Coming in all shapes and sizes, private islands are easily one of the most luxurious destinations in the world. Not only do private islands offer privacy and security, but they are also often exclusive – with only a handful of properties built on the island – and situated in the most beautiful habitats on Earth.
However, being surrounded by potentially fragile or endangered flora and fauna comes with a huge amount of responsibility. It’s imperative that private island resorts become stewards for the landscapes they call home and put sustainability at the heart of their practices, which is why we’re showcasing a range of private islands that prove luxury and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand.
Laucala Island, Fiji
One of three small islands off the coast of Taveuni, Laucala Island is a private island resort set amongst 3,500 acres of rainforest beside crystal clear waters. The resort features 25 villas that have been designed in the traditional Fijian style with modern updates. Natural, local materials were used during construction including thatch roofs made from sago palms, doga timber and a traditional coconut husk weave called magi magi.
Another way that Laucala Island focuses on sustainability is through the utilization of local products for its restaurants and the spa. There are a number of organic farms and gardens on the islands that the resort uses to produce vegetables, herbs and spices, fruit and flowers. In this way, the resort is not only creating a circular production of food and products but also sharing an authentic insight into Fijian culture and what the tropical climate has to offer.
North Island, the Seychelles
Situated in the heart of the Seychelles, North Island is one of the best private island resorts in the world for those seeking privacy and seclusion. The resort only has eleven villas, which are dotted across the island amongst the stunning, tropical landscape. North Island prides itself on creating personalized and bespoke holidays for those staying; guests can enjoy a range of activities – everything from sunset cruises and guided walks to spa treatments and yoga – and dining options, with all menus designed in collaboration with Michelin starred chef, Akira Back.
North Island was announced one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in 2019 by Green Destinations, having put sustainability and eco-friendly practices at the center of its philosophy. All the villas, for example, have been individually handcrafted to impact the island as lightly as possible and the island is completely plastic-free. The resort is also home to a conservation and island rehabilitation program called Noah’s Ark, which has been protecting and restoring the island’s endangered fauna and flora for over two decades.
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
Slightly different from the other private islands on this list, Bawah Reserve actually comprises six tropical islands in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago. Only a four-and-a-half-hour journey from Singapore, Bawah Reserve prides itself on being a “natural playground”, offering activities including scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, stargazing, cooking classes and private dining on its beaches.
Bawah Reserve is also the first resort to be certified by WWF Indonesia’s Signing Blue program, which recognizes the resort’s focus on marine conservation and sustainability. Not only has Bawah launched its own charity, the Anambas Foundation, but the resort itself has been designed to have a minimal impact on the environment. For example, locally sourced and recycled materials were used for the resort’s construction and specialist divers were employed to guide the construction of the jetty to protect the coral reef.
The Brando, French Polynesia
Accessible only by flying on the resort’s private plane, The Brando is an exclusive 35-villa private island resort near Tahiti, in French Polynesia. Its policy is ‘laid back luxury’ that makes the most of the beautiful surroundings; activities on the island include snorkeling, cycling, bird watching, paddling and diving, allowing guests to immerse themselves in nature and explore untouched idyllic island wilderness.
Every aspect of The Brando has been designed with conservation of the natural environment in mind, and with a focus on carbon neutrality. The resort has Platinum LEED Certification – the highest level of accreditation possible – with all building materials being local, renewable or having recycled components. The Brando is completely carbon neutral, helped by a pioneering air conditioning scheme that uses deep seawater as the only source of cooling. All the villas have also been designed to blend into the trees and for there to be no beach obstructions.
Kokomo Private Island Resort, Fiji
Viewed as one of the most exclusive private island resorts in the world, the ultra-luxe ‘seven star’ Kokomo Island Fiji comprises five beautiful residences and 21 villas across 140 acres of idyllic, untouched landscape. On the island, guests are free to do as much or as little as they wish, whether this includes diving on the Great Astrolabe Reef – the world’s fourth-largest reef, which surrounds the island – and surfing or yoga on the beach and visits to the hidden Kadavu waterfalls.
At Kokomo Island Fiji, the luxurious offerings are also balanced with a strong commitment to sustainability – the resort has recently joined eco-friendly hotel group, Regenerative Travel. Ocean preservation is at the forefront of Kokomo Island’s green practices, with the resort having its own team of marine biologists that lead a range of projects including coral restoration and manta ray conservation. The resort’s design also focused on minimizing its impact on the environment; the villas and residences have been inspired by Fijian culture and use natural materials throughout.
Nikoi Private Island, Southeast Asia
Another private island situated in southeast Asia, Nikoi Island is easily accessible from Malaysia, mainland Indonesia and Singapore. Ringed with coral reefs and white sandy beaches, the 37-acre island is a tropical paradise at its finest, featuring a rainforest with native Banyan trees and a plethora of diverse wildlife. There is a range of activities available to guests staying on Nikoi Island, from snorkeling on the reef to adventures through the rainforest and relaxing trips to the spa, which has been set up in three large safari tents.
Each of the villas has been given its own space on the beachfront, located on the north and south sides of Nikoi Island, meeting at the communal spaces on the west coast. Each of the villas has been raised off the ground, which makes the most of the views and also works as a natural ventilation system that catches the sea breeze. The resort has followed strict sustainability principles from the outset, with the buildings being constructed by local teams using materials including driftwood recovered from the beaches.