Ahhhh, beach vacations. Whether you love splashing in the ocean or lounging with a good book, it’s the stuff of dreams. But why settle for a 300-room hotel on a busy stretch of sand when you—and maybe a group of friends—could have a private retreat with panoramic ocean views?
Renting a private island for a few days or a week has always been the vacation of choice for the deep pocketed set. Now, thanks to rental sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Glamping Hub, budget-savvy vacationers can score their own island getaway for a fraction of the cost. Some island rentals keep it simple and rustic while others come with housekeeping and chefs, but all promise magical sunsets, top-notch water access, and wildlife aplenty.
To help you find the perfect paradise retreat, we’ve scoured picturesque locales within a reasonable distance of the U.S.—like Belize and the Florida Keys—and focused on well-reviewed, affordable rentals. This means all of the listings below cost less than $200 per person, per night, if filled to capacity, with one option priced as low as $20 per person per night. Behold, eight attainable private islands for your next warm-weather getaway.
Cost: Starting at $695 per night for up to six people
Details: This self-catering island sits in its own atoll about six miles from the town of Placencia, Belize. The three-building property can sleep up to six people in a main house with a queen-size bed, a second over-the-water cabana with another queen, and a third building with a full bed. Complimentary kayaks let you explore the atoll, and a pristine reef provides excellent snorkeling and swimming. Throw in the grotto, newly added beach area, and sunset bonfires, and you might never want to leave.
Cost: $1,746 per night for up to eight people
Details: Love teak shutters and panoramic views of the water? Check out this whole-island rental in the Florida Keys. A captain and island keeper can shuttle guests by boat 24 hour a day, and a pool provides a nice place to cool off. We bet, however, that you’ll spend most of your time in the ocean using the complimentary kayaks or snorkeling.
Cost: $1,220 per night for up to 14 people (for groups of more than 14 people, the rate of each extra guest is $25 per night)
Details: An adults-only hotel in Bocas del Toro, Panama, Urraca is located on a mangrove island with multiple private bungalows and a restaurant on site. You can rent the entire private island for groups up to 24, and guests spend their days kayaking reefs, ogling the bioluminescent waters at night, and hanging in hammocks. A lobster garden provides fresh catches for dinner and guests will likely spy a few of the 12 rescued monkeys that live permanently on the island.
Cost: $4,250 per night for up to 20 people
Details: Located off the coast of Placencia, Belize, Kanu Island is home to five 1,000-square-foot villas that are outfitted in classic island style—think rattan furniture, vaulted bamboo ceilings, and outdoor showers. Every villa has a spacious master bedroom and living area, while a few include a loft for children. Other perks include a billiards table, dining area, private chef, and fresh water pool with a swim-up bar.
Cost: $1,966 per night for up to 16 people
Details: Jet away to this secluded retreat 30 miles from Cartagena, Colombia, to indulge in a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath rental for up to 16 people. Perks include a garden area for outdoor cooking and dining, deck platform for lounging, and 40-foot captained speedboat that provides access to the surrounding islands.
Cost: Starting at $175 per night for up to 10 people
Details: With four bedrooms and two bathrooms, this island near Granada, Nicaragua, is a serene getaway for up to 10. A large stone patio provides access to boats and panoramic views, while a large pool helps you cool off. Reviews say that the island is peaceful and that guests love the open-air dining and relaxing hammocks.
Cost: Rates start at $1,625 per night for eight people
Details: With three large bedrooms and two bathrooms, this eight-person rental in the Florida Keys comes with its own boat to transport guests to and from the island. Sliding glass doors provide stunning ocean views, and you can choose to swim in the surrounding lagoon or in the on-site pool. A wraparound porch is perfect for sunsets, and past guests report that the surrounding coral reef offers great snorkeling.
Cost: Starting at $2,572 per night for up to 14 people
Details: This 1.5-acre island is located less than a mile from Placencia Village, Belize, and was recently built in 2016. A staff—including housekeeping and a private boat with driver—is at your disposal at all times, and the solar-powered home sleeps 14 with five bedrooms and six bathrooms. The region is known for great saltwater fly-fishing, awesome snorkeling, and paddling.