Until the recent real estate meltdown, Forbes dubbed Fisher Island (named for Carl Fisher, automotive parts pioneer and cofounder of Miami Beach in 1915) one of the richest communities in the country; it’s still among the leaders.
William Kissam Vanderbilt II traded a luxury yacht to Fisher for ownership of the island in 1925. His family home still graces Fisher Island today. The island passed through the hands of several wealthy movers and shakers in the intervening years, always remaining a one-family retreat until 1963, when then island owner Gar Wood, the millionaire inventor of hydraulic construction, sold Fisher Island to a development group that included local Key Biscayne millionaire Bebe Reboze, Miami native and U.S. Senator George Smathers, and then former U.S. Vice President, Richard Nixon. The three never personally lived on Fisher Island.
The 722 residents that actually live on Fisher Island today have an average next worth of $57.2 million based on the minimum $200,000 the taxpayers make. Those residents come from 40 countries (Brazilians and Russians top the international clientele), with fewer than half Americans. Only about a third of the residents actually live on the island full time. The list of former and current residents includes such notables as Sharon Gless, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi and Andre Action Jackson.
Among those snowbirds (I can vouch for the cold winters, but I have no idea where Capone was during the Valentine’s Day Massacre) was Chicago’s notorious gangsta’, Al Capone. His renovated home, currently owned by Peter Corsell, founder of the energy solutions conglomerate Grid Point, sits vacant on Palm Island waiting for a modern-day money mogul with $10 million and a penchant for crime bosses to snatch up this one-of-a-kind compound.
Today’s movers and shakers seem to prefer Star Island, undoubtedly because it features some of the most luxurious homes in all of Miami, not to mention the privacy and security from all those adoring fans. As the name suggests, this star-studded island has been home to many modern-day celebrities, among them former homeowner and basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy, Diddy, P. Diddy), Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame , former talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell, singer Gloria Estefan,
Phillip Frost’s home, the first home pictured in today’s post, is the largest home on Star Island; with 28,000 square feet at his disposal on 6 acres of land, he had plenty of room to host his $50,000-a-plate dinner for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Here's another picture of Mr. Frost's home.
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Bottom Line on Island Queen Cruises:
Verdict: This was another activity my father recommended. It was nice being out on the water, but I’m not really a big fan of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. I think a sunset cruise (yikes, 3 hours for $69) or an evening cruise along Miami Beach with all the sparkling lights would have been sufficient for me.
How to Get There: From Miami Beach, take Collins Avenue South to 5th Street and make a right on to 5th Street. Head West on 5th Street, which turns into I-395 or Macarthur Causeway. Get off at the Biscayne Boulevard exit. Make a left at the second light on to Biscayne Boulevard. Head South on Biscayne Boulevard until NE 5th Street or Port Boulevard. Make a left and stay to the right, then enter Bayside Marketplace parking garage. Bayside Marketplace is an open-air mall located in downtown Miami and Island Queen Cruises is located in the middle of the mall, next to the music stage and a 15-foot hanging shark.
Insider Information: Do arrive AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to boarding; 45 minutes if you really want a seat along the railing for the best chance at pictures. Seating below is enclosed; up top, the area is open. Passengers are strongly discouraged (and reprimanded) when it comes to moving about the seating area during the ride, which did make taking pictures difficult. You can bring your own drinks aboard, as well as small snacks.
Booking online at the Island Queen Cruises website gets you a special $3 per person internet discount, bringing the price for adults to $24; children’s tickets (4-12) to $16.
Nearby Food: Light snacks and beverages are available on board. There are plenty of places to eat back at the Bayside Marketplace. We had a great lunch after our cruise at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.