At 1,800 acres, Peter Island, just five miles from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, is the big daddy of our list. And, in this case, size does matter: Despite hosting more than 100 guests at a time along with boatloads of day trippers, "it's just big enough that you can carve out your own area," says Thomas Kohnstamm of Lonely Planet. One reason this was our critics' top pick: the brand-new 10,000-square-foot spa with its own pool. Other amenities include tennis courts, mountain bikes, and a fleet of sailboats.
For more information: Peter Island
With just 22 stone cottages scattered across 113 acres -- and the bespoke flag communication system -- Petit St. Vincent promises a complete removal from the outside world (nary a TV or phone in sight). "You're basically paying to be left alone here," said Doug Stallings of Fodor's. Our panel, who rated this second along with Jumby Bay, repeatedly cited the lack of pretension and attitude at the resort, which was designed and built nearly 40 years ago by a husband and wife who still live on site.
For more information: Petit St. Vincent
Since 2002, luxury chain Rosewood has managed the 50 suites and villas -- including 11 with their own plunge pools -- of this 300-acre island, which tied with Petit St. Vincent for second place. Because it's just seven minutes by boat from mainland Antigua, the resort feels less remote than other picks on our list. According to Terry McCabe of Altour, Jumby Bay is ideal for those "who want to be away but still want the ability to turn on CNN." With no minimum-age requirement (unusual for private islands) and a well-run nanny program, it's also ideal for families.
For more information: Jumby Bay Resort
If you and your 14 closest friends are good for $30,000 a night, this 45-acre island in the British Virgin Islands is all yours. "This is the island that everyone aspires to," says Doug Stallings of Fodor's, citing one reason that Necker, owned by Richard Branson, ranked third on our list. Two weeks a year, the island rents out its lavish Balinese lodging to individual couples (for a tidy $22,000 per couple per week); otherwise, the island is only available to groups.
For more information: Necker Island
Although just 135 acres, this island in the Grenadines has five private beaches and 37 guest rooms that were remodeled in 2000. The Tobago Cays National Marine Park, which offers some of the best diving in the Caribbean, is a quick boat ride away. Part of the allure of this speck of an island, which earned the fourth spot on our list, is undoubtedly its best-kept-secret status: According to Thomas Kohnstamm of Lonely Planet, "Even people who have heard of the Grenadine Islands still haven't heard of Palm Island."
For more information: Palm Island
"This place gets movie stars," says Doug Stallings of Fodor's. Indeed, Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld and Raquel Welch have all vacationed at this 60-room resort styled in white with chic teak accents. Bruce Willis even owns a compound here. A Como Resort property, with tastemaker Christina Ong at the design helm, the property recently doubled its spa in size and has been winning awards for its yoga classes.
For more information: Parrot Cay
Johnny Depp and his crew bedded down here while filming Pirates of the Caribbean, squarely placing this 35-acre island on the map. But its fine sand beach, which earned high marks from our panel, was already considered the prettiest in the Grenadines. Thirty cottages are tucked into lush hillsides of hibiscus, ferns and flamboyant tree. And the island strikes an ideal balance between isolation and accessibility, according to Kay Showker, author of 100 Best Resorts of the Caribbean: "It's only 1,000 feet off the coast, but it's really all by itself."
For more information: Young Island
Guana Island likes to cite its stats: 850 acres, 36 guests, seven beaches. Yet the beauty of this island off the coast of Tortola is less quantifiable: It's a designated wildlife sanctuary with mountain trails and a range of endangered species. The ideal guest here, says Janet Groene, author of Personal Paradise: Caribbean, is an adventurous soul: "It's for those whose idea of luxury is a place where you can wake up with the birds and fall asleep to a frog serenade."
Similar to Parrot Cay in size (800 acres) and location (a 25-minute boat), Meridian Club strikes an entirely different tone -- "less intense and celebrity-driven," says Doug Stallings of Fodor's. "You won't find as many movers and shakers here." What you will find at this resort, which earned seventh place on our list, are just 12 guest rooms and two miles of white sand.
For more information: The Meridian Club on Pine Cay
Even before David Copperfield bought this island in July, this resort was considered "the top of the food chain," according to Terry McCabe of Altour. Renting out only to single parties of 20 guests for $325,000 a week (that works out to about $100 an hour -- per person), the property has five guesthouses the size of small mansions. The 35-person staff fulfills every whim, from arranging special music performances to putting on beachfront fireworks displays.
For more information: Musha Cay