Top 10: world’s most exclusive island resorts

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (March 17, 2014): Top 10 most exclusive private island resorts in the world.

This list was updated in 2018.

The epitome of luxury travel is staying at a fabulous hotel that is set on its very own private island. The following ten elite resorts, all of them located on private tropical islands, rank among the most exclusive hotel properties worldwide, offering peace, absolute discretion and word-class service (with prices to match).

There’s more information below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite exclusive private island resort in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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This is a close as you can get to an exclusive private island experience in the USA.  Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the resort is located on a tiny private island off the coast of the Florida Keys with a romantic Robinson Crusoe appeal. Ranking among the USA’s finest resorts, it is a secluded world of lush tropical gardens, crushed seashell paths, and 15 thatched-roof, Bahamas-style bungalows which house 30 luxurious suites. With no phones or television, the soundtrack at this resort is the lapping of ocean waves, the rustle of the leaves in the breeze, and the melody of neighboring birds and tree frogs. Days are spent in hammocks fixed to the palm trees, lounge chairs on the small beach, and the world-class restaurant and spa.


Hayman Island is a private island resort in the heart of the Whitsundays. The nearest island to the Great Barrier Reef, Hayman Island is ideal for nature based activities and exceptional guest experiences. Featuring 160 guest rooms, suites, villas and penthouses across three main accommodation wings, Hayman Island presents guests the ultimate in barefoot luxury. Restaurants and bars offer an array of local and international cuisines, while the spa and watersports centre complete the island experience. Due to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Hayman Island is temporarily closed, but is currently accepting reservations from 1st March 2019 (it probably will reopen late 2018).


Accessible only by private plane, tropical Pamalican Island is around an hour from Manila, yet feels a world away from anywhere. Managed by the famous Aman group – one of the most luxurious hotel brands in the world – since December 1993, Amanpulo is the only property on this Philippine island. Its 40 airy casitas and villas open to 5.5 km (3,5 miles) of coral sand that encircle a jungled centre. With a convivial poolside Clubhouse, an Aman Spa, Dive Centre and a laidback Beach Club, guests can be as active as they choose; a snorkel on your private beachfront might be all the exertion required to complete a day of restorative lounging. Other diversions include tennis courts, island hikes, turtle spotting and exploring the kaleidoscopic reefs just offshore.

  • Hotel websiteAmanpulo
  • Other accolades: Amanpulo also features in my top 10 list of luxury hotels with private airports.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one a la carte lunch for 2).


Jumby Bay Island, an Oetker Collection property, is set in one of the most beautiful, undisturbed places in the world, on a 300-acre private island 2 miles off the coast of Antigua. Reachable only by boat, with no hint of urban intrusions and no indigenous population in sight, this privately owned hideaway has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Nowadays, the entire island, which comprises just 40 exquisitely appointed guest room and suites and a collection of villas and estate homes, may as well wear a “Do Not Disturb” sign. The resort’s 250 local staff return to the mainland every night, leaving just a sprinkling of staff, homeowners and guests.


COMO Parrot Cay, a favourite among celebrities, is an award-winning luxury resort set on its own private island of 1,000 unspoilt acres with a mile-long powdery soft beach. This exclusive island hideaway delivers foot-in-the-sand luxury with COMO’s service ethic, holistic therapies, yoga, diving and world-class cuisine. All rooms and suites have whitewashed interiors furnished with soft, cotton-covered chairs, airy four-poster beds and teak furnishing. The real stars are the private villas, with their own pools, direct beach access as well as the 24-hour service of COMO’s acclaimed butlers.


Sir Richard Branson’s 74 acre private island is unquestionably one of the most idyllic place in Caribbean. Branson first purchased the island in 1978 and it is now part of Virgin Limited Edition, Richard’s portfolio of unique retreats. There is a dedicated team of fabulous staff on the island plus more than 200 flamingos who are all part of the Necker family! Necker Island can be booked exclusively year-round. That’s just you plus 33 friends and family on your own private Caribbean island. One word of warning: once you’ve seen the world in Necker colours, you might not want to leave! Necker Island made news for all the wrong reasons in 2011 (when a lightning strike set fire to the Great House) and last year, when the resort was ripped apart by Hurricane Irma, but the private island resort will soon be open for business again after extensive renovations.


If you have ever harbored the secret wish of finding yourself the sole inhabitant of a beautiful tropical island, but without the effort of having to lift a finger to fend for yourself, &Beyond Mnemba Island is just the place for you. This romantic, private hideaway is an award-winning barefoot beach paradise just off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, that accommodates a maximum of 24 guests at a time. Guest relax and unwind in the exclusivity of their own stretch of beachfront, where 12 beachside bandas peep out onto unblemished sands from the dappled shade of the casuarina pine forest and overlook the Mnemba atoll (a scuba diver’s delight). From snorkeling, swimming, ands kayaking to massages in the beach, to doing nothing at all, &Beyond Mnemba Island has something for everyone.


Set upon 3,500 exclusive acres Laucala private island resort is set amidst coconut plantations, sandy beaches, rich green mountains and breathtaking natural beauty. True luxury is appreciated in the privacy of the resort’s 25 Fijian-styled villas widely spread on the northern tip of the island. Seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living creates an inspiringly relaxed yet luxurious atmosphere. Laucala shows its most ethereal side in an iridescent kaleidoscope of sporting and cultural activities. Diving in a unique underwater world, rain forest tours, horseback riding, surfing, golfing on the 18-hole championship course, or meeting native artists.


Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Each one of the 24 water villas has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Jani at the time of booking.


North Island is the world’s most exclusive hideaway and the best hotel I’ve ever been to. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to catch the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, all villas open up onto your private garden and the beach. Plunge pools and outdoor showers provide the finishing touches to your private sanctuary. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. The resort was the decor for the honeymoon of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

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