While we often think of exclusive private island escapes as pricey playgrounds for the rich and famous, it's actually possible to visit a far-flung island without breaking the bank. Contrary to popular belief, your dream private island vacation doesn't have to leave you and your bank account weeping. Every budget-conscious traveler can experience this type of accommodation for as little as $50 a night.
You can stay at notoriously picture-perfect, wallpaper-worthy destinations like Fiji or the Maldives and enjoy all they have to offer — stunning sunsets, crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches — without spending thousands of dollars on a trip. From Panama to Kenya and even Europe, there is a lush private island resort to match every traveler's preference — and budget.
Here, we've rounded up eight of the most unique and idyllic properties set on their own private stretches of land in the ocean where a vacation will not cost you an arm and a leg.
Urraca Private Island Eco Resort, Panama
Courtesy of Urraca Private Island Eco Resort
Nestled in a lush area of the Bocas del Toro archipelago on the northern coast of Panama, Urraca offers a unique private island experience. The resort is actually built on stilts over the crystal clear water of the Caribbean, allowing guests to enjoy the abundant marine life below their feet. A barrier reef off the coast of Urraca ensures calm waters and provides ideal conditions for snorkeling and diving. The bioluminescent waters around the small mangrove island glow at night, creating once-in-a-lifetime ambiance.
The intimate, eco-friendly resort comprises six overwater bungalows with private balconies and outdoor showers. While four of the dwellings share two full bathrooms, for a little extra, you can stay at the honeymooner's hut, which has a private bathroom, a secluded deck, and offers direct access to the water.
Nightly rates from $195, urracaprivateisland.com
Likuri Island Resort, Fiji
Courtesy of Likuri Group Fiji
Likuri Island is a dreamy island off Fiji's main coast. It is steeped in local history and offers guests an array of cultural activities such as medicine plant tours, Fijian weaving and cooking classes, and tours of an ancient pottery site nearby. Of course, you still get to enjoy those notoriously beautiful Fijian beaches and clear waters and all the fun activities that come with them, like surfing, snorkeling, swimming, and stand-up paddleboarding.
The island has 23 bures, or Fijian bungalows, with private bathrooms, nestled among the lush greenery just steps away from the beach. A buffet-style restaurant serves a variety of dishes prepared with fresh, organic produce, while the island's beach bar offers a selection of local beer, wine, cocktails, and gorgeous ocean views.
Nightly rates from $50, likurifiji.com
Gem Island Resort & Spa, Malaysia
Courtesy of Gem Island Resort & Spa
Set on a lush 8.5-acre island, a mere 15-minute boat ride off the coast of Malaysia, Gem Island Resort & Spa is the ultimate couple's retreat that won't break the bank.
Guests can choose from a variety of romantic accommodations that include villas with private balconies overlooking the pristine waters, as well as one-bedroom "hideaway" jungle suites. Indulge in a massage at the island's spa before enjoying a delicious meal and stunning coastline views from the resort's waterfront restaurant.
Nightly rates from $125, gemisland.com.my
Nangyuan Island Dive Resort, Thailand
Courtesy of Nangyuan Island Dive Resort
Not one but three private islands linked by white sandbars make up this serene, budget-friendly resort in the Gulf of Thailand. Fifty-six bungalows and villas complete with private bathrooms and porches (some overlooking the ocean) deliver modern-day amenities. A casual waterfront eatery, a coffee shop, and a beach bar complement the resort's facilities.
As its name suggests, the property specializes in diving tours and classes, making it a paradise both for experienced divers and beginners interested in exploring the vibrant marine life in the area. Another reason to stay here? The property offers discounted rates for divers.
Nightly rates from $89, nangyuan.com
Rock Island Resort, Philippines
Rock Island Resort describes itself as "the best place to watch the sunrise and sunset," and it's easy to see why. This budget-friendly property is located on a tiny rock island in Cambatong Bay, just a five-minute boat ride from the Hinatuan Enchanted River, a famous natural landmark that attracts visitors from around the globe with its enchanting turquoise waters.
The resort offers air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms that sleep up to nine people. A seafood restaurant, a viewing deck, and specially constructed "picnic cottages," built on stilts with direct access to the water, ensure guests have plenty of vantage points from which to enjoy those memorable sunset and sunrise views.
Nightly rates from $46, enchanted-river.com
The Sands At Chale Island, Kenya
Courtesy of The Sands at Nomad & Chale Island
This paradisical island off the Kenyan coast boasts 15 acres of lush forests, a secluded white-sand beach (where turtles often lay eggs), coral reefs, and a scenic inland mangrove lake. On top of all that, the resort shares the island with many plant and animal species, creating the ultimate tropical island experience.
Guests of The Sands At Chale Island can enjoy three swimming pools, a bar, a gym, a spa, and plenty of space for sunbathing and lounging with a cocktail in hand. The eco-friendly property features several accommodation categories, including standard rooms with balconies, overwater suites, and small villas. But the most noteworthy of them all is the Suite on the Rocks, a spacious thatched-roof structure located on its own private islet connected to the rest of the resort by a stone bridge.
Nightly rates from $199, thesandsatchaleisland.com
Courtesy of The Sands at Nomad & Chale Island
Makunudu Island, Maldives
As one of the oldest resorts in the Maldives (it first opened its doors in 1982), Makunudu Island has an impeccable reputation among travelers who return for weeks at a time to soak up the sun, take in the heavenly vistas, and disconnect from the world. Here, favorite pastimes include snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, or simply lounging on the stunning beaches.
This intimate private island resort features 36 rooms and spacious beachfront bungalows with private bathrooms catering to couples and families. A restaurant serving fresh seafood, a bar, volleyball and table tennis facilities, and a diving school keep guests entertained.
Nightly rates from $172, makunudu.com
Isabella Valamar Collection Island Resort, Croatia
Courtesy of Valamar Hotels & Resorts
Yes, a dreamy and affordable private island escape in Europe is possible. Located on the island of Sveti Nikola in the Adriatic Sea, Isabella Valamar Collection Island Resort is a five-minute boat ride from Poreč, Croatia.
The sprawling four-star beachfront resort offers a large variety of tranquil accommodations. The rooms and family suites are elegantly furnished and have private balconies and bathtubs, with some overlooking historic Poreč.
Private beaches, several adult swimming and children's pools, and a wellness center ensure guests leave this tranquil island fully relaxed and recharged. The island bars and restaurants treat patrons to excellent Mediterranean and traditional Croatian cuisine (with a side of stunning sea views) and deliver the perfect background for alfresco dining.
Nightly rates from $157, valamar.com