The 2020 Legend Awards are meant to serve as inspiration for future travel—when it is safe to do so. Learn more about this year's awards on our methodology page.
The unprecedented luxury of five-star private island life is nothing short of legendary. Miles of pristine beach unfold directly outside your villa, and there’s no one else to share the soft white sand with. There are countless excursions—snorkeling in the clear blue water, boating, paddle boarding—and all the necessary equipment at your fingertips. On a private island, there are no sign-up sheets or waiting lists. There is only possibility, endless comforts, and the gentle sound of the ocean outside your bedroom window.
In addition to the exclusivity factor and the unrivaled seclusion, the hospitality you’re met with on a private island is exceptional. Everything you need—from your coffee and daily itinerary in the morning to your snorkeling equipment to your multi-course dinner—can be brought directly to your villa. No request is too lavish; some of these private islands will accommodate yachts, helicopters, and private jet landings.
Our 2020 Legend Awards honorees for private islands are, much like last year, committed to sustainability. As private islands, these far-flung enclaves need to be as self-sufficient as possible, which means harnessing the power of solar and finding innovative ways to use found materials on the island. These honorees are constantly trying to reduce what they need to bring over from the mainland. And that mentality translates to hyper-local cuisine, as islands start their own organic farms and move toward serving only island-caught fish and seafood.
And of course, discretion and privacy are paramount on these islands, because they cater to such A-list clientele. That’s why most of the islands have extremely limited access and very few villas—all of which boast hefty price tags.
These are the Legend Awards honorees for private island resorts:
Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles
Six Senses Zil Pasyon has 28 one- and two-bedroom villas on a private Seychelles island. But the best accommodations on the island are the three- and four-bedroom villas with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Their dining options are over-the-top, too, with rare wines aged in the on-island wine vault, hilltop picnics, and private dinners with a personal chef.
Nukutepipi Private Island
Nukutepipi Private Island is part of French Polynesia’s Tuamotu Archipelago, 6,000 kilometers off the mainland. They offer a full island buyout for up to 50 guests, though we’re partial to renting just the master residence or a junior villa, both of which come with a private pool.
Isla Secas, Panama
Isla Secas is open to just 18 guests at a time, with four luxurious casitas on the island. We love The Terrace, their outdoor restaurant with a constantly rotating menu, utilizing locally sourced ingredients. Guests come for the otherworldly snorkeling and diving in Coiba National Park, just an hour away by boat from the island.
Eustatia Island, British Virgin Islands
Eustatia Island is hyper-focused on sustainability and providing a five-star experience to its guests. They run completely on solar power and host no more than 14 people at a time. The island is also a water sport haven, with limitless options, including sailing, surfing, wakeboarding, and off-island excursions.
Song Saa Resort, Cambodia
With 24 secluded pool villas, Song Saa Resort is a go-to for high-end wellness retreats. Specifically, Song Saa Resort takes a discernibly Buddhist approach to their spa, and retreats include a Khumer cooking class, personal meditation, multiple herbal massages and facials, and yoga training. Come for the luxurious wellness programming, but stay to learn about the Song Saa Foundation’s efforts to protect the local communities of Koh Rong Archipelago.
Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia
With an organic farm on the island, they cultivate herbs that flavor the delectable Cambodian food served at Six Senses Krabey Island. This private island has 40 pool villas, spa treatments, and truly out-there excursions like their night plankton swimming adventure.
North Island, Seychelles
Known as the famed honeymoon spot of William and Kate, North Island in the Seychelles offers complete seclusion at each of their 11 villas. These villas are made entirely of local materials collected during the North Island rehabilitation initiative. North Island is a haven of sunset cruises, in-villa dining, and private beaches.
Banwa Private Island, Palawan, Philippines
The intimate Banwa Private Island in Palawan has only six villas, each specifically designed to highlight the natural surroundings, with floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping island views. Their restaurant, Latitude, sources ingredients from the organic on-island farm, and luxury travelers will love the helicopter excursions to Tubbataha Reef, El Nido, UNESCO Subterranean River, and Barbacan River.
Baros Maldives is privately owned and one of the only Maldives properties on an entirely natural island with a natural reef. We’re particularly fond of their Serenity Spa, which offers air-conditioned yoga classes and private spa suites for couples’ treatments, complete with steam baths, tropical gardens, and a rain shower.