The Prettiest Places Off the Grid
Remote islands, country resorts, and other disconnected destinations will force you to relax
Laucala Island, Fiji
Following a change of ownership, the private island resort has been revamped to make it more secluded. There are 25 thatched villas (laucala.com; starting at $4,600 for two per night, all-inclusive) scattered among coconut plantations and deserted beaches—80 percent of the island is undeveloped. The resort, on the northern coast, has a pampering staff-to-guest ratio of 5 to 1. To get there, fly in the property’s private plane from Nadi airport ($600).
Fill the time: Take a ride in the resort’s DeepFlight Super Falcon mini submarine, which dives 500 feet deep, using “wings” to fly through the water like a sea creature. (It’s safe.) Back on land, visit one of the few traditional villages left in Fiji, where you can try arts and crafts such as weaving, carving, and Masi art. (All activities are included in the resort fee.)
About two hours north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the River’s End Restaurant & Inn (ilovesunsets.com; starting at $239 per night) is perched on a bluff overlooking the Russian River where it enters the Pacific Ocean. The adults-only cabins—originally built in 1927 for loggers—have no cell service, Wi-Fi, or cable. A fireplace and private deck provide all the entertainment you’ll need.
Fill the time: Drive about 15 minutes south to sip pinot noir ($15) at the Fort Ross Vineyard Tasting Room. Or take a 25-minute trip to stroll through Armstrong Redwoods State Park.
Lizard Island, Australia
Reopening this March after a $50 million renovation following last year’s devastating Cyclone Ita, Lizard Island (lizardisland.com.au; starting at $1,015 per night for two, all-inclusive) is one of few resorts adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Accessible only by light aircraft, the island has 24 untouched white sand beaches, a maximum capacity of 80 guests, and limited cell reception and Internet access. Fly into Cairns from any major Australian city and take a 60-minute private plane ($630 per person) to the isle.
Fill the time: Dive and snorkel in the reef directly offshore, or take an hour boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef (snorkeling from $137). Ask the staff to pack a free picnic of king prawns, heirloom tomato salad, and local sauvignon blanc to take on a private dinghy to a secluded beach.
Anderson Cooper and Matthew McConaughey have both escaped to this fishing village in southern Bahia. Fly into Porto Seguro, then take a 45-minute jeep ride through beachy jungle to arrive at Trancoso’s main square, surrounded by colorful wooden casas. Four of these low-rise fisherman’s houses belong to the UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa (uxua.com; starting at $418 per night); the resort owns seven other villas, hidden in a lush private garden. The whole place gives off a bohemian vibe that’s been likened to Saint-Tropez in the 1950s.
Fill the time: Lounge in the hotel’s dazzling swimming pool, lined with 45,000 green aventurine quartz crystals that locals say have healing powers. The beach club—with its delicious caipirinha cocktails—is a short walk away. Take capoeira lessons ($35), rent a sea kayak ($70), or play pickup beach volleyball with the locals.
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
This private barrier island can be reached only by a 15-minute ferry ride down the Hampton River. You’ll land at the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, which has 32 cottages without telephones and TVs (littlestsimonsisland.com; starting at $450 per night for two, all-inclusive). Take in glistening marshes and 7 miles of undisturbed beaches, or just relax with a book beneath mossy oaks.
Fill the time: Swim in the mild surf, fish from the dock, or seine for shrimp and crab. The resort, which is on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway, is ideal for birders. Sign up for a complimentary expedition to see a bald eagle or one of 280 other species that pass by.
Nayara Springs, Costa Rica
Fly into San José and take a three-hour car ride ($304) to Nayara Springs (nayarasprings.com; starting at $590 for two, includes breakfast). To check in, you have to cross a footbridge over a stream, a prime spot to catch a glimpse of toucans and hummingbirds. Each open-air jungle villa has its own garden and a plunge pool fed by mineral hot springs. The only thing you’ll see out the window is rain forest and the looming, active Arenal volcano.
Fill the time: Book a three-night digital detox package ($2,089 for two) and agree to leave your phone, tablet, and laptop in a safe during your stay. You’ll be scheduled for yoga in the morning, meditation classes, and couples’ spa treatments.
Fly into Durango or Telluride and drive two hours to Dunton River Camp (duntonrivercamp.com; starting at $1,400 per night for two, all-inclusive). As soon as you’re 20 minutes from Dunton, cell service drops off. The former cattle ranch from the late 1800s sits on 500 acres of fields and forests. The accommodations, eight luxury tents, are only 20 feet from the rolling Dolores River.
Fill the time: Go horseback riding ($190 for one hour), or take complimentary mountain bikes on trails through the Rockies. Reward yourself for exercising with a free soak at the secluded Dunton Hot Springs, 4 miles away.
(Corrects the ultimate depth of the DeepFlight Super Falcon mini submarine in the second paragraph.)