How to Rent Out Four of the Most Exclusive Private Islands on Earth
From Richard Branson’s Necker to the literal Kokomo, these five-star isles are happy to let you annex the entire property
Picture this: you’re laid out on a totally secluded white sand beach with an unobstructed view of the Caribbean and a drink in hand. It’s quiet, with the exception of a few of your closest friends conversing nearby or your kids splashing in the waves. There’s no one else around for miles, save for the employees at the resort you’re staying at. In fact, there are no other guests on the entire island — just you and the company you’ve chosen to keep. Later, you’ll go back to the resort to share a meal prepared especially for you, comprised of all the freshest ingredients the island has to offer, no reservation required. There are no lines, no crowds, no wait times and virtually no rules.
Sound like a pipe dream? Turns out it’s really not … so long as you’ve got the means to do it.
Private island stays were once reserved almost exclusively for the glitterati who either owned them or knew the folks who did — and to be fair, most still are. That said, because it ticks all of the post-pandemic travel boxes (Distance! Isolation! Outdoors!), island buyouts as a trend are on the rise. And why wouldn’t they be? At a time when people are seeking meaningful, once-in-a-lifetime travel and, for reasons that don’t require much by way of an explanation, renting an entire island in Fiji or the BVIs definitely fits that bill.
“Following a year in isolation, there has been an uptick in interest as many are in search of off-the-beaten-path destinations rooted in nature, seeing how Mother Nature — in all her resplendent glory — has the power to move and inspire, encouraging people to travel to far-flung secluded luxury destinations now more than ever,” a rep for Kokomo Island says, affirming an increase in interest for opulent yet private travel.
There’s also been a reported increase in island buyouts among people specifically wanting to travel with their close friends, family or isolation pod. And if your pod is somewhere in the vicinity of 30 people, it’s probably exponentially more convenient — and perhaps just as affordable — to just rent an island, as opposed to reserving X amount of rooms at an already-busy resort or hotel.
To help decide which island most tickles your fancy, we talked to the folks who run a few of the most exclusive options in the world — all of which are, at present, open to both standard travelers and full-site buyouts.
Located in the Fijian Islands (and not in South Florida, contradictory to what the Beach Boys may have you believe), Kokomo has recently been approved to welcome small groups of travelers to its shores by way of Fiji Airways exclusive business class or private jet company — and it’s one of the only ways to visit Fiji at present.
Kokomo Island is a 140-acre private destination with 21 standalone luxury villas and five residences, all of which amount to one resort capable of hosting up to 30 guests for a full island buyout. Generally that is how it works — guests reserve the entire island — though it is possible for a few groups to reserve multiple rooms each and stay at the same time.
On top of attracting the anticipated honeymooners and wayfaring romantics, Kokomo has also become an incredibly popular destination for extended multi-generational family stays, with the average length of stay generally around two weeks.
Right now, as a result of the pandemic, groups are capped at 12, though larger groups may be accommodated subject to the approval of Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Bookings require a 12-night minimum stay from $36,000 per night, and given the recent travel surge, it is suggested that travelers start making plans and reservations up to two months in advance.
For availability and to book a private island buyout, travelers can email email@example.com.
British Virgin Islands
Guana is an 850-acre isle that offers seven beaches and never more than 35 guests at a time. It’s touted as being the original private island getaway and has been a destination for discerning travelers looking for an escape since the 1930s.
“On Guana, you can have an entire beach to yourself, or you can choose to be a bit more social. This year there has certainly been an increase in inquiries from small groups and families who want to reserve the entire island exclusively,” island co-owner — and award-winning documentary filmmaker — Andrew Jarecki says. “Few places in the world allow guests so much space and privacy without sacrificing first-rate service, a wide range of adventures or the stunning tropical setting.”
Like Kokomo, there is only one luxury boutique hotel, which boasts 18 rooms and villas. Room rates start at $720 — an all-inclusive rate that includes drink and three meals per day at the Club or Beach Bar, as well as access to sailboats, kayaks, tennis courts, fishing equipment, etc. But unlike Kokomo, there is no minimum stay.
“[We] definitely get island buyouts where people want to take over the whole place — that means that [guests] can work with the chef team to change up menus and dining times, or organize events on the island,” a rep for the island says. “More and more people want the space and natural serenity that comes with a vacation on Guana — fewer screens, a deep connection with the natural environment, top-notch food and one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.”
For availability and to book a private island buyout, travelers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-544-8262 (ask for Jason).
Over Yonder Cay
Over Yonder Cay is a 42-acre island residing in the Bahamas Exumas chain, best known for being the world’s first “eco-island” — it’s got a renewable power system that relies entirely on the wind and sun — and its breathtaking architecture courtesy of Texas-based Architect Mihai Angelescu.
Once a remote fishing outpost, the island has since been repurposed to host parties of up to 28 at a time. Guests are welcome to spread out across any four of the uniquely designed villas — Meridian House, West Sands, East Cove and South Point — all which have their own private beaches, among other amenities. The Meridian House alone, for example, includes a conservatory, Steinway piano, 12-seat luxury movie theater, master suite with viewing tower, private garden, dressing room, salon, private courtyard and terrace.
In the event that isn’t enough, all guests are also provided access to the resort’s Cessna Caravan seaplane, which is available for excursions to other islands, as well as a nine-hole golf course and beach club.
Exclusive island rentals start at $44,000 per day based on an occupancy rate of 12 guests or fewer, but will allow groups of as many as 28 for an additional cost per person. Plan to make a reservation a few months in advance.
For availability and to book a private island buyout, travelers can visit https://overyondercay.com.
British Virgin Islands
Located in the British Virgin Islands, Necker is best known as being Sir Richard Branson’s private island paradise, which millennials will surely remember receiving an exclusive tour of via MTV Cribs in 2004. Despite being one of most exclusive islands in the world, it is still very much available for private use.
Spanning 74 acres, Necker is considered one resort, though there are multiple accommodations scattered across the island, capable of hosting up to 40 guests and six children in total. And while it is typically booked for that sort of exclusive use throughout the year, according to Vanessa Neal, Group Director of Sales and Marketing for Virgin Limited Edition, during selected weeks, the island opens up “hotel-style” to allow individual guests to book rooms on a non-exclusive basis, or for small groups of 8-15 people to book partial exclusivity of the island.
The exclusive-use bookings are for a minimum of seven-night stays and costs $105,000 per night for up to 40 guests, and include the use of 20 bedrooms — 11 in the Great House, plus the Leha Lo, Bali Hi, Bali Beach, Bali Cliff, Bali Lo, Bali Buah, Bali Kukila, Temple Master and Temple Sunrise. The cost includes all meals and drinks (including the alcoholic variety), return launch transfer from the Virgin Gorda or Beef Island airport, pools and beach access, tennis courts, water sport equipment and island entertainment (including Branson’s considerable zoological holdings, which include the most diverse lemur population outside of Madagascar). It is suggested that travelers start making plans and reservations several months in advance.
“The BVIs have been fortunate enough to have one of the lowest number of COVID cases in the world and with Necker Island renowned for offering an idyllic hideaway for guests, we think there will be an even greater desire for this ‘home from home’ time away with loved ones in a post-pandemic world,” Neal says.
“We are fortunate to be able to offer complete seclusion on the island and absolute personalisation, with an abundance of nature and wildlife; and we look forward to continuing to welcome both new and repeat guests in the coming months.”
For availability and to book a private island buyout, travelers can visit https://www.virginlimitededition.com/.
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