Chill out in the style of Richard Branson
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands.
Purchased by Sir Richard Branson for US$180,000 in 1979 and with its Great House recently rebuilt and modernised after a fire in 2011, Necker Island serves as the entrepreneur's primary home when not hired by party-minded holidaymakers. With 100 staff on hand to ensure their every need is met, guests (including the likes of Kate Moss and Bill Gates) have ample time to enjoy the retreat's many facilities - two tennis courts, a Balinese spa, a zip-wire to the beach. Or they might simply elect to wander its three-mile perimeter and admire its beauty, the lush 74-acre island being home to flamingos, Aldabra giant tortoises and lemurs.
Sleeps 34; from A$108,000 per night.
Forty beaches with one wave of the wand
The Islands of Copperfield Bay, the Bahamas
In the Bahamas, Musha Cay and the 10 other islands of Copperfield Bay serve as the ultra-exclusive retreat of magician David Copperfield. Those who hire this exclusive enclave will have access to more than 40 beaches, unfettered use of its facilities (which include a beach cinema, a floodlit tennis court and a billiards table that once belonged to Houdini) and the services of an on-site entertainer who can arrange a treasure hunt with surprises approved by the world-class illusionist. But arguably the island's most attractive amenity is the privacy and solitude it offers, with quiet starlit dinners for two on its curved sand spit one of its most popular offerings.
Sleeps 24; from A$54,000 per night.
Celebrity hideaway after the Ibiza party
Isla Tagomago, Spain
Fifteen minutes by boat from Ibiza's bright lights, Isla Tagomago is an inviting spot in which to sleep off a hangover. At the core of the 100-acre island, its whitewashed villa features five simply finished, Modernist-style bedrooms, a gym and a cabana-lined pool. There is little else to distract residents, with the parched, scrub-covered landscape devoid of a beach and otherwise undeveloped save for its century-old lighthouse. But that sense of tranquillity, the assurance of privacy and proximity to its larger neighbour's bars, restaurants and clubs make it a popular retreat among celebrities. Recent guests have included Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Bieber and Ronnie Wood.
Sleeps 10; rates start at A$21,200.
Guilt-free in the Seychelles
Cousine Island, Seychelles
A five-villa granite island some 1609 kilometres east of Africa, remote Cousine has undergone something of a metamorphosis since being purchased by its current owners in 1992. Over time they have removed every alien tree from this outpost (replacing them with 8,000 indigenous species) and protected its status as a refuge for turtles, tortoises, wedge-tailed shearwaters and fairy terns. Environmentally minded guests can plant trees and assist ecologists during their stay or simply enjoy the island's amenities - including a library, infinity pools, a gym, spas and a restaurant – entirely guilt-free: Cousine's "conservation-based management structure" means all revenues generated through its private hire will be reinvested entirely into its conservation.
Sleeps 18; rates begin at A$16,100.
A treasure in Tanzania
Thanda Island, Tanzania
Already the proprietors of South Africa's Thanda Game Reserve, the Swedes behind the recently opened Thanda Island refer to this idyll as a private marine reserve rather than a private island. Solar-powered and off-grid, it is set in the middle of a migratory route used by whale sharks (best observed between October and February) and green and hawksbill turtles nest on the island, which is encircled by coral reefs and waters that are home to endangered dugongs and shoals of sweetlips, barracuda and trevally. Should inclement weather strike, residents can admire the sea life found in the villa's aquarium or simply plunder the stockpile of board games and books left for their use.
Sleeps 10; from A$13,642.
Luxury castaway in the South Pacific
Dolphin Island, Fiji
Dolphin Island, according to its owners, provides its inhabitants with "a luxury castaway experience". An intimate 14-acre outcrop in the South Pacific, it comprises four guest houses – the most romantic retreat is the thatched hilltop bure, its walls removed so it captures the sea breeze – and a main lodge with an infinity pool. Dining options are varied too, with guests invited to dine wherever they wish (be that on the beach, by the infinity pool or aboard a floating pontoon illuminated by lanterns) and a local fisherman stops by on his way to port each day so guests can select the freshest fish even before they make it to market.
Sleeps 8; rates start at A$8800.
Rugged and romantic
Satellite Island, Australia
Wild and unblemished, Satellite Island is a rugged, romantic retreat off the coast of Tasmania. Simple pleasures, traditional pursuits and the satisfaction that comes with a job well done all take centre stage here: peckish inhabitants with do-it-yourself inclinations are, for example, invited to shuck fresh oysters caught nearby, or dive into pristine waters for sea urchins, abalone and mussels. Overhead might be spotted two rare white-breasted sea eagles, perhaps the most notable of the many birds that call the island home. After gentle exertion, rest comes easy in the island's Boathouse and Summer House, stylishly finished with family heirlooms and local pottery, or in a bell tent.
Sleeps 8; from A$2750 per night.
Taprobane Island, Sri Lanka
The country's only privately owned island, tiny Taprobane in the south of Sri Lanka houses a neo-Palladian mansion seemingly unchanged since its construction in the Twenties. Somewhat dishevelled though they are, the octagonal house's interiors are incontestably charismatic - bedrooms are decked out with colonial-style furniture and four-poster beds; private terraces and shaded verandahs are pleasant spots from which to admire the enveloping Indian Ocean - and the cascading tropical gardens tumble into the sea below.
Sleeps 10; rates from A$1368.
Bargain basement - and badgers too
Trinity Island Lodge, Ireland
Embedded in Lough Oughter in Cavan, Ireland, Trinity Island Lodge is undeveloped save for its old granary-turned-guesthouse and ruined, 750-year-old Trinity Abbey. Comfortable and without pretension, the three-bedroom lodge offers a marble-lined reading alcove, sauna and games room; outside, miles of cleared walking trails lead to forests and badger setts; above, the skies are busy with the 50 or so species of native and migrating birds - from lapwing to little grebe - that flock here.
Sleeps 6; rates start from A$863.
The London Telegraph