An Ultra-Luxe Private Island in Miami
Just off the shore from South Beach, Fisher Island offers total seclusion to roughly 800 families
Fisher Island is only 7 minutes by ferry from Miami, but the 216-acre island is worlds away from South Beach. Perhaps that is because its history is so unique. In 1905, to provide better seaport access, Miami cut through the barrier island that today is known as Miami Beach. This created an island that business tycoon Carl Fisher purchased in 1919 but traded to William K. Vanderbilt II in 1925 in exchange for Vanderbilt’s 265-foot yacht. After Vanderbilt died in 1944, the island—on which Vanderbilt had commissioned famed architect Maurice Fatio to build him a Mediterranean-style compound—changed hands until development began in the 1980s. Today, about 800 families from more than 40 different countries inhabit this uber-private oasis, where life revolves around the Fisher Island Club, which opened in 1987 on the site of the Vanderbilt Mansion. Residents—a mix of highflying CEOs and entrepreneurs—drive around in golf carts, send their children to the Fisher Island Day School (which offers Mandarin classes) and use amenities such as the community’s own medical clinic and safety department.
Event of the year
The Yacht Rendezvous, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, is one of the world’s biggest annual superyacht social gatherings. Each fall, guests spend three days participating in events such as yacht open houses and a silent auction. More than $30 million has been raised in its 32 years.
Advice for the buyer
Know what scenery you want: Residences facing the Atlantic Ocean have expansive vistas during the day but no view at night; city-facing units don’t look out at the ocean but they do enjoy a city skyline and a Biscayne Bay view.
Membership to have
Belonging to the Fisher Island Club isn’t a requirement for residents, but if you aren’t a member, you won’t have access to the club’s facilities, including a beach club with a private beach.
The Fisher Island Hotel and Resort
This 15 room boutique hotel is made up of courtyard villas, 1930s-era cottages and guesthouse suites that near the Vanderbilt Mansion.
The Fisher Island Aviary
William K. Vanderbilt II loved tropical birds, and this 800-square-foot sanctuary is an ode to his passion. It houses more than 15 exotic winged animals, ranging from cockatoos and cockatiels to macaws and Amazons.
The Vanderbilt Theater
The adaptable event space is a hub of activity, hosting everything from concerts to lectures to movie nights.
Victor Arsidi Observatory
On its own tiny island across a wooden bridge, this sky-viewing hideaway was built in 1990. The white stucco building has a custom silver Ash Dome and professional telescope equipment, including a 4-inch refractor scope and a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain.
At 3,690 square feet with South Beach views, this residence in a concierge building with 29 units. The master suite’s bathroom has two vanities and a separate tub and shower; the closet has built-ins. There are marble floors, Miele kitchen appliances, and Baccarat lighting. Outside, there is a terrace. The unit comes with two parking spaces, one golf cart, a golf cart space, and a large private storage unit. Agent: Elena Bluntzer, One Sotheby’s International Realty.