Escape to a private island paradise without leaving the Florida Keys at the oh-so-secluded Little Palm Island Resort & Spa.
Gorgeous ocean views abound from Timber Kaua’i at Hokuala’s sprawling infinityedge pool.
When it comes to the ultimate in luxury travel, it doesn’t get much more posh than a private island. The experience certainly checks all the boxes: unparalleled intimacy, absolute tranquility and—of course—utter exclusivity. While such indulgent destinations dot the Caribbean and French West Indies, closer to home they’re few and far between. In fact, there’s just one luxury private island in the U.S., and it deserves a place at the top of your bucket list: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. Accessible only via seaplane ride or a 15-minute jaunt via motor yacht, this 4.5-acre sliver of sand is just 3 miles offshore and less than 30 miles from the party vibe of Key West, but oh my, does it feel a world away. Coconut-packed Jamaican Tall palm trees sway gently overhead; crushed seashell paths lined with lush foliage meander through the property; and on the beachfront, pelicans, cormorants and countless other birds dive and prowl the sandbar a stone’s throw from lazing sunbathers. It’s tempting to simply lounge in a chaise along the beach or boardwalk and take it all in.
SpaTerre beckons with indulgent treatments in a lush setting.
The natural surroundings are just the first charms of Little Palm, which was completely reimagined in the wake of Hurricane Irma and reopened in March 2020. Just 30 thatched-roof bungalows—each strikingly done up in British West Indies-inspired style and boasting vaulted ceiling, ocean views, private deck and outdoor shower—dot the property, making this the ideal couples getaway or dream wedding or honeymoon spot. Adventures beckon at the beachside activities hut, from snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding to organized sailing, fishing and day trips to historic Dry Tortugas; a fitness center is decked out with top-of-the-line Technogym equipment; and SpaTerre is on hand to soothe weary muscles with treatments ranging from rose quartz stone massages to Key lime margarita pedicures.
Vaulted ceilings and British West Indies-inspired decor make for alluring accommodations.
The most exhilarating experiences we had during our recent stay at Little Palm Island, though, were culinary— resort food this is not. From a sublime lobster hash Benedict that my partner couldn’t stop raving about (or ordering) to addictively crunchy spicy tuna tacos with avocado and Sriracha aioli to the entirety of executive chef Daniel Ganem’s dinner menu—most decadently enjoyed as a five- or eight-course chef’s table experience in the heart of the kitchen ($305 to $400 per person with wines, plus $300 setup fee) after mai tais on the beach during one of the island’s glorious sunsets—I have rarely eaten so well on vacation.
Each bungalow suite boasts a private beach with a waterfront hammock.
Perhaps all this shouldn’t be surprising. With its luxuriously small footprint and select clientele (from honeymooners to CEOs seeking downtime and privacy), Little Palm feels less like a resort and, from start to finish, more like the most exquisite of boutique island hotels. We may all be missing international travel right now and dreaming of exotic private destinations in the British West Indies and beyond, but with its world-class amenities and blissful vibe, Little Palm proves that you don’t need to cross any borders to find a piece of island paradise. Rooms from $1,900 per night, littlepalmisland.com
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE PALM ISLAND RESORT & SPA