For Condé Nast Traveler, by Paul Rubio.
From the South Pacific to the Florida Keys, discover paradise at the best and most beautiful private island resorts, where natural beauty abounds—and doing nothing is simply everything.
Pristine blue lagoons; lush coconut groves and volcanic mountains; endless beaches; 25 over-the-top, design-driven Fijian bures (pronounced boo-rays), each with private swimming pools—Laucala Island is the ultimate South Pacific fantasy come to life. What’s more? The island flaunts the highest guest-to-staff ratio of any resort in the world (currently 16 staff to each villa), so expect the best-of-the-best in private island pampering.
2. Fregate Island Private, Seychelles
3. The Brando, French Polynesia
We’re usually all about the overwater bungalows in French Polynesia, but this ultra-luxurious, eco-conscious retreat—Marlon Brando’s former private getaway—is equally dreamy. Live the modern Robinson Crusoe fantasy in haute style based at one the 35 stylish, palm-thatched villas, where in-room dining comes from chef Guy Martin (of Michelin two-star, Le Grand Véfour fame), nature tours are lead by Brando’s granddaughter, Tumi, and the surrounding beaches and reef match the beauty Brando discovered when he purchased the island in 1960 while searching for locations to film Mutiny on the Bounty.
4. Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent & Grenadines
Little has changed in nearly 50 years at this under-the-radar Caribbean retreat, and that’s a good thing. While Petit St. Vincent’s 22 cottages did receive a fabulous face-lift back in 2012 when the new spa and beach bar were added, the island remains void of cars and technology (read: no TVs or in-room Internet), uses its original flagpole service system (raise a yellow flag for immediate service), maintains incredible reef quality—which can be explored through Jean-Michel Cousteau’s only dive center in the Caribbean—and has a timeless, classic Caribbean design aesthetic.
5. COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
In the remote, outer Turks & Caicos, this 1000-acre private island combines barefoot bliss with wellness and gastronomy. Mingle sun worshipping and snorkeling with daily yoga and Pilates classes, and dig in to Thai- and Japanese-inspired Asian dishes that reflect the COMO brand’s Asian heritage. To truly live out the private island fantasy, splurge on one of the butler-attended private villas or estates instead of opting for a traditional room in the main hotel.