in case you do not want to come to the Big House. Every afternoon, freshly baked cookies arrive in your room. The staff are warm and genuine, and you’ll likely have many conversations and maybe even make a friend. Kamalame is decidedly different. There are no room keys. Why lock the door? When I forgot to plug in my electric cart overnight, when I went there in the morning, someone came by and plugged it in. I met a couple who last visited in May and they were there in December for another week. I would consider myself lucky if I could do the same.
2. Kalangala Island, Uganda
This one is for the adventurers. Wildwater Lodge Lemala is on the Nile in a
rainforest reserve on 16 protected acres. You will work to get there. It is accessible only by boat and helicopter. The suites offer a view of the Nile and the forest. The resort underwent a major renovation last year and now features locally handmade furniture, sleek bathrooms with rain showers, secluded wooden decks with daybeds and freestanding bathtubs, as well as a new swimming pool. The menu has been updated with healthier and lighter dishes that highlight local produce and dishes. Nearby Jinja offers rafting, bungee jumping, horseback riding and fishing. Wildwater is also great for bird watching.
3. Scrub Island, British Virgin Islands
Location is everything. Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is nestled into a rugged cliff overlooking the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and other islands. Choose from rooms, suites, and villas with two to six bedrooms. Aquatic adventure includes two private beaches, diving on historic shipwrecks, snorkeling, sailing, paddle boarding, deep sea and fly fishing, and more. If you are a beginner, you can learn to sail and kayak. If you’re more of a land lover, explore the island’s 230-acre volcanic island on foot. Experience elevations of over 400 feet, scenic views, and native plants like the ixora flower and a variety of cacti. When you need a respite from all the excitement, there’s Ixora Spa. Exhale.
4. Hawkins Island, Bermuda
On Hawkins Island, you enjoy 25 acres of forested preserve with a private beach in the Great Sound of Bermuda. It’s ideal for those who want an under-the-radar vacation. You can have private arrival arrangements at the airport as well as private boat transfers. Hit the walking and running trails while admiring views of the Great Sound and lush flora and fauna. Swim on your private beach and enjoy lunch prepared by the chef in your private villa.
5. Little Palm Island, Florida
The treasure you will find off the coast of the Florida Keys is the Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. You arrive by seaplane or boat. Forget the crowds. Here, there are never more than 60 guests at this adults-only getaway. You’ll love the layout: thatched-roof bungalows with outdoor bathtubs and showers. This sets the tone for R&R. Unplug. There is no telephone, television or alarm clock in the room. Instead, have fun watching the birds, manatees, and dolphins. Kayak and paddle board. Rise with the fish or at sunset, meditate while doing your downward dog. At dinnertime, choose your dinner at one of the island’s sandbars. To maintain a good mood, SpaTerre offers Balinese treatments and Thai body rituals.
6. Cayo Espanto, Belize
There is a lot of noise around Belize, but go where there are no crowds. Cayo Espanto is a private island with just seven villas three miles off the coast of Belize. You will have your own butler, a private dock and your meals personalized and prepared by a great chef. Your experience is personalized by you. Say you want to learn fishing, there will be lessons on a private deck. Maybe you want to watch a movie outdoors. Just make your desires known. Enjoy bird watching tours, mainland excursions to see Mayan ruins, scuba diving charters, snorkeling and fly fishing.
7. Sea Island, Georgia
Sea Island is home to five miles of private beach, a beach club, tennis, a yacht club, and Camp Cloisters for young people. There is horse riding and falconry. Note to golfers: there are three championship courses. Choose from accommodations like The Cloister at Sea Island, with its myriad of activities, from bowling, hunting and shooting to boating, biking and fishing. Another option is The Lodge at Sea Island. It’s popular for its oceanfront pool, 24-hour butler service, golf clubhouses, and more.
8. Calivigny Island, Grenada
To give you something to dream about, think of the island of Calivigny. It spans 80 lush acres, has two beaches, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. It is one of the most exclusive private islands in the world. It was reportedly recently rented for $132,000 a night by Melinda Gates.
Interest piqued? Check out our picks for 7 incredibly affordable private islands you can charter in the US or read about luxury resorts and how to make luxury travel more affordable here.