Editors' Picks

Banwa Private Island

Fantasy island, remote, ultra-luxury

Puerco Island, Roxas, 5308 Palawan, Philippines

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Indagare Adored

At a Glance

There’s no question that Banwa, an ultra-luxurious take-over-only property, is spectacular. Six gorgeous beachfront villas, each with an infinity pool and comprising one, two and four bedrooms (housing up to 22 guests total), make up the main accommodations. But Banwa’s most luxurious feature may well be its remoteness. Set in Palawan, known as the Philippines’ ecological frontier, the island is ringed by soft, white sand and visited by virtually no one. It’s rare to spot even a passing fishing boat, as the waters around the island are a protected reserve. Few places in the world can claim this level of privacy matched with this level of accommodation. Searching for the ultimate location for a birthday blowout, family reunion, bachelor or bachelorette party or house-party getaway? Look to Banwa.

**The Standout: **The resort's regrown house reef, natural shark nursery and hawksbill turtles, the result of the Aquos Foundation's efforts to preserve threatened species on and around Banwa and the Tumarbong Protected Area **Don't Miss:**A dip in the natural basin above Disay Falls, the cascading waterfalls from Mount Ilian, Palawan's highest peak

Indagare Loves

  • Six stylish beachfront villas with private infinity pools
  • The Aquos Foundation's efforts to protect fragile ecosystems
  • Two-to-one service, or better thanks to the 90-plus staff


Banwa made a splash in the spring of 2019 when it declared itself the most expensive hotel in the world, at a whopping price tag of $100,000 per night. For a remote island resort in the Philippines, that seemed like a hard sell. Surprisingly, it’s not an unwarranted price tag, once you factor in that 22 percent goes towards taxes and service charge, and you and up to 47 guests get to indulge in the resort’s impressive all-inclusive facilities and services. To be clear: this property is still firmly planted in the wheelhouse of billionaires, but it’s meant to be beyond the reach of the average luxury traveler. For one thing, this is a take-over only property, and Banwa requires a three-night minimum. By the time you factor in flights, it's easily a half-million dollar weekend holiday. But, as the British owner who builds luxury yachts knows, there is a market for this: birthday blowouts, multi-generational family reunions, bachelor or bachelorette parties, Crazy Rich Asian-style—think of it as Necker Island, only a lot farther away and more exclusive.

In fact, Banwa’s remoteness is perhaps its most luxurious feature. Set in a particularly empty stretch of Palawan, known as the Philippines’ ecological frontier, this 15-acre island is ringed by soft white sand and surrounded by virtually no one. There are fishing communities on nearby islands, but from any point of Banwa’s beach, it’s rare to spot even a passing fishing boat, as the waters around the island are a protected reserve. Few places in the world can boast this level of privacy. The resort itself is spectacular. Six beautifully designed beachfront villas, each with an infinity pool and comprised of one, two and four bedrooms, make up the main accommodations. If everyone in the group needs similarly luxurious rooms, then you would do well to only have a party of 22 people to accommodate the villas. Otherwise, there is a small building inland with 12 garden rooms and one suite that can take up to 26 additional guests, bringing the maximum guest capacity to 48 people. The garden rooms are often referred to as rooms for “the entourage” or staff, or conceivably for unfussy family members or friends who don’t mind basic and unremarkable rooms.

The island has a restaurant with an open kitchen setup, which stocks fine dining standards like wagyu beef and Chilean sea bass. Some of the produce is sourced from the island’s organic garden, though most of it comes from nearby communities with organic farms that Banwa supports. The bar serves top-shelf liquor, and since the island is entirely yours, parties and cocktails can be set up on any scenic point on the island, such as a sandy coconut grove or on the breezy jetty. Other resort facilities include a massage suite, gym, Pilates studio, tennis court, soccer pitch, nine-hole short-game golf course, a dive shop and marine sports center. Booking Banwa also means full use of the resort’s four boats, which include a catamaran and RIB boat. While there’s a lot to do on the island, it’s worth heading out to explore Palawan’s rich ecosystem.

Barbacan River, a one-hour boat ride away, has mangrove forests reminiscent of the Amazon. At dusk, tens of thousands of fruit bats emerge from a cave in an uninhabited island, forming a flickering dark canopy overhead. Palawan’s more famous sights, the staggering limestone karst cliffs of El Nido and the cavernous Underground River in Puerto Princesa, are a 30- to 45-minute helicopter flight away. The world’s best dive site, Tubattaha Reef, is four hours away by boat. Banwa comes from the local word tagbanwa which means from or of the community. In keeping with the spirit of its name, the resort works hand-in-hand with the Aquos Foundation, which the owner of Banwa developed to support the local community and conserve the surrounding environment. The foundation maintains a honey bee colony and hawksbill turtle nesting site, as well as a habitat for native and migratory birds, including the elusive and little-researched Tabon bird.

Who Should Stay

If the $100,000 per night price tag doesn’t scare you, then Banwa ranks up there as the ideal blowout holiday with family and friends, provided you’ll also foot the bill for jetting them over to a remote, and truly private island.

Getting There

There’s no bypassing the capital city of Manila, but from there, you have several options: fly directly to Banwa island by seaplane (one hour and 50 minutes) or helicopter (two hours 15 minutes). For a larger group traveling together, the best option is to fly to San Vicente airport, a 45-minute drive from the nearest dock, where Banwa’s boat picks up for the 15-minute transfer to the island.

Written by Indagare

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