Private Islands on Our Radar


The idea of a private island is one of the most seductive in travel, especially when the microdot is located in some obscure and far-flung archipelago, thereby confirming that the world is still much bigger and more exotic than is sometimes assumed. Here at Andrew Harper, traveling halfway around the world to review a remote atoll taxes our ingenuity and resources, but we keep a list of likely candidates and over time they find a way onto our itineraries. Here are five that we are most anxious to visit.

Islas Secas, Panama

The Islas Secas, an archipelago made up of 14 islands, are located in the Gulf of Chiriquí 20 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama and are home to an extraordinarily rich diversity of terrestrial and marine life. Louis Bacon, an American hedge fund manager and environmental philanthropist, purchased the islands and created an eponymous jungle ecolodge, which opened at the end of 2019. This remote haven of nine lavish casitas is set on the Isla Cavada, the only one of the 14 islands that has been settled. (Bacon has ensured that 75 percent of the archipelago will be left undeveloped.) The stylish guest lodgings, all immersed in vibrant tropical vegetation, afford magical sea views, and most are augmented by plunge pools and outdoor soaking tubs. The restaurant is housed in a cathedral-like bamboo structure and serves “ocean-to-fork” cuisine. Activities range from marlin and tuna fishing, on the legendary Hannibal Bank, to snorkeling with whale sharks, and scuba diving in the pristine waters of the nearby Coiba National Park.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 24 guests per night: $30,000. Nightly rate: Casita Mirador for two, $2,000.

Misool Eco Resort, Indonesia

Accessible only by boat, Misool Eco Resort is set on a remote island in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago. It lies at the heart of the so-called Coral Triangle, a marine area also known as the Amazon of the Oceans, which is home to nearly 600 kinds of reef-building coral and more than 2,000 fish species. For serious divers, the sea life experienced here is incomparable. A conservation center on the island helps maintain the astounding biodiversity. The lodge itself is built entirely of reclaimed tropical hardwoods, while the accommodations comprise eight Water Cottages on stilts, four North Lagoon Villas and seven South Beach Villas. The cuisine employs locally sourced, organic ingredients; a spa features signature natural scrubs, oils and extracts. Aside from diving and kayaking, birding, cultural visits and cooking classes are available.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 40 guests per night: $114,700. Nightly rate: Water Cottage for two, $6,200. (Minimum stay required.)

Satellite Island, Australia

The 76-acre private island getaway of Satellite Island, owned by Melbourne couple Kate and Will Alstergren, lies just off the southern coast of Tasmania in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, a 90-minute drive and five-minute boat ride from the Tasmanian capital, Hobart. The three-bedroom Summer House and the two-bedroom Boathouse on the jetty are decorated in natural hues and a combination of antiques, local furniture and material salvaged from the island itself. Development here merges seamlessly with the lush greenery of the endemic plants. The island has no restaurant, so a private chef is engaged for the duration of your stay. Days can be spent diving for abalone, beachcombing, touring the island’s salmon farm and swimming in the pristine surrounding waters. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted on the island at any time.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 8 guests per night: $3,850, two-night minimum stay required.

Time + Tide Miavana, Madagascar

Located off the northeastern coast of Madagascar, Nosy Ankao is the largest of the five islands in the Levens Archipelago. When Time + Tide Miavana opened there in May 2017, travelers in search of remote and exotic locales soon took notice. The resort was designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the architects responsible for North Island in the Seychelles. Fourteen one- to three-bedroom glass pavilion-like villas are spread over 2,500 acres and feature handcrafted furnishings and hand-dyed textiles, floor-to-ceiling windows, local Malagasy stone accents, private pools and kitchenettes. The island is ringed by 3 miles of pristine white beaches, and the surrounding waters have exceptional marine biodiversity. Indoor and outdoor restaurants serve exceptionally fresh seafood as well as Italian-inspired cuisine. Activities include diving, fly-fishing and lemur trekking with a private guide; helicopter trips to nearby national parks can also be arranged.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 40 guests, seven-night minimum stay required: Contact Andrew Harper Travel, (800) 375-4685. Nightly rate: One-bedroom Villa for two, $5,800.

Gladden Private Island, Belize

Located on the Belize Barrier Reef, 20 miles from the coastal town of Placencia, Gladden Private Island is intended to be the ultimate personal refuge. Its 3,000-square-foot villa was designed for a single couple — although there is a second bedroom, should you wish to bring along children or friends — and it comes with a separate dining pavilion where regional seafood specialties are served. A rooftop terrace with a swimming pool affords a stupendous 360-degree panorama of coral reef and turquoise lagoons. The island’s managing couple live with the rest of the staff on an adjacent islet in order to preserve the total privacy of guests. Excursions can be arranged to nearby Gladden Spit and the Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, which boast some of the best scuba diving in the world. (From April through June, 30-foot whale sharks congregate in the protected area.) Sailing and kayaking are also offered, as well as excursions to Mayan ruins and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (the world’s only jaguar preserve) on the mainland.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 4 guests per night: $4,415, four-night minimum stay required.

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By Andrew Harper Editors Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.