Five Private Island Escapes That are Truly Unforgettable


It must be the yearning for a place set apart…the utopian spot where each part of existence suits us perfectly. For some; a hideaway from winter cold. For others; a relief from pervasive summer heat. It’s the Shangri La or Bali Hai that calls to the primal urge to retreat and rest. Escaping to a private island is one way to satisfy the craving.

Private island? Yes. It’s true. There are islands tucked away in climates of every kind, offering much more than sandy beaches in the tropics. For the work weary, and exhausted, island dreams can come true. Choosing from the varied options is just the beginning of creating unforgettable memories.

Sonora Resort, British Columbia, Canada

Sonora Resort, British Columbia, Canada

On a private island in the middle of Canada’s wondrous nature, Sonora Resort welcomes travelers to enjoy the abundant amenities offered at the all-inclusive resort retreat. It’s not far from Vancouver, and it may be reached by a seaplane or helicopter. Guests arriving from Seattle arrive by seaplane or use a water taxi on the Campbell River, and charter flights arrive from all over the world.

The island, Sonora Island, lends its name to the resort which distinguishes it. It is one of the outer islands known as the Discovery Islands, and these are northwest of Vancouver. It is a pristine location, with the Johnstone Strait to the northwest and the Strait of Georgia to its south. Many guests opt to spend a day cruising through the waterways which spread throughout the area’s clustered islands. It’s not surprising that fly fishing, canoeing, and paddle boating are popular resort pastimes.

The resort has just 12 guest lodges. Accommodations include rooms, suites and villas filled with luxuries such as goose down comforters, highest quality linens and King or Queen size beds. Molton Brown products complete the comforting array.

Once guests arrive, everything imaginable is included in the rates:

  • All gourmet meals
  • All liquor, wine and beer, juice and soft drinks (though some premium wines are spirits may require extra charges)
  • Menus created by Executive Chef Terry Pichor
  • A fully stocked wine cellar featuring to labels from around the world
  • Tennis court, 9 hole putting green, virtual golf, bike and hiking trails
  • Fly fishing ponds with included equipment
  • 12 seat movie theater, Wi-Fi, digital cameras for photo outings
  • Wireless internet, unlimited international phone calls, complimentary business center
  • Heated swimming pool, mineral pools, hot tubs on the roofs, saunas
  • Fitness gym, shuffleboard, Xbox and pool

Rates vary by room type, and season:

Low Season is May 1-31/October 1-15, Shoulder Season is June 1 -30, and High Season is July 1 -September 30.

Rooms range from $560 to $1,125 per night, Suites range from $1,480 to $4,620 per night, and Villas range from $3,875 to $11,960 per night.

Inish Beg Island, West Cork, Ireland

Inish Beg Island, West Cork, Ireland

Imagine an Irish island in the far north, with an estate surrounded by 97 acres of farmland and private subtropical gardens nurtured by the Gulf Steam’s mild climate. Think of beautiful gardens, birds, parks, native woodlands, high cliffs, and sandy shores. Picture yourself in an idyllic place where nature and the best of amenities are within your reach. This is the small island of Inish Beg.

Of all the Carbery Hundred Islands, it is the farthest north, and part of County Cork. The Ilen River’s tidal estuary embraces it. It’s not far from Skibbereen and Baltimore, and these off-island towns offer fishing, diving and sailing. It’s also just a short drive from mainland golf courses, horseback riding, and whale watching. Add award winning dining and old fashioned pubs, and most every desire is filled. It’s simple to access the mainland, as it’s a short trip over the stone bridge; should the muse strike.

Rejuvenating the self, however, is always possible with the indoor heated pool, gym and steam room on the estate. This fitness complex is in a walled garden. Or, a horse-drawn carriage ride could be just the thing for relaxing and seeing the sites. Private access to the shore, and private woodland walks are available, too.

Guests may rent any of ten separate holiday cottages located on the estate, or an individual or group can exclusively rent the entire ten. Though the services are self-catering, each accommodation includes a kitchen, a private garden, living room and bathroom. Each cottage is located near the main house and pool. Prices depend on the cottage and time of year, and range from EUR 395 to 2,950 per night. Paul and Georgiana Keane are the hosts on this enchanting island.

Greek Island Retreat, Cyclades, Greece

Greek Island Retreat, Cyclades, Greece

There is a magical Greek island which has been owned by a single family for almost an entire century. The Greek Island Retreat was purchased in 1916 by the grandfather, and his legacy continues. It was a love that has been passed on to his children and grandchildren. The 900-acre island was protected for generations, and though it is very near Athens, it retains its purity and charm. The island is in the Cyclades and is surrounded by clear water for swimming. Fish, dolphins, seals and turtles share the ocean; and birds, the air. It’s only an hour from Athens, but a world and time apart.

The guest house was built during the 1920s, renovated a quarter century ago, and then modernized within recent years. The current family members kept the Neo-classical style and structure, so it feels very much like visiting during the turn of the century. The rooms are large with high ceilings. Every bedroom has its own bathroom fitted with marble and beautiful fixtures. Terraces surround the house so that guests can view the sea and the olive and cypress trees. Just four steps away is the sea. Al Fresco meals are enjoyed at a wooden table in the barbecue area just behind the house.

Maria, the owner, and her husband live in their own home on the island. It is 200 meters from the guest house, and they also have a separate building for their staff. No one else lives on the island. It is a completely private place. Over the years, they have established their own solar electricity source, their own fresh vegetable garden, sources for freshly caught fish by local fishermen, and fresh eggs. There is a chef who produces meals for guests as wished. There are local markets, so guests are also free to self-cater, either fully or partially. The menus follow the seasons, in time honored Mediterranean fashion.

When olive harvesting time returns each October, they celebrate the harvest and have the olives pressed into oil at a nearby press. They also keep farm animals, and one pony for older children to ride. They have saved stray and injured horses as well. Guests are welcomed to explore the fishing village they shop for basic items. Other close islands are available for exploring, including Andros, Evia, Kea and Tinos. Evia has Karistos, which is one historic Ottoman city that has incredible castles. It is also possible to ferry to Athens to see the Parthenon, opera, theater, museums and enjoy some nightlife.

Island guests are free to use bicycles and sporting equipment. Swimming, playing on the beach and visiting the farm animals are all popular pastimes. Guests arrive at the island taking the Athens ferry. It is an hour trip. Other options include a 30-minute speedboat ride or a 15-minute helicopter ride to and from the airport. Transportation from island to island is achieved using a boat taxi.

Sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, yoga, walks and bike rides are all part of the leisure activities on the island. Spending a day on a boat with a fisherman, having a picnic, or visiting a different beach or different island every day of the week is also possible. The water is warm for swimming from April until December.

Rates are by the week for groups of 12 to 18 people, and start at €9,500 and range to €20,000 depending on whether or not the group will self-cater. Daily maid service and housekeeping is included. It is possible to arrange just about any service required, and it is only 10 minutes by speed boat to the neighboring island Evia for shopping and restaurants.

Tagomago Private Island, near Ibiza, Spain

Tagomago Private Island, near Ibiza, Spain

Located just off the coast of Ibiza Island by 900 meters, Tagomago is a private place reached by helicopter or boat. Thanks to the international airport on Ibiza, just 5 minutes away, it is relatively easy to arrive at this treasured Mediterranean spot. It is also just as easy to leave the privacy this retreat offers and enjoy the restaurants, parties and fun of Ibiza.

The island is verdant, with hiking paths and bird watching opportunities. It is 600,000 square meters of green, surrounded by spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. The villa is in the center, and the estate is surrounded with terraces which show the ocean, neighboring Ibiza and the island at their best. The terraces offer sunbathing, a huge swimming pool, outdoor whirlpool, sauna and steam bath for relaxing.

The villa includes 5 double bedrooms with en-suite baths, spacious dining areas with a complete professional kitchen and luxurious living areas professionally appointed in contemporary style, by an interior designer. Nothing has been spared in terms of high quality materials, furnishings and technical equipment.

The island’s west coast has private mooring and jetty. In addition, within a brief 30 minute or less travel time, Formentera is nearby, featuring sparkling turquoise sea and wonderful beaches. Available for guests are a Mangusta 108 yacht, two Seadoo jet skis, and a Boston Whaler 320 vessel.

The island is available for lease per week. Special holiday or event activities may be scheduled and organized for guests. There is a personnel apartment nearby for staff.

Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort, Mozambique

Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort, Mozambique

Anantara is a very private, tiny island near Mozambique’s northern coast. It is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The island is 300 meters wide and one kilometer long. Its beaches are powdery, and the waters surrounding it are filled with intriguing dive sites.

Though it is certainly luxurious, exclusive and isolated, it takes just 45 minutes to fly from Pemba Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Scheduled plane flights land at the island airstrip, and it is possible to walk to the resort in just two minutes.

The island is often described as a narrow sand strip with exceeding beauty. The turquoise ocean is home to humpback whales swimming within a few feet of shore. The resort is designed with 13 chalets along the beach on one side and an incredibly rugged, windy coast on the other. The chalet side has still waters and a reef, which is where many paddleboard or arrive by Hobie Cat to view the sunset. There are also hammocks and pools for plunging. It is a place for living barefoot in complete serenity.

The goal of the resort is to provide guests with complete tranquility. There are no cell phone signals available, and the resort is adults only; for ages 16 and up.

The amenities are decidedly luxurious:

  • Bahari lounge bar
  • Jahazi restaurant with an ocean view; plus international and local cuisine
  • Loft Lounge with games and a library
  • WiFi in bar, lounge and reception areas
  • Dining by Design custom culinary experiences
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Anantara Spa treatments
  • Picnics on Quissanga Island
  • World class diving sites
  • Whale watching trips from July through October
  • Sunset dinner cruises
  • Bird watching, paddle boarding, sea kayaking, fishing, water skiing, snorkeling

The island’s coral reefs are largely unexplored. The seafood is freshly caught before preparation. It is possible to spend the morning poolside and then enjoy a spa treatment right on the beach. With accommodation packages including meals and many additional features, this is an alluring location indeed.

Prices begin at $590 per person, per night.

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