Your Own Private Caribbean Islands

For the ultimate retreat, skip the better-known locales in favor of these 11 under-the-radar islands where privacy and exclusivity reign.

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The Caribbean—home to cerulean waters, vibrant coral reefs, and sugar-white beaches—is a near-perfect vacation destination. There’s just one problem: Everyone else you know wants to go there, too.

How to lose the crowds when seeking an ideal tropical getaway? Forget the well-traveled hot spots where the sprawling hotels are thicker than coconut palms. If you really want to leave the only footprints in the sand, head to one of the Caribbean’s lesser-known islands.

Petit St. Vincent, for example, a gem-like private island resort in the Grenadines, falls happily under the radar compared to its sister island, Mustique. “We had a guest who wanted complete privacy for the two weeks that he was here,” says Matt Semark, general manager of Petit St. Vincent. “That’s no problem at a place like this.” The guest, Semark says, sunned and swam at the hidden slice of beach fronting his hibiscus-edged cottage, took all his meals on his own spacious deck and wasn’t faced with one other guest during his stay.

While not every under-hyped Caribbean island can offer that level of solitude, there are many that hit the mark or come close. On Guana Island—a private resort that is also a protected nature preserve—guests will likely encounter only birds, lizards and flowering plants on the walking paths to deserted beaches. At Cayo Espanto, located off Belize, the island’s six beachfront villas (and single overwater bungalow) are so secluded that some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities have escaped the paparazzi there. Even at larger, non-private islands like Dominica, it is possible to find sanctuary by staying at the right resort—in this case, Secret Bay, which features tree house–style lodgings that feel like remote aeries.

Or, for the ultimate in privacy, consider buying out an entire island just for you and yours. Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island, is bookable for up to 34 guests, but capacious enough to accommodate many more.