Private islands were once reserved for the mega-rich, sitting alongside private jets and mega-yachts as the ultimate in luxury travel. Thankfully, the cruise lines are now offering us all the opportunity to sample a slice of private island life.
Half Moon Cay – Holland America
The two mile looping sands of Holland America Line’s Half Moon Cay sit amidst the 2,400 acres of Little San Salvador Island, one of 700 islands in the Bahamas archipelago. The least developed of all the private islands owned by cruise lines, with 65 acres of Little San Salvador Island reserved purely for migratory birds, Half Moon Cay embodies a certain charm and has been voted ‘best private island’ year after year. Visitors will find private cabanas on gorgeous beaches, including the luxurious Oasis Cabana; an area that accommodates up to 25 people and features a hot tub, BBQ, wet bar and massage area. The resort also features an open-air restaurant, waterfront bars and even a Bahamian chapel for prearranged weddings and vow renewals.
Labadee – Royal Caribbean International
If it’s fun that you’re fancying from your island hideaway, head to Labadee. From its position on the north coast of Haiti, Labadee brings Royal Caribbean’s action-packed cruise concept to dry land. Independence of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas are just two of the ships that visit the island, docking shore side so you can get straight to the fun part. The Dragon’s Breath Flight Line is the island’s hottest adrenaline fuelled attraction but there’s plenty on offer besides, including seven unique ‘neighbourhoods’ offering everything from kayaking tours to water parks and immaculate beaches. Barefoot Beach is one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful and is reserved for suite guests only, whilst those seeking ultra-exclusivity can charter a catamaran to the nearby private beach of Malfini, where just 25 visitors are permitted at any one time.
Princess Cay – Princess Cruises
Princess Cay comprises of over 40 acres and half a mile of white sand on the southern tip of Eleuthera, an island in the Bahamas. Explore the beach and beyond on foot, get adventurous on a dune buggy safari around the island or embark on a deep-sea fishing expedition. Those who aren’t the strongest of swimmers needn’t miss out on the Caribbean’s amazing marine life; hire a Sea Board and you can paddle face down, watching the fish through a viewing port that extends below the surface so you don’t have to. Back on dry land, views from the Observation Tower stretch across the island and its stunning coastline. Finally, there’s no better way to round off a day in paradise than with a free beach barbecue.
Great Stirrup Cay – Norwegian Cruise Line
When purchased by Norwegian Cruise Line in 1977, Great Stirrup Cay became the first ever private island developed exclusively for cruisers. Occupying 250 acres in the Bahamas, the island boasts a healthy combination of exciting excursions and ultimate relaxation. Visitors can spend their days as busily or as lazily as they like; swim with stingrays, parasail high above the ocean, kayak on crystal clear waters or hop on a WaveRunner for a tour of the coast. The best way to refuel is at Great Stirrup Cay’s extensive beach buffet, and you’ll find hammocks and shaded cabanas around the island in which to snooze away that post-lunch food coma.