These 10 islands are considered the best and most luxurious in the world. Find out why the celebrities who vacation there don’t want you to know about them.
Finding genuine seclusion on an exotic island that hasn’t been discovered by international tourists is becoming more difficult by the day. If you yearn for white sand beaches without droves of tourists, or prefer exclusive South Pacific luxury escapes, look no further than these island destinations for your next venture off the map. They offer everything you need to relax in style like the celebrity you are (or the one you feel like!)
The Cook Islands
The 15 atolls that make up the Cook Islands offer the same alluring scenery and romantic ambiance as the more popular Pacific islands, but with none of the crowds. Here you’ll find everything you could ever want in a tropical getaway and much more – from mountain scapes lush with native vegetation to clear lagoons with a uniquely South Pacific vibe.
Luxury resorts are mainly situated on two of the islands – Rarotonga – the main island and primary entry point, and the intimate and remote Aitutaki.
The most highly awarded property in the Cook Islands – Pacific Resort Aitutaki is a 5-star sanctuary that has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top boutique resorts in the world. The property features 27 luxury bungalows and villas including the ‘Ultimate Beachfront Villa’ which is the perfect place to relax after a day of scuba diving, snorkeling, cruising on Aitutaki lagoon or taking a scenic flight over the island chain with Air Rarotonga. The resort’s dining options are impeccable, offering a myriad of culinary opportunities to indulge in fresh Aitutaki produce and a plethora of delicious local seafood.
Paros is a Greek island in the Cyclades, just a few hours away from Athens by boat. Whether you look at it as Greece’s best kept secret or the next hot vacation destination, it’s consistently revered by those who know it intimately, but remains free of tourist hordes that frequent neighboring islands.
Most come here for the stunning natural beaches, chic nightclubs and ancient monuments that bring Greece’s iconic history to life. You’ll likely arrive in Naousa, which is arguably one of the most gorgeous ports in all of Greece.
There’s an impressive number of high-end hotels and luxury apartments for rent, however, one of the mainstay premier venues to experience is the Yria Island Boutique Hotel and Spa. This romantic property offers exclusive luxury villas that cover an impressive 4,520 square feet on two floors. Soaking up views of the Aegean sea from a private pool and jacuzzi leaves guests feeling anything but cramped, with four full bedrooms and a beautifully appointed living and dining area. The Yria Resort may feel like a world of its own, but some of the finest dining on the island, inclusive of an exceptional mixology scene, is a quick chauffeur ride away.
The restaurants in Paros are considered some of the best in Greece – the perfect place to enjoy a plate of seafood meze. Meze or mezze, is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in the Near East, the Balkans, and parts of Central Asia, locally sourced fish and all the classic Greek specialties one could possibly imagine. If exclusive nightlife is in fact your ideal indulgence, the party at Santa Maria or Ambelas is alive with some of the hottest trending DJs in the world.
If you prefer to bask in awe of the ancient ambiance of Paros a walk along the marble footpath known as the Byzantine Road will lead you to explore some of the island’s historic relics, but we wouldn’t blame you if you never left the comfort of your beachside villa.
Palawan, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is known as the Philippine’s last ecological frontier. This group of islands along the western boundary of the Philippines includes the well-known islands of Caron and El Nido. Both islands are famous for their stunning karst scenery, dreamscape lagoons and exceptional diving and snorkeling.
For one of the most posh luxury escapes in Palawan, consider a stay at Amanpulo Resort. Accessible only by chartered flight, this exquisite private island resort is surrounded by heavenly white sand and a vibrantly azure lagoon. You certainly won’t be disappointed by the snorkeling opportunities just off the beach – including ample opportunities to get close to sea turtles.
Amanpulo is perfect for those who want to experience South Pacific beauty in its purest state, in the comfort of luxury amenities. If you are feeling adventurous, you can explore endless coral reefs by kayak or hike one of the intrepid jungle trails, culminating in spectacular views at the pinnacle of each route. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy local Filipino cuisine made from local produce grown at the resort’s own garden, as well as sustainably harvested grouper, crab, lobster and sea urchin that’s brought in daily by local fishermen.
Known among the poshest travelers as one of the ultimate destinations for long stretches of powdery beige sand and turquoise water, Mauritius is home to some of the most stylish hotels in the Caribbean. You can take your pick between contemporary luxury retreats or elegant colonial homes, many of which offer amazing gastronomic experiences and a range of tropical activities.
The Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is consistently a top choice among the A-list crowd. The resort property sits inside a private nature sanctuary, surrounded by native flora and fauna, in harmony with the rhythm of the island itself. The resort not only occupies the most pristine segment of the mainland, it also features its own 11-acre private island where the resort’s Presidential Suite is hidden away. Mauritius is perfect for those seeking a laid-back luxury Caribbean vacation, but make no mistake, there are plenty of opportunities to be immersed in an active adventure. Whether it’s snorkeling or diving one of the world’s healthiest coral reefs, or exploring the myriad of hiking trails across the island, there’s plenty of entertainment, no matter your preferred pace. Not to be overlooked is the savory essence of Mauritius’ abundant seafood, which can be enjoyed in the chic ambience of the resort’s restaurants: Beau Champ, Bambou, or Acquapazza.
Saint Lucia is one of the pristine Caribbean destinations that has become popular with elite luxury travelers and it’s easy to see why.
Home to miles of unspoiled beaches, impeccable rainforest landscapes and the Piton Mountains which rise majestically from the turquoise sea, the island is teaming with the wonders of nature. An incredible diversity of marine life is abundant on the coastal reefs, particularly in the island’s marine reserve, so make sure to leave some time in your schedule for snorkeling or diving. If you’re feeling bold, be sure to visit the Mount Soufriere volcano and the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens.
When it comes to accommodations, Sugar Beach – A Viceroy Resort, is nestled between the rainforest and the towering Pitons which rise adjacent to a secluded, silky soft white sand beach. The property is styled in colonial fashion, but with plenty of modern touches and facilities. The resort’s Luxury Beach Front Bungalows feature breathtaking ocean views, romantic Jacuzzis and a personal butler to attend to your every wish.
Waiheke, New Zealand
The rolling hills, glorious beaches and perfectly serene vineyards of Waiheke are accessible only by a ferry ride or private charter vessel from Auckland, New Zealand. The island is the second largest in the Hauraki Gulf and is notable for its lush green beauty and stretches of golden sand.
You won’t have to miss out on culture either as the largest town, Oneroa, is an artist haven with numerous artisan shops and galleries. Whether you are watching the sun setting over the city of Auckland, strolling through the intricate mazes of seemingly endless vineyards, or simply indulging in the majesty of the beach, you’ll find nothing less than rejuvenation.
The Boatshed, an exclusive retreat frequented by Australian A-Listers, is a genuine paradise. Inspired by the island’s charming beach houses, this off-the-beaten-path resort boasts a melange of contemporary style and opulence. For the utmost in comfort and luxury, consider a reservation at the Owner’s Cottage. This large, sea-view room has its own heated swimming pool, a chef’s kitchen and multiple fireplaces. You’ll even have access to a grand piano as well as a personal chef. Should you find yourself in the company of the resort’s culinary team, ask if “Paua” is in season. This rare shellfish, only found in New Zealand, is one of the most expensive mollusks in the world and Waiheke is the only place to experience it straight from the sea.
While not the secret it once was among the rich and famous, the Maldives remains an exceptional paradise. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be rubbing shoulders with too many tourists on your holiday, considering this destination remains one of the most expensive and exclusive tropical escapes in the world.
Where else can you reserve a private island retreat adorned in the finest luxury accomodations? Catering to a maximum of 12 guests at a time, the Coco Prive Kuda Hithi Island Resort is lauded as the ultimate lavish accommodation in the Maldives. If seclusion and discretion is what you’re after, this resort remains unrivaled. You’ll arrive to the island by a private luxury yacht transfer from Male airport, also known as Velana International Airport. During your stay you’ll have your own team of staff members who are ready to wait on you day and night.
Make sure you take the opportunity to try traditional Maldivian cuisine, typically prepared from locally sourced, sustainable seafood. While in the Maldives, you’ll spend your days indulging in a range of spa treatments by your own personal therapist, enjoying unlimited diving, and partaking in a range of water sports, and almost anything else you can imagine as the experience is catered completely to you.
Having avoided the tsunami of tourists which decimated Bali the past few years, just a short private charter away is Lombok – a wildly resplendent island with beaches that hardly see footprints, exceptional waterfalls and a palpable laid-back atmosphere that is far removed from its iconic island neighbor. If seclusion is your priority, this is certainly an island destination worth your time, as Lombok exudes a south pacific charm unlike any other.
The opulent Oberoi Lombok is a top resort choice among affluent tourists in search of privacy. The property is nestled within 24 acres of gorgeously landscaped tropical gardens, existing in harmony with native wildlife. The Royal Ocean View Villa, for the utmost in luxury experience, features a private infinity pool with exceptional views of the ocean. Snorkeling is available from the water sports bungalow on the resort grounds, or if you thirst for only the finest coral reefs in the area, a private day trip to the Gili Islands can be arranged.
The climate in Lombok is well suited for growing coffee and while there you should certainly take the chance to try “Kopi Luwak”, the most expensive coffee in the world.
Between Sumatra and Bali, is a volcano-dotted island that’s at the geographic and economic center of Indonesia. Embracing local culture and immersing yourself in the sprawling, modern city of Jakarta affords affluent tourists an exceptional opportunity to indulge in a vibrant urban hot spot. While not many travelers come to Indonesia and choose to stay in Java, it’s a popular arrival point due to the international airport, and is the most common departure hub to several of Indonesia’s most famous beach destinations.
Those who are passionate about world history and culture will find themselves in awe of the inspiring temples of Borobudur and Prambanan near the city of Yogyakarta. Both are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and make for an enlightening experience, particularly if you share an affinity for the nuances of cultural landmarks and prefer to avoid the beach scene.
You won’t have to skimp on luxury to see them either, with resorts such as the Amanjiwo Borobudur Resort providing luxe accommodations. Tucked in the hills with clear views of the temple itself, this resort makes for an ideal retreat after you’ve spent the day exploring. The property’s architecture was inspired by the temple and it is quite a sight to behold. The 2615-square feet Borobudur Pool Suites are the property’s top tier accommodations. You can enjoy expansive views of Borobudur and the surrounding valley and will have access to your own private pool and a private walled garden. The Amanjiwo Borobudur Resort offers an exclusive dining experience where you can indulge in a private Indonesian barbecue served in your suite or in a secluded location on the resort grounds, which makes for a fantastic way to try Indonesian food in comfort and style.
The pristine rainforests, endless beaches and vastly unexplored wilderness of Australia’s island state have attracted some of the most exclusive travelers to Tasmania. Many come here to explore the Cradle Mountains, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site replete with rugged mountain scenery and glacial lakes.
The Freycinet National Park boasts stunning white sand beaches which meet crystal clear sea with pink granite mountains as the backdrop. One of Australia’s top luxury lodges is also here.
Saffire Lodge is an inspiring sanctuary set on the beautiful East Coast of Tasmania, and the only resort actually within the National Park. Home to the world-famous Wineglass Bay, you’ll certainly want to take a walk to the Lookout point during your visit. The resort’s Private Pavilions are their most roomy and luxurious suites. You’ll feel as if you’re on your own private retreat as you enjoy your own private courtyard, three included meals a day, premium mini bar and your very own deck with outdoor lounge chairs to enjoy the stunning views of the Hazards Mountains. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a migrating whale or a family of dolphins playing in the water. You can choose to have dinner in your suite with your chef and you’ll have your choice of anything on the menu, or even your favorite dish. Local fishermen and farmers bring their best products directly to the resort each day so you’ll be able to try the freshest in local Tasmanian seafood – renowned for its deliciousness.
Getting Off the Grid While Living Large
Whatever or wherever your vision of paradise may be, the opportunity to avoid the crowds and feel immersed in luxury is an exemplary vacation concept. Make no mistake, these island destinations are becoming more accessible. In the age of Instagram, a paradise off the beaten path is a secret seldom kept for very long. If the exotic splendor of the sea calls to you and retreating to white sand beaches strewn with nothing but footprints is your idyllic aspiration, be sure to explore these top ten island destinations before they’re overrun by the masses. ■
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