The joys of a faraway island
From secluded beaches to the Great Bear Rainforest, these are our top picks for living out the castaway vibe on a remote island.
Fancy a private island offshore of another island? You can stand on Koh Samui’s Choeng Mon Beach and, when the tide is out, actually walk across the 200-metre straight to the seriously cool and boutique Cape Fahn Hotel. The 22 villas have interior wow factor, with private pools, rain showers and a calming palette of muted colours. Tick off island moments such as the Moonlight Cinema and a private yoga class; or charter a yacht for the day so you can look back and see your island paradise from a new perspective.
Cerf Island Resort Seychelles
Imagine skimming across the water in a speedboat to a remote island, ringed by a turquoise lagoon. Rustic bungalows cling to forested hillsides, swimming pools glisten invitingly through the jungle. You’re at Cerf Island, a tiny emerald speck cast adrift in the Indian Ocean, two miles east of Mahé. The drum beats to a slower pace here. Wake to leisurely breakfasts overlooking the lagoon, then snorkel among butterfly fish and starfish in the Sainte Anne Marine Park. After a traditional Creole lunch, explore the web of hiking trails that weave among coconut groves, past giant tortoises and flying foxes, up to a viewpoint overlooking the ocean and the island-dotted horizon. Later, reward yourself with a dip in the infinity pool, with perhaps enough time to squeeze in a spa treatment before dinner.
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, Botswana
A safari lodge isn’t the obvious choice for a secluded island holiday – but what a lodge. On a private island in the heart of the Okavango Delta, you’ll find just 12 high-ceiling tents flooded with light, each with its own plunge pool and sweeping views of the Delta, best enjoyed while snuggled up in your big, comfy bed with a morning cup of coffee. Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has a focus on water-based safaris, so you can silently glide past hippos in a traditional canoe as fish eagles soar overhead. It’s the perfect way to get up close to the wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pangulasian Island, Philippines
From Manila, it takes almost an hour by plane, 15 minutes by car and 45 minutes by boat to reach El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Islands. And that’s the easy route. But is it worth it? The Philippines still feels off the tourist trail, somewhere that’s bound to muster a few ‘wow’ reactions before you travel – and after your return. This retreat is on one of Palawan’s unspoilt islands and it ticks all the boxes when it comes to soft sand, clear waters and a jungle backdrop, creating a pleasingly limited to-do list of relaxing on the beach, hiking in the forest and snorkelling or diving. The 42 Filipino villas are spaced out to give you a true sense of seclusion; and the resort’s location makes the most of both sunrise and sunset in this special part of the world.
Berry Island, Canada
From Vancouver, it’s a six-hour drive across Vancouver Island to Alder Bay, where you can hop in a 30-minute high-speed water-taxi ride to Farewell Harbour Lodge. The lodge is on the coast of Berry Island in British Columbia’s Broughton archipelago, a pristine region famed for its grizzly bear population. The last part of the journey to the lodge could take longer than expected, as it’s pretty easy to get side-tracked by sightings of feeding humpback whales, curious stellar sea lions and inquisitive Pacific white-sided dolphins. The lure of the lodge is its remote water-side location in the Great Bear Rainforest, days spent hiking, searching for grizzlies by boat and sea kayaking in nearby inlets and harbours.
Bequia Island, Caribbean
Saint Lucia, Antigua, Barbados – we’ve all heard about the most popular islands in the Caribbean. But what about the island underdogs? There are over 700 islands, islets and cays in the Caribbean and Bequia Island is swept up under the umbrella of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This island is a tiddly seven square miles and can be reached on a 45-minute flight from Barbados, or 30-minute flight from Saint Lucia. The pretty island is charming, unspoilt and we’re captivated by the retro Bequia Beach Hotel on Friendship Beach. The design is based on the 1950s, with a nod towards the glamour of Beverly Hills, with poolside cabanas and colourful cocktails delivered to your lounger.
Pangkor Laut Resort Malaysia
Arrive in Kuala Lumpur and you might want to stay a night or two before the next leg of your journey. Pangkor Laut Resort is on a remote island off the west coast of Malaysia and it takes a further three and a half hour car journey – and a 15-minute boat trip – to get to this castaway island. But it’s so worth it. The spa here is not just a spa, but an award-winning therapeutic journey through a ‘village’ of footbaths, Japanese-style cleansing and Shanghai scrubs – and that’s even before you reach the treatment room. You’ll find villas and rooms among the jungle treetops (cue a wake-up call by monkeys) and a perfect, peaceful beach experience at Emerald Cove. You’ll feel a million miles away from the every-day and can suss out why the island was a holiday favourite with Pavarotti.