11 Private Island Escapes for Your Next Caribbean Vacation
Related: 12 Affordable Private Island Resorts
It's the ultimate winter fantasy: a private piece of paradise where your footprints are the only ones on the sand. For most, the thought of a private island getaway remains solidly in daydream territory, but you needn't shell out millions to buy a tropical retreat. Skip the mortgage and look into renting. These offerings—in Belize, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and beyond—include perks like your own boat and a 7.5-acre estate. Read on for the skinny on how to claim your own Caribbean turf—if only for a week.
One price covers everything from Wi-Fi to wine and watersports at this 7.5-acre island off the coast of Belize, which only accommodates one party (of a maximum of 10 adults) at a time. When not enjoying one of the three villas of your homebase, you'll be exploring the nearby barrier reef—the second-longest in the world.
This four-acre enclave three miles offshore from San Pedro, Belize has six one- and two-bedroom beachfront villas, each with its own private dock. But Casa Ventanas, the resort’s secluded over-water bungalow, is our pick for downtime a deux. Rates include butler service, a customized menu of three meals daily, and plenty of bragging rights. Feeling flush? Rent the entire spread for you and 17 of your closest friends from $13,500 a night.
Only six cottages share this 50-acre all-inclusive Bahamian outpost, where diversions include basking on a pair of white-sand beaches; biking scrub-bordered trails; and spirited games of tennis. But you’ll likely spend your days exploring neighboring Exumas islets on the 17-foot boat (complete with snacks and unlimited gas) that comes standard with each villa.
On this 850-acre British Virgin Island, high-end touches (think Frette sheets and four-course dinners prepared by a Nobu-trained chef) plus a low-maintenance ethos (no in-room TVs or telephones; a help-yourself honor bar) equals a luxe Caribbean experience. Guests (limited to a maximum of 32, spread out in 15 cottages) rave about the nature reserve’s pristine acreage, a dozen miles of hiking trails, and seven mostly deserted beaches.
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort
They’re only two miles away, but Antigua’s cruise-ship crowds and all-inclusive resorts feel a world apart from this 300-acre retreat where no cars are allowed. Guests tool around on bicycles hoping to spot Black-Headed Persian sheep, descendants of a flock said to have been brought to the pastoral island by Christopher Columbus. Forty British Colonial-style rooms come with outdoor showers or bathtubs but no door keys.
From Miami, you’ll need to take two planes, a golf cart and a boat to reach this all-inclusive island in the Grenadine archipelago, south of St. Vincent. But cold towels and colder cocktails, delivered by the welcoming retinue lined up on the dock, will likely erase the memory of your all-day odyssey. And if that doesn’t do it, Palm’s turquoise water, five beaches, and swaying coconut trees (1,852 at last count) surely will.
Parrot Cay by COMO, Turks & Caicos
Yours might not be the only footprints on the immaculately groomed mile-long strand of this Turks and Caicos oasis, but at least they’ll be in good company: Donna Karan and Bruce Willis own villas here, and previous guests include Donatella Versace and Howard Stern. Reserve one of 72 room, suites, and villas or a handful of private residences, and don’t forget to book an Asian-inspired treatment at the Shambala Retreat.
Peter Island Resort & Spa
At 1,800 acres this is the largest private-island resort in the British Virgin Islands, but that doesn’t translate to crowds. Five beaches are tranquil; 52 rooms and three villas are located with generous space between them; and 1,500 undeveloped acres leave plenty of room for solo roaming. And should you desire to buy out the entire island, a no-fly zone can be instituted, guaranteeing complete privacy.
Petit St. Vincent
Hoist a red pennant up the flagpole at any of the 22 villas on this 115-acre Grenadine island, and no will disturb you; fly the yellow flag and a staffer appears within moments. It’s a simple system that’s worked for decades at this posh but unpretentious resort where small niceties (complimentary fresh-baked cookies delivered daily) are combined with grand gestures (chic cottages, a waterfront bar, and toes-in-the-sand dining), and tied together with gracious service.
The Meridian Club, Turks and Caicos
A few dozen homeowners and a handful of guests live like Crusoe-esque beach bums at this footwear-optional Pine Cay resort, which claims to be the oldest continually operating hotel in the Turks and Caicos Islands. With just 13 rooms and no TV, radio, telephones, or organized entertainment, there’s little to distract from the main attraction: two miles of powdery sand lapped by turquoise water.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina
Just a seven-minute boat ride from Tortola, the British Virgin Islands’ newest resort is an ideal jumping-off point for exploration of the surrounding cays. But the 230-acre oasis also has amenities that will tempt you to stay put. Among them: a trio of beaches; a hilltop spa that dispenses Elemis therapies; and two- to four-bedroom ocean-view villas with private pools that are perfect for families.