As unbelievable as it sounds, it’s true: there are private tropical island resorts that you don’t need to take out a mortgage in order to afford. Look hard enough and you’ll find a bunch of them tucked away on quiet sandy crests dotting the sea around the world, but I’ll focus on two of the finest ones close to the United States—to keep your flight costs down—and another in a more exotic locale.
Affordable Island: Coco Plum
The low-end “no-frills” package offered by this palm-shaded 16-acre island off the coast of Belize is actually pretty frill-full. You’ll be in one of the resort’s 14 bungalows, where you can watch the reef-protected Caribbean lap onto your private pier from the hammock on your porch. Meals are included, as is use of the resort’s kayaks. The only catch: a minimum stay of four nights. Rates start at $280 a night.
Affordable Island: Cooper
The 500-acre island near Tortola that gives this laid-back beach club its name isn’t completely private to the resort—but there are barely any other signs of civilization on its tree-carpeted expanses. The property’s 11 rooms all have a kitchenette, bug-net-enclosed beds, and a luxurious sense of seclusion from the outside world. The popular activities are diving, kayaking, sitting at the long, expansive beach, and lingering on the outdoor sofas at the bar. Rates start at $250 a night.
Affordable Island: Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe Island is as close as it gets to summer camp for adults. You don’t go there for seclusion—rather, the island, known for its dormitory housing, which caters to backpackers for $27 a night, is like a warm, party-going, outdoor activity center. You can surf, kitesurf, fish, kayak, climb trees, or go for a medicine walk within its 30 acres across the bay from the main island of Viti Levu. There are also private cabins, which start for about $120 a night.