INSPIRATION • February 2020
Live your best Robinson Crusoe life as island know-it-all Jim Dobson offers up six paradise escapes for a castaway retreat
Castaway moment: Yalahau Lagoon
Fans of Mexico are calling this small island off the coast of Cancun one of its greatest escapes. Formerly a hideaway for pirates, sleepy Holbox is now filled with open-air bars, cafés and chic boutiques – and not a single car. Days should be spent reclining on hammocks, gazing over pristine beaches, and swimming with whale sharks (June-September), while nights are made for checking out the water’s bioluminescence phenomenon. For real escapism, kayak through Yalahau Lagoon (pictured left) and swim in the cenote’s healing waters.
Where to stay: Ser Casasandra
This stylish beachfront hotel (pictured right) has just seven rooms, plus one luxury villa, designed by Cuban artist Sandra Perez Lozano. It’s considered the island’s most carefully designed, most luxurious hotel, with impeccable service and a first-rate, Mayan-inspired restaurant.
Castaway moment: Rock Maison
You’ve heard of the Cliff at Cap Restaurant, part of Cap Maison and home to St Lucia’s most sought-after tables, but did you know that a private wooden deck, built for romance, sits on a rocky ledge below? Accessed via a wooden staircase, Rock Maison (pictured left) is the most intimate escape you can make for a proposal or celebration, as your Champagne is decadently delivered by zip line from above.
Where to stay: Jade Mountain
Jade Mountain (pictured right) is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful resorts, featuring 29 luxury suites terraced along six levels built into the mountain. Almost all the rooms have their own indoor/outdoor vanishing-edge swimming pool, with a missing fourth wall that opens the suite to the warm tropical air.
Castaway moment: The Great Blue Hole and Barrier Reef
Take a private day trip to the famed Great Blue Hole (pictured left), part of the Unesco World Heritage Barrier Reef. Formed as a limestone cave thousands of years ago, you can descend along the wall to a depth of 130 feet. Then, continue snorkelling among majestic whale sharks between April and June when they migrate through the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.
Where to stay: Itz’ana Belize Resort & Residences
18 brand-new beach suites, 28 beachfront villas and two penthouses furnished by local artisans make up this uber-luxe resort, sandwiched between sea on one side and a lagoon on the other (pictured right). Explore ravishing rivers, jaguar jungles, Mayan ruins and cave tubing - all adjacent to the world’s largest living barrier reef.
Castaway moment: Saona Island
On the treasure map you’ll find wonderfully undeveloped Isla Saona 12 miles off the Dominican Republic’s southeastern coast. Take a catamaran to see its famous coral reefs and shipwrecks, before relaxing on powder-white sandy beaches. It’s part of a protected National Park, so despite those who flock from Punta Cana, it always feels blissfully remote. A haven for wildlife, try spotting the indigenous starfish in its crystalline waters, as iguanas watch you from mangrove trees (pictured left).
Where to stay: Casa de Campo
You’ll need to visit La Romana on the southeastern coast for this worth-the-trip luxury resort. Since it opened some 50 years ago (the Dominican Republic’s first resort), this tropical escape has been a major destination for celebrities who value their privacy. It is also a golfer’s paradise, with three championship courses along its private beach (pictured right).
Castaway moment: Bottom Bay Beach
Barbados is surrounded by coral reefs featuring the wrecks of more than 200 ships lost since the 17th century (pictured left). Take a romantic private catamaran to enjoy the region’s superlative snorkelling and diving opportunities, then venture to Bottom Bay Beach. Surrounded by coral cliffs and palm trees, the soft sandy beach is perfect for an afternoon picnic.
Where to stay: Sandy Lane
Originally a sugar plantation, this blissful beachfront hotel (pictured right) is no stranger to the world’s elite, with spectacularly designed rooms and suites, plus a five-bedroom villa with private butler. It has four restaurants, seven bars and a huge 47,000sq ft spa – so you’ll never need to leave.
Castaway moment: Pearl Islands
Offered to eight adventurous individuals, this Island Survival experience takes the group to the remote Pearl Islands (pictured left) 100 miles off Panama for survival training and a 72-hour castaway challenge. Starting in Panama City, the group goes to an uninhabited island for five days of training in how to make it in the jungle, with an interesting dose of survival psychology. Afterwards, you will be put on the beach for three days of solitary spearfishing, building fires and sleeping in hammocks – just like in the Survivor series.
Where to stay: Islas Secas
Located on a cluster of 14 islands, this new, luxury solar-powered hotel is the perfect place to hide away. Twenty miles from civilisation, Islas Secas has four unique casitas (bungalows), that feel like private sanctuaries, surrounded by lush tropical forest. Each has an outdoor deck, plunge pool and thatched-roof cabana.