Less than three short miles off the coast of the Lower Florida Keys sits America’s “only private island resort,” Little Palm Island & Spa, a destination so calming and captivating in both its design and ethos that you’re left with no other choice than to do as they suggest: Get Lost.
There are no phones. No TVs. Only a handful of guests at any given time and tiny, white-tailed Key Deer so mesmerized by the four-acre archipelago that they swim here daily just to graze on mangrove trees and thatch palm berries.
The Noble House Hotel & Resorts managed property is accessible by seaplane—or by boat—and getting there is all part of the adventure. Their very own antique motor yacht, The Truman, will even deliver you dock to door from their Shore Club in under 15 minutes with a ‘Gumby Slumber’ rum punch in hand.
Once on the island, you’ll be escorted to one of their dreamy, thatched-roof bungalow suites that seamlessly blend British West Indies influences with rattan, crystal, and mahogany details. There are vintage typewriters that conjure images of fellow Keys lover Ernest Hemingway typing away and sandy inlets with the only form of seating paradise require: a hammock.
While there are four room categories to choose from, the newly-renovated Island Romance Suites have a leg up on the competition with copper soaking tubs and couples loungers on their private sundecks. They also feature outdoor showers and sumptuous four-poster beds cocooned by curtains.
LPI is just as revered for its world-class cuisine as it is for its location. Whether you’re dining in the main restaurant, with your toes in the sand at a candlelit table on the beach, or poolside at the Palapa Bar, you’re in for one incredible meal after another—and probably a few plates of tuna poke nachos because they are indeed worth ordering again and again.
Executive Chef Brendan Mica has a knack for composing beautiful plates with the freshest catch of the day and in-season ingredients, from mahi mahi ceviche with yuca chips to Caribbean lobster tails with piquillo peppers and smashed fingerlings. Even though the menu changes daily, the “Floribbean-Keys” flavors remain the same.
For a change of scenery, grab a bamboo barstool at the Monkey Hut for tiki drinks and spectacular sunsets. The entire staff is discreet and welcoming, but the bartenders will be your best friends by the end of the trip.
SpaTerre, the resort’s two-story, Balinese-inspired spa is another highlight for a Biologique Recherche facial or Thai body ritual. However, their most extraordinary treatment would have to be the Madrugada—a sunrise water massage involving grounding techniques, seashells, and an overwater treatment table.
Location: Little Torch Key, Florida
The vibe: A private island resort in the Florida Keys that could easily pass as a Caribbean hideaway thanks to its exotic vegetation, turquoise waters, and British West Indies aesthetic that permeates every well-designed space.
Amenities: Motor yacht transfers, a full-service spa and fitness center, Great Room (with the only TV on the island), pool, beach, and 24-hour concierge, plus complimentary use of paddle boards, kayaks, Hobie Cats, and Boston Whalers.
Food & Drink: The Dining Room at Little Palm Island, Palapa Bar, and Monkey Hut as well as in-room and private dining.
Our favorite part of the hotel: The privacy factor. Little Palm Island has been a storied escape for the elite since the ‘80s—President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess used to fish here and celebs like Cameron Diaz, Blake Shelton, and Lil Wayne have all stayed—but each bungalow feels hidden, tucked away, and only reachable from a seashell-crushed path shrouded by coconut palm trees and orchids.
Any neighborhood recs? Given that “the neighborhood” is technically underwater, we recommend snorkeling and scuba diving around the world’s 3rd largest barrier reef, Looe Key Reef, trying your hand at spearfishing, or opting for backcountry flats fishing where you can meander through the mangroves and post up on a sandbar when you’re not in search of the “Big 3” (harpoon, permit, and bonefish).
What’s nearby? If you want to take advantage of all the Keys has to offer, there are several off-island excursions available, from wakeboarding at Keys Cable Park (North America’s only saltwater cable park) and birdwatching at the Great White Heron Sanctuary to exploring one of the country’s most treasured national parks, the Dry Tortugas. And whatever you do, don’t head home without visiting Hogfish Bar & Grille in Stock Island. This locals-loved spot is on the way to the airport and famous for its fried fish sandwiches, peel-and-eat Key West shrimp, and delicious conch ceviche.
Rooms: 30 oceanfront bungalow suites
Pricing: Rooms start at $3,190/night
Closest Airport: Key West International Airport. From there it’s a 40-minute Uber ride to Mile Marker 28.5, where LPI’s Shore Station and motor yacht await, for a 20-minute boat ride to the island. You can also charter a seaplane with Tropic Ocean Airways, from mainland airports in Florida and the Bahamas.
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