9 Best Caribbean Private Islands for the Ultimate Escape
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina may be just located 1.5 miles off Tortola, the largest island in the British Virgin Islands chain, but once you've taken the short boat ride to this compact paradise you'll forget the real world is anywhere nearby. The resort offers spacious villas, suites, or guest rooms, all sporting clean-lined, modern Caribbean design, and dazzling ocean views; three restaurants, a market, and café, and private dining options like beachside candlelit dinners; and the award-winning hilltop Ixora Spa, whose menu of treatments focuses on Ayurvedic rituals. If all this proves too tough to leave behind, guests can purchase their very own property on the island.
Sir Richard Branson's 74-acre Caribbean hideaway has had its share of ups and downs over the years thanks to fire and hurricanes, but this beloved BVI icon is back in business and looking more fabulous than ever. The private isle, which sleeps around 25 people, is available for exclusive buyouts year-round, but during select weeks (known in Branson parlance as "Celebration Weeks") couples, singles, and families are also welcomed.
Diversions include snorkeling or diving off Turtle Beach of Main Beach (staff can also arrange more far-flung trips into the archipelago), spa treatments, and tennis. After-dark, prepare to party the night away under the stars at one of Necker's famous soirees: the resort can arrange everything from a Moroccan-themed party to a Vegas-style casino night.
If rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous sounds like an appealing vacation plan, this gem in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is calling your name. Mustique—whose geography is a stunning mix of dramatic hills and perfect palm-fringed beaches—is home to a collection of high-end, individually-owned villas (many owned by celebrities) which are administered by the Mustique Company. Villas range from a Moorish/Moroccan fantasy to a hilltop Balinese-inspired compound, with plenty of more conventional swanky mansions in between. There's one hotel on the island, the suave Cotton House, and one bar, the famous Basil's, but the real action happens at Mustique's private house parties: play your cards right and you might just score an invite.
This dreamy Bahamian retreat is situated on a 96-acre cay and offers a blissfully secluded break from the breakneck pace of modern life. The resort's collection of seaside rooms, cottages, and bungalows are designed in an airy, whitewashed style and decorated with modern, marine-inspired pieces, and natural materials. One of the highlights of Kamalame Cay is the overwater spa, a gorgeous peaked-roof retreat set at the end of a whitewashed pier, featuring organic products using ingredients derived from the ocean. Excursions from the island include deep-sea and reef fishing, leisurely boat tours, and castaway picnics on a sweet nearby islet.
Jumby Bay Island
An award-winning, 300-acre private paradise located just two miles from Antigua, lush, beautifully-landscaped Jumby Bay offers something for everyone, from multi-generational families to couples seeking a romantic escape. The resort recently emerged from a multi-million-dollar revamp, including refreshed design courtesy of Brazilian interior designer, Patricia Anastassiadis. While there's plenty to explore individually on foot or by bicycle, including 4.5 miles of pristine shoreline, the resort also offers activities like sunset cocktail cruises and oceanfront massages. Rates include all meals, drinks, and watersports.
COMO Parrot Cay
A mile-long white-sand beach, airy, minimalist design, delicious Pan-Asian cuisine, and a focus on wellness: really, what’s not to love? That's the magic formula at COMO Parrot Cay, the legendary 1000-acre private island situated a 30-minute boat ride from the bustling Turks and Caicos capital of Providenciales. While the resort has been around way longer than social media, it feels custom-made for Instagram thanks to features like a stunning infinity-edge pool, gorgeous spa, and highly photogenic Balinese-inspired suites and beach cottages. Expect to spot vacationing celebrities, who flock here for the discreet service and tranquil, low-key glamour.
Mandarin Oriental Canouan Island
This sprawling private island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been through several iterations over the years, and today it's home to the Caribbean’s first Mandarin Oriental property. With just 26 suites and 13 villas, the emphasis here is on seclusion and ultra-luxury: expect flawless ocean views, elegant, upscale décor, and a plethora of wining and dining experiences, from a Hamptons-inspired cocktail bar to a swanky Pan-Asian dining room complete with a tandoor oven. There's also a heavenly spa, where guests can take in the ocean views from one of seven hillside treatment cabins.
Urraca Private Island, Panama
The beautiful Bocas del Toro island chain is becoming a vacation hotspot with a certain in-the-know Caribbean set, and this eco-lodge provides the perfect base from which to explore this world-class area. Urraca is protected by a barrier reef and fringed with mangroves, providing a sense of being hidden away from the world. The six wooden, thatched-roof overwater bungalows are simply furnished, and each sports a private terrace and a ladder leading directly to the ocean. At night, the surrounding bioluminescent waters ups the magical quotient even further.
Cayo Espanto, Belize
Belize might not be the first place that springs to mind when you consider a Caribbean escape, but this luxurious island resort aims to change all that. The setup fosters a sense of having the entire place to yourself: there are just seven villas, each with its own attentive butler service, a heated plunge pool, a private dock set with twin beach chairs and umbrellas, and fun perks like al fresco showers. Guests can enjoy in-villa spa experiences, and even the restaurant provides custom-tailored menus. For those wanting to go the extra mile, Casa Ventanas is the standout: 1,000 square feet of overwater bungalow surrounded on all sides by the Caribbean Sea.