If you could only take 1 item to a private island, what would it be?
We’d take our swimsuits – then we’d be all ready to kick back at these lush yet affordable sanctuaries. Who said private island holidaying is only for the rich and famous?
Take a 35-minute boat ride from the popular seaside town of Sihanouk to get to this eco-resort.
There’s no centralised spa “centre” at Song Saa – here, the entire island is a sanctuary. Thatched stone villas (complete even with mojito making stations!) sit by the glistening waters, where you’re free to kick back and relax; take a leisurely stroll down to the beach and draw energy from the sun, sand, and sea.
If you’re keen to venture further, head out to the beautiful unspoilred coves and bays, or go scuba-diving in the warm waters of the archipelago to explore the vibrant corals and marine life.
Or, not that the retreat’s not already private, but there’s no harm taking a luxury speedboat out to the nearby island of Koh Rong for an even more private picnic by the beach.
Cost: ~$1,000 per person per night
NEXT: Pulau Joyo, Indonesia →
Only 3 hrs away from Singapore lies Pulau Joyo, priding itself in “barefoot sophistication”. Sounds like an oxymoron? Not when Mother Nature has blessed the island with the most romantic beaches that practically manicure themselves.
The island is small – heck, it’s tiny – but that’s exactly what we love about it. (If you’re a bigger group, it’d even make sense to rent the entire island.) Despite its size, there’s tons to do here – pick from a range of land and sea sports, from badminton to stand-up paddling, or head out on a fishing trip with a personal boat crew.
Here, reconnect with nature in luxury. Even the beach palaces are constructed completely from driftwood salvaged from the sea, and are perfectly suited to catch the island breezes.
On the food front, there’s no menu, and guests are simply served what’s been cooked for them. But that means you’re getting the freshest catch of the day; plus, rest assured there’s still plenty of choice. What we can guarantee will be on the menu: lots of champagne.
Cost: ~$330 per person per night
NEXT: Ariara Island, Philippines →
This 125-acre island (That’s 95 football fields!) sleeps only 18 in its 4 beach cottages; even if you’re a smaller group, only one party is allowed to book the property at any time, guaranteeing you ultimate exclusivity.
The cottages sit along 600 metres of sun-bleached white sand. They’re impressively handsome – think huge marble bathrooms, open-air showers, lounges equipped with cinema-style projectors, and more, but you’ll want to head to the tropical outdoors.
About 30 staff members are stationed on the island round the clock so you won’t have to lift a finger, should you choose not to.
And if you do, it’ll probably be in a morning yoga sesh, or while you’re exploring the limestone cliffs, hot springs, and hidden lakes around the island.
Cost: ~$650 per person per night
NEXT: Pulau Pangkil, Indonesia →
Pulau Pangkil might be small – it literally translates to “small island” in English – but there’s much to love about this rustic slice of heaven.
Kick back and retreat to the uncluttered island life – electric fans replace air-conditioners in the driftwood beach huts, and only mosquito nets shield you from the skeeters in your sleep (but at least there’s high-speed wi-fi!).
Like Ariara Island, Pulau Pangkil is also only available for rental as an island. The rental cost is inclusive of all the meals (and you can eat as much as you want, whenever you want), facilities like water sports equipment, a volleyball court, as well as the thoughtful care of the staff throughout your stay.
If that’s not enough, the owners of Pulau Pangkil also own a neighboring island, Pulau Mulbai, which you’re free to explore as well.
Cost: ~$480 per person per night
NEXT: Amanpulo, Philippines →
The folks from Amanpulo will receive you personally from Manila, from which you fly into this exclusive island-resort via a private plane.
The beaches and dive sites that ring the island are pristine, and don’t worry about having trouble getting to them, as you’ll have your own private buggy for exploring the island.
Beach-lounging isn’t the toughest work, but if you must (and indeed you do), you’re in the good hands of the crowned best resort spa in the Philippines.
Come nightfall, retreat back to your lush villa, nestled within the skirt of lush bougainvilleas, where you can enjoy the expansive view of the glimering ocean beneath the star-lit sky.
Or if you’re into star-gazing or Sex on the Beach (wink), head to the lobby bar in the clubhouse to check out the constellations through the terrace telescope.
Cost: ~$550 per person per night
NEXT: Song Saa, Cambodia →
By Pinky Chng / Updated July 2019
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