Most of us dream at some time or another of being cast away on a paradise island. Only the richest among us can afford to buy our own, but we can rent a private island in almost any part of the world, at a price ranging from A-lister highs down to budget backpacker lows. And islands aren't just for drinking cocktails on the beach. Some of them offer plenty of activity – surfing, kayaking, diving and other water sports, as well as bird and animal watching. Here's a selection of islands for rent.
Musha Cay, in the Bahamas, offers elegant accommodation for 24, so if you want an exclusive holiday for your and your guests alone, this could be your dream destination. Prices range from about £12,000 per night, all inclusive.
Wilson Island, Australia, is a coral island on the Great Barrier Reef, where turtles nest on castor-sugar white sands and humpback whales visit from June to October. Accommodation is in six designer tents overlooking the sea. Prices range from about £900 for room only for five nights.
Guana Island, one of the British Virgin Islands, is a haven for many endangered wildlife species. You can rent a cottage that sleeps two for £300 per day upwards, depending on the season, or the entire island from £6,000 per day.
Little Whale Cay
Little Whale Cay, in the Berry Islands, in the heart of the Bahamas, is a lovers' paradise, with its setting of palm-fringed beaches and subtropical gardens, beautiful clean seas and the ever-present sun. There's a six-bedroom house for rent – and a church at the water's edge, ideal for weddings or the renewal of vows. Island rental for groups of up to 12 people (minimum stay of one week) from £25,000.
Alphonse Island, in the Seychelles, is a just an hour away by air from Mahé. It's a stunningly beautiful atoll, where guests can revel in some of the best fly and deep-sea fishing, diving and bird-watching in the whole region. From £200 per person per night full board.
Bounty Island is one of several low-budget private island resorts in Fiji, offering accommodation in a 20-bed dormitory or a beachfront bure (traditional-style bungalow) on the beach. A heaven for holidaymakers, Bounty Island is also a haven for budget tourists. Prices are as low as £12.50 per night in a dorm or £79 per night for two in a bure. Meals are extra, but can be bought for £13 per person per day.
Isles of Scilly
Closer to home, there's Tresco Island, in the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, where the balmy climate encourages date palms, tree ferns, cacti, lilies and other subtropical plants to grow in profusion. There's a hotel and a few scattered cottages built traditionally years ago of granite and slate. There are no cars on the island, but you can explore to your heart's content by hiring bicycles. For a cottage, reckon on £800-£2,200 per week.
Trinity Island, Killeshandra, Co. Cavan, Ireland, is on the Lough Oughter Lakes. There's a three-bedroom lodge there, set at the edge of a lack, amid 60 hectares of private woodland. Active holidaymakers can take the island's private boat out on the lake or visit the nearby mainland for horse-riding, freshwater fishing, canoeing, nature walks and bird watching. You can rent the entire island for a weekend for about £400.
Casa de los Musicos in the Canaries
Casa de los Musicos in the Canaries, has hosted a number of famous people seeking seclusion and calm, such as Leonard Bernstein. Sun, sand dunes, glorious sea and vegetation like a Garden of Eden. Rental of the entire estate, half-board (maximum 16 guests), will set you back about £6,000 for one week.
Château de Bagnols
A 13th-century French castle? You'll find it on the island of Château de Bagnols, 25 km north of Lyon, set among vineyards, forests and green hills in the heart of Beaujolais country. The castle and adjoining building have 21 bedrooms, eight of which are suites. The Wine Trail passes through nearby villages. Activities in the district include horse-riding, golf, tennis and ballooning. Rates vary according to season and category of room, from £300 to £800 per night per room.