Aside from the fashion and the footy, winter can be a bit…glum. That’s why around this time each year, when the winter pjs come out and the friggin awful flu season arrives, we decide to hit up google and book in some Vitamin D. We can rarely look past an idyllic island escape but there’s a long list of once-picturesque isles that have barely survived a rapid increase in tourism (Ko Phi Phi is a prime example). So, we’ve done A LOT of digging and found a bunch of luxe, tropical spots that might not have been on your radar…until now!
Written by Jade Just – Contributing Travel Editor
Ko Kut, Thailand
If you’re looking to unwind without the usual hustle and bustle that Thailand offers, then Ko Kut (also known as Koh Kood) is the place to be. Only a trickle of tourists visit this picturesque Thai island – many island-hoppers favour the nightlife in busier spots such as Phi Phi or Phuket, and their loss is our gain! A lack of regular public transport might sound daunting but that’s part of its charm – you can rent a scooter, kayak, bike or boat and explore the many beaches, jungles and waterfalls. Accommodation wise the majority of digs are ridiculously affordable but there are a couple of high-end options, such Soneva Kiri, if you’re keen to splash out. Note: getting there is straight forward but a fair distance – the easiest way is a six hour bus ride from Bangkok then a two hour ferry transfer.
If you’ve got a few thousand dollars to spare (over $40,000 per night to be precise) then the Four Season’s very first private island, which opened in late 2016, is all yours. We can all dream, right?!?! You do however, get serious bang for your buck…the island can accommodate 22 guests so you can split the bill and you’re guaranteed absolute seclusion. Amazing. Along with out-of-this-world accommodation, the island comes with it’s own jet ski, jet pack and (wait for it) a 62-foot yacht. It’s not all about boys and their toys, snorkelers and divers will love that it’s a UNESCO site and is home to a flurry of graceful manta rays. If we win lotto, you know where to find us.
Images from Four Seasons Maldives Voavah.
Gozo, Maltese Archipelago
In contrast to a stereotypical island featuring swaying palm trees and abundant jungle life, Gozo’s rugged beauty is something to behold. It’s less urbanised than Malta’s mainland and offers a mix of spots for R&R, plus activities for busy couples and families. There are brilliant dive sites, world heritage temples, and the outstanding must-visit Dwejra Bay. Food wise, Gozo is known for its fresh bread, pasta, cheese, olive oil…ALL of the good stuff, and walking it off is a delight thanks to the captivating scenery (GOT fans might recognise some of it!).
Images from Visit Gozo.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Beach addicts, this one is for you. Located on Cambodia’s west coast, covered in old growth rainforest and surrounded by beaches, is Song Saa Private Island (from $1,400 per night). Like most island escapes there are opportunities to paddle board and kayak but the ‘wow factor’ is the bioluminescence tour – an opportunity to snorkel the ocean at night while it’s lit up by tiny phytoplankton. With just 24 villas you’ll never feel claustrophobic and you can opt for an all-inclusive booking.
Images from Song Saa Collective.
Huahine, French Polynesia
You’d think that the mere mention of Tahiti is enough to make your bank account shudder but beautiful Huahine Island, affectionately coined The Garden of Eden, is surprisingly affordable. It’s all about natural beauty here (hence the Eden reference) with loads of hikes, snorkel tours with black tip sharks, blue-eyed eel spotting (yes, seriously)…it’s superb for outdoorsy travellers and busy families.
While most people flock to Bali, there’s a few savvy travellers who are starting to suss out Sumba, and with good reason. The island is ridiculously Instagramable with it’s Weekuri Lake (just 45 mins from the airport), Mandorak Beach and Air Terjun Lapopu (a stunning waterfall). Not only is it pretty on the eye, it’s also kind on your wallet – the island is mostly visited by surfers so there’s plenty of ‘no frills’ accommodation, although it’s hard to look past the five-star luxury at Nihi Sumba.
Laucala Island, Fiji
Honeymoon, anniversary, holiday sans kids…there are a few good reasons for a good ole ‘treat yoself’ holiday, and if you’re in the market for one then Laucala Island is the place to go. From around $4,600 per night, a maximum of 80 guests are privy to this private paradise. There’s an 18-hole championship golf course, two-man submarine, horse riding, various water activities, and a mesmerising glass sided swimming pool. Air and exclusion zones mean total privacy away from camera lenses so it’s no surprise that Elle Macpherson, Oprah and Miranda Kerr have been past guests here.
Images from www.theluxtraveller.com.