11 private islands you should convince your friends to rent on Airbnb

Can you imagine a better vacation with friends? We didn’t think so. | Photo courtesy of Little Harvest/VRBO

Can you imagine a better vacation with friends? We didn’t think so. | Photo courtesy of Little Harvest/VRBO

Editor’s note: We know COVID-19 is impacting travel plans right now. For some inspiration, we’ll continue to share stories from our favorite places around the world. Be sure to check travel restrictions, protocols and openings before you go.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to own a G6 and frequently drink champagne at non-party venues to afford your own private island, at least for a week. No, madam: all you need is a little imagination and lots of bug spray. It also helps to have two, five or ten friends to split the costs with. After all, what good is a week of luxury by the sea without your loved ones to share it with? Here are eleven private islands you can totally afford to rent on Airbnb and VRBO.

Matamba Island Pool
Matamba Island, Colombia | Photo courtesy of Matamba Island/Airbnb

Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Frequency: $1,899/night
This whimsical six-bedroom property gives us Antoni Gaudi, with quirky architecture, curvy lines, and colorful mosaic tile accents throughout (check out the bathrooms…we’ll wait). Located in the tropical islands of Rosario, just off the Colombian coast, the spacious villa includes a saltwater jacuzzi, putting green, expansive decks and sun decks, paddle boards, snorkel gear snorkeling and meals prepared by the chef 3 times a day. Split the bill up to sixteen ways with your friends (it’s only $118 a night!), bring your own wine (or order a supply of liquor through your hosts), and pack your bathing suit for a few days in paradise.

Bird Island, Belize
Bird Island, Belize | Photo courtesy of Bird Island/Airbnb

Placencia, Belize
Frequency: $695/night
Twenty minutes from Placencia, Belize, is a small island inside a coral reef. And for $695 a night, you get it all, plus round-trip transportation, fishing and snorkeling gear, kayaks, fire pit, bar, water swings, and all the Wi-Fi your heart desires. The island has a main house and a separate cabin, for a grand total of three bedrooms, four beds and a bathroom. Go see it from above—it’s ridiculous.

    Ilha Grande Island
Ilha Grande, Brazil | Photo courtesy of Ilha Grande/Airbnb

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rate: $635/night
Frankly, this one got us to “fresh caipirinhas made with local fruit”. Two hours from Rio, this Italian designer-owned island has everything you need to bring the vibe of Brazil’s biggest party town to life: colorful interiors, three different ocean decks, barbecue grills, kayaks , hammocks and a full staff (plus, six bedrooms – each with its own private bathroom – for when those caipirinhas really hit and you need some peace and quiet.) Come for the luxury and stay for the waterfalls , rainforest trails and wildlife.

pink huts on the private island of Urraca
Urraca Private Island, Panama | Photo courtesy of Urraca/Airbnb

Province of Bocas del Toro, Panama
Rate: $205/night
These eight overwater bungalows can be rented individually or in groups, accommodating up to 24 people in total. The stay also includes perks like snorkeling and kayaking gear, tropical breakfasts, and lobster diving. But it’s not even the best: Urraca is home to the Monkey Island Foundation, so you’ll spend the week relaxing alongside 12 rescued (and very friendly!) monkeys who live permanently on the island. In other words, not only will you feel like a rich person with your own private island, but you can also pretend to have your own weird and rich pets for a few days. Bonus: at night, you’ll see that the waters here are also bioluminescent.

wooden frame house by a lake
Rent This Lakeside Cabin Near Itasca State Park | Photo courtesy of Lakefront Cabin on Juggler Lake/Airbnb

Juggler Lake, Minnesota
Rate: $349/night
Just hours from Minneapolis, this cabin is surrounded by the clear waters of Juggler Lake on three sides and 18 acres of wild old growth forest on the fourth. It’s the only house on the island, so no neighbors to hear you scream…during the playful filming of your amateur teen horror movie, of course! With 20-foot ceilings and a rustic, lived-in vibe, the A-frame cabin sleeps 10 with the option of renting a pontoon boat for an additional fee.

Villa stairs in El Nido, Philippines
Get your own private island in El Nido | Photo courtesy of Alfred Lee/Airbnb

El Nido, Philippines
Rate: $419/night
Located on the only private island in all of El Nido, this retreat requires you to book with a minimum of four guests, bringing the cost down to $100 per person per night. (We personally spent more than that on a single takeout order. Sad, but true.) With stunning white sand beaches and blue waters, you will also have access to snorkeling equipment, kayak rentals, boat transport and three meals a day, as well as additional services such as massages on the beach and a restaurant with alcohol.

Collanmore Island Lodge
Collanmore Island Lodge, Ireland | Photo courtesy of Collanmore Island Lodge/Airbnb

Westport, Mayo, Ireland
Rate: $1,735/night
You might not think of Ireland as your go-to island getaway, but this lodge just off the country’s west coast in Clew Bay will convince you otherwise. Soak in the in-house hot tub, blow some steam in the sauna, stretch out on the private beach, or kayak in the bay and take it all in from the sea. And best of all: there are room for up to 22 guests, so feel free to invite your best friends and your B-level friends!

Old House Cay Island Dock
Old House Cay, South Carolina | Photo courtesy of Old House Cay/Airbnb

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Rate: $694/night
Why have one private island when you can have three? Surrounded by lofty sabal palms, this rental just 10 minutes from Hilton Head puts a whole new (read: way more private) twist on a classic Lowcountry getaway. Accessible only by boat (the hosts are happy to shuttle you to and from the mainland), spend your days here fishing and bird watching on the docks, watching the sunset from the watchtower, to relax by the fire and enjoy some time off the grid. Just looking at the photos makes us want to sit in a rocking chair and drink a mint julep.

Little Harvest Private Island
Little Harvest Island, Belize | Photo courtesy of Little Harvest/VRBO

Placencia, Belize
Rate: $3,124/night
Belize is two for two on the list! If you want to splurge, this is the place to do it: This 7,000 square foot solar-powered villa on the southern tip of Belize’s Placencia Peninsula looks like something built for the stars, with a private chef, a large swimming pool, a boat (plus captain!), and all the staff on deck. They are also happy to arrange excursions, whether it’s fishing, diving or heading into town for shopping and bar hopping. The cabin can accommodate up to 14 people, all of whom can wake up to the view of the sun shining over the Atlantic, the nearby village of Placencia, and the Maya Mountains. Oh yeah, and split the bill.

Dogatraz Island
Dogatraz Island, Vermont | Photo courtesy of Dogatraz Island/Airbnb

Hinesburg, Vermont, USA
Frequency: $329/night
This bright and airy cabin on Lake Iroquois just 20 minutes from Burlington, Vermont, looks like a place where we might imagine Snow White cleaning up and happily singing along with adorable woodland creatures. Same exact vibes. This cozy abode features a master bedroom with beautiful lake views, complimentary canoes and kayaks, a fireplace, and room for approximately four to six people. Plus, the host’s description mentions (multiple times!) that the island is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your best furry friends for a weekend of absolute freedom.

Seabird Island Jungle Cabin
Seabird Island, Florida | Photo courtesy of Seabird Island/Airbnb

Marathon, Florida, USA
Rate: $1,350/night
As you probably know, Florida the beaches are incredibly popular. So why not grab a little slice of heaven that you can have all to yourself, and far from the confines of Florida Man, too? This sprawling oceanfront villa built from cypress trees can accommodate up to 8 people for week-long stays and includes the following: four bedrooms, a huge Boston Whaler boat, a private beach with hammocks, a lush and an outdoor bar and grill. In addition, there is a dedicated office space in the house. Workcation, anyone?

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Tiana Attride is the associate editor of Thrillist. She would like to live on her own private island forever and ever, thank you.

Meagan Driller also contributed to this story.

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