There are only two ways onto Banwa Private Island—by helicopter or plane. And it’s a good thing, because if this tropical retreat of surreal ceruleans and thrilling teals was any easier to get to, there would never be any vacancies. Luckily, its seclusion (not to mention its nightly rate of $100,000) keeps everything ultra-exclusive for the lucky few guests—only 48 of them at any given time—who do manage to snag a reservation there.
Set to open this month, Banwa claims one of the Phillipines’ more than 7,000 islands—joining the ranks of such luxury stalwarts as Amanpulo and El Nido—in the Palawan archipelago. The two-hour helicopter ride from Manila is enough to remove guests from nearly all civilization, save for the six contemporary beachfront villas, 12 garden rooms, and top-level suite spread over the island’s 15 acres.
Though the accommodations are no doubt extravagant with private swimming pools, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and chic interiors by the design firm Manosa & Co, Banwa’s ethos is more of the barefoot-chic variety. An organic farm supplies hand-plucked fruits and veggies for the Latitude Restaurant & Terrace and juice bar, while seafood is freshly caught in the nearby waters of the Sulu Sea. An artesian well sinking 500 feet below the powdery sand is a naturally replenishing reservoir of spring water, synced with the gravity of the ocean tides. Meanwhile, the resort’s foundation, Aquos, protects the island’s native species, including the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle and indigenous Tabon bird.
But this is no deserted island by any means: There’s scuba and snorkeling, catamaran sailing, SeaDoo-ing, and SUP-ing. On island, there’s also a short-game golf course and a driving tee off the jetty with a floating target green (no worries about losing one of the balls to the azure water, since they’re biodegradable and made of fish food). Additional leisure and fitness facilities include a yoga and Pilates studio, a gym, tennis courts, and a soccer pitch. Yoga on the beach is always an option, as are treatments in the massage suite. And the fact that there are only two ways off the island is another bonus. Because we’re pretty sure once you’re there, you’ll never want to leave.