Private chefs, rooftop hot tubs, infinity pools overlooking the ocean — these luxurious Airbnb rentals will upgrade your next island vacation.
Travelers flock to Ko Samui — Thailand’s second largest island — for its beaches and some of the best diving and snorkeling in Southeast Asia. You’ll have your own private stretch of sand at Baan Mik a, a modern, six-bedroom compound laid out around a dreamy, extra-long swimming pool. If five-star hotel stays are your thing, you’ll settle in just fine here: Baan Mika comes with a staff that handles daily meals, housekeeping duties, and can arrange moped rentals, massages, boat tours, and more.
Ko Samui Must-Do: Visit Wat Phra Yai and Big Buddha, the temple’s 40-foot tall gold Buddha sculpture. Be sure to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
Puri Nirwana translates to “heavenly place,” and it’s easy to see how this villa got that name. The six-bedroom colonial-style home — which once belonged to a former Indonesian president — is set on a beachfront acre in Cucukan on the island’s southeast coast. Interior spaces feature marble floors, soaring ceilings, and a real stunner — the master bathroom’s huge stone soaking tub set beneath a window overlooking the garden. There’s also a pool, a Jacuzzi, an onsite spa, and a 15-person staff on call.
Bali Must-Do: Have your villa’s driver take you into Ubud for dinner at Locavore, a tasting-menu-only experience that’s been on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list since 2016.
If you can peel your eyes away from the cliff-top infinity pool at this six-bedroom villa in Ponta Do Sol, you’ll find plenty more to enjoy: multiple terraces overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a tricked-out game room, a pergola-covered outdoor dining area, and a cook’s dream kitchen, complete with a built-in wood-fired oven. The villa shares its land with a banana plantation, and there’s an herb garden out back that guests are free to pick from.
Madeira Must-Do: Hop the Madeira Cable Car in the island’s capital, Funchal, for a bird’s-eye view of the island’s botanical gardens and black-sand beaches.
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
A 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland takes you to Waiheke Island, known as New Zealand’s “Island of Wine” thanks to its ideal grape-growing microclimate. The eight-bedroom Palm Beach Lodge is the perfect spot for families or friends traveling together: Each of the Mediterranean-style house’s floors is a separate apartment, so everyone gets their own space to spread out. When you’re ready for some quality time together, meet up on the top-floor apartment’s terrace for the best views of the island.
Waiheke Island Must-Do: With more than 30 wineries across 35 square miles, wine tasting is the easy answer on Waiheke. Have your villa host arrange a tour, and you’ll be sipping pinot gris at Cable Bay Winery in no time.
The chic French-Caribbean isle has its fair share of sophisticated hotels and villas, many of which have reopened after sustaining damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. One of those is the four-bedroom Villa Walhalla, perched on a hilltop (those views!) at Pointe Milou on the island’s quiet northeast coast. Sip rosé all day by the pool — the pink chaise loungers add an appropriate pop of color to the villa’s whitewashed palette — before gathering for dinner in the open-air dining room.
St. Barth’s Must-Do: If you want solitude, charter a boat to the secluded Colombier Beach (it’s only accessible by the water or a rugged, 30-minute hike); but if you came to St. Barth for a little revelry (you’re not alone), head to Nikki Beach. The popular beach club is well known for its VIP cabanas and daytime dance parties.
The tiny, 10-square-mile island of San Andrés, located between Nicaragua and Colombia, may be popular with South American jetsetters, but remains relatively undiscovered by U.S. travelers. Spend your Caribbean vacation at Casa Iwana del Mar, a sleek four-bedroom villa with a big, modern kitchen and a rooftop lounge furnished with a hot tub, a billiards table, and a ping-pong table. The beach is a few feet away, but the pool area, with its daybeds and wicker swings, is a pretty tempting distraction.
San Andrés Must-Do: A “seven-colored sea” surrounds San Andrés, and one of the best places to dive in is at La Piscinita, a popular island snorkeling site.
Pull open the shutters and let the breeze in at this three-bedroom beachfront villa on Eden Island — a super-luxe development off the coast of Mahé. Beyond the charming, Creole-style façade, there’s an open living and kitchen area, sleek wood floors, and spacious en-suite bathrooms. Post up by the palm-fringed swimming pool, or hop in your villa’s electric golf cart (there are no cars allowed on Eden Island) to head out and explore.
Seychelles Must-Do: Visit the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin Island (a quick ferry or plane ride from Mahé) to see the islands’ endemic coco de mer trees.