Ever dreamed of a private island? Here's some from $13
RICHARD Branson has one, as does Johnny Depp. In fact, if you're a member of the world's super-rich, then owning your own island is pretty much a prerequisite.
And, while us mere mortals might not be able to afford our own island, you don't have to have a Donald Trump-sized wallet to be able to rent one.
No, as long as you club together with a few friends or family, a private island holiday is definitely within the reach of most. Would-be castaways can take their pick of islands for rent around the world, all offering experiences ranging from the humble to hedonistic. Here's our pick of the best.
DIRECTION ISLAND, WA, AUSTRALIA
Reached by a short flight from Perth and a 20-minute boat transfer from the mainland, WA's Direction Island has sun-drenched, sugary sand beaches and palm trees in abundance. And with only one, self-contained A-frame cabin (which sleeps two to eight) you're able to keep the pristine natural environment completely to yourself.
Facilities are basic (think eco toilets and a wood fired BBQ), but it's the action offshore that is the main drawcard here.
Located in the spectacular waters of the Mackerel Islands group and set within its own coral reef, snorkellers and divers taking the plunge from the beach will be left awe-struck by the brilliantly coloured corals and countless species of aquatic life, including dolphins, turtles and stingrays.
PRICE: $395 between two - so if you're going Dutch that's under $200! - and $60 nightly per additional guest.
FORSYTH ISLAND, MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS, NEW ZEALAND
Across the ditch, at a whopping 2100 acres, Forsyth Island is one of the largest privately-owned islands in the South Pacific. Yet despite its size, this big island comes with a tiny price tag.
A mix of fern-filled forests, isolated beaches and lush green peaks that offer breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds and the surrounding Pacific, the island is an outdoor-lovers paradise. Boat tours, fishing trips, dolphin watching, kayaking and hiking (there's 50-kilometres of walking trails) are the order of the day and come evening there's a jacuzzi on hand.
The main timber lodge accommodates six to eight guests and an additional beachside cottage hosts four.
PRICE: $1,360 per night for up to eight guests based on a minimum two night stay. All meals, guided tours, picnics, kayaks and boat and fishing tours are included.
BROTHER ISLAND, EL NIDO, PHILIPPINES
With over 7,000 white sand, palm-fringed tropical islands, the Philippines really is beach bum heaven. And within the maze of uninhabited islands the UNESCO-recognised cluster of islands named El Nido is the definite highlight. Sparkling lagoons, towering limestone cliffs and secret beaches; it was actually the beaches of El Nido, rather than those of Thailand, that are believed to have inspired Alex Garland's novel, "The Beach". And one of these islands in this archipelago can be yours and yours alone.
A mini slice of paradise, aside from the two-storey house, Brother Island is all bliss-inducing beaches and rainforest. Accommodating up to 10 guests, all meals are included and as the island also comes fully staffed, you can also indulge in beachside massages, island hopping by boat, and snorkelling and kayaking.
PRICE: $400 per night and if you split it between 10 then becomes a steal at $40 per person.
DUNBAR ROCK VILLA, HONDURAS
Clinging to the top of a rocky outcrop in the Caribbean, this historic landmark was once used as a mooring for the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. Indeed, local legend has it that there is buried treasure on the island. But given the recent $10 million makeover of the luxe whitewashed property, its owners may have already found the long lost booty. The one-time private villa is a Mecca for divers, with the surrounding sea said to be one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean.
PRICE: $2,400 per person per week based on 22 sharing. While this is admittedly at the budget-busting end of the scale, the price includes all meals, three dives daily plus one night dive, excursions, use of watercraft and both boat and airport transfers. However, there's also an onsite helipad for any high rollers that want to arrive in style.
ENEDRIK ISLAND, MARSHALL ISLANDS, SOUTH PACIFIC
Tropical, untouched and erring on the wild side - Enedrik Island is for folk who can handle a literal castaway experience.
Aside from a large water tank for washing, flushing the toilet and an open air beach shower, everything else you'll need for a sojourn here is BYO. And by everything, we mean everything - food, drinking water, tents (make sure they're wind and water resistant), cutlery, toilet paper … you name it.
But while the amenities are beyond basic, with 14 acres of pristine white sand and coconut palms - all surrounded by a gorgeous lagoon - this is THE place to fulfil your Robinson Crusoe ambitions, just with a guaranteed rescue at the end of your stay.
PRICE: The South Pacific gem can be had for $780 per week for a maximum of eight visitors - that works out at a paltry $13 per night!
THE HOUSE IN THE SEA, CORNWALL, UK
Tagged as the 'ultimate beach house', The House in the Sea is easily one of the most photographed houses in the UK.
Perched on its own granite rock island and boasting stunning views of the Cornish coastline and Atlantic; the property is completely surrounded by the sea at high tide and can only be reached from the mainland via a precarious-looking suspension bridge.
Given its appearance - which is akin to something straight from the pages of a fantastical storybook - it's unsurprising that the likes of Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, was a regular visitor back in the day. Even The Beatles are on the list of previous guests, with the Fab Four filming on the adjacent beach as part of their Magical Mystery Tour.
Inside there's open fires and bathtubs big enough for two (guaranteed to keep you belle or beau happy) and outside a sprawling terrace is perfect for barbecues, sunbathing and stargazing. Direct access to the sandy beach means you can sail or fish at your leisure and stunning clifftop walks allow guests to work up an appetite before hitting one of the celebrity eateries on hand. Jamie Oliver's acclaimed Fifteen restaurant is an easy walk away and Rick Stein's various seafood joints can be reached by short car journey.
PRICE: $2,600 for a long weekend and $5,000 for the entire week, but when the pimped out pad sleeps six to eight, the price is easy on the wallet when you share.