Private Islands for Romantic Retreats

Is there anything more romantic than escaping to your own private sanctuary? With a backdrop of white-sand beaches, stunning sunsets, and luxury accommodation, you and your plus-one will feel like the only two people in the world at these romantic retreats. Embrace the private island life all over the world, from a lake in East African to tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Read on to discover the perfect paradise for you and your special someone—then book those flights.

Brother Island, El Nido, Philippines
For the price of a San Francisco hotel room, you can lock in a stay at a seven-bedroom, two-bath property on Brother Island, a speck of a white-sand isle located 10 minutes by boat from the nearest village (Ligad) and two hours from El Nido in Palawan, a province of the Philippines. Dedicated staff provides three meals a day and complimentary snorkeling equipment.
Av. Vereador Benedito Adelino, 3185 - Praia Grande, Angra dos Reis - RJ, 23900-000, Brazil
Two hours from Rio de Janeiro, off the coast of Angra Dos Reis, Ilha Grande makes for a spacious retreat for two or an epic group vacation. The private island’s six-bedroom house comes with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, plus a staff ready to whip up caipirinhas at all hours of the day.
Laucala Island, Fiji
Expect no less than over-the-top extravagance at Laucala, a resort island in Fiji with its own rental submarine. Bring friends: The island has 25 villas spread out over 4.6 square miles, with a rain forest, beaches, cliffs, a lagoon, and one of the island’s highest hilltops literally in their backyards.
Nunue, Bora Bora, Vaitape 98730, French Polynesia
This private island features stunning views of Mount Otemanu and Matira Bay from its own motu just a few minutes’ boat ride across Bora Bora’s truly stunning fifty shades of blue (one minute it is turquoise, the next emerald or aquamarine) from sister resort Sofitel Marara. The private property is the perfect pick for romantic getaways (it’s geared toward couples, and children are not allowed). Privacy and intimacy are emphasized here with only 31 bungalows (20 are overwater, another 10 are located on a lush garden setting on a hill with stunning views) and one luxury villa that while not overwater, features direct lagoon and sandy beach access and a private jacuzzi (the only one on the property). There is no swimming pool, but guests can use the pool and all amenities at the Marara resort via free water shuttle. Should you not wish to leave your little slice of paradise, however, the onsite Manu Tuki restaurant does excellent French Tahitian fare; order lobster anything. There is also a bar, the Mako. Whether staying overwater or on the hill, the layout is the same, and all rooms feature contemporary Polynesian decor, gorgeous wood floors, and luxury toiletries in oversize bathrooms. Overwater bungalows also boast glass viewing panels in the floors and direct access into the lagoon. Make sure to book the “Romantic Soiree” for one night. It combines sunset champagne on top of the hill, followed by a romantic dinner on the beach under the stars. The breakfast delivered by canoe also is a must.
Lake Tanganyika
Tom Lithgow invites guests to his 130-acre island on Lake Tanganyika. Thirteen thatched-roof bungalows guarantee privacy; scuba gear and helicopter trips to Kalambo Falls guarantee fun.
Lankanfushi Island, North Malé Atoll Republic of Maldives, Maldives
Each wooden suite—spread out over the waters of a coral-lined lagoon—has a smartly designed sea-level sun deck, a deepwater pool, and a glass spy hole carved into the floor so you can watch the stingrays and reef sharks glide below. The property underwent massive renovations during 2019 after a fire ravaged the hotel, but it took the opportunity to expand and improve. The resort reopened with 45 luxury villas with furniture made from locally sourced materials.
Parrot Cay Turks and Caicos Islands, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks & Caicos Islands
Some 35 minutes by boat from Providenciales, sitting all alone on a 1,000-acre island with three miles of white-sand beach, Parrot Cay attracts a seriously moneyed clientele who care, more than anything, about its exclusivity and its spa. Parrot Cay is not exactly monastic: the long list of celebrity visitors has included Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck (they got married here), as well as Paul McCartney, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, and Liam Neeson. But the spa, COMO Shambhala Retreat, is so successful at projecting a holistic way of life that a sense of peace and harmony embraces the entire resort. The central garden-view and ocean-view rooms, three minutes’ walk from the beach, are acceptably chic, but the beachfront suites and villas are knockouts, and the handful of private homes for rent, some owned by celebrities (Christie Brinkley, Donna Karan), are in the fantasy category. The food, by a chef whose résumé includes a Michelin star, and the service, performed by private butlers for some room categories, are of commensurately high standards.
Pamalican Island, Sulu Archipelago, Agutaya, Palawan, Philippines
Amanpulo occupies its own island in the Cyuo Archipelago, where members of the animal kingdom outnumber humans by some comical order of magnitude. Adding to the resort’s castaway cred is the private airstrip, where guests land after a quick flight from Manila. When not communing with the islet’s dozens of resident bird species or carefully avoiding nesting sea turtles, visitors can dive among the countless colorful denizens in the adjacent marine park, sail to neighboring islands, or hide out under the seashell-tiled ceilings at the spa (don’t miss the Hilot massage, which features warm banana leaves and cold-pressed coconut oil). Those interested in the local cuisine can even pick their own ingredients in the resort’s organic garden and have the chef whip up a feast. Don’t leave without at least one peek through the island’s refracting telescope, which makes the epic night sky look hallucinatory.
Makunufushi South Malé Atoll, 20109, Maldives
Each of the Como resort’s 33 over-water bungalows has a private terrace that lets guests jump straight into the lagoon and snorkel amidst colorful fish and coral. Some of the larger suites are built in the shape of dhoni boats, the traditional wooden vessels used by local anglers. Cocoa Island is home to some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean, with at least 25 sites near the resort, including a shipwreck. Como recently launched its Coral Propagation Program, which allows guests to help protect and regrow the 1,000-plus species found around the resort by planting a coral frame.
Cayo Espanto, Belize
Cayo Espanto is one of those fantasy vacation spots, the kind that one might think exists only in daydreams. But this private island actually is the stuff of dreams, with powdery sand and private beaches lapped by the clear Caribbean waters, doting service, and plenty to do—or not. Cayo Espanto, one of Belize’s hundreds of cays (off-shore islands), sits three miles off the coast of another Belizean island, San Pedro, and can boast what few other properties can: a location right along the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

Each of the seven villas occupies its own private slice of the cay, and an excess of amenities is included: airport pick-up service, boat transfers to and from the island, personal butler service, three customized meals per day, snacks and drinks, and all non-motorized activities, including the use of kayaks and a sailboat. Villas are painted in tropical hues and are exceedingly comfortable, with windows that open right up to ocean views. Some have private infinity-edge plunge pools.
A mojito-making station, sunken bathtubs, and a private chef are just three of the perks on offer at Song Saa’s Royal Villa in Koh Rong, Cambodia. The two-bedroom overwater bungalow is located on the resort’s private island, where lodging includes only 24 rooms total.
Motu Tuvahine Hipu, 98733, French Polynesia
Technically part of Tahaa in French Polynesia, Vahine Private Island Resort is an escape from reality. The hotel features three beach bungalows, three self-contained beach suites and three overwater bungalows, all with beach views and designed using only natural materials in such a way as to make you feel like you’re in a traditional Polynesian home. Moreover, the resort is set on a 23-acre private island lush with coconut trees and white sand beach.

Snorkel in their vibrant coral gardens, kayak to nearby motus or to natural sting-ray pools, take in a coconut show, learn how to tie a pareo or weave palm leaves, paddle a traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe or take an excursion to the nearby mainland of Tahaa (the “Vanilla Island”) or a private motu. Guests love their food and beverage program, with French dishes crafted using local cuisine and cocktails infused with local fruits and juices.

Tip: Don’t leave without having a traditional massage with scented Monoi oil on your deck, where you’ll hear nothing but the billowing palms and gentle crashing of waves.
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