It's hard not to feel just a little superior during your stay at the lovely Palm Island.

The beach is not only picture-perfect - it is also near-deserted. While other heavenly Caribbean shores are packed with rows of sunbeds (and hawkers peddling sarongs and coconuts), here, a handful of holidaymakers are outnumbered by the giant iguanas that climb the tall trees very sluggishly. Why? Because this resort is on its own private island, offering the kind of getaway that's normally reserved for the rich and famous, but without the A-list price tag. Certainly, there are more luxurious resorts elsewhere in the Caribbean, but the 43 rooms at Palm Island - more rustic than chic - ensure an intimate experience for everyone.

Request Room 3 - a dozen paces from the beach - complete with comfy hammock between two palm trees. The small spa, with just one treatment room, is two minutes away, next to the tennis court and beside the pool. Beyond that are cactus-studded hillsides and a sandy cycling trail that loops the island; it's bikeable in 15 minutes. Best of all, Palm Island is all-inclusive, so there's no worrying about the bill after an evening spent watching crab-racing and sipping barman Kenneth's delicious free-flowing iced rum punches.

WOW FACTOR Enrol on the two-day sailing course. Wannabe captains can learn the ropes - literally - while cruising on a private yacht to deserted islands and snorkelling spots popular with sea turtles.

GO Virgin Holidays www.virginholidays.co.uk offers seven nights from £1,775 per person, all-inclusive. Includes flights  

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