Surely you have been guilty of it, too. You see a magnificent yacht arrive in a harbor and want to know who’s on board. Is it a celebrity… a pro athlete? Maybe it’s a tech billionaire? Our culture is fascinated with the lifestyles of the rich and famous, especially intrigued by their pricey toys and exclusive ports of call. So, where are the nautical hideouts of the rich and famous? Where do the super celebs and the fabulously funded go for sun and fun?
Celebrities travel on a much more extravagant budget (or no budget at all), so that’s enticing enough. And they journey to extraordinary places. Here are Caribbean destinations where you may encounter movie stars, rock legends or royalty on holiday or perhaps just floating in the harbor on a mega yacht.
Also known as St. Barts or St. Barths, this island is French, fabulous and a favorite vacation spot for the cool upper class in the Caribbean. St. Bart’s harbor (the capital and port of Gustavia) fills with hundreds of mega yachts for New Year’s festivities and fireworks, and in the prime winter season.
Unfathomably large yachts like Eclipse at 540 feet, owned by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, often floats into this posh paradise. Beyoncé and Jay-Z like to host New Year’s here aboard a chartered yacht, and the power couple rents other peoples’ yachts to the tune of $900,000 a week. They tend to host their A-lister friends Gwen Stefani, Lindsay Lohan, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, and Orlando Bloom.
If you are hob knobbing in St. Bart’s over the holidays, you may also spot U2 lead Bono’s yacht, The Cyan; Sean “Diddy” Combs’s $72 million yacht, Oasis; Lionel Richie aboard 380-foot Ulysses; or Diane Von Furstenberg on her $200 million sailing yacht, Eos. For on shore luxe, celebs stay at the exclusive Eden Rock, a “discreet bolt-hole of glamourous Hollywood characters” since the 1950s.
Where to Dock: St. Barts Marina, Gustavia
When St. Bart’s is full, neighboring Antigua’s English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour make for quality yachtie sequestering. You may see Symphony, a 333-foot sleek navy vessel owned by Louis Vuitton billionaire Bernard Arnault, or Limitless, a 315-footer owned by Victoria Secret’s mogul Leslie Wexner.
Where to Dock: Antigua Marina, West Indies
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Richard Branson owns and frequents Necker Island, a 74-acre private BVI oasis, just off the swank anchorage of Bitter Ends of Virgin Gorda. Word is Branson has hosted Nick Lachey, Kate Moss, David Hasselhoff, Harry Styles (after his Taylor Swift heartbreak), and Mariah Carey while she was signed with his Virgin Records studio.
Branson had a cool luxury 105-foot catamaran Necker Belle with its own submarine onboard (The Necker Nymph) for underwater adventure for himself and guests. You and eleven friends can charter that yacht, redubbed Bella Vita, for $70,000 a week plus fuel and gratuities, because Branson has now launched Virgin Voyages with his first cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, whose home port is Miami and San Juan for adults-only luxury cruises.
Jost Van Dyke, one of the main BVI islands, promises extraordinary yacht and celeb sightings on New Year’s Eve in Great Harbour. Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, called The Nauti Yacht Club to billionaire boaters in the know, is THE place to see and be seen for this annual boaters’ bash. Jost’s otherwise picturesque and humble harbor fills with fabulous yachts, and the island of 300 swells to over 1,000 thirsty party-goers, to include Kelsey Grammar, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg on their yachts.
Spielberg’s 282-foot yacht, The Seven Seas, with its swank navy-blue hull can be chartered for $1.3 million a week, a fraction of the yacht’s purchase at $200 million. Rumor has it The Seven Seas is up for sale for $160 million – and that includes all the toys, 17 TVs, and two on board spas.
Another BVI frequenting yacht is Fountainhead with billionaire Mark Cuban aboard. This 288-foot four-story mega yacht is actually owned by Sears CEO Eddie Lampert, but fans prefer to refer to it as Cuban’s. Fountainhead is flagged in the Caymans, where many mega yachts use as a tax-free hailing port.
Where to Dock: Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour
A mysteriously private hideaway for the prosperous from December to March, Mustique is located near St. Vincent and the Grenadines amid a chain of islands in the West Indies. The Cotton House here is a prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Gold Hotel where movie stars are catered to, while Basil’s Bar is a classy but casual cocktail spot for the well-heeled to kick off their sandals. Big names Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfiger, Oprah and Shania Twain vacation on Mustique in private villas.
Prince William and Kate Middleton frequent the island, following the royal tradition of flamboyant Princess Margaret who hid away in her Mustique home during her marital troubles. February is a prime time for famous folks attending Mustique’s annual Blues Festival.
ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
IGY Yacht Haven Grande is port to power players on their fabulous flotillas, accommodating dinghies to yachts of 565 feet. David Geffin of Aslym Records boats in and out of this harbor aboard his yacht Rising Sun, a German-built Lürssen super yacht at 452 feet. He bought it from Oracle’s Larry Ellison for a reported $50 million. When he’s not on board, he’ll charter out to folks like Leonardo DiCaprio and Oprah, or loan it to his record label stars Aerosmith or Guns N’ Roses, who enjoy being pampered by 45 crew members.
Geffin has a smaller boat, Pelorus, a 377-foot luxury motor yacht. In a 2020 Instagram post, Geffin stated he was “isolating” aboard his Rising Sun yacht during the pandemic in the Grenadines. He also cruises to Magens Bay in St. Thomas and ports around the BVI.
Where to Dock: IGY Yacht Haven Grande
TURKS & CAICOS
COMO Parrot Cay is a 1,000-acre private island resort with a Shambhala Spa, reached only by yacht. Brad Pitt, Rihanna, Bruce Willis and Keith Richards come here for the turquoise Caribe waters and the talcum powder white sand beach. The uber-chic Amanyara Resort retreat is another movie star stash, at $10,000 to $20,000 a night for a private beach villa.
Where to Dock: Blue Haven Resort & Marina
Ocean Club Bahamas on Paradise Island attracts top celebs such as Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett, David and Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, and Gwyneth Paltrow. In fact, Cindy Crawford and Randy Gerber honeymooned here in the Versailles-inspired gardens at this Four Seasons five-star paradise playground. Atlantis Marina is the Monte Carlo of the Bahamas for mega-yachts up to 240 feet. Lady Michelle, the 180-foot Burgess yacht made famous by the Bravo show Below Deck, has docked here.
Where to Dock: Atlantis Marina
Casa de Campo is a world-class resort where Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Pitbull, Kelly Ripa and The Kardashians have sunned themselves in luxury. Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all descended on the 7,000-acre island resort for golfing on the Pete Dye course called Teeth of the Dog. Marina Casa de Campo can harbor your mega yacht, unless it’s over 250 feet, then you’ll have to anchor outside.
Where to Dock: Marina Casa De Campo
Upon celeb-spotting, resist the urge to rush up and act awkwardly. That’s considered stalking, and it’s not a strategic approach to getting an A-lister invitation on board. Keep cool, keep your Cartier glasses on, and just maybe… your champagne wishes and caviar dreams on deck could come true.