Not as pop-culturally renown as Beverly Hills or publicly fabled as Palm Beach, Miami Beach’s quietly ritzy Fisher Island is nonetheless about as exclusive (and rich) as it gets. The 216-acre man-made island, just off the southern tip of South Beach, and only accessible by car ferry, helicopter or private boat, is a serene and low-key refuge for a the world’s ultra-wealthy.
Formed shortly after the turn of the 20th century, when it was cleaved from the southern end of what is now Miami Beach to create Government Cut, a broad shipping channel that connects the ocean waters to the teeming Port of Miami, the island is named after Carl Fisher, the land developer who first began to develop the island in 1919. In 1927, Fisher famously traded a portion of the island to American aristocrat William Kissam Vanderbilt II for a 265-foot yacht. High-society architect Maurice Fatio designed Vanderbilt an elegant Mediterranean mansion and several guesthouses that still serve as the island’s proverbial heart. When Vanderbilt died in 1944, the island estate was briefly owned by U.S. Steel heir Edward S. Moore and then by daredevil Gar Wood, inventor of a hydraulic hoist for the coal industry and the first person to travel over 100 miles per hour on the water.
In the 1960s, the island estate was sold to a consortium that included local millionaire banker Bebe Rebozo and his longtime b.f.f., then former vice president Richard Nixon. It was, however, a couple of decades, myriad legal battles and several changes of ownership before Fisher Island’s development began in earnest in the 1980s. Today, in addition to about 800 private residences, the island includes the Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort where a standard room over the 2022 wintertime high season will set a deep-pocketed vacationer back about $1,500 per night.