Seclusion is something we all hanker for in a holiday. So why not book an island all to yourself…
Tropical Paradise Velaa Private Island, Maldives
Three hours north-east of Mauritius, the Maldives remain the world’s most ridiculously perfect collection of small islands. Consisting of 26 coral atolls stretching south across the equator, just 200 of these 1,200 small islands are inhabited, and around 100 are resorts. nd one can be all yours…
A 45-minute seaplane jaunt from the Maldivian capital of Malé, the stupendously stylish island resort Velaa (aka Turtle Island) offers no-holds-barred luxury. Primed for a blowout wedding celebration or luxe Gatsby-grade birthday party are 47 sumptuous villas, each with butler service, sexy teak interiors, a private pool, daybed-dotted garden, outdoor shower and suspended rattan egg chairs. When you’re not circumnavigating your own private idyll, take the plunge in a two-seater submarine (around £300 each) or chill out post-sauna in a “snow room” straight out of Game Of Thrones.
Exclusive hire of Velaa private island costs £759,400 for a minimum of four nights B&B, sleeping a maximum of 130 guests (around £5,840 pp); velaaprivateisland.com
The back-to-basics Scandinavian islet
Båtholmen island, Hvaler, Norway
Few places deliver such a sense of Nordic remoteness and rusticity as Hvaler, a beautiful cluster of 800 islands and skerries (reefs) in the southwestern part of Østfold county in Norway. Home to whalers and fishermen since medieval times, Hvaler is now best known for Ytre Hvaler National Park, and in recent years it’s become a popular place for urbanites from Oslo or Copenhagen to hole up and fish, swim, grill crayfish and laze in the sun on polished granite rocks. Hvaler gets booked up quickly in the summer months, but it’s hauntingly beautiful in winter, and it’s now possible to rent the entire island of Båtholmen for the price of a night in a city hotel. In addition to the dinky cabin, there’s a fire pit and access to your own boat to pootle around the shoreline, but be aware that, gloriously enough, you’re entirely off-grid. Call this the ultimate digital detox.
Rent Båtholmen for £172 per night, sleeping up to five people (£34.40pp); airbnb.co.uk
The choose-your-own adventure island
Isla Simca, Panama
The deserted islands of Panama are something of an insider’s secret, and Isla Simca – around a five-hour flight from New York or LA – offers serious seclusion for adventure travellers.
Surrounded by empty seas, Isla Simca combines the thrill of an unexplored island with lashings of luxury. The 278-acre island is owned by the philanthropist Jean Pigozzi, who set up a marine research facility and bought 18 miles of adjacent coastline on the mainland. It offers a string of bucket-list experiences: scuba-diving with whale sharks, surfing, horse-riding through the jungle and kayaking. A typical day might be hiking to Playa Palenque for mojitos at sunset on a palm-fringed beach, before heading back to to flick through the 3,000-strong movie collection in the private cinema.
Best away day ever, anyone? Isla Simca is available for exclusive use for a week for £110,000 full-board, sleeping 30 (£3,666 pp); avenueproperty.com
The luxurious literary hideaway
Eilean Shona, Scotland
A favourite spot of Peter Pan author JM Barrie, who holidayed here during the Twenties, this Scottish island, in Argyll off the west coast, is now privately owned by hotelier Vanessa Branson, who has turned it into a stylish hideaway where Kate Winslet comes to unwind. The island measures just 2.5 miles long by one mile wide, with some 600 acres of woodland, much of it ancient pine forest. Just three hours from Glasgow, it involves a ferry from the jetty at Tioram Castle to the secluded Loch Moidart, and at the top of the hill sits the main house, a former Victorian lodge built by one of the era’s finest architects. It sleeps up to 22, in beautifully restored rooms that combine trad tartans with cool Moroccan kilims. Just the place to catch up on your reading list.
The seven cottages and house sleep a max of 44 guests, for £15,000 a week (£340pp); on a non-exclusive basis, the cottages sleep 2-8, from £625 per week (£312pp); eileanshona.com
The nature-lover’s utopia
Bird Island, Belize
The former sleepy fishermen’s village of Placencia in Belize is fast becoming one of the country’s most deservedly popular and charming beach resorts. Placencia’s attractions are plentiful: world-class diving (Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, 22 miles east, are popular whale-sharkspotting sites); palm-lined beaches and superb Caribbean restaurants; visits to cacao farms to see how raw chocolate is made; the only jaguar sanctuary in the world; and access to Mayan archaeological sites such as Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun. And there’s a smart way to get all the perks of Placencia without bunking up with the growing number of backpackers: book Bird Island. It sits in a pristine atoll, with superb swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and hiking on your doorstep, and makes the perfect romantic getaway for two or DIY retreat for a group of friends. Just swoop soon – it books up fast.
Bird Island can be booked from £500 per night, sleeping up to five (£100 pp); birdislandplacenciabz.com
Image: Sebastien Jermer