Above: Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Private Islands on Our Radar

The idea of a private island is one of the most seductive in travel, especially when the microdot is located in some obscure and far-flung archipelago, thereby confirming that the world is still much bigger and more exotic than is sometimes assumed. Here at Andrew Harper, traveling halfway around the world to review a remote atoll taxes our ingenuity and resources, but we keep a list of likely candidates and over time they find a way onto our itineraries. Here are five that we are most anxious to visit.

Islas Secas, Panama

Islas Secas, Panama - Islas Secas
Plunge pool of the Casita Grande at Islas Secas - Islas Secas

The Islas Secas, an archipelago made up of 14 islands, are located in the Gulf of Chiriquí 20 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama and are home to an extraordinarily rich diversity of terrestrial and marine life. Louis Bacon, an American hedge fund manager and environmental philanthropist, purchased the islands and created an eponymous jungle ecolodge, which opened at the end of 2019. This remote haven of nine lavish casitas is set on the Isla Cavada, the only one of the 14 islands that has been settled. (Bacon has ensured that 75 percent of the archipelago will be left undeveloped.) The stylish guest lodgings, all immersed in vibrant tropical vegetation, afford magical sea views, and most are augmented by plunge pools and outdoor soaking tubs. The restaurant is housed in a cathedral-like bamboo structure and serves “ocean-to-fork” cuisine. Activities range from marlin and tuna fishing, on the legendary Hannibal Bank, to snorkeling with whale sharks, and scuba diving in the pristine waters of the nearby Coiba National Park.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 24 guests per night: $30,000. Nightly rate: Casita Mirador for two, $2,000.

Misool Eco Resort, Indonesia

Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat, Indonesia - Sabine Templeton
Villa Tenang at Misool Eco Resort - Derrick Thomson

Accessible only by boat, Misool Eco Resort is set on a remote island in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago. It lies at the heart of the so-called Coral Triangle, a marine area also known as the Amazon of the Oceans, which is home to nearly 600 kinds of reef-building coral and more than 2,000 fish species. For serious divers, the sea life experienced here is incomparable. A conservation center on the island helps maintain the astounding biodiversity. The lodge itself is built entirely of reclaimed tropical hardwoods, while the accommodations comprise eight Water Cottages on stilts, four North Lagoon Villas and seven South Beach Villas. The cuisine employs locally sourced, organic ingredients; a spa features signature natural scrubs, oils and extracts. Aside from diving and kayaking, birding, cultural visits and cooking classes are available.

Exclusive buyout for a maximum of 40 guests per night: $114,700. Nightly rate: Water Cottage for two, $6,200. (Minimum stay required.)

Above: Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat, Indonesia