How Star Island Became Miami’s Most Exclusive Enclave

How Star Island Became Miami’s Most Exclusive Enclave

  • Joelle Oiknine
  • 08/6/23
The Sunshine State’s buzziest neighborhood is known for its ultraluxe listings—and A-list parties
Star Island coast with boat and two beige homes
Star Island does not have any “dry homes,” meaning each dwelling is on a waterfront property.Photo: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images


When Diddy welcomed new Star Island resident Rick Ross to the hallowed grounds of Miami’s famed celeb hot spot, he didn’t do so with the classic gifting of a windowsill plant or the typical move-in party; no, in true Star Island fashion, the rapper was inducted into the elite tier of property owners in the waterfront paradise with a golf cart to get around the lavish neighborhood. Earlier this month, TMZ reported that Ross is under contract to claim a coveted spot on the island with the purchase of a $37 million mansion.

“This is an intimate space,” said Diddy of Star Island in a video that Ross, who was raised in Florida and dubbed his debut album Port of Miami, posted to his Instagram stories. Diddy cautioned the “Hustlin’” hitmaker, who is notorious for throwing huge social affairs, not to bring too much rambunctious energy to the tony community. “Welcome to the neighborhood! I’m not playing with you, Rozay: no fucking parties, no pool parties. I’m the head of the [committee], I don’t do none of that shit!” 


Rick Rosss new 37 million Star Island abode. The rapper plans on doing some remodeling to the property.
Rick Ross’s new $37 million Star Island abode. The rapper plans on doing some remodeling to the property.
 Photo: Luxury TV/ONE Sotheby’s International Realty


With property owners in the area like hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Diddy himself, and Jennifer Lopez (who has yet to offload the Star Island property she scooped up with ex-fiancé Alex Rodriguez), a group of fascinating neighbors who provide the island’s namesake star power is included in the price tag of the multimillion-dollar homes there. But just how did this 86-acre island become such a haven for the rich and famous?


Star Island’s origins

Black and white aerial image of Miamis Star Island an oval shaped artificial island with one road leading out
A 1932 aerial view of Star Island, with the Venetian Islands in the background and Miami Beach off to the far right.
 Photo: Underwood & Underwood/Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Aerial color photograph of Miamis Star Island ovalshaped artificial island with one road leading out several mansions...
An aerial view of the mansions on Star Island, shot in 2001.  Photo: David LeFranc/Getty Images


Like its Biscayne Bay neighbors, the Venetian Islands, Star Island is an artificial landmass. Florida real estate tycoon Carl Fisher is credited with its development. Completed in 1922, the island was constructed via sand dredging in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers. There’s only one way in (and out): A causeway connects the island to the mainland, and security personnel screen visitors at a gate. The privacy offered by Star Island has been one of the biggest selling points for celebrities flocking to the neighborhood in search of a hideaway in a safe area very likely to be free of paparazzi activity. 


These days, it’s no secret the place is known for its high roller inhabitants, but Star Island’s reputation for hosting big names has been decades in the making. According to the Wall Street Journal, actor Don Johnson lived on the island throughout his tenure as Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice in the 1980s. 


According to local news outlet Miami Living Magazine, the first residence on the island was designed by architect Walter de Garmo and built in 1924. A treasured piece of the area’s history, the home was carefully restored in 2014, and the owners added a second home to the property. The compound was listed last year for a whopping $90 million. 

It’s unclear who the very first “stars” to move onto Star Island were; guided tour groups in the area have become notorious for perpetuating myths about which celebrities live there, even now.


Source: Architecture Digest /


How Star Island Became Miami’s Most Exclusive Enclave

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Joelle Oiknine has been recognized as one of the Top Ten producing agents at ONE Sotheby’s International Realty as well as being named to the Real Trends WSJ Top 100 agents in Miami on multiple occasions.

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