Looking for the antithesis to the soggy, grey streets of Britain? Renting your own private island in the sun-soaked Caribbean, could be the way to go! Chris Krolow has the low-down on five tropical retreats that are well worth the trip – be it for a few days, a week, month or, finances permitting, infinitely longer…
Musha Cay, Bahamas
Those who have the means mustn’t miss a stay at Musha Cay: an exceptional environment of dreamy beaches, world-class cuisine, perfect service…
Created by John Melk, a Chicago businessman who made his fortune in video and real estate in Miami, the island now belongs to the famous David Copperfield who has deliberately preserved the site’s magic, as designed by architect Howard Holtzman.
Trust the judgement of the celebrities who have stayed here. John Travolta and Oprah Winfrey, for example, have enjoyed the island’s James Bond-like ambiance, its tennis court (lit at night), high-quality massages, a game of billiards and various water sports. But most of all, there’s the exceptional 3km stretch of sandy beach (called “Heaven on Earth”) where you can, of course, lunch or dine if you wish. The island has 40 beaches in all.
Little Whale Cay, Bahamas
Little Whale Cay is a private island in the “Berry Islands” of the Bahamas, about 200km south-east of Fort Lauderdale. It can welcome up to 12 guests in three luxurious villas, and offers an overflow pool, fitness room, tennis courts and private landing strip. You can also head out into the open waters for some big-game fishing,water- skiing, canoeing or sailing. You can even get married in the private chapel on the harbour. The 13 members of the island’s staff, including a massage therapist and a chef, provide exceptional service.The island is also perfect for families.
Guana Island, British Virgin Islands
Although Guana, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, is first and foremost a hotel, it is so big that even when the hotel is full, you still feel as if you’re on a private island. You can even invite up to 36 friends and rent the entire island, which has no telephones or televisions. The decor of the villas and cottages is in the Quaker style, as they were the first inhabitants of the island who came to cultivate sugarcane.
The island got its name from a rock shaped like an iguana’s head, and is home to a fully preserved tropical forest covering more than 800 hectares. A rehabilitation programme protects the local fauna and flora. Watching the birds and feeding the iguanas are unforgettable experiences for nature lovers.
There are no less than seven magnificent beaches, White Bay being the most renowned and popular (although it’s never overcrowded, given the number of villas). To spend a more private moment, there are the six other beaches, some of which are so isolated they can only be reached by boat.
Sports enthusiasts will have difficulty choosing between the two tennis courts, scuba diving, kayaking, pedal boating, fishing, snorkelling, and more. There are even over 20 km of marked, well-kept hiking trails. For a more personalized stay, you can take the sunset cruise or opt for a picnic on a private beach, topped off with a massage at the water’s edge.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Just a 30-minute boat trip north-east of Tortola, Necker Island is the private property of Richard Branson, the famous and eccentric British businessman who has used this hideaway to bring all his childhood dreams to life.
The island, home to about 200 pink flamingos, possesses a floating trampoline set in the water just a few metres from the beach, two tennis courts (and a tennis coach), and, of course, the possibility of waterskiing, kite-surfing, kayaking, sailing, and more. But if you want to impress your friends and play at being James Bond, Richard Branson has now made the ‘Necker Nymph’ available to guests. Specially designed for Virgin, this mini submarine can take three people on a one to two hour motorized submarine dive to as deep as 30m. A world-first experience!
Buck Island, British Virgin Islands
Located near Tortola, at the heart of the British Virgin Islands, Buck Island is a world unto itself. The service and comfort worthy of a luxury resort make it a truly special place: a white sandy beach, an overflow pool, luxurious gardens and very attentive staff. Even the ocean is in perfect harmony, thanks to the rocky formation that naturally protects the coral reef.
The house at the top of the island, decorated in an elegant, discreet style, is an absolute cocoon of luxury offering a 360° view. The island abounds with a large variety of flora and fauna: cactus, wildflowers and birds peacefully share this territory of over 40 hectares.
Extract taken from Private Islands for rent (Jonglez, £34.99). To purchase a copy,visit http://www.jonglezpublishing.com/en/english-catalog/private-islands-for-rent or http://www.amazon.co.uk/Private-Islands-rent-Jonglez-Guides/dp/2361950286/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351594743&sr=8-1