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An archipelago of isles stretching from Mexico to Venezuela, the cays and atolls of the Caribbean have long topped the ranks of tropical destinations. With tranquil lagoons of warm, crystal-clear water filled with stunning coral reefs and ringed by secluded beaches, the islands have attracted rich and famous crowds since their existence became known to the modern world.
Recently, a wave of development has introduced this blessed area of the world to a wider audience, but for many visitors, the magic is still tucked away in isolated bays and deserted shores. As a result, a number of private island resorts have emerged to offer privileged guests the opportunity to experience an exclusive getaway. From tiny boutique properties on hidden coves to expansive resorts that find secluded nooks for their many guests, all the stays below offer a sense of privacy and tranquillity that's becoming increasingly hard to find in today’s world.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Gladden Villa
This design-forward private villa sits on a tiny speck of brilliant white sand, fringed by some of the world’s finest coral reefs. Guests are whisked to the island by private helicopter, where they reside in superb isolation until they summon a staff member from the nearby isle for a gourmet meal, discreet housekeeping service, or a relaxing massage. A boat is kept on standby to deliver guests to remote coral reefs, take them on scenic tours of the surrounding bays, and ferry them to excursions on Belize's mainland.
The villa is marvelously designed with restrained, sophisticated elegance. Every detail was thoughtfully considered; natural stone and polished dark woods are masterfully integrated into open-plan designs with plush furnishings and tasteful décor. Bathrooms are equally impressive, with deep stone baths, walk-in rainfall showers, and ornate lighting fixtures. Guests can lounge on the furnished patio, laze about in the infinity pool at the front of the villa, or retire to the rooftop terrace to take in the views while reclining on the cushioned sun lounges and hanging day beds.
Best Value: Palm Island Resort & Spa — All-Inclusive
Set on a small isle with wide beaches, rocky headlands, and freshwater lagoons, the Palm Island Resort & Spa delivers stylish accommodations, gourmet dining, and a wide range of activities on both land and sea. The resort offers comfortable rooms, family-sized suites, and private villas, all set amidst vibrant gardens or right on the beach. All accommodations have bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs, as well as private furnished terraces or balconies. High-end villas step things up with deluxe extras like infinity pools and marble bathroom fittings.
A beautiful freshwater pool sits beachside and contains a waterfall plunging from a dramatic rock feature. Guest can relax in hammocks along the shore, play on tennis courts, or take kayaks and Hobie Cats out onto the water. Scuba diving and kite surfing courses are also offered if you're looking for a little more instruction. Massages, body scrubs, and other treatments are provided in scenic open-air beach huts at the full-service spa. As well as a la carte dining at the elegant Royal Palm Restaurant and the local and international dishes of the beachside Sunset Grill, guests can also enjoy a romantic dinner on the beach or a picnic lunch in a variety of picturesque locations around the island.
Best Overwater: Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island
With overwater villas swirling off from a heart-shaped central boardwalk, the Sandals Royal Caribbean places guests in a world of maritime extravagance and splendor. While mainland accommodations are also offered, guests of the overwater villas, specifically, are greeted at the airport by a personal chauffeur who delivers them to the resort by BMW. From there, a water taxi awaits to transport them to their private abode. The overwater villas are built in a sumptuous tropical island style with hardwood floors and peaked ceilings, and contemporary touches like glass floors with underwater lighting for stunning night-time displays. There are also private ocean-view terraces with floating and overwater hammocks, outdoor showers, and infinity pools. Each room comes with a personal butler to provide discreet 24-hour service.
The island has quiet beaches, including a clothing-optional section, with private cabanas lining the shores and hammocks suspended above the shallow water. Other amenities include a pool with a swim-up bar and separate hot tub, a full-service spa and a Thai restaurant housed in an opulent alfresco terrace reminiscent of a Balinese temple. When guests wish to explore further dining and entertainment options, water taxis deliver them to the main resort, a Georgian-style mansion surrounded by peacock-strewn lawns, where they can dine on gourmet French dishes, sophisticated haute cuisine and traditional British pub grub.
Best for Romance: Petit St. Vincent
An intimate private island retreat set within 115 acres of pristine tropical forest, the award-winning Petit St. Vincent is a romantic, peaceful escape from your daily grind. With no TVs, phones, or Wi-Fi, guests are forced to switch off and appreciate the serene natural ambiance. Guest cottages and villas are located directly on the beach or nestled within the forested hillsides. Made from natural, locally-sourced stone and hardwood, the open plan accommodations are done up with contemporary décor and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that lead onto scenic furnished terraces.
Set high on the hillside, the rustic open-air spa provides a range of services, including a luxurious couple’s treatment that incorporates deep Balinese massage, exfoliating body scrubs, and a soothing facial cleanse. Spa services can also be enjoyed in the privacy of guests’ villas. Two restaurants offer gourmet dining, one set in an elegant dining room with an attached alfresco terrace and the other directly. Guest may also request room service or enjoy a private picnic in a secluded outdoor location of their choosing.
Best Spa: COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
Set on a small island in the Turks & Caicos archipelago, COMO Parrot Cay offers a tranquil ultra-luxury experience with a strong focus on health and well-being. Spa aficionados flock from all over the world to experience the indulgent pampering treatments offered at the COMO Shambhala Retreat spa. A range of specialists — including professional masseurs, ayurvedic health consultants, nutritionists, and acupuncture practitioners — develop custom therapies to address specific health complaints or goals. Facilities include a scenic outdoor yoga terrace, Japanese baths, and a peaceful Jacuzzi garden. Massage therapies include Indonesian, Thai, hot stone, and deep tissue, but a wide range of facial and body treatments are also available. Outside of treatments, the spa also offers complimentary yoga, Pilates, and meditation sessions.
When it comes to accommodations, guestrooms, suites, and villas are all decked out in brilliant white with four-poster beds, soaking tubs, rainfall showers, and furnished balconies. Villas also offer extra amenities including private pools and outdoor showers. Of course, there's also the communal infinity pool which overlooks the resort's stunning white sand beach and blue ocean waters. Two restaurants offer healthy Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine and a beach bar serves light snacks and refreshing cocktails.
Best Marina: Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina
Visitors exploring the Caribbean by yacht will find a warm welcome at Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, where guests can dock at one of 53 deep-water berths and walk directly into a well-appointed resort with opulent facilities and lavish amenities. An expansive resort that extends up the hills lining the shore, accommodations range from single rooms to six-bedroom villas, all of them offering superb views of the surrounding ocean and neighboring islands. Décor is follows an elevated island theme, with rattan ceilings, carved wooden furnishings, marble bathrooms, and modern amenities like wide-screen TVs with cable channels and iPod docks.
An ornamental waterfall links the two-tiered beachfront pool, which features a zero-entry ledge, waterslide, and swim-up bar. Nestled high on the hillside with clear ocean views, the spa offers a wide range of beauty and wellness services, with hair braiding, acupuncture, and foot treatments offered alongside the usual massage, facial and body wrap therapies. Three restaurants offer fresh seafood and international cuisine in fine dining, poolside, and beachfront environments, and three bars include a casual swim-up bar, a scenic poolside option, and a relaxed cocktail lounge.
Best for Nature: Necker Island
The private isle of the enigmatic Sir Richard Branson, Necker Island will delight wildlife lovers thanks to the exotic fauna introduced to the island. While strolling through the lush island vegetation, guests may just encounter giant tortoises lumbering through the undergrowth, wide-eyed lemurs leaping tree to tree, and flocks of coral-pink flamingos wading through shallow lagoons. Under the waves, guest can don snorkels or scuba equipment to swim with dolphins and turtles and explore diverse coral reefs filled with tropical fish. The centerpiece of the island is the Great House, where guests gather to drink pre-dinner cocktails on the panoramic wrap-around terrace or in the rooftop Jacuzzi tub.
Stunning guestrooms are opulently furnished with cushioned bamboo lounges, muslin drape-shrouded beds, and hardwood floors and ceilings. Down on the beach, an infinity pool caters to guests with a swim-up bar and gourmet sushi which arrives floating on an ice-filled kayak. Other dining experiences include relaxed meals on the ocean view terrace of the Beach House and barefoot picnics and BBQs on the pristine sands of Turtle Beach.
Best for Families: The Meridian Club, Turks & Caicos
On a large isle in the middle of the Turks & Caicos island chain, the all-inclusive Meridian Club stretches out along a stunning sweep of pristine beach which extends beyond the resort for many uninhabited miles. Beachfront rooms, cottages, and a scattering of private home rentals can accommodate a range of family sizes and are furnished in minimalist style. Rooms purposefully lack amenities such as digital entertainment so guests may immerse themselves in the natural surroundings. However, some creature comforts are provided for, including Keurig coffeemakers, bathrooms with walk-in rainfall showers and double vanities, and a furnished front porch. Outside, there are private outdoor showers and tiki huts with sun lounges and towels.
The resort also provides an excellent range of activities, from tennis and volleyball courts to paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. The Sand Dollar Spa offers Balinese massages, body wraps, facials, and nail treatments if you're looking for something a little more relaxing. In the evenings, guests can enjoy sunset views and pre-dinner cocktails in the second story bar before dining on an excellent a la carte selection of healthy organic dishes.
Best Boutique: Guana Island
Scattered across forested BVI hillside, Guana Island's collection of rustic-chic rooms and villas are the picture of private island exclusivity. Guestrooms come with their own terrace, and upgraded rooms also offer an infinity pool overlooking the bay. Villas are split between the beach and the hills, so you can choose from easy shore access or panoramic infinity pool views from the latter's lofty position. There are also larger accommodations for families or groups, and romantic hideaways that feature natural stone walls, delicately carved wooden columns, and Jacuzzi tubs.
A real highlight of Guana Island is dining; fresh, healthy ingredients are sourced from the on-site organic orchard and paired with a respectable international selection of wines and champagnes. Guests can relax with a seaside or in-room massage or enjoy a private picnic on a remote sandy beach. Active guests can play a round of tennis, snorkel through vibrant coral reefs, or explore the network of hiking trails that lead to scenic outlooks, natural seaside pools, and deserted coves. In the evenings, guests sip on cocktails during a sunset cruise or while relaxing in the library or on the candle-lit terrace of The Club.