The magical islands where celebrities and royals like to spend their downtime

In need of some holiday inspiration? These astonishing islands are sure to dazzle...

Magical Island montage depicting where celebs and royals like to go on holiday
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Surrounded by energising turquoise waters and located in spots where serene sunsets offer stunning daily displays, the allure of an island trip offers unparalleled moments of relaxation and inspiration. 

From hidden European gems to Caribbean idylls with stunning peachy-pink sand beaches backed by atmospheric palm trees, islands really do have the power to enthral. No wonder then that all manner of A-list celebrities and royalty, from Kate Winslet, and Kate Middleton, to Patti Smith and Meghan Markle have opted for paradisiacal island getaways in recent years. 

While some cost astronomical amounts of money, others are more affordable, so here’s a look at the most picturesque…

Magical islands where celebrities and royals spend their holidays

Mnemba Island, Tanzania

Mnemba Island, Tanzania

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This tiny triangular-shaped island surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters and coral reefs offers a secluded retreat that allows guests like Naomi Campbell, Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney the utmost privacy and tranquillity. Situated just off the coast of Zanzibar, Mnemba Island is known for its lush tropical landscape, diverse marine life, and pristine white-sand beaches, and there’s a private luxury lodge that offers A-listers in the know an eco-friendly retreat and personalised experience.


The Islands Book, £17 | Lonely Planet 

The Islands Book, <a href="https://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?tsid=107649&GR_URL=https%3A%2F%2Famazon.com%2FIslands-Book-Lonely-Planet%2Fdp%2F1838695036%3Ftag%3Dhawk-future-20%26ascsubtag%3Dhawk-custom-tracking-20" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">£17 | Lonely Planet 

Get inspired with this inspirational coffee table book that features beautiful photography, illustrations and maps of over 150 of the world’s most enchanting islands.

Sifnos, Greece

Sifnos, Greece

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As one of the prettiest, and yet relatively unknown European Islands, it’s no wonder Scarlett Johansson likes to relax and unwind on the island of Sifnos. Known for its whitewashed architecture, ceramics, and dreamy beaches, it’s also the place to come for incredible simple Greek home cooking at its best. 

Eilean Shona, Scotland

Eilean Shona, Scotland

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Vanessa Branson’s private island off the west coast of Scotland was the inspiration for Neverland after JM Barrie stayed there in years gone by, now it’s a favourite holiday destination of Kate Winslet too. 

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca, Spain

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With no shortage of things to do in Mallorca it’s no wonder Spanish royal Queen Letizia likes to make a base on the stunning Balearic Island when she wants to get away from it all. The cultural city of Palma makes the perfect base for an island getaway, its mixture of dramatic architecture, art spaces, great shopping, and unrivalled small hotels are the main draw, whatever time of year you visit.

Paradise Island, Bahamas, Caribbean

Paradise Island, Bahamas, Caribbean

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A myriad of celebrities and members of various royal families have vacationed in the Bahamas over the years, yet it’s Paradise Island that seems to draw the most. Prince William and Kate Middleton stayed in Atlantis Paradise Island’s three-bedroom Penthouse Suite a few years back relaxing in luxury in the hideaway that boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, wrap-around ocean views, and a separate living and dining area. Beyonce has also visited the iconic resort where Bahamian culture vibrates throughout. 

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia, Italy

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Home to some of the most incredible traditional Italian dishes, it’s no wonder celebs like Bradley Cooper and Ellen Pompeo like to head to the Italian island of Sardinia for their holidays. As well as delightful dining opportunities, the island teems with over 200 beaches sprinkled along its coastline making swimming, snorkelling, and diving great vacation activities.  

Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

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Hugh Grant has previously enjoyed downtime on the white sand beaches of the island of Mustique. But he’s not the only A-lister who knows the island's charms, David Bowie used to own a property on the famed island and the late Queen Elizabeth II visited on three separate occasions alongside Prince Philip. The beautiful private island boasts iguanas, herons, and tortoises, as well as beaches that dreams are made of. 

Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard, Norway

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Not many have made it this far north, to one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, but artist Patti Smith made it her mission to visit in June 2023. Performing in the closest venue to the North Pole in an area known for glaciers, polar bears, and arctic foxes, Patti wrote about her experience of the remote rugged area on her Substack, “I loved our visit to Svalbard, though the consequences of climate change can be seen and felt. At this time of the year it is continuous daylight. I saw white reindeer grazing and sleeping on the slopes, but did not want to disturb them.”

Patmos, Greece

Patmos, Greece

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Tastemaker Kate Moss knows Patmos is one of the best Greek Islands to take a holiday on. The unmistakable charm of the place draws adventurers seeking a more authentic Greek Island escape with an 11th-century monastery, whitewashed houses, and tiny tavernas. 

Vancouver Island, Canada

Vancouver Island, Canada

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a home of Vancouver Island when they withdrew from royal duties back in 2020 but the couple have since returned to the area due to the 2025 Invictus Games taking place in Whistler and Vancouver. Prince Harry said of the event, “I am extremely excited to announce that the Invictus Games Foundation has selected Canada to host the first-ever Winter Hybrid Games in 2025." For anyone thinking of following in Harry and Meghan’s footsteps, visitors to the island can expect a thriving arts community, picturesque harbour, neo-baroque architecture, and plenty of great restaurants. 

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

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As one of the most spiritual places in the world on account of the island’s many Buddhist temples, Sri Lanka draws a more contemplative crowd like Gillian Anderson, who likes the place so much she once owned her very own Sri Lankan home. Covered with coconut, spice, and tea plantations the tear-drop-shaped island is home to an abundance of wildlife including leopards, elephants, and an array of rare birds. 

Tetiʻaroa, French Polynesia

Tetiʻaroa, French Polynesia

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This tiny atoll counts Robert de Niro and Barack Obama as fans and it’s easy to see why. Once the go-to vacation spot for Tahitian royalty, and surrounded by coral islets the ocean goes from light turquoise to aquamarine and vivid blue. But a truly untouched oasis doesn’t come cheap; a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Tetiʻaroa costs around £10,000 per person, and that’s just for five nights. 

Jamaica, Caribbean

Jamaica, Caribbean

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On her own account, actor Chloe Sevigny, “took a bunch of friends and splurged insane amounts” at the hotel ‘GoldenEye in Jamaica. Once novelist Ian Fleming's estate on Oracabessa Bay on the northern coastline of Jamaica, Fleming built his home on the edge of a cliff overlooking a private beach. Of the remote spot, Sevigny says, “we stayed in the Fleming Villa, where they cooked all our meals and we had our own private beach. It was very privileged and extravagant, but it definitely lived up to the hype” she told Condè Nast Traveler. 

Isles of Scilly, UK

Isles of Scilly, UK

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Kate Middleton and Prince William adore the archipelago off the Cornish coast where many of the islands are covered in heathland, and fringed by sandy beaches. While only five of the islands are inhabited, Kate and Wills have holidayed in this area of the world many times, often taking their children along for the adventure. In fact, the birthday portrait released by Kate for Prince George’s ninth birthday was snapped on the Isles of Sicily. They usually stay on the car-free island of Tresco, travelling by helicopter to reach the haven that’s owned by King Charles. 

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

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The small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti, surrounded by sand-fringed islets and coral reef-ringed lagoons is known for its scuba diving and large dormant volcano that sits right in the centre of the island. Jennifer Aniston has holidayed here and it's easy to see the appeal. With an incredible array of luxury resorts many of which feature bungalows sitting atop the calm turquoise ocean, this is a place of complete indulgence. 

Iceland

Iceland

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Scattered with around 130 volcanoes and an abundance of waterfalls,  mysterious black sand beaches, blue lagoons, glaciers, and lava fields, Iceland is a living dream world - no wonder Nick Cave is so enamoured with the place. Having visited on numerous occasions, the Bad Seeds frontman returned to the country with his wife reportedly renting a summer house in the countryside where they enjoyed riding Icelandic horses through dramatic landscapes.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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A true bucket-list destination, the Galapagos Islands fascinate anyone with an interest in the natural world. Home to a diverse range of plant and animal species the isolated terrain inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution following his visit in 1835. Since then many celebrities have embarked on a life-changing journey to the volcanic archipelago including Glenn Close, Daryl Hannah, and Edward Norton. 

Corfu, Greece

Corfu, Greece

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While King Charles and Queen Camilla have travelled the globe in the name of royal duty, it’s Corfu where they like to go to relax. With its rugged mountains and slow pace of life, it also holds a special place in the King's heart since it’s the island where his late father Prince Philip was born. It's also home to some of the best beaches in Greece - which is no mean feat in a country with over 250 beaches.

Cuba, Caribbean

Cuba, Caribbean

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Madonna, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyonce have all holidayed on the island of Cuba and it’s easy to see why. The country’s capital Havana is full of brightly coloured vintage cars, famed bars, like El Floridita where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out, and is the ideal place for sunset strolls along the Malecon. But head to the island’s beaches and you’ll be met by rugged beauty that truly wows. 

Maui, Hawaii, USA

Maui, Hawaii, USA

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Both Nicole Scherzinger and Jude Law have previously holidayed in Maui where hospitality is unparalleled and the views are sublime. But of course, the locale has become ever more popularised down to the award-winning show The White Lotus, since the very first season was filmed at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, in Maui, Hawaii. 

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza, Spain

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Everyone’s favourite royal, Queen Mary of Denmark loves the ocean, especially the bays around the island of Ibiza which is where she holidayed with her husband and children in July 2023.  Taking time off from royal duties to enjoy a European summer, Mary was joined by Prince Christian, Princess Isabella, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine who all enjoyed the crystalline waters of the Balearics.

St Barts, Caribbean

St Barts, Caribbean

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Sipping on fresh coconut water and swimming in the ocean, Beyonce and Jay Z made the most of their time in the Caribbean by making a base on the tropical island of St Barts. The Fench-speaking island, known for an abundance of designer shops and flawless beaches is somewhat of a playground for the rich and famous. As well as enjoying the ocean St Barts is a great place to hike and trek since the island is covered with stunning hills and valleys. 

Blackadore Caye, Belize

Blackadore Caye, Belize

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Leonardo DiCaprio loves this South American island so much that he bought it following a holiday to the area in 2014. Close to the beautiful Belize Barrier Reef which teems with an abundance of the most incredible sea life, DiCaprio intended to develop the island into a sustainable eco-resort.

Necker Island, Caribbean

Necker Island, Caribbean

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As well as being one of Princess Diana's favourite places, a slew of other famous faces have graced Richard Branson’s Necker Island, think Kate Winslet, Mariah Carey, Kate Moss, Robert DeNiro, and Nelson Mandela. The volcanic landscape of Nevis, surrounded by translucent waters and powdery white sand is interspersed with just a handful of luxurious hotels making it a safe place for high-profile figures. 

Mago Island, Fiji

Mago Island, Fiji

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The celebrity-owned island of Mago in Fiji was snapped up by Mel Gibson in 2005 who decided to preserve its natural state, however, it’s said that descendants of original native inhabitants of the volcanic island protested against Gibson’s purchase. As it stands, no one can visit the island besides Gibson and his guests with the place only being accessed by air since there’s no port. 

Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives

Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives

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Choosing the glamorous resort of the Viceroy Maldives, Blake Lively, and Ryan Reynolds have holidayed in the Maldives on several occasions - the first of which saw them indulge in hot stone massages, coral reef dives, and beachside dinners. Set over 17 acres of palm-edged pristine sand the couple were able to relax in utmost privacy since they rented a private villa complete with plunge pool on the Shaviyani Atoll.

Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

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As Jimmy Choo’s hometown, the celebrity designer likes to regularly return home for a vacation taking in coastline drives, roadside fruit stalls, and incredible cuisine. The arty island accessed by a bridge from mainland Malaysia now features a statue of the famed shoe designer marking the place where he first started working. An ideal stop for a relaxing few days on a wider tour of Malaysia, the island is known for incredibly tasty street food. 

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

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JLo is said to be obsessed with the aesthetic of Italy’s Capri, famed for its rugged landscapes, designer shopping opportunities, and addictive restaurants. Situated in the Bay of Naples, the Blue Grotto is one of the island’s most loved sit-seeing spots since the ocean inside the famed grotto seemingly glows electric blue.

Anguilla, Caribbean

Anguilla, Caribbean

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Paris Hilton reportedly adores this tiny coral island that is easy enough to walk around thanks to its compact size. As part of her epic seven-week-long honeymoon socialite-cum-businesswoman stayed in a personalised suite at Zemi Beach House with ocean views and full staff. 

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

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The whole Kardashian family descended on Thailand’s Phuket, booking out the entire Iniala Beach House property for their holiday/filming session a few years back. The huge luxury complex features a range of unique accommodations ranging from luxurious beachfront villas to penthouses with each accommodation having a private swimming pool. There’s also a restaurant on site headed up by three-Michelin star chef, Simon Rogan.

Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

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With fairy pools, whimsical rock formations, and rolling hills, the Isle of Skye is one of the most stunning islands in the UK and a must-visit destination in Scotland. No wonder then that Benedict Cumberbatch decided to join Bear Grylls on an adventure of a lifetime on the Scottish island where the pair descended sea cliffs and braved freezing waterfalls.

North Island, New Zealand

North Island, New Zealand

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Maori culture, distinctive landscapes, thermal wonderlands, and geothermal sites like the Devil’s Bath and Champagne Pool are just a few of the reasons why celebs like Shania Twain flock to New Zealand’s North Island. Add into the mix trekking in some of the world’s most beautiful scenery at Tongariro National Park, seeking out active volcanoes and Emerald lakes and you’ve got one of the most incredible holidays you can imagine. 

Lydia Swinscoe
Travel writer & editor

Lydia is a travel writer and solo travel expert, based mostly in London. Her work has been published in print and online for the likes of Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, BBC Travel, Harper's Bazaar, ELLE, Marie Claire, Oh magazine, Town&Country, and woman&home.