Star Retreats: Celebrities Who Purchased Private Islands

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Homer Liwag/Wikimedia

During a stressful day at the office, many people imagine they are lounging on a deserted island. Trading a work-filled desk for some sun and fun is everyone's dream, and when the dream occasionally becomes a reality, people don't want to return to their regular lives.

For celebrities, luxury vacations are common, and for the select few, heading to a secluded island could even be an everyday thing. If they are willing to make a huge investment, celebs can actually buy an island of their own. Don’t believe it? Check out these celebrities who have owned their own island at some point in their lives.

Johnny Depp

Throughout his career, Johnny Depp made the transition from teen idol to box office megastar. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies alone have grossed an astounding $4.5 billion in the United States. When he's not on set, Depp performs with his rock band, Hollywood Vampires, which also includes Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.

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In 2004, Depp purchased Little Hall’s Pond Cay, which is on the Caribbean coast. He named the beaches on the island after Hunter S. Thompson and his children. "I don’t think I’d ever seen any place so pure and beautiful," Depp told Vanity Fair.

Steven Spielberg

There are directors, and then there's Steven Spielberg. The California State University alumni earned countless accolades for movies, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jurassic Park. He won two Oscars for Best Director for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.

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Spielberg has managed to keep his private island in Portugal's Madeira Archipelago hidden from the press. The director only heads to the island for hangouts with family and close friends. When he is away for work, top-notch security makes sure trespassers can't tread on his property.

Julia Roberts

Following a string of '80s films, Julia Roberts became Hollywood's most desirable leading lady with Pretty Woman. In 2000, she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Erin Brockovich. In 2003, she made an astounding $25 million for Mona Lisa Smile.

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Photo Courtesy: Rob LaTour/Variety/ReadSector/Twitter; NewsWrap/Twitter

Roberts' island of choice is located in the Bahamas. The actress was already familiar with the area. Her 2009 film Duplicity was partially filmed in the Bahamas. As expected, she takes her children to the island whenever she can. She has reduced her roles over the years, allowing for more time to appreciate the finer things in life.

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz has been tearing up the Billboard charts since the release of his 1989 debut album, Let Love Rule. The '90s found him dishing out the number one hits "Fly Away" and "Are You Gonna Go My Way." Overall, the artist has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.

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Photo Courtesy: @KimBhasin/Twitter; @LennyKravitz/Twitter

In 1989, Kravitz purchased a block of land on Eleuthera. As a Bahamian, it was important for the rocker to stick to his roots. "I am a local in the Bahamas. They are aware of what I do, but they don’t care about that," he told Travel + Leisure.

Eddie Murphy

Following a stint on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy became Hollywood's biggest comedy star. Films such as 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop and The Nutty Professor delivered big bucks at the box office. In 2006, he earned his first Oscar nomination for his work in Dreamgirls.

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In 2007, Murphy purchased a small island called Rooster Cay near Nassau, Bahamas. The island, which is 15 acres, is the destination for Murphy’s family vacations. The tranquil spot didn't come cheap, either. The star dropped $15 million to become the current owner.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw

There's no bigger couple in country music than Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Since 2006, the pair has only seen their music careers skyrocket. In 2007, they released a collaboration album titled The Rest of Our Life, which topped the country charts.

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In 2003, the couple purchased an island in the Bahamas, but they didn't officially move in until 2012. Getting the island set up properly was hard work for the pair. "We wanted it set up so that when we brought people down, they'd get the same feeling that we got when we first came," McGraw told Architectural Digest.

Pamela Anderson

With the success of Baywatch, Pamela Anderson was solidified as a superstar. The Canadian continued her TV dominance with a lead role on V.I.P., and she landed movie roles in Scary Movie 3 and Borat. In 2006, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

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Before their relationship collapsed, Tommy Lee bought a Dubai island for Anderson. In 2008, she had plans to create a hotel for travelers on the island. "It is environmentally friendly. I went there with the Make a Wish Foundation and met some great people there," she told Arabian Business. Unfortunately, those plans were nixed.

David Copperfield

Magician David Copperfield has been mesmerizing audiences around the world since 1974. Overall, the New Jersey native has made about $4 billion in ticket sales. Decades later, Copperfield still has many Guinness World Records to his name, including the most expensive poster depicting magic sold at an auction.

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Copperfield purchased 11 islands in the Bahamas to form the Islands of Copperfield Bay. Anyone is allowed to use his private island in Musha Cay — assuming you can cough up the going rate of $75,000 per night, of course. Musha Cay comes with an outdoor theater and beach-side daybeds if you’ve got the cash.

Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is responsible for the creation of the Segway. Since it hit the market in 2001, the New York native has seen his net worth rise to about $500 million. In 2013, he earned the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award for his handful of inventions.

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While many stars buy their islands in the Bahamas, Kamen went the opposite route. In 1986, he purchased North Dumpling Island, which is in New York. Kamen gave the area the nickname Kingdom of North Dumpling, and he calls himself Lord Dumpling whenever he's in the area.

Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola delivered some of the most memorable films of the '70s. His work on the Godfather series, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation has been studied by other aspiring directors. In 1974, Coppola won the Oscar for Best Director for his work on The Godfather Part II.

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Coppola purchased Caribbean island Coral Caye for simple getaways, but he eventually turned it into a tourist attraction. Folks who want to spend the night will have to drop $895. The island is now part of his resort business, Family Coppola Hideaways, which was founded in 1993.

Michael Schumacher

German racer Michael Schumacher has the distinction of being the only driver to win seven Formula One World Championships. In 2012, he retired from the sport after 21 years. Ironically, Schumacher suffered a brain injury while skiing in the French Alps the following year.

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Shortly after his retirement, he was awarded his own island by the Prince of Dubai. The $7 million property is located in a region of isles called The World. The massive area is supposed to represent all the world's countries when seen from above.

Robin Williams

From kids to grandparents, comedian Robin Williams made everyone laugh during his illustrious career. The Chicago native earned Grammys, Golden Globes and Emmys for his many performances. On August 11, 2014, Williams left this world far too early at the age of 63.

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After years of performing, he decided to look to the north to purchase his private island. The property was located in Pender Harbour, British Columbia. You might not have heard of it, but the region has one of the biggest music scenes in the country. There's no word if the island was left to someone in his family after his death.

Ted Turner

Cable television would have been in dire straits long ago without Ted Turner. The Ohio native helped launch CNN and TBS, the first two superstations in the country. Turner also dabbled in professional wrestling with his purchase of World Championship Wrestling.

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In 1979, he purchased South Carolina's St. Phillips Island. While most island owners would want to scare off fishermen, Turner happily allowed anglers to catch their next meal. In 2017, he sold the island back to the state for $4.9 million. People can rent out Turner's home for a hefty price.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has represented his home country of Portugal to the fullest. The forward made history by earning four European Golden Shoes, which is the most for a European player. In 2014, the star athlete was named Grand officer of the Order of Prince Henry.

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In 2015, Ronaldo bought a Greek island, but it wasn't for his own use. He gave it to his longtime agent Jorge Mendes as a wedding gift. Ronaldo began working with Mendes back in 2003. For the soccer star, it was just another lavish thing purchased with his immense bank account.

Bear Grylls

Veteran Bear Grylls gained national attention for his series Man vs. Wild. Since the conclusion of the show, he has continued his adventuring ways on countless other shows. In 2014, he took celebrities with him on his journeys on Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

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As expected, traveling to different islands inspired Grylls to pick up some new property. In 2001, the TV personality purchased the Saint Tudwal's Islands in Wales. Grylls splits his time between the two islands (Saint Tudwal's Island East and Saint Tudwal's Island West) and his home in London.

Gene Hackman

For six decades, Gene Hackman has been a staple in American cinema. The actor has earned accolades for his work in The French Connection, Unforgiven and The Royal Tenenbaums. In 2004, Hackman retired from acting and began a new career as a novelist.

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Photo Courtesy: Christopher Michael Little/Wikimedia; @OrcaSalish/Twitter

In 2005, he purchased San Juan Island, which is based in the state of Washington. The island has three houses with plenty of bells and whistles, including a wood-burning fireplace. In 2016, Hackman put the island up for sale. With his new career, he didn't have time to spend days on the island.

George Clooney

In the '90s, George Clooney dominated television as Dr. Doug Ross on ER. After leaving the show in 1999, he became a movie star with O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Ocean's Eleven. In 2013, he earned the Oscar for Best Picture for Argo.

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Following his wedding to lawyer Amal Alamuddin, Clooney purchased a private island near Sonning Eye, England. Before the purchase, he filmed scenes for the war drama The Monuments Men in the area. The island, which cost Clooney $14 million, was previously owned by financier Omar al-Bayoumi.

Marlon Brando

Nebraska native Marlon Brando turned heads with four consecutive Best Actor nominations at the Oscars. Following some downtime, he became immortalized as Vito Corleone in 1972's mafia film The Godfather. The actor has been credited for bringing method acting to Hollywood.

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While trying to find a proper location to film Mutiny on the Bounty, Brando found the island of Tetiaroa. He signed an astonishing 99-year lease to own the area in 1966. Upon his 2004 death, the ownership transferred to his estate. In 2014, The Brando Resort opened to the public.

Ricky Martin

Known as the "King of Latin Pop," Ricky Martin has been rocking packed crowds since his days in Menudo. As a solo artist, he earned recognition in the United States with his 1999 self-titled album. The musician has sold more than 15 million copies of the album worldwide.

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In 2008, Martin purchased an island in Brazil near Angra dos Reis. The area wasn't open for purchasing, and the superstar spent a long time waiting for this particular island to go on sale. Fortunately, the end result was worth all the time spent checking on its availability.

Larry Ellison

In 1977, businessman Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle Corporation with Bob Miner and Ed Oates. The company has since grown to become one of the world's largest software companies. With a net worth of $69 billion, Ellison is the fourth wealthiest person in the world.

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For a mere $300 million, Ellison purchased the Hawaiian island Lanai in 2012. Fellow billionaire Bill Gates was married on the island in 1994. Ellison dropped another $500 million to renovate the area for the public, including retooling the popular Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.

Jay-Z and Beyonce

Jay-Z and Beyonce have long been one of music's most powerful couples. In 2018, the pair collaborated as The Carters for their debut album, Everything Is Love. The album's release was followed by their second sold-out stadium tour together titled On the Run II. The two have sold more than 400 million albums worldwide (combined).

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In 2010, Jay-Z purchased an island in the Florida Keys for Beyonce's 29th birthday. Years later, the couple decided to add another island in the Bahamas. These islands aren't lavish, but they are more than enough to keep the two music powerhouses (and their three children) happy in the tropics.

Lindsay Lohan

Actress Lindsay Lohan became a teen idol with roles in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. The Long Island native tapped into more adult themes with roles in I Know Who Killed Me and The Canyons. In 2004, she released her debut album, Speak, which was followed by 2005's A Little More Personal (Raw).

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Lohan's MTV reality show Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club led her to appreciate the island atmosphere, and the actress purchased an island near the coast of Dubai for an undisclosed amount. She has plans to turn it into her own special resort, complete with a nightclub.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry has become a top-tier producer, and it's all thanks to Madea. The New Orleans native introduced the character on the big screen in 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Madea has since become a franchise with a slew of hit films.

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Perry is the proud owner of two islands. With his purchase of White Bay Cay, the star hopes to transform the island into a paradise for him and his friends. Some of the key things he plans to build on the property include a tennis court and six guest houses.

Richard Branson

As the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson has had his hands in many things. Whether it's music or travel services, the London native wants to deliver top-quality service to his customers. Branson's accomplishments in air travel earned him an International Air & Space Hall of Fame induction in 2000.

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With his money, one island wasn't enough, so he currently has two islands in his name. Branson owns Necker Island and Moskito Island — sometimes styled with the traditional Mosquito spelling. After buying the area, Branson chose to use the Moskito spelling instead. Hey, it’s his island!

Larry Page

Larry Page might not be a familiar name, but you're probably aware of his company. As the co-founder of Google, Page is one of the most influential names in the tech world. Aside from his work on Google, the Michigan native co-founded PageRank and Alphabet Inc. His work has earned him accolades from Fortune and Forbes.

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Following his wedding on Necker Island — belonging to his buddy, Richard Branson — Page purchased nearby Eustatia Island. The island includes a massive owner's estate, which features three bedrooms and a hot tub. When things in the office are too much to handle, Page heads to his island for some quiet time.

Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage gained attention for Moonstruck and Leaving Las Vegas, which earned him an Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Award. In the late '90s, the actor continued his momentum with roles in Con Air, Face/Off and 8mm. He worked as a producer on the films The Wicker Man and Stolen in addition to acting.

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In 2006, Cage purchased Leaf Cay in the Bahamas for $6 million. Instead of hogging the area for himself, he had hotels built to accommodate select travelers. A couple of years later, he was hit with a $6.2 million tax lien from the IRS, and the island was quickly sold by the actor.

Shakira

With her 2001 album, Laundry Service, singer Shakira broke into the American music scene. Her nine studio albums have sold a combined 70 million copies worldwide. In 2006, a 16-foot statue of the singer was unveiled in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia.

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After her bank account exploded from her worldwide fame, Shakira bought an island in the Bahamas. Located on Bonds Cay, the area is where Shakira heads after a successful tour. She often takes her sons, Milan and Sasha, with her on adventures. She also lends the island to fellow musicians needing a break.

Mel Gibson

In the '80s, Mel Gibson became a bonafide star with his work in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon franchises. In 1995, Braveheart earned him the Oscar for Best Director. He then continued to gain attention as a director with 2004's The Passion of the Christ and 2016's Hacksaw Ridge.

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For $15 million, Gibson purchased a private island known as Mago Island in Fiji. The 5,000-acre retreat is his favorite spot to go for some distance from Hollywood. The actor enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Rosalind Ross and his kids on the property.

Celine Dion

Singer Celine Dion was Canada's best kept secret until the 1990 release of her English album Unison. In 1997, her career skyrocketed with the hit single "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. The track is currently the second best-selling single of all time by a female artist.

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In 2001, Dion purchased an island on the Rivière des Mille Îles, which is only a few miles from her hometown. The island became the singer's 830,000-square-foot home away from home. In 2016, she sold the island for $10 million to a real estate mogul.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio landed his first Golden Globe nomination in 1993 for What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Four years later, he became king of the world with his iconic role in Titanic. When he's not acting, the Los Angeles native works on protecting the environment through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

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In 2015, he purchased a beach in Blackadore Caye, Belize. Although it has been hidden from the public, the star plans to turn it into an eco-haven in the future. That means visitors will be allowed to play on DiCaprio's luscious property — for a price, of course.