If you’re looking for utter seclusion this Valentine’s Day in a location off-limits to everyone but your family, friends and resort staff, these luxury private islands tick all the boxes
Exclusivity, world-class service, unspoiled nature and sweet, sweet solitude — there are an uncountable number of benefits to hiring your own private island for a one-of-a-kind holiday. If you’re hosting an extra-special Valentine’s Day celebration or simply just want to get away from it all with only your nearest and dearest for company, renting a private island is the epitome of luxury travel, and these top five resorts are the crème de la crème.
Velaa Private Island, The Maldives
The resorts of the Maldives are some of the most exclusive in the world, and they don’t come more secluded than this — a whole island to yourself with daily spa treatments, fine dining and some of the best service in the archipelago. On arrival into Maafaru International Airport, guests will be whisked away to Velaa Private Island on their own private jet, only to be met by a breathtaking vista of white sand beaches, beautiful coral reef and acres of lush vegetation. With 47 houses and villas available for exclusive hire, there’s a myriad of settings for Valentine’s Day, with the Romantic Pool Residence, which is only accessible by boat and allowing complete isolation from the rest of the island, the perfect spot for couples and hosts.
You won’t go hungry either — there are four diverse restaurants serving up local and international cuisine — while there’s plenty to keep kids entertained too, including jet skiing, windsurfing, pedal boating and an in-house dive centre. While it’s a great spot for active travellers (golf enthusiasts can get a round in at the resort’s very own golf academy), those looking to relax can also head to Velaa Spa for soul-soothing face and body treatments, which is most likely where you would find us. Book now
The Brando, French Polynesia
Kim Kardashian reportedly rented out this slice of paradise for her 40th birthday back in 2020, Rebel Wilson marked her big milestone with a week-long celebration here, and it was Barack Obama’s retreat of choice after leaving the White House. In other words, the late Marlon Brando’s very own private island The Brando — the actor first clapped eyes on it when he went scouting for locations for Mutiny on the Bounty back in 1963 and owned it for the rest of his life — is as exclusive as they come. Contained inside a living coral reef in the remotest South Pacific, the atoll of Tetiaroa is made up of a dozen white- sand islets surrounding a five-mile lagoon which you can admire on your arrival by six-seater private plane from Tahiti.
Perfectly polished and home to 35 glass and ironwood villas complete with private pool, The Brando has overlooked the popular overwater bungalows in favour of more serene, environmentally-friendly accommodation set back from the beach amid thick trees, where guests can relax to the sounds of the Pacific in the distance. Accommodating a maximum of 80 guests — each of whom will have a butler on call 24 hours a day — highlights include a large main infinity pool with shaded deckchairs and loungers, two restaurants and an impeccable Polynesian spa. The best bit? It values sustainability too, having been awarded LEED Platinum certification for its carbon neutrality — the ultimate environmental accolade. Rainwater also feeds the resort’s pool, while organic tropical gardens and orchards keep the restaurant in fruit and vegetables. Delicious. Book now
Elang at Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
The latest private island playground on the block, Elang comprises six lodges in the remote Anambas Islands — one of the most remote resorts in Asia, lying 160 nautical miles from Singapore and accessible only by private seaplane. Launched by the prestigious Bawah Reserve — an off-the-beaten-track eco-resort that combines high-end design with sustainability and a back-to-nature concept — accommodation on this previously untouched island is built directly into the cliffside, making it perfect for groups looking to reconnect with nature and each other. An adults-only resort available for exclusive hire, is it home to a beachside restaurant and bar, spa, private beach and saltwater infinity pool created from a natural hollow and refreshed with every tidal change and complete with a water slide.
Guests also have exclusive access to the island’s own clubhouse, which has been carefully designed around a rock formation and inspired by tribal communal houses in Indonesia. And it doesn’t stop there. There’s plenty going on in and around the island including an impressive 13 beaches and two lagoons to explore, paddle boarding, diving, boat trips, hiking and so much more. Simply looking to switch off? Be sure to check out the expansive wellness centre with its outdoor yoga pavilion, spa and open-air cinema for movie nights under the stars. Book now
Miavana by Time + Tide, Madagascar
How does a 2,500 acre private island resort off the Madagascan coast sound? We thought so. An untamed Noah’s Ark of incredible wildlife, flora and fauna, Miavana by Time + Tide is built among 2,500 acres of wilderness, plus five uninhabited islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s here you’ll find 14 villas designed by the people behind the renowned North Island in the Seychelles, ideal for both couples and families alike. Think adventure, activity, wildlife, cultural connection and indulgence. There’s plenty to keep guests of all ages entertained, from heli-surfing to previously uncharted waves, diving with humpback whales and exploring the house reef, as yet untouched by climate change.
There couldn’t be a better spot for those who want to scrub up on their nature knowledge either, as not only is Miavana one of only 17 countries in the world with such a diverse range of fauna, but guests can head out on lemur treks, chameleon encounters and orchid hunting to really get up close with nature. Foodies are more than well catered for with a culinary team available 24/7, creating personalised menus that maximise Madagascar’s natural larder. Think succulent mangoes, the best quality vanilla, spicy pink peppercorns, fresh yellowfin tuna and local specialties such as Africa’s first sustainably produced caviar, Madagascar Rova Caviar. This is ends-of-the-earth exclusivity at its finest. Book now
Islas Secas, Panama
Combining exceptional marine wildlife, wild fauna and flora and a little-touched, Jurassic Park-style setting, the Pacific Coast of Panama is one of Central America’s best kept treasures. Far lesser-trodden than the Caribbean side of the country, Islas Secas — a privately-owned archipelago of 14 beautiful islands in the Gulf of Chiriquí — makes for a serene spot to play castaway with your significant other, and it’s available to rent exclusively for up to 24 guests. Set totally off grid and 33 nautical miles from the nearest town, you’ll find just seven individually-designed casita sites here, making it the perfect setting for intimate gatherings of families and groups of friends – not to mention a spectacular spot for a proposal. In keeping with the island’s adventurous side, activities range from zip-lining and surfing — you can ride waves on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on the same day, thanks to Panama’s narrow geography — while those looking for even more privacy can head to Isla Pargo for the resort’s castaway private beach experience which includes a picnic and free-flowing bubbles.
What’s more, the resort also offers unique, front-row viewing of the humpback whale migration from feeding areas off Antarctica and Chile, and between December and April there is a small population that migrates from feeding areas in the north. Between July and October, visitors can also expect to see large pods of humpback whales right from Islas Secas’s shoreline, with boat trips available to those interested in getting a closer look. Add to that yoga and breathwork classes, an otherworldly spa and seasonal, sustainable cuisine with Panamanian flair, and is there anywhere else in the world you would rather be? Book now
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- Words by Naomi Chadderton