Owning a private island is overrated and it’s actually a lot of work — or so we’ve heard from our many island-owning friends. You have to deal with the astronomical taxes, the development, the upkeep — it’s a full-time job (that island owners simply pay other people to do, of course). But visiting a private island? It’s as great as everyone says — and we know from experience. We’ve stayed on some gorgeous private islands in our travels, in equally gorgeous hotels and resorts. Here are six of our favorites:
• Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic. The pool at Cayo Levantado features a swim-up bar as well as poolside drink service.
The details: The D.R.’s only luxury resort set on its own island, the Gran Bahia Cayo Levantado offers a relaxing atmosphere for couples and families. There are scenic beaches and beautiful pools, and we love the details in the rooms: Four-poster beds, private Jacuzzi tubs, and island-inspired artwork give them a romantic vibe.
How to get there: From the Samana airport, it’s a 45-minute cab ride to the Bahia ferry station. From there, it’s a 10- to 15-minute ferry ride to Cayo Levantado. In lieu of the ferry, you can also hire a private panga boat to take you from Samana. We never said getting to a private island is easy, but it’s certainly worth the flight — and the drive and the boat ride. www.bahia-principe.com/BP/Resorts/Resort/CayoLevantado.
• Paradise Point Resort and Spa, San Diego. Quaint, Balinese-inspired gazebos dot the resort’s 44 acres.
The details: This 462-room property near Sea World has sprawling grounds, activities — such as tennis, a putting green, water sports, and basketball — galore, five pools, a spa and bonfire pits for roasting s’mores after dark. But perhaps the highlight of this private island retreat is that it sits on a tranquil, mile-long beach.
How to get there: In Mission Bay, Paradise Point is connected to the mainland by Ingraham Street so reaching the resort is easy enough, and takes just about a 15-minute car ride from downtown San Diego.
• Fowl Cay Resort, Bahamas. The pool at Fowl Cay may be small, but its views are expansive — and breathtaking.
The details: Crowded beaches are unheard of at this resort where a maximum of 28 guests at a time have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Personal boats for daily excursions, on-call service, spacious villas with fully stocked kitchens and wet bars, and a host of all-inclusive activities make Fowl Cay a standout gem in the Exumas.
How to get there: The Exumas Islands are accessible by small charter plane via Fort Lauderdale or Nassau. Boat transfers to and from the airstrip are included in resort rates and take less than 10 minutes.
• The Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, Miami. Grove Isle allows guests a nice respite from crowded Miami. But guests will need to visit the mainland if they want to lounge on the beach.
The details: Off the coast of funky Coconut Grove, the Grove Isle Hotel offers big, beautiful rooms (each with a balcony and a stunning view), a spa, 12 tennis courts, a superb fitness center, and a marina. Along with beautiful views, the on-site, open-air restaurant serves up a popular buffet brunch, complete with an omelet station, a sushi station, and bottomless champagne and mimosas.