It tends to not be your average Joe who is in the island-buying business, though. Nine times out of ten it is a celebrity, businessman or lottery winner – basically anyone who has millions of dollars to spare. This form of elite real estate has been growing in popularity since the turn of the century. It’s easy to see why.
Hey, even if you have thousands of dollars to spare you can buy a budget island in the region of $250,000! It’s not only for multimillionaires. According to Private Islands Online, the world’s online private island marketplace, islands can not only be bought but also rented – one beautiful island in Fiji, South Pacific, rents at $1000-1500 per night. Talk about a dream vacation!
Most island owners, though, are rich. Private island real estate is known as “a luxury of the 0.001%” so it is fair to say we would know the names of plenty of these people. On that note, here are five celebrities who bit the bullet and bought big – and expensive.
5 Nicholas Cage: 30 acres
Size: 30 acres
Price: $3.6 million (sold in 2009)
Okay, this is cheating slightly as a cay is technically not a full island. The definition of a cay is “a small, low-elevation, sandy island formed on the surface of a coral reef”, so it is pretty island-ish. However, kicking off our list is eccentric actor Nicholas Cage, who is no stranger to the elite real estate that is the sale and purchase of private islands. In 2006 he purchased Leaf Cay, an island in the Bahamas, with a view to creating a luxury getaway for his down time. This was not his first foray into island real estate though; Cage already owned a home on luxurious Paradise Island and was a regular visitor to the Bahamas.
Things were not to be at Leaf Cay though, as he sold the island after just three years reportedly because of an endangered native reptile scuppering his plans to create his dream island dwelling.
Today, the island is a luxury resort. With three beaches, a spa, rented accommodation and several other amenities, Leaf Cay is a popular, but expensive tourist resort.
4 Johnny Depp: 45 acres
Size: 45 acres
Price: $3.6 million
Johnny Depp is the lucky owner of a pretty substantial cay in the Caribbean called Little Hall’s Pond Cay. Islands, and indeed cays, are no doubt a breath of fresh air for high-profile people like Johnny, who told 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.”
Reports suggest that Johnny fell in love with the way of life in the Bahamas when filming the multi-billion dollar franchise that is The Pirates of the Caribbean and was soon looking at property in the region. With six beaches, Johnny and his family are sure to make full use of the 45-acre property. Ever the environmentalist, Johnny once boasted to the press that the island would be 100% eco-friendly and, almost in the same breath, declared that the public or press would not be welcome on his island.
Apparently, the investments that Depp put into Little Hall’s Pond Cay, as well as inflation since the purchase ten years ago, makes the island’s current value an estimated $200 million! Not bad Mr Depp, not bad.
So much so is the island’s sense of freedom and seclusion that Johnny affectionately refers to the island as “F**k off Island”. Nice!
3 Leonardo DiCaprio: 104 acres
Size: 104 acres
Price: $1.75 million
The Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio purchased his Belize getaway back in 2005 for the pretty reasonable $1.75 million dollars. Blackadore Cay is a mere stone’s throw from the beautiful, and renowned, Great Barrier Reef. Leo apparently stumbled across Blackadore in 2004 when on vacation in the area and had big dreams to buy the island and turn it into a resort. In a move caught somewhere between Johnny Depp and some of the celebrities who will follow in this list, Leo’s ambition is to create and environmentally friendly holiday resort.
Reportedly, the star was in talks with Four Seasons Hotels about building an 80-room hotel, eco-friendly beach villas and amenities for visitors on the island. He also intends on installing a solar-powered air strip on the island for visitors to fly into! The location will no doubt attract clientele, but one would have to wonder just how expensive a stay on Leo’s island would be.
2 David Copperfield: 150 acres
Size: 150 acres
Price: $50 million (estimated)
Illusionist David Copperfield used his magical ways to buy his island, Musha Cay, for an estimated $50 million in 2006. This is, of course, pocket change for David, whose work has earned him 21 Emmy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a cool net worth of $800 million. The island was the setting for Google founder Sergey Brin’s 2007 wedding, hosted by David.
Unlike some of the more private celebrities on this list, Mr Copperfield welcomes visitors with open arms. For a small fee (rates start at $37,500 per day) Musha Cay welcomes up to 24 guests at any one time for an enjoyable, ultra private holiday experience. The island is surrounded by three other small islands in the bay (known as Copperfield Bay) to unsure ultimate privacy.
David’s neighbors in this region include comedian and actor Eddie Murphy who also owns an island in the region.
1 Mel Gibson: 5,440 acres
Size: 5,440 acres
Price: $15 million
Aussie Oscar winning actor Mel Gibson is the cream of the crop on this list. In 2005, Mel purchased Mago Island in the Fiji region for $15 million from a Japanese corporation. The exchange was not without its controversies; descendants of the Mago Island natives protested Mel’s purchase. However, the deeds were signed and the money was exchanged and Mel became the owner of Mago Island.
Mago is a volcanic island and is inhabited only by a few Fijian caretakers to look after the place when Mel is away filming. The notoriously private actor has not divulged much about his time on the island but the islands in the Fiji region are renowned for beautiful flora and fauna and crystal clear oceans.
Mago Island is a massive 5440 acres – so big that Johnny Depp’s island could fit inside it an astonishing 120 times – with room to spare! Now THAT is a private island and a half.