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There is something special about an island: a distinctly separate and self-contained land that offers an intimacy like no other. An island can provide a blissful disconnect from the rest of the universe – even when it is located within sight of the shore. And protected by isolation, bird and wildlife species thrive amongst rare trees, plants and flowers nourished by an often-unique climate.
Of the 7,000 outlying small islands and rocks that edge the coastline of the Caribbean's 28 island nations, less than a few hundred are large enough for human occupation. Private isles are plentiful region-wide: trace a map with your finger from Cuba down to Trinidad and Tobago’s northern tip and from Antigua to the eastern flank of Jamaica and you’ll find innumerable oh-so-exclusive islands, all under private ownership, each distinguishable by its own characteristic charm, geology and terrain.
Islands draw visitors in with a seductive lure and leave them feeling relaxed, refreshed, revived. But the ultimate fantasy is to experience all this in complete and utter seclusion – so we've picked a handful of our favourite private islands in the Caribbean for an indulgent touch of barefoot luxury.
Set in the sparkling warm waters of the British Virgin Islands, Richard Branson's Necker Island spans 74 glorious acres yet remains a secluded paradise far away from the tourist hordes. Cooled by year-round sea breezes, the island can accommodate 30 adult guests and six children – and has famously wooed an A-list of celebrities amongst its powder-fine sandy coves and rustling palms. Keen not to break the bank quite so much? Then try a Celebration Week at Necker Island – a full on ‘Necker experience’ for considerably less than the cost of hiring the entire isle. If you’re new to private islands, this is an epic place to start.
Long Island - Jumby Bay
Whoever named the island off the north-east coast of Antigua was big on irony. For rather than being an elongated stretch, Long Island is a stubby mile-long stump. Lying two-miles from the mainland – a super-speedy seven-mile jaunt by speedboat – Jumby Bay, as it is now commonly known, is an all-inclusive resort where impeccable, unstuffy service reigns. Beaming smiles, free-flowing fizz and the finest Colonial-era decor comes as standard in a child-friendly holiday setting perfect for a decadent splurge.
Petit St Vincent
The exclusive isle of Petit St Vincent rises up from warm Caribbean waters in the West Indies, just twelve degrees north of the equator. Providing an idyllic year-round tropical sanctuary for travellers keen to kick back off-the-tourist-track, the island has long been hailed as one of the world’s most elegant hideaways. Opulence is unpretentious, service understated, decor uncluttered and mood mellow (guests are politely asked not to pack their mobile phones). Facilities include a luxury spa, two fine gourmet restaurants and a water centre staffed by a savvy pro crew.
Header photo: Necker Island © Virgin Limited Edition
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About the author: SarahWoodsSarah Woods
Award-winning travel writer, author & broadcaster Sarah Woods has lived, worked and travelled in The Caribbean since 1995. She has visited resort towns, villages and lesser-known islands where she has learned to cook run-down, sampled bush rum, traded coconuts, studied traditional medicine, climbed volcanoes and ridden horses in the sea. Sarah is currently working on a travel documentary about the history of Caribbean cruises.