News & Reviews Indian Ocean Maldives The Maldives’ Best Private Islands

Relax in the ultimate seclusion, revel in elevated service and live exactly as you please – with an entire paradise isle to call home. The best private islands in the Maldives are, even in this archipelago of world-leading resorts, simply outstanding: where extraordinary natural beauty meets the utmost comfort and exclusivity. Whether for a peaceful family getaway or a destination party that’ll go down in history, these are four of the finest private islands.

Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah

They say money can’t buy happiness, but that’s pure fallacy when you’re watching Voavah’s pod of resident dolphins playing wild just off-shore. The same, too, when you’re relishing the ayurvedic treatments at your island’s overwater spa, flying high on kitesurfs and Jetblades, and catching your own sashimi aboard a 19-metre yacht – which is yours for the entirety of your stay.

Voavah sleeps 21 guests across its Beach House and two villas (one on the sand, one overwater), making it ideal for multigenerational getaways and parties. Spend your days Seabob-diving with turtles and rays, devouring lobster on deserted atolls, and hopping between the three infinity pools. And after dark? Well, you can do whatever you wish – whether that’s exploring the Milky Way with an astrologer, or dancing all night on the beach.

Naturally, the island comes with an efficient army of chefs, butlers, stylists, babysitters, security guards and even bodu beru drummers to welcome the sunset in style. And for those travelling with their own team, Voavah can accommodate up to six personnel in private quarters – while Areef Ali, the Island Chief, keeps the entire outfit running smoothly. Be warned: he’s so good, you’ll want to take him home.

Ithaafushi – The Private Island by Waldorf Astoria

With no neighbours, no prying eyes and no paparazzi, you can host the party of a lifetime at Ithaafushi – the largest private island in the Maldives. Whether for a Coachella-style beach festival or an intimate concert by an A-list artist, no request is too outlandish. It sleeps up to 24 guests, with a dazzling array of amenities and experiences – ranging from sea-breezy massages in the overwater spa pavilion, to parasailing flights and wakeboarding lessons.

Rare for a private island, there is no real ‘hierarchy’ of accommodation: each of its lodgings were created equal, with the main variations simply setting and size. At the Three-Bedroom Beach Villa, two pools are framed by breeze-tousled palm trees and delicate blossoms, adding an extra layer of privacy. Meanwhile, the Four Bedroom Residence is best suited to large families, with its very own beach and an outdoor jacuzzi for every bedroom.

The island’s hub is the Haali (meaning ‘nest’ in Dhivehi), where guests can gather for seafood banquets with panoramic ocean views, volleyball games in the 35-metre infinity pool, and movie nights by moonlight. Its indoor-outdoor layout is perfect for barefoot island life, a cosy yet indulgent meeting place for family and friends – and if you’re struggling to trim down the guestlist, booking additional villas in the main resort is a sweet compromise.

Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island

With private seaplane transfers and your own jetty, it’s easy to slip under the radar to this private isle. But for those who want to shout about their arrival, it offers a wealth of ways to document your trip – such as a HOVERAir drone and Snap Spectacles, or simply the Maison’s in-house photographer. Cheval Blanc Randheli is photogenic from every angle, but its secluded island is pure supermodel: from the sea-view infinity pool to the Guerlain spa.

Whisper it, but the beachfront accommodation looks like a Bond villain’s lair: its four-bedroom villa is surrounded by abundant gardens, with floor-to-ceiling glazing for gazing out at the ocean. A stand-alone villa also sits on the sand, alongside an outdoor meditation pavilion, dining pergola, fitness centre and screening room. Your personal jet ski waits at the dock, poised for adventure – or you could simply charter Azimut, the Maison’s private yacht.

The island is positively crying out for parties, whether moonlit cocktails and live DJ sets on the beach, or glittering soirées around the grand piano. Can’t play? No problem: the concierge can source you a musical maestro, while the island’s dedicated staff include restaurant-quality chefs, babysitters and dapper majordomes (butlers).

The Private Reserve – Gili Lankanfushi Maldives

While it isn’t an island per se, the world’s largest overwater villa is blissfully independent – run as a wholly private retreat, and reached only by boat. Indeed, to call it a ‘villa’ is to do it a disservice: this wooden fortress sleeps up to ten across its vast ocean-view suites, alongside two infinity pools, a spa, sauna and steam room, and plenty of room for personal staff. A glass-bottomed living room is the heart of this not-so humble home.

With only the ocean breeze for company, The Private Reserve is a place to let loose – whether you’re gliding down the waterslide, bingeing films and popcorn in the cinema, or sleeping on the terrace under the stars. While younger guests hit the kids’ club or go snorkelling with the resort’s marine biologist, you can crank up the Bose sound system for a poolside party, or get stuck into a personalised ‘wine cellar’ – with a choice of 400 labels.

The main resort is half a kilometre away, and a private yacht is ready and waiting should you choose to set foot on its ‘mainland’. More tempting, perhaps, is to head into the blue yonder: for guided scuba diving with manta rays and nurse sharks, and castaway picnics on far-flung sandbanks.

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Lucie Cahalan

Written by Lucie Cahalan on 7th Jun '24

Lucie Cahalan worked with VIP guests in London's best hotels before co-founding Dorsia Travel. This is where she shares her views on what works, and doesn't, in the world of luxury travel.

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