5 Castaway Vacations on Almost-Desert Islands

If your life often feels like it's moving at near-breakneck speed, you probably consider your vacations as opportunities to disconnect (often, literally), decompress, and slow down. Way down. And what better way to do that than with a so-called "castaway vacation" -- a getaway to a deserted island, where even the small handful of tourists outnumber the nearly nonexistent island population. Check out five of our favorite secluded getaways, then make like a desert islander and escape to one of the world's most remote tropical islands. 

1. Palawan Island Province, Philippines

The Pool at the El Nido Resorts Apulit Island

Palawan Island Province, located west of the Filipino mainland, is home to 1,780 islands and nearly 1,200 miles of isolated, tropical shoreline. Of those islands, Apulit Island (population: zero!) stands out as one of our favorites: it's breathtaking from the very first moment of spying it on the boat ride in. As stunning as it is remote, Apulit is a paradise of pristine beaches, towering limestone cliffs, tropical vegetation, and water so clear, you can count the grains of sand on the ocean floor. Between dining on delicious Filipino delicacies, spend your mornings in the hammock and your afternoons in sea kayaks. 

Where to Stay: 

2. Water Island, U.S. Virgin Islands

Beach at the Virgin Islands Campground

It doesn't get much closer to deserted than Water Island, the newest main island addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands. This tiny spit of sand measures just 500 acres and has only 160 inhabitants; what's more, there are no resorts, no stores, and no public transportation. Water Island is secluded; Water Island is rustic; Water Island is a 21st-century deserted island paradise. Given its remote location and sparse services, your choice of hotel-like accommodations is limited to the Virgin Islands Campground, an eco-sensitive property with cozy cottages, just a short walk to the beach. 

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3. Cat Island, Bahamas

Beach at Shannas Cove Resort

Cat Island (130 miles southeast of Nassau) is known for its gorgeous, secluded beaches as much of the island is not developed. It’s not uncommon to come across miles of white sand with no one around -- no boats, docks, or jet skis. Which may come as no surprise, considering it's 48 miles long and has a population of only 1,300 people. The island is lush, hilly, and incredibly scenic with a generous and friendly culture. It's very safe, and guests enjoy the laid-back, slow pace of local life. 

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4. Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands

Beach at the Cooper Island Beach Club

Often overshadowed by its big siblings, the British Virgin Island of Cooper Island (population: zilch) is remotely located about six miles southwest of Tortola, between Norman Island and Virgin Gorda. If you don't arrive by cruise ship, you'll have to hop a 30-minute ferry ride to this secluded spot, where silky beaches and aquamarine waters are the main attraction. We're particular to the Cooper Island Beach Club, an eco-friendly resort -- the only accommodation on this tropical island paradise, by the way -- with an on-site rum bar, dive shop, and acclaimed restaurant. 

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5. Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Beach at the W Retreat & Spa - Vieques Island

Located just off mainland Puerto Rico, remote Vieques (population: 9,350) is a tropical retreat of untouched beaches, wild horses, white sands, and idyllic coves, including Mosquito Bay, the world's most spectacular bioluminescent bay. You'll love the island's ruggedness -- many roads are unpaved, and there's not a single traffic light on the entire island. What there is, is a touch of luxury, including our pick: The W Retreat & Spa, with two private beaches (include one for adults only) and a gorgeous spa. 

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