“An island is... the ultimate refuge—a magic and unsinkable world.”
Picture this: a tropical island washed by the warm Caribbean sun—the perfect smudge of white interrupted only by the occasional halo of mist sprayed by the ocean waves as you relax, mind and body, in a pool on your private veranda, soaking in the spectacular view of a turquoise lagoon, while sipping cool nectar out of a coconut. Perfect setting for a James Bond flick, you imagine. We disagree. It's another day in paradise!
And paradise just moved a step closer; rent your very own ravishing speck of heaven, sans the maddening crowds. Its time to play Lord of the Manor, fish on a private island in the Indian Ocean, or learn to scuba dive on your own hired isle in the warm Caribbean waters of Belize where each lagoon may be a point of stillness, but the encircling reefs bristle with life.
Or, if you're feeling benevolent, share your private island with Brahminy Kites, Pond herons, Kingfisher birds and hermit crabs on Coconut Island in the backwaters of Kerala.
If you are searching for a unique holiday off the beaten track, renting an entire island may be just what the doctor ordered. Whether you spend time in an elegant island hideaway with staff to service every whim and fancy, or rough it alone in a cabin, it lends a feeling of complete relaxation—absolute control over time and space.
What brings this indulgence closer home is that you can rent your place in the sun right here in India (See Sideshow: Enter Exotica) to save on expense and time.
And, to help make an informed decision about which refuge to rent and their offering, Outlook Money brings you the choicest sprinkling of islands from across the globe to suit every spirit and wallet, whether you prefer isolation a la Robinson Crusoe, or an island in a well-trafficked locale where pleasure meets privacy in a hedonistic haven.
Discover the perfect setting for a definitive family reunion or romantic escape: get married on a tropical island in the Seychelles, or honeymoon on Necker-maverick billionaire, Sir Richard Branson's own private love pad. But, if its budgetary constraints that are preventing you from dropping anchor, don't lose hope, for island rentals could vary as wildly as between Rs 22,664 per week to about Rs 13.59 lakh for a single night.
Prices and costs differ according to size, location, season and accessibility of the island, and usually include full boarding with most aqua sports and activities thrown in for good measure. If you are not of particularly reclusive disposition or do not have much loose change lying around, some of the bigger islands also rent out individual rooms and even cottages where you need not rent out the entire island.
For instance, FrÈgate Island in the Seychelles rents out individual villas for two people, but for a minimum seven nights booking. There are 16 villas on offer (2,000-square-foot) built from traditional materials such as native mahogany and African teak and topped off with dense thatched roofs. Fourteen of the villas sit on top of the cliffs with panoramic views over the Indian Ocean, while the remaining two nestle in their own private tropical gardens—a particularly good choice for families vacationing with young children. The rate for a single villa per night for two people is Rs 1.3 lakh. The cost includes accommodation for two in a spacious air-conditioned villa with private bedroom area and adjoining lounge sitting room and private sun terrace, day-bed and Jacuzzi, with all three meals and beverages.
Necker is one of the more expensive islands that you can rent, but its exclusive true-blue ownership is only part reason, the other cost contributors are the spectacular frames of the sparkling blue Caribbean sea of the British Virgin Islands; Necker Island exudes the elegance and lifestyle of the rich and famous, and brings it to your neighbourhood. Live life king size on this ultimate private getaway in the Caribbean, a favourite with royalty, rock and movie stars.
Opt to stay in the main Balinese villa or any of the cliff-side villas with a private pool and never-ending views of the sea where the staff outnumber guests by an embarrassing ratio, providing first class service and catering to your every whim and fantasy whether your palate demands a light lobster lunch with fresh fruit served in the shade of the pagoda, at the beach pool's floating dining pavilion, or a more formal affair in the 26-seat dining room with silver, lace, linen and crystal place settings. Pamper yourself and absorb the enchanting feel of heaven.
But, before you write it off as an indulgence of the rich and unemployed, consider the inclusions Necker Island provides: the full board and lodge package for 14 people—in case you can't live without the vida loca, throw open the doors to your friends—includes water-skiing, two fresh water pools, an aqua trampoline, two jacuzzis, an inflatable banana boat, snorkelling, windsurfing, kite-surfing, tennis (with coach), kayaking, fishing, sailing, and a fully equipped gymnasium. Not a bad deal at Rs 13.59 lakh a night, especially if you can find 14 rich friends to swim along who can chip in with the cost.
God's own country
If not, you always have the option of renting an island unto yourself right here in the country at an unbelievably affordable Rs 21,979 per week at the Kerala Island Resort on Coconut Island, 150 metres from the shore of Canoli Canal.
Catch the scent of spices in the pure salt air, where choice is always tantalising; promising simplicity if you prefer to eat like a castaway or sophistication for the more demanding gourmand. Coconut Island is an exclusive island guesthouse, including private staff, in the backwaters of Kerala.
There is only one guesthouse on an acre of coconut plantation, canal and mangrove forest, and it accommodates only two, a getaway for the true hermit where you never need to see another guest!
While Necker and Coconut Island represent two varying ends of the price- and choice-spectrum, there are many islands that fall midway and accommodate different tastes and temperament. Both Maldives and Seychelles offer a dizzying array of choices for islands to rent if you prefer the geographical proximity of the Indian Ocean, these islands are also relatively cheaper than rentals in the Caribbean. Also, since international airfares are almost never included in the rental package, flying to isles closer to home would mean big savings.
So, take your pick, and escape to an unforgettable island happily out of step with the world where you can fish for your own meal if you choose, or simply opt for a more subdued calm alternative and just enjoy a cocktail while watching the sun go down in a kaleidoscope of colours. If that too seems like hard work, simply pick a favourite tree and watch it grow!
If not anything else, it will at least awaken the senses to the realisation that this is indeed your island in the sun... amidst untouched nature, surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters in an explosion of glamourous rustic chic!