A-list celebrities don’t just go on vacation, they head to their private islands for the ultimate getaway without the nuisance of the paparazzi or fans disrupting their holiday. In most cases, it takes some serious cash to buy hundreds of acres of land, but it’s worth it to those who can afford such a luxurious purchase — they can design the resort of their dreams in a tropical location.
You’ll notice many stars own islands in the Bahamas. It’s an easy location to travel to from the United States, but there are also some serious benefits to owning land here because the country is one of the top tax havens around the globe. That is an appealing place for millionaires to invest their money, and it’s why Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy and Johnny Depp have all landed in the area. Depp described his love for his tropical paradise of Little Hall’s Pond Cay to Vanity Fair, “I don’t think I’d ever seen any place so pure and beautiful. You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It’s instant freedom.”
While most of the private islands are worth millions, and billions if you are Richard Branson, there is one affordable place owned by TV host Bear Grylls on this list. We have to warn you, though, it’s not only remote, but it’s also a no-frills place to reside. That might not be your speed, but we have a feeling you might want to check the other fancy residences because wealthy celebs sure know how to vacation in luxury.
Beyoncé & Jay-Z
Beyoncé and Jay-Z are pure A-listers when it comes to owning an island — they have two in their real estate collection. Jay-Z gave his wife a Florida Keys island for her 29th birthday in 2010. That gift set him back $20 million.
The couple also purchased Strangers Cay, a 360-acre island in the Bahamas in 2013 as the ideal vacation spot. You could say the couple is rich in love with island life.
Singing sensation Ricky Martin headed to South America to purchase his 19.7-acre island in Brazil. He bought Angra dos Reis for $8 million in 2008 for his entire family to enjoy and use the property about two hours outside of Rio.
Julia Roberts likes to keep her private life out of the headlines, but she reportedly bought an island in the Bahamas for $6 million. The vacation spot is solely for getaways for the family of five to enjoy without the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
George & Amal Clooney
Hot off their 2014 walk down the aisle, George and Amal Clooney dropped over 12 million on a 5.5-acre island in Sonning-on-Thames, England about 37 miles outside of London. The island is accessible by a wooden bridge or a boat and has top-notch security to keep out unwanted visitors. The property also includes an 8,949-square-foot mansion with 10 bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, and two half-baths — just your basic English castle on a private island — no big deal.
Of course, a pirate owns an island. Johnny Depp bought Little Hall’s Pond Cay in the Bahamas for 3.6 million in 2004. The 45-acre has six beaches that are each named for someone close to Depp, including his children, Lily-Rose, Jack, and ex-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis. While Amber Heard doesn’t have a beach named after her, it is where the couple held one of their 2015 wedding ceremonies. He also has a few famous neighbors, including Eddie Murphy and David Copperfield.
Leonardo DiCaprio bought a 42-acre island in Blackadore Caye, Belize for what seems like a rather reasonable $1.75 million in 2005. He planned to build an eco-resort on the land and it was supposed to open in 2018, but local protests about environmental issues affecting the island have only stalled the project. It may take years before DiCaprio ever breaks ground on the private villas and spa he hopes to build.
Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
If you follow Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on social media, you’ve definitely seen them vacationing on their private island, Goat Cay, in the Bahamas. They renamed it L’ile d’Anges when they bought it in 2003 and spent a decade building the property of their dreams including a 6,517-square-foot mansion on the 19.77-acre island.
The place is so spectacular that it was featured in Architectural Digest in 2017 with Hill describing why they love their Bahamian residence so much. “We’ve been all over the world, and we really wanted to create a special place we couldn’t find anywhere else,” she said. McGraw agreed with his wife’s assessment, adding, “Every time we land the plane and walk onto the beach and head up to the house, we turn to each other and say, ‘This is the best place in the world.’ ”
In 2021, the couple sold the island of their dreams for a whopping $35 million.
Eddie Murphy has the best of both worlds with his Rooster Cay island in the Bahamas — its private land that is only about five minutes away from all of the action in the capital city of Nassau. He purchased the 15 acres in 2007 for $15 million, which was an upgrade from his previous purchase, a smaller island in the area known as Pearl Cay.
Shakira is a joint owner of Bonds Cay in the Bahamas along with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz. They spent $16 million in 2011 on the 700-acre island, which was already developed with condos, luxury hotels and an 18-hole golf course. Instead of opening the place up to toursims, they’ve kept it as an artist’s retreat to write songs, record music and relax away from the noise of everyday life.
Steven Spielberg marches to the beat of his own drum with two islands off the coast of Portugal called Madeira Archipelago. They are reportedly in a group of volcanic outcrops and connected under the water. The islands were uninhabited when he purchased them but is apparently developing a residence on one of the islands. The islands are so remote which is exactly why the director bought them in the first place — he often invites his A-list friends to join him and his family on vacation for the ultimate private getaway.
You won’t find Mel Gibson in the Bahamas with all of the other celebrities, he’s too busy enjoying 5,400 acres on Mago Island in Fiji. He made the massive purchase in 2005 when he plopped down $15 million from the success of his 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ.
The original listing described the area, “Mago rises majestically to 670 feet on its eastern cliffs and is fringed entirely by protective reefs, powder-white beaches and turquoise lagoons.”
If you want to live like a billionaire, then Necker Island is the place for you. Owned by Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson, you can stay here for $105,000 per night for up to 40 guests. The property was leveled by Hurricane Irma in 2017, so everything is brand new on the island. Activities range from kitesurfing to yoga and the food is five-star cuisine.
The history here is also pretty epic. Princess Diana vacationed here with a young Prince William and Prince Harry, Barack and Michelle Obama came here for their first post-presidency vacation, and Nick and Vanessa Lachey might be the most random celebrity couple to get married here.
Tyler Perry knows how to do island life well. He purchased the 25-acre White Bay Cay in the Bahamas in 2008 for $7 million. It was a 40th birthday present to himself — go big or go home! The studio owner then proceeded to build a 14,000-square-foot Bali-style estate complete with a wellness spa, guest villas, and, a marina on the land.
Magician David Copperfield owns one of the most epic islands in the Bahamas — the 100-acre Musha Cay that he bought for $50 million in 2006. If you’re looking for the perfect vacation and have a $60,000 per night budget, you can stay in one of the entertainer’s five homes on the island. There are also plenty of elite amenities to utilize, including a tennis court, steam room, and a hot tub.
Man vs. Wild host Bear Grylls might have the most affordable private island we’ve ever heard of. He purchased Saint Tudwal’s Island West near the coast of the Llyn Peninsula at Abersoch, North Wales in 2001 for a mere $118,655. It’s also very rustic, which seems to be part of the charm for the survivalist and his family.
“Our small, private island hideaway is 20 acres and five miles offshore with no mains, electricity, or running water,” he told Vanity Fair. “It has a little lighthouse beside our house and is surrounded by amazing sea cliffs, seals, and dolphins. It is my favourite place on the planet!”
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