The Best Island Getaways
North Island, Seychelles. Photograph by Wilderness Collection North Island
A luxurious island retreat ticks all the holiday boxes when you want to switch off, kick back and nourish your soul.
When getting away from it all is the goal, the private island is the quintessential destination. But luxury (even in splendid isolation) means different things to different people – one man’s paradise might be another man’s purgatory. MR PORTER has the island waterfront covered. Whether you’re looking to fulfil a philanthropic fantasy, live out a jungle dream, or simply lounge poolside, this selection of idylls should fit every beatific bill, while providing no shortage of sea, sunsets and spiritual sustenance.
Best for royal romancing
Photograph by Wilderness Collection North Island
North Island, Seychelles
A tropical home from home (if your home happens to be a sun-kissed paradise) in the heart of the Seychelles, the bright white beaches, fecund forests and volcanic peaks of North Island have had a magnetic effect on the world’s super-rich and averagely royal. A honeymoon hotspot long before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their way here, North Island’s extraordinary setting is only part of its romantic appeal. Thanks to an ambitious conservation programme, it’s a haven for endangered endemic species, while its commitment to barefoot luxury and a holistic approach to rest and relaxation epitomise the Zenned-out ambience.
Island life: Whether scuba diving, surfing or checking out the environmental initiatives, there’s plenty to occupy idle minds and bodies should it be necessary (and there’s every chance that it won’t). Regardless, soaking up a sublime sunset is an obligatory daily ritual.
What to pack
Best for lounging in luxury
Photographs courtesy Cheval Blanc Randheli
Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
When Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy opens a hotel in the Maldives, the luxury stakes aren’t so much raised as sent into the ionosphere. The Randheli resort perches on the Noonu Atoll, where it boasts 45 lofty villas in three styles; make the onerous choice between a villa on stilts with a private tropical garden, one with multiple terraces over the sea, or one with its more-than-fine-dining pergola. The Cheval Blanc spa offers exclusively designed treatments especially for the Randheli, while the 1947 restaurant (named after Château Cheval Blanc’s most sought-after vintage) serves a French-Maldivian nine-course culinary divertissement.
Atoll order: Never mind the concierge, Cheval Blanc Randheli has a team of “alchemists” on hand, ready to design tailormade activities and unforgettable experiences – candle-lit dinner on a desert island, extreme fishing adventure – before you can say “base metal into gold”.
What to pack
Best for space and serenity
Photographs courtesy Amanpulo
As every Aman junkie well knows, Aman Resorts are peerless when it comes to setting a truly serene scene. And Amanpulo, its outpost on the remote, reef-fringed Pamalican Island, is no exception, with its luminous white beaches, limpid seas and ultra-intuitive service that makes you feel like you have the whole place to yourself while invisible forces ensure that every wish is granted. For two people, choose casita 24. It’s more private and tucked further down the beach near the southern tip where you can spot young reef sharks early in the morning. If there are four of you, opt for villa 33 with its beach-view private pool.
Atoll order: Be sure to join the 10.00am snorkelling and fish-feeding trip. Go in March and you are highly likely to see several giant turtles scouring the beaches for hatching spots or cruising the coral. And possibly dolphins.
What to pack
Best for nature nurturing
Photographs courtesy Song Saa
Song Saa, Cambodia
Often the best islands are the ones that demand a little more effort from visitors. And so it is at eco-chic resort Song Saa. After an internal flight from Siem Reap followed by a 30-minute speedboat ride from the port town of Sihanoukville to a 100-hectare marine reserve in the Koh Rong archipelago, guests are offered their just reward in the form of golden sands, stunning tropical birdlife and coral reefs filled with seahorses. Stay in one of 27 elevated villas overlooking the ocean, recover from your trip with a plunge in your own pool, or kick back in the shade of a frangipani tree on your private deck.
Atoll order: Aquatic pursuits, such as snorkelling tours and kayaking around the mangroves, are a must at Song Saa and are included in the room rate. The night-time bioluminescence swim will leave you incandescent.
What to pack
Best for old-world glamour
Photographs by Hacienda Na Ximena
Hacienda Na Xamena, Ibiza
Originally opened in 1971, and Ibiza’s first hotel to be awarded five stars in 1988, the cliff-top institution that is the Hacienda Na Xamena has recently reopened after an impressive makeover. Just 10 minutes’ drive from the village of Sant Miquel, concealed by pine forests, the family-owned hotel retains its romantic allure, but the sparkling new interiors, with their polished concrete floors and whirlpool bathtubs, add a modern gloss. The Mediterranean location of choice for so many starry films and photoshoots over the years, the Hacienda is ready for its close-up once again.
Island life: The Hacienda’s showpiece is the Cascadas Suspendidas, a spectacular series of eight heated outdoor thalassotherapy pools linked by waterfalls that course down the cliff-side. At sea level, take advantage of the shiny new yachts that are at guests’ disposal for day-tripping and cove-hopping.
What to pack
Best for infinity pool Instagrams
Photographs courtesy Jade Mountain
Jade Mountain, St Lucia
Owned by architect Mr Nick Troubetzkoy, Jade Mountain carves out a commanding presence on the Caribbean coastline. It comprises a series of open-faced stone sanctuaries, connected by individual bridges, with private infinity pools melting into the astonishing Piton panorama. Dine on local seafood (kingfish cerviche, anyone?) at the hotel’s restaurant on the penultimate tier, and watch the sun go down with a large rum and live music at the precipitous terrace bar.
Island life: Jade Mountain’s two private beaches tend to keep most guests more than happy, but should your bare feet get itchy, then this stretch of southern St Lucia is home to acres of rainforest and plantations worth exploring – borrow a bike from the hotel. For the more adventurous, the waters of the nearby Sulphur Springs – the world’s only drive-in volcano – are said to have therapeutic properties.
What to pack
Best for a warming welcome
Photograph by Mr Dave Cleaveland. Inset photograph by Mr Darren Setlow
Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse, US
This lovingly restored 1892 lighthouse at Boothbay Harbour, just a short ride from Maine’s Southport Island, is open from late May to September. Combine the exclusivity – there are only two bed-and-breakfast rooms – with its Mr Edward Hopper charm, and you’ll see why bookings are at a premium. Guests are treated to 360-degree ocean views, light-filled modern suites with marble bathrooms and generous beds made up with crisp linen. Breakfasts of home-made blueberry muffins are worth the trip in their own right, but the pleasure of simply settling into an Adirondack chair on the lawn with a freshly brewed coffee at sunrise will leave you beaming – much like the Cuckolds itself once did.
Island life: The Cuckolds is a volunteer-led, non-profit organisation, which makes a stay at the Inn a cockle-warming combination of luxury and philanthropy. Tour the area and talk to the locals, or spend the days flying kites, kayaking and exploring the coves.
What to pack
Best for intrepid adventuring
Photograph by Haavard Jensen. Inset photograph by Mr Siggen Stinessen
You won’t spend long on the 22-hectare wilds of Manhausen island in the north of Norway before the word “epic” comes to mind. Owned by the celebrated Norwegian polar explorer Mr Børge Ousland, the island offers an elemental experience like no other. Stay in one of four glass-fronted wooden sea cabins, which straddle the old stone jetty and a natural ledge in the rugged landscape. They’re designed to capture the sweeping panoramas across the archipelago, and come equipped with Corian kitchens and walls that flip down to make tables. The main house, Bødtkerboligen, a newly restored two-storey building that dates back to the 1800s, has a dining area, library and, come the summer, a spa and the all-important sauna.
Island life: If you tire of watching the weather fronts roll in, the hundreds of small islands in the archipelago offer ample opportunities for mountain climbing, kayaking, fishing, diving and hiking, as well as a plethora of towel-ready white-sand beaches.