Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson
has traveled the world many times over, but there's only one spot he calls home—his private Caribbean island. For the first time ever, he's allowing cameras inside his new house on Necker Island and inviting Nate Berkus along for the tour of a lifetime. Watch Nate's tour
Richard's Virgin empire has made him a billionaire, but the maverick mogul says he's most proud of his tight-knit family. For Richard, Necker Island represents the beginning of a 34-year romance with his wife, Joan.
"When I was about 26 years old, I was chasing this beautiful lady trying to persuade her to come and live with me," he says. "We discovered this beautiful island, and somehow I managed to get the island and the lady and get the mother of my children."
Richard purchased the island for only $200,000 in the late 1970s. When he arrived, he says there was only one palm tree and lots of cacti on the landscape. Over the years, Richard has created his own world, bringing everything over by boat—including wild animals!
Richard recently finished building his private residence. There are no outside walls in the entire property, which Richard says reflects his personality. "I like to think I'm quite an open person, and this is certainly an open home," he says.
Talk about a room with a view—Richard's great room has a nearly 360-degree view of the island.
Richard says there's one moment the house finally felt like a home. "There's a bird in Africa called a weaver bird. And the male weaver bird makes its nest and then the female comes along, and if she's not happy, the male bird has to rip the nest apart and start all over again," he says. "So when my wife finally came and she approved, that was my moment where I felt, 'Okay, I've made a home, and she is happy.'"
Richard and his family don't have to go far for a dip in the water. Off the great room is a moon-shaped infinity pool.
A morning cup of coffee is even more soothing in this kitchen.
With fresh air and the sound of ocean waves, anyone is bound to have sweet dreams in this master bedroom.
The centerpiece of Richard's master bath is a luxurious stone tub. "Everything in this house is all to do with the views, so the great thing about taking a bath here is that you got the most spectacular views," he says. "And of course there's room for two of you, so that's even better."
Downstairs, Richard runs his 300 companies from his home office hammock. Richard discusses his take on success, adventure and more
Richard's favorite spot on the island is a guesthouse perched high on a cliff.
The guesthouse deck is a perfect gathering space. "It's a bit like being out on a ship's deck," he says. "You've got the big, big rolling waves coming in."
Downstairs from the deck is a completely open bathroom covered in stone. Still, this knight says he's most proud of his throne!
Richard says there's only one way to get out of that bathroom—zip-line!
Off the beach lies the Necker Nymph, Richard's one-of-a-kind, high-tech mini submarine. With an open cockpit rigged with scuba gear, the Nymph flies like a plane underwater. There's room for a pilot and two passengers. "It can go down 150 feet. It can explore wrecks. It can explore the sea," he says. "It's battery-driven, so it's completely silent—you're just like a fish." Watch Richard take the Nymph on its maiden voyage!
For a more leisurely turn at sea, Richard and Nate board the Necker Belle—Richard's $30 million catamaran yacht. Watch video of their high-sea adventures
Inside the cabin is a spacious area for entertaining.
Nate's guest bedroom is done in Japanese style with lights integrated into the actual walls.
Nate says spending time with Richard is like being a kid again—so he can't resist trying out the yacht's trampoline.
On the Necker Belle, Richard and Nate feel like they're on top of the world—literally. Near the end of the tour, the men take an outdoor elevator up the mast to get a final look at Richard's island paradise. "I have a fear of heights, but Richard makes you feel like you can conquer anything," Nate says. See what Richard's children had to say about growing up Branson