Taking its name from the Sanskrit word for peace, Aman, and Pulo, which is Tagalog for island, Amanpulo in the Philipinnes remains one of the world’s greatest island escapes.
Though the journey there requires a night in Manila and then a flight on a turboprop, the latter is much nicer than the Twin Otter you must take in the Maldives. Plus you land on Amanpulo’s private runway and not the sea. Furnished with wicker seats, coconut-shell tables, pebble-washed walls and beds with rattan headboards, the casitas are modelled after indigenous bahay kubo dwellings and they’re unpretentiously delightful. There are only 42 casitas (villas) here, which helps create the sensation the island’s exclusively your own. And what a place it is. With the whitest, softest sand you’ll ever see, and roughly 360 staff for just 80 guests. The hotel offers two complimentary boat trips a day for snorkeling, and you can take out any of the non-motorized watersports equipment at will, so make the most of the katamarans, windsurfs, paddleboards and kayaks. Amanpulo is located in the Palawan archipelago, which is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s also home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites, including a must-see 8km underground river. Everything is local from the seafood to the staff (who come from the neighbouring island of Manamoc) to the herbs, vegetables and fruit (grown in the island’s organic garden). Even the spa uses locally-harvested coconut oil.