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Robinson Crusoe Chic Hideaways

The ultimate in barefoot luxury has to be a Private Island or Coastal Retreat where the essence of “barefoot living” is mixed with perfect comfort, service and style. The oft-used image of miles of white-sand beach with just “you” leaving a pathway of footprints etched into the damp sand at the water’s edge may be slightly hackneyed but, in real life, it is a perfect antidote to the mad, rushed, “real” world. It is attainable!

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Often situated on a private island, with structures that may not even have proper windows or doors, chic Robinson Crusoe style is absolutely possible rather than just being a hedonist’s dream. Here there are wide open spaces where one can lazily contemplate the ocean or just daydream from your bed, a hammock or perhaps an Arab daybed.

Such places will often feature a very few cottage rooms that are utterly private and often thatched, with the whole being constructed from fully renewable local resources such as palm matting or bamboo poling. In fact the eco-friendly essence of such places is part of the whole as one relaxes into a lifestyle that may mirror “castaway” in feel but is actually the height of discrete luxury.

One will eat excellent, but simple, meals that may reflect Mediterranean influences and are usually based on the local catch of the day - perhaps your own! - and served at a time and place to suit each guest. Here one can snorkel, scuba dive, swim, fish, sail or just relax to one’s heart’s content, with a hearty helping of some of the finest service available. Robinson Crusoe would have been green with envy!

Despite the somewhat rustic nature that is the main raison d’être of such places, they are often fabulously stylish and well designed. Curtains made from local fabrics, furniture created from reclaimed woods, curves instead of straight lines, the weaving of sculpture into the design of each room, bathrooms that are wonderfully functional and yet have sand floors and cast-off or reclaimed fittings, simple and stylish glassware, paraffin lanterns instead of electricity, a decent bookshelf, intelligent hosting, no daily timeframe or agenda….the whole starts to make absolute sense as one unwinds.

The Indian Ocean is the best place for such properties and one feature of that side of Africa is the diving. Some of the finest dive sites on the planet can be found down this stretch of coastline, from shallow dives in protected marine areas with excellent coral and reef-life populations to deepwater “wall” dives in areas that are heavily frequented by the larger ocean species.

If one is more adventurous, it is possible to add on a night or two travelling – and staying - on a dhow, under sail, with the direction of travel dictated by the monsoon winds. Robinson Crusoe would have approved!

The only downside will be packing to come home……….

Where? Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique


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