7 private islands you can rent without breaking the bank
You don’t have to be a Hollywood celeb or billionaire to afford to rent a slice of paradise. Check out one of these affordable private island rentals that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated without emptying out your bank account.
Grab 12 of your closet friends and head off to Brother Island, El Nido, in the Philippines. This secluded spot is located off the western island of Palawan and is roughly a 2-hour boat ride from El Nido. Visitors will find the island fully staffed, with an on-site caretaker, housekeeper, chef, boatmen and a host. Though relaxing on the beach with a good book or hopping into a kayak for a paddle around the island is always an option, extra expeditions include snorkelling, hiking, fishing and a beach massage. Meals are included and feature mainly traditional Filipino fare, using local, healthy and organic ingredients. Those with little ones receive a discount: children under six stay free, while those ages 6-12 are half price. Rates start from £85 per person for a group of 12.
For a more back-to-nature experience, consider taking the family to Båtholmen, located in the archipelago of Hvaler in Norway. This truly off-grid, self-catered private island offers plenty of outdoor activities for guests to enjoy: fish for your next meal directly off the dock, enjoy a stroll along the private beach at low tide or even take the on-site motorboat out to explore the surrounding area. At night, snuggle up by the fire pit out in the garden or challenge the whole family to a board game. Visitors should note that there is no running water, though there are canisters which can be filled for drinking water, free of charge, at the local grocery store. Though smartphones and tablets can be charged in the cottage, laptops can only be charged either at the local grocery store or restaurant. The small cabin can accommodate up to five people — two adults and three children or four adults. Rates start at £50 per person for a family of two adults and upto three children, for two nights.
Bird Island offers something for just about every type of traveller, be it a romantic getaway or a group of friends looking for some fun in the sun. This self-catered island is off the southern coast of Belize and can be reached via Placencia Village (the transfer is included in the rate). To get to Placencia Village from Belize City, visitors can fly, drive, hire a taxi or book a seat on a shuttle, taking roughly between 25 minutes to three hours, depending on the means of transport. Once you're there, swimming, snorkelling, fishing and kayaking are the order of the day (equipment can be rented before arriving on the island). Those who would rather put their feet up and recharge will find plenty of spots on the island to do so, all with Instagram-worthy views of the surrounding atoll. The island can accommodate up to six people and includes Wi-Fi. Rates start at £102 per person, per night, based on a group of six.
Escape to the outer islands of the Florida Keys with a stay on Melody Key. This “off-grid” private island offers a rustic feel without foregoing the comforts of home. Guests can access the island from Summerland Key, mile marker 25 from Key West, by provided transport. This little slice of paradise is self-catered and includes an on-site heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, air-conditioning, sound system and Wi-Fi.
Those looking to explore around the island can grab a kayak or gather the crew and board the on-site catamaran. The island can accommodate up to eight people and rates start at £123 per person ($1000 in total), per night, based on a group of eight.
Eco-conscious travellers will love Urraca Private Island, a 30-minute boat ride from Bocas del Toro, just off the northeast coast of Panama. This mangrove island is powered by solar panels and includes a rainwater collection system, which provides water for the island. There's a bar and restaurant, volleyball nets and plenty of lounging areas, including two different docks and a lounge area with four different hammocks. The surrounding area is safe to swim in (snorkelling gear is provided) and is even ideal for an evening dip thanks to the bioluminescent waters. As an added bonus, the island is home to 12 monkeys. The five bungalows vary in size and can house between two and six people, and come equipped with a private patio on the water and outdoor shower. Rates start at £126 for two adults, per night, per bungalow, including breakfast.
This private island can house four people in a bungalow — ideal for families or two couples — and is located off the coast of Belize. Snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking and fishing will fill your days. There's also a 30-foot-deep private lagoon right out the front in which to take a dip.
Those wanting to explore the surrounding area can book additional activities such as diving, guided offshore fishing and Mayan ruin tours, all for an additional price. A personal on-site concierge can help coordinate transfers to and from the island, along with setting up island activities and excursions. An all-inclusive package starts from £4345 for five days and four nights, including a private helicopter transfer from Belize City.
For a dose of history and some spectacular views of the Adriatic landscape, consider booking a trip to Plocica. Home to a lighthouse built in 1887, this self-serviced island is situated between Korcula and Hvar. The accommodation can house up to 14 people, making it a perfect holiday spot for large groups, and is split between two apartments. It’s suggested that guests take one of the rooms in the most northeast corner to catch glimpses of the light signals at dusk from the lighthouse on Hvar. Those hoping to catch some rays while staying on Plocica should note that the beaches vary depending on which side of the island you’re on; the southern part of the island offers a rocky seabed, while the northern side offers more of a sandy lagoon. Guests can reach the island via a 25-minute boat ride from Prigradica for an additional cost. Rates range from £80 to £8900 per night, depending on the season.
Ashley Bess is an editor turned freelancer writer who describers herself as short, opinionated, recently repatriated, lover of gin and travel and with a head full of useless song lyrics and movie quotes.