Sometimes, the idea of having to fight off the hordes at Bondi or St Kilda for a bit of towel space on the sand doesn't seem all that appealing. Oh, to be able to stretch out on the sand and not see another human being…
Well, this isn't quite the fanciful pipe dream you might think it is. Around the world, there are a fair few beaches that you can have all to yourself. The only snag? You might have to invest a fair bit of time and more than a fair bit of money to get to them. Here are six of the best.
Vomo Lai Lai, Fiji
In terms of privacy, Vomo Island in Fiji's Mamanucas chain doesn't do all that badly for itself. It's a private island resort containing 28 villas and two private residences, existing purely for the benefit of pampered guests. To get there, you need to hop in a seaplane or helicopter from Nadi International Airport.
The whole thing can be booked out for weddings and special occasions, but if that still feels too plebbily crowded, there's the option of decamping to Vomo Lai Lai.
A separate, tiny islet just far enough away to avoid prying eyes (but close enough to be in radio contact), Vomo Lai Lai can be reserved for the day in order to live out those Robinson Crusoe fantasies. There's tremendous snorkelling, a daybed platform set into the rockface and – ta da – a heart-melting white sand beach to kick back on.
Garden villas at Vomo Island cost from $FJ1105 ($684) per night. See vomofiji.com.
Motu Tapu, Bora Bora
The Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort is somewhat greedy in that it already occupies a rather lovely, lagoon-surrounded island. But there are 122 suites and villas in total, which is frankly far too busy for sociopaths wanting to escape absolutely everyone in French Polynesia. Best, therefore, to set your eyes on Motu Tapu, the tiny islet also belonging to the resort, just offshore.
Get the booking in early if you want to splash silly money on the five minute boat ride out there, with a private just-for-two dining experience on the beach at the other end. Unfortunately for anyone thinking of getting frisky, you'll still have waiters buzzing around. But, hey, it's your own beach for a couple of hours if you can ignore the people collecting plates.
Dinner costs 60,500 Pacific francs ($735) and accommodation at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui will set you back 40,000 Pacific francs ($486).
Vlasoff Cay, Queensland
It is, of course, possible to get some private beach action without heading to the Pacific Islands. The Great Barrier Reef has dozens of tiny specks on the map that are usually only accessible to chartered yachts.
The great exception is Vlasoff Cay, which is half an hour off the coast of Cairns by helicopter (albeit via a somewhat meandering route that takes in plenty of photogenic reef). Because the snorkelling cruises and dive boats are happily occupied elsewhere, those taking a private chopper ride to Vlasoff get the little sandy hump in the sea to themselves. Viator offers such a helicopter tour, allowing for two hours of rifling through a gourmet picnic hamper on the cay, before returning to Cairns. The trip costs from $351 per person.
Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
Despite the bizarre juxtaposition of an African safari-style luxury tent on a tiddly Thai island, the Private Beach Lodge on the southern pinky finger of Koh Yao Noi does a nice line in privacy. It's an offshoot of the Ko Yao Island Resort, which can be reached via boat transfer.
It has seven acres of land to itself, much of it occupied by palm trees or rice fields, but it's the 200m of beach that counts. The only other people likely to see it are the personal hosts who'll come scurrying to provide things at guests' beck and call. And if you want them to make you a packed lunch that you can sit and eat while enjoying your own beach, so be it.
The lodge, designed for two people max, costs from 6460 baht ($236). See koyao.com.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
For a private beach on the cheap, get a little bit creative in one of New Zealand's most visited spots. The Bay of Islands is hardly undiscovered, but the crucial thing to bear in mind is that there are 144 islands to choose from and everybody goes to the same ones. Almost all of the day and half-day cruises, for example, stop at Urupukapuka Island.
If going on one of these cruises, the secret is to not bring anything you mind getting wet. Then, when the boat pulls in at Otehei Bay, you can walk round the island and simply swim out to one of the others. Round Island is an absolute doddle to get to and, in the unlikely event that someone's followed you there, it's another easy hop east to Te Ao. Don't expect glorious white sand, but everyone else will still be on Urupukapuka, worried about losing their smartphone to the salt water.
Fullers runs day-long Bay of Islands cruises that stop at Urupukapuka for $NZ125 ($115). See dolphincruises.co.nz.
Spruce Island, Maine
If you've developed a (ludicrously expensive) taste for such private beach adventures, there's a dedicated site for people who are prepared to splash out on sandy exclusivity. Privateislandsonline.com rents out all manner of sea-surrounded hideaways, ranging from huts that are little more than glorified buoys in Sweden to ultra-plush butler-serviced tropical retreats. The surprising thing is that some of them are relatively cheap to hire. Take Spruce Island, just off the coast of Maine in the US, which sells for between $US500 and $US1500 ($600 to $1800) a night. For that you get two houses adorned with fireplaces (which you might need after going for a somewhat chilly swim from the tiny beachlets). There are also wild deer and bald eagles to share the island with.