7 islands you can rent like a rock star
When they’re not crafting ridiculous riders, like David Lee Roth’s infamous “no brown M&Ms” or Iggy Pop’s request for “seven dwarfs and pre-chopped broccoli florets”, the rock stars of the world love to bunker down on freakishly beautiful islands. Enter Beyoncé and the Bahamas.
Queensland has long harboured some of the world’s A-listers (in his peak Elton John bolted to Bedarra while Taylor Swift shook it up on Hamilton Island last year), who choose to rent their own no-one-can-see-me piece of paradise that comes with exclusive-use only. That means gates closed, no tourists, no paparazzi, and indeed, sometimes no mobile contact.
The reality is, Queensland’s island stunners are not just for music royalty. If you’ve got the cash, we’ve got seven island resorts you can rent like a rock star.
You may need to rob a bank – or marry James Packer – to hire this island lodge exclusively, but believe me this 14-room luxury stopover just 30 dazzling minutes by chopper north of Townsville is worth the jail time.
It’s blessed with an impossibly perfect beach, a giant clam garden packed with hundreds of ruffled Chinchilla-lipped clams, exquisite stomach blowouts that may or may not happen on a pier under a million stars, and dribble-worthy spa treatments.
Could this be the place where former guest Phil Collins penned his hit song, “One More Night. Give me one more night?”
What’s the damage? Book the whole shebang for $25,000 a night, minimum three nights, for you and your 27 besties and you get non-stop gourmet meals, the finest Australian wine and beer, and a daily Orpheus experience that will have you exploring. Or not.
Paradise Bay Island Resort
The name says it all, really! The only way in – for the 18 privileged few – is by a hellishly beautiful chopper ride across the Whitsunday Passage.
There, between the rainforest and the azure waters, cuddling up to a romantic spot, is everything you need; a private skipper to circumnavigate the island, a masseuse by the infinity pool, and a personal chef to create whatever Sir or Madam wants.
What’s the damage? Normally around $1,800 for two people per night, the whole island resort can be yours – and your 17 besties – for a nudge over $16,000 a night. Ooh. Ahhh!
Why splash out $1,800 on one room at Paradise Bay when you can have the whole kit and kaboodle for not much more? We’re talking $2,730 bucks if you’re prepared to trade a piece of Paradise for a Pumpkin.
Located off the coast of Yeppoon just near the Keppel Group of Islands, doing nothing is the preferred activity here — particularly if it’s from a hammock looking at the Tiffany-blue sea.
Still, Pumpkin Island does have some drawbacks: the seven eco-friendly units comes sans cook and housekeeper so it’s up to you to sweat the scullery. On a positive note, Cinderella scored her ‘happily ever after’ when she got into the kitchen and took a chance on a pumpkin. Why not you?
What’s the damage? $2,730 per night for a big band of 34 people. Now that’s what we call value.
We’ve already hinted at how much Elton John loved this rainforest gem, so we have to mention Fergie. Not the rock star – the (former) royal. In the 1990s, well before Bedarra Island Resort reinvented itself as the sanctuary for barefoot luxury, the Duchess of York called this jewel an “extraordinary hideaway”.
These days, the Great Barrier Reef haven – located off the coast of Mission Beach between Cairns and Townsville – is available for anyone to book.
What’s the damage? Exclusive use starts from $13,530 a night for ‘everything’. That includes nine stunning villas, exquisite food and wine for you and your 17 closest friends. Oh, and unlimited Jacquart Champagne. Cheers to that!
Richard Branson does celebrity like most people do the dishes: daily. He unearthed the Sex Pistols, signed up Mike Oldfield and was the brainchild behind Culture Club. So when Sir Richard buys an island resort – shaped like a heart, no less, in a fairytale location at the Sunshine Coast – you know it’s going to rocket right past the toughest rock-star rider.
Makepeace Island comes with three luxurious villas, each with two mega bedrooms and a deep carved volcanic boulder bathtub. There’s also a breathtaking four-bedroom home that we suspect is Dicky’s own. Between supping on designer meals (all included), guests can take to the lagoon swimming pool, go kayaking or make bubbles in the 15-person hot tub.
What’s the damage? $585 per person per night PLUS a sole-use surcharge of $3250 per night. By my calculations that’s $4775 a night for a cosy two – or $14,750 for an entourage with the maximum 20 guests.
There are no gold taps and marble toilet seats on Castaway Island – that would be silly on the eco-friendly long-drop loos found here – so bets are off that Dr Dre or Jay Z will ever make it on this guest list.
But we like to think Castaway Island is for rockers on the rise. All you have to do is swap your five-star beach butler for a camp – yes, I repeat C.A.M.P. – supervisor and you too can have a Queensland island for some loose coin.
Just like the other big guns of paradise, Castaway comes with a scenic flight (from the Town of 1770) and your own private island. Including, err, a tent, a mattress, solar lights, USB power, camp kitchen, Eskies and a toilet. There’s no Wilson here (unless you BYO), but the camp does offer kayak and tractor-tube rides, snorkelling and caving.
Oh, we almost forgot, you have to do your own cooking and catering. We did say it was for rockers on the rise!
What’s the damage? $3340 for three days, two nights and up to 14 in your entourage.
Anna Turner first anchored off Haggerstone Island at the age of 18 while looking for treasure with her film-maker dad. But it took another decade or so for her to return to carve out a life for her now grown-up family and a few lucky guests.
According to Anna, Haggerstone Island (located so far up the east coast of Australia that the nearest town, Lockhart River, is still a 40-minute flight away), is the “best place to shake the world out of people“.
In keeping with any rock star vacay, this one comes with a 45-foot jet boat, a skipper (Anna’s hubby, Roy or son, Sam) and a mission to take you wherever you please: mainland waterfalls, the Sir Charles Hardy Islands, or spearfishing the nearby reefs.
You won’t go hungry. Roy is adept at cooking and his signature dish is a toss between lobster ravioli, caught fresh and adapted from a Nobu recipe, and coral trout with curry leaves.
What’s the damage? For just a touch under $7000 a night (minimum four nights) this is the prime spot for you and 11 guests to go all Swiss Family Robinson.