Want to vacation like an actual baller? The most elite and famous athletes in the world are known for taking travel to the next level during off-season. For many of these pros, off-season is way longer than the average person’s work holiday. They have the time, the connections, and most definitely, THE FUNDS to create the vacations of their wildest dreams. Whether you aspire to athletic stardom or plan to spend your savings on a sweet upcoming trip, the best and richest athletes in the world have a few tips for you.
It’s tough to make it to the top of pretty much any profession, but people who make it to the big leagues in professional sports are fairly rare, super hard-working, and totally inspiring. Combining natural talent with a million trips to the gym and determination that won’t quit, athletes like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Lionel Messi have earned every bit of leisure time they can get. They’ve also earned every dollar, being some of the highest paid sports professionals in the world. When you have a similar salary to Cristiano Ronaldo or Roger Federer, you know you’re doing something right.
Today’s top athletes make between $50 million and $100 million per year. $50-$100 MILLION. Even with topping up their kids’ college funds and donating to worthwhile charities, these salaries leave elite athletes with plenty of cash to burn. Lucky for us, they often spend it on luxurious trips abroad, away from the hustle, bustle, and paparazzi of their everyday lives as sports icons.
If you want a secluded vacation in paradise, look no further than your favorite pro athlete’s personal Instagram account for all the inspiration you could ask for. We’ve rounded up 21 of the best athlete trips to get you started.
21 Amar'e Stoudemire in Cancun, Mexico
His crew checked in at the four-star Nizuc Resort & Spa for some much needed R&R. This resort is both gorgeous and secluded, allowing Amar’e to relax without worrying about paparazzi. It’s set on the Yucatan Peninsula, a short distance from Playa Delfines.
The Stoudemire-worthy villas feature elegant décor, infinity pools, butler service, balconies, and their own private gardens. There are also six restaurants for guests to choose from, two bars, tennis courts, beachside views, and a gym. Of course, this luxury comes at a price – up to $5,000 per night, to be exact.
Along with taking advantage of the four-star amenities offered by the hotel, Amar’e’s party didn’t pass up any chances for adventure in Cancun. A source told Sportsnet that Amar’e spent time “snorkeling, zip-lining and relaxing on the beach.” Add this resort to your own personal travel bucket list, ASAP.
20 Cristiano Ronaldo in Reykjavik, Iceland
Cristiano Ronaldo is one major luxury lifestyle icon. This soccer star has it all, from a stunning wife and four sweet kids to an elite professional career and world-wide fame. Whenever he has the opportunity to take off from his busy day-to-day schedule and take a break, he chooses the most exciting and trendy destinations. For example, this past March he had a two week mini-break in his training and game schedule, so he whisked his gorgeous wife away for a romantic holiday in Iceland’s capital city.
When it comes to in-demand international destinations, Iceland is quickly rising to the top. It might seem weird for people to choose a cold climate over warmer options, but for pros like Cristiano who earn their living while breaking a sweat under the Spanish sun, it makes sense that a cool breeze and some change of scene would make for a nice change. Reykjavik has snow-topped mountain peaks, outdoor king-sized hot tubs, and a whole lot of natural beauty that this couple adored.
Cristiano’s wife Georgina, took loads of Instagram pics over their trip, captioning romantic shots of her and her hubby snuggling up together on the slopes with phrases like “Eternal Love” and “Amazing Day.” After a helicopter ride that showed them Iceland’s most impressive mountains, lakes, and even active volcanoes, the pair stripped down for a dip in a hot tub and almost broke the internet with their combined good looks. #CouplesTripGoals
19 Roger Federer in Sardinia, Italy
Tennis icon and family man Roger Federer was spotted spending last summer with his lovely wife and kids in Sardinia. As arguably the most famous face of his sport,
it was important for Federer to find a holiday spot that was pristinely beautiful, culturally interesting, and (most importantly) not too crowded with crazy fans. This lesser-known Italian coastal city was the ideal option.
This trip came IMMEDIATELY after Federer won his record-making 19th Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2017. He competed in the tournament, collected his trophy and prize money, probably had a nap or some dinner, and then hopped right on a plane to Sardinia for some extremely-deserved R&R. His wife Mirka and their four adorable kids were along for the ride, making the trip directly after sitting in the audience and watching #Daderer win.
The fam kept cool under beach umbrellas, splashed in the clear blue Sardinian waters, and shopped in the streets alongside locals. From what we can tell, this Italian paradise made the perfect backdrop to Federer’s holiday reading, sunglass-wearing, and sunbathing. Even though the trip lasted just four days, it was enough to carry him through to his next training season – and that’s saying something.
18 Chris Bosh in Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Self-professed “man of style” Chris Bosh is actually really passionate about finding the perfect vacation destination. Over his years as an NBA All-Star he traveled around the world, making enough bank to finance regular vacations ever since. His favorite place to break free from the grind and recharge his batteries is Montenegro.
When you think of vacations off a European sea coast, you probably think of celebs relaxing in Greece or Italy. These are undoubtedly beautiful places with a lot to offer travelers, but Chris suggests going a bit off the beaten path to find your bliss in Montenegro, across the Adriatic Sea and just west of Serbia.
He and his crew stayed at the Aman Sveri Stefan luxury resort, located on its own little island. The landscape here is pretty similar to some dramatic rocky coastline and peaceful warm waters of Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The resort is so beautiful that Bosh and his friends barely wanted to leave it and venture out to new places on the island.
“The food was amazing,” he shares. “We thought about trying other places to get a bite, but the hotel had three or four restaurants that are spectacular.”
If you’re into the club scene, Chris recommends a bunch of the island’s gorgeous open-air nightclubs. It’s got music festivals and parties all the time! The locals are friendly and there’s always a quiet place for relaxation and reflection whenever you need it. What more could you ask for?
17 Drew Brees in Kauai, Hawaii
New Orleans Saints quarterback and multimillionaire Drew Brees knows how to live like an A-lister. When he and his family traveled to Kauai, they stayed in the island's most luxurious and exclusive resort: the Kukui'ula.
The Brees clan took full advantage of the luxury goodies offered on this remote and ruggedly beautiful island. They stayed in a suite with outdoor lava rock showers and custom spa services. Adventures were also on the menu, with surfing and rafting helping Drew embrace his wild side.
Drew is one of the Kukui'ula's founding members. It's like a country club with its own luxury villas on site for visiting millionaires. Located on the south shore of Kauai, it's got a communal clubhouse that cost $100 million to build, private villas dotting the sandy coastline, and over 1,010 acres of inspiring Hawaiian land for guests to explore. As an investor and founder, Drew gets access to all this virtually any time his schedule allows him to take a break.
He spent last Easter there with his family and loved sharing pics of their trip on the 'gram. One was captioned: "Just got back from family vacation in Kauai. Favorite Hawaiian island. Awesome family time, and Bowen's 1st Easter." Who else wants to switch lives with Bowen Brees?
16 Tony Romo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
We couldn’t leave this notorious vacation off the list. Even though it got Tony in some trouble with the fans, we love a good holiday in Cabo San Lucas! You might remember that when the Dallas Cowboys had a first-round loss during the 2008 season, Tony took to Cabo with girlfriend Jessica Simpson and returned to play one more game against the Giants, who eliminated the Cowboys and went on to win the Super Bowl.
People blamed Tony’s vacation for breaking his focus and disrupting his training. They thought that his trip was badly timed and showed that the quarterback didn’t have faith in his team going forward. But when things are going south, why not head south? Do like Tony Romo and choose a destination famous for carefree beaches and party vibes.
Cabo San Lucas attracts dozens of stars on the regular, with a nightlife scene to rival that of any major American city. Tony and Jessica were spotted eating at El Squid Roe restaurant, a local spot famous for attracting celebrities year-round. After sunset, this restaurant turns into a nightclub filled with enthusiastic travelers and exotic cocktails. Forget your troubles under the sun and dance the night away under the stars like a pro athlete avoiding responsibility in Cabo San Lucas!
15 Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. in Formentera, Spain
We all know that holidays are good for your health. Sometimes, a good vacation is prescribed by a sports doctor. Whether or not the athletes actually rest can determine the length of their career, so top pros need to exercise caution when choosing how closely they choose to follow their doctor’s orders. Often they overexert themselves and end up injured longer than they would have been if they’d just taken a break when they were told to! In a job when time off can mean big financial losses, this is a major risk.
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is well known for his soccer skills and hard partying habits, but he was actually following doctor’s orders when he took a trip to Formentera. It was after a serious back injury he sustained in a 2014 World Cup game. Even with his six-pack covered by a support brace, Neymar cut an impressive figure as he sailed with friends and took in some sun.
Usually Neymar on vacation would be spotted with each arm around a girl on some over-packed nightclub patio, but when the purpose of his trip was to stay healthy and relaxed, he chose to stay close to home off the coast of Spain instead. Formentera is the smallest Balearic Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Think Ibiza but swap out the crowds for sandy dunes and the clubs for crystal waters. Paradise!
14 Maria Sharapova on Moyo Island, Indonesia
Maria Sharapova is no stranger to travel. For her career – which involves not only world-class tennis but also business ventures with Porsche and other brands – she has to travel worldwide on the regular. Whether in Paris for the French Open or Tokyo for a meeting about her candy company, Sugarpova, Maria is one of the most jet-setting athletes out there.
Aside from her professional responsibilities, Maria likes to travel at least once a month for leisure and inspiration. She has high standards for her accommodations, and chooses to stay disciplined while she travels by not taking more than one day off from training.
“Whenever I’m travelling, it’s important for me to be in beautiful surroundings so that I can run along a beach or take advantage of a picturesque setting while training,” she tells The Telegraph.
“Privacy is also essential to me on a holiday.” Her favorite hidden spot? The Amanwana resort in Indonesia.
If this resort is enough to inspire Maria, you know it must be special. The Amanwana is a five star resort and nature reserve surrounded by coral reefs and a dense tropical jungle. “I took a sea plane to this small island, stayed in these luxury tents, with monkeys and deer greeting us every morning,” Maria tells The Telegraph. “Going for swims at sunset in the ocean was magical.”
13 Rory McIlroy in New Providence, Bahamas
Rory McIlroy is one of the richest athletes in the world today, with an income pushing 50 million dollars last year alone. As a golfer, he also has lots of opportunities to travel the globe playing the game he loves and getting paid for it. When it’s up to him to decide where he’s going, Rory chooses hot climates that are slightly off the beaten path so he can enjoy private time with his bae. Also he’s got a pretty bad golfer’s tan from hours on the green…that might influence his travel choices. Let the sun hit those shoulders, Rory!
The last time he took a notable vacay was in 2016 when he visited Barbados as a freshly minted World Number One. At the time, he and his fiancé were spotted strolling the beaches hand in hand. They’re rumored to have stayed at an oceanfront unit on the property of Albany House, a Bahamian mansion that was actually used as the home of the villain in the Bond movie, Casino Royal. This property is well-known by the world’s elite golfers, who visit its excellent golf course via yachts or stay on land and enjoy its gorgeous tropical views. The romantic vibes seemed to work on Rory and his boo, who have since been married.
12 Aaron Rodgers and Danica Patrick in Tulum, Mexico
This is a power couple if we’ve ever seen one. Danica Patrick is the world’s most famous woman professional racing driver, with top ten rankings in dozens of prestigious NASCAR race series. Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. Their combined income is in the multi-millions.
The entire world is at their famous fingertips. So where did this new couple go to avoid paparazzi and have a totally secluded getaway? The stunning Mayan ruins of Tulum, Mexico.
Tulum is a coastal city with a whole lot of history and charm. Not only does it look like a restful paradise, it offers travelers opportunities for fascinating island exploration. It used to function as a port city for the Mayans, and somehow their ancient stone structures have remained beautifully preserved after thousands of years. If you visit this part of Mexico, be sure to snap a pic of yourself in front of El Castillo, the most famous and impressive of the Mayan ruins.
Danica and Aaron sipped mojitos at the bar, swam in the Caribbean, and (cuteness overload) rode bikes through the city, side by side. Why not kick off a new relationship among ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization? Out(side) with the old, in with the new.
11 Kevin Durant in Maui, Hawaii
The last time Durant really let loose and had a major holiday was in September of 2017, when he hit up Hawaii. He told reporters that he was excited to get his mind off basketball for a while and rest his body. That made sense, considering he had to be back at it in full-force when October came, when basketball season came again and he had to defend his reputation as one of the best players in the league. Flash forward to now and he clearly did just that, so the rest and good vibes he got from his Hawaii trip really must have worked wonders.
Durant chose to stay in Maui, one of Hawaii’s most popular islands for international travelers. How did he get away with vacationing in such a public place without being swarmed by fans? A private beach side resort, of course. He made the absolute most of his trip by reaching outside his comfort zone and trying a new sport – surfing! Although his body was about as long and stiff as the surfboard itself, this born athlete was quick to conquer it better than most people would. The next time you surf, think of Kevin Durant and feel glad that at least if you slip, you don’t have 6’10’’ worth of body parts to keep track of like he did.
10 Russell Westbrook in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Russell Westbrook has really solidified his position as a first-class baller, on and off the court. With a salary of over $25 million and endorsement deals that equal more than $12 million, the Oklahoma City Thunder player is comfortable splashing out on big trips and gifts for his wife and himself. One of their most photogenic and private vacations happened in picturesque San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Last July, Russell was voted NBA MVP and thanked his wife Nina during his acceptance speech. As he put it: "You make sure I’m on the right track and I’m so appreciative of you because so sacrifice so, so much for me every single day, and I can’t thank you enough."
A trip to Puerto Rico was a good start. Russell shared Snapchat stories of himself dancing with joy in their chic hotel suite, sipping cocktails at an open-air bar, and getting ankle-deep in the ocean. The couple also took to the cobblestoned streets of San Juan for some shopping, where Nina looked like she was treated to her choice of local fare. Dressed to impress and seeming completely and totally in love, the pair looked perfectly at ease in San Juan's tropical atmosphere. Take your main squeeze there and bask in the calm, cool energy that Russell left behind.
9 Jonas Bjorkman in Soneva Fushi, Maldives
How does a tennis star turned elite coach choose to spend his winter seasons? Ask Jonas Bjorkman, tennis legend and current coach of world-class champion Marin Cilic. Jonas has chosen to take to the Maldives each winter to not only escape from colder climates but to put his athleticism to use. He gets a great deal out of it: teach tennis classes in the evenings at Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort, and get to live in the Maldives over your holiday season. Yes please.
Soneva Fushi is the perfect tropical hideaway in the Maldives. We’ve even mentioned it as a favorite among celebrities including the Kardashian family. Its luxury villas are definitely Kardashian-level costly. If guests choose to fork over more than $4,000 per night to stay in a luxury villa, tennis lessons with Jonas actually come along with their amenities at no extra cost.
Want to escape your day-to-day life AND prepare for your Wimbledon debut? Soneva Fushi is your ideal vacation spot. Along with spectacular coral-filled ocean surroundings, it’s got an outdoor cinema, private libraries and gyms, upscale beach dining options, and (most amazingly) an observatory where you can gaze at the tropical sky and dream of your future as a tennis pro.
8 Lindsey Vonn in Queensland, New Zealand
We’re used to seeing Lindsey all suited up in snow gear for her alpine skiing gigs, but this boss athlete is no stranger to the heat. She loves taking trips across the world in her off-season months, especially to hot tropical resorts and new, exotic destinations. She headed all the way to New Zealand for one of her most impressive trips.
Lindsay was recovering from an ankle injury that she sustained while training for the New Zealand Winter Olympics in 2017. She crashed into another skier on the slopes and ended up being out of commission for several weeks.
Lindsay’s Instagram captions explained that she was hoping for a girl's trip while in New Zealand anyway, and that even though she was injured, she was training just as hard as ever. Some pictures even showed her repelling from a post with the help of some friends, and doing a handstand with her injured ankle in the air.
"I had planned to go on vacation with my girlfriends and I almost canceled it because I hurt my ankle….but then I decided that spending time with my friends and being injured was better than being alone and injured,” she explained. “But just because I'm on vacation doesn't mean I'm not working hard!" Spoken like a true champion.
7 Lionel Messi in Davis Bay, Antigua
Where does one of the richest and most famous soccer stars go on his honeymoon? There are plenty of amazing and luxurious choices. For Lionel Messi and high school sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo, the most romantic spot was on a little Caribbean island in Antigua.
If you haven’t heard of Davis Bay, you’re not alone. It’s pretty secluded from the more popular vacation spots in nearby Barbuda. It offers ultra-elite lodgings to starts like Messi for the luxe price of more than $1.5 million per week. He booked a private villa for the couple to use right after their lavish wedding in Argentina.
Away from prying fans and paparazzi, the pair was able to relax and unwind with luxury amenities like a private 50’ by 20’ pool and jacuzzi – as if they needed it with the gorgeous ocean right outside their suite! But can you really ever have too much of a good thing? To access their villa they needed to take a private cruise from Antigua’s capital to the resort’s villas, partially hidden by a line of palm trees and lush island plant life. The natural beauty of the place is a perfect complement to this naturally beautiful and talented couple.
6 Steph Curry in Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos
After last year’s NBA season came to a close, Steph Curry packed his bags and hit the tarmac for a flight to beautiful Turks and Caicos. His wife Ayesha was by his side, as usual, so Steph’s fans were able to sneak peeks of this chic #baecation through her Instagram posts.
We don’t know if it was the filters she chose or just the natural beauty of this part of the world, but the waters of their resort were a clear, crystalline, vibrant light blue, leading to soft-sand beaches that were left empty for this couple to explore. They reclined side by side on their boat with a few friends, navigating the lagoons around the Turks and Caicos islands.
Their resort looked utterly indulgent. Parrot Cay is becoming world famous for its luxury and laid-back island aesthetic. Other celeb fans of the resort include Cara Delevingne, Sofia Vergara, and the Biebs. It’s got gourmet dining, infinity pools, and stunning landscapes as far as the eye can see. Steph even got up to show the world some of his moves at a late night island dance party. As if there was any doubt that guy has real skills off the court, too.
5 Serena Williams in Pula, Croatia
These days, Serena Williams’ life and career just couldn’t be going better. She’s just won her 23rd Grand Slam title, she’s the highest paid female athlete in the world, and she recently had a baby with her hubby, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. A quick scroll through her Instagram will show a long and strong sponsorship deal with Nike, a trip to her friend Meghan Markle’s royal wedding, and cover shoots for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Serena is an athlete at the top of her game.
Her training schedule and her baby keep Serena pretty busy, but she’s taken her fair share of admirable vacations in recent years. Her babymoon in Tulum, Mexico (our number 13 athlete approved destination) gave us major tropical beach vibes. If you want to go further off the beaten path, Serena has still got you covered.
This athlete-turned-celebrity took a beautiful (and beautifully private) vacation with friends in Croatia back when she was single. Pula, is the perfect place for a famous athlete to escape into paradise without being hounded by the paparazzi or swarmed by tourists.
While lounging on a yacht and exploring the local shops along the Croatian coastline, Serena was as laid back as a defending champion can be. Visit Pula for your own elite escape.
4 David Beckham in Mahe, Seychelles
David Beckham’s soccer career may be in the past, but his high-flying lifestyle is still #goals. After an impressive career in the UK Beckham moved his family to California for new opportunities and a change of scene. He now divides his time between their Cali home and Miami, along with the dozens of vacation destinations he visits whenever he can get away from the stress of it all.
One of his most spectacular vacation spots just has to be in Seychelles. This place is sentimental for Beckham because he and his wife Victoria, spent a ‘posh’ holiday here to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary in 2009. At the time they had three children who they sent off to France to be babysat by Beckham’s parents.
The couple spent over $100,000 to stay at a luxury eco resort only accessible by helicopter.
Seychelles was the perfect place for this couple to hide way from the paparazzi in style. Its islands are located in East Africa along the banks of the Indian Ocean, so secluded that only those willing to pay the massive price can access its elite resorts. Where the Beckhams stayed, a staff of more than 250 was on hand to cater to their every desire. A personal chef prepared meals around the clock, and a gazebo attached to their villa made for perfect late night sea gazing. Add pure white sandy beaches and marble interiors for a second honeymoon to remember.
3 Ronda Rousey in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When a bantamweight champion tells you it’s time for a trip, you agree with her. Ronda Rousey’s career as a mixed martial arts fighter with the UFC requires intense focus, strength, and energy. It takes time for these pros to fully heal their injuries between fights, so the best of the best know where to find peaceful, secluded spaces where they can find complete relaxation and bliss.
After winning a fight in Brazil’s capital city (it took Ronda just 34 seconds to knock out Bethe Correa) Ronda decided to find the perfect beach spot to build up her strength and soak in the sun. Rio de Janeiro is known around the world for offering some of the softest and most beautiful beaches right alongside spectacular jungle landscapes and loads of colorful Brazilian culture.
Her closest group of friends joined her for the trip and shared in some luxurious sunny days on the beach near their resort. They also posed with Rio’s most famous statue, the Cristo Redentor, and caught a Flamengos vs. Santos soccer game. Her appreciation of local culture was a hit with Brazilians. Ronda was even photographed taking time to improve the technique of a young yellow belt karate student while she was there. Relaxed, adventurous, and friendly to fans – this is how every athlete should travel.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo (& Jr.) in Ibiza, Spain
How does a pro athlete recover after a late-season knee injury? Charter a private yacht off the coast of the Mediterranean, if they’re Cristiano Ronaldo. While dealing with a healing knee after the 2016 Euro Cup finals, Cristiano took his lookalike son and doting mother on an all-expenses-paid holiday break. For someone who spends most of his time in the gorgeous sunny climate of Spain, it takes a very special place to break through their everyday level of luxury. Cristiano has been on this list several times because of that fact. He knows what makes a vacation EXTRA enviable. In this case, he couldn’t have made a better destination choice.
You might think of Ibiza as a party spot, and you’re not wrong. Wild tourists have made parts of the island less travel-worthy than it is tacky. But if you know where to go in Ibiza, it can be a perfectly peaceful paradise. Cristiano is no stranger to Ibiza’s party-hardy areas, but this time he used a yacht to keep it family friendly. In his words, he found the yacht perfect for “spending time with my little man."
His little man is exactly that – a little version of Cristiano. Cristiano Ronaldo Junior joined his dad in some yacht lounging, infinity-pool dipping, and father-son bonding time on the Mediterranean Sea. The family also hit up some seaside attractions to meet up with other vacationing athletes like Rio Ferdinand and to treat mama Ronaldo to some local delicacies. Looks like sweet trip all around.
1 LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmello Anthony, and Dwayne Wade in the Bahamas
These athletes bobbed up and down on a long yellow banana boat and basically made history in 2016. Rolling Stone called it “a floating basketball Mount Rushmore.” The guys even got a custom Snapchat filter of their avatars on a banana boat to stamp on their next round of vacation pictures. When it comes to holidays, basketball players, and yellow flotation devices, these titans of the game had everybody’s head turning.
This iconic athlete vacation happened on LeBron and Dwayne’s shared $29 million dollar yacht as it floated through the Bahamas for three amazing days. The yacht is almost like a personal cruise ship, with 5 cabins, a fully-stocked bar, bougie dining room and on-board hot tub.
The men were taking an off-season vacation with Dwayne and Carmello’s wives, Gabrielle Union and La La. As if the trip couldn’t get any more ballin'. One way to beat the Bahamas tourism is to stay afloat! The gang didn’t choose to dock at any busy port towns or tourist traps - they had all the fun they needed on their yacht under the gorgeous Caribbean sky. They even ended up swimming in waters that tourists are advised to stay away from, because of a booming shark population. Like true NBA heroes, the guys were more excited about the sharks than afraid of them.
As for the #BananaBoatBrothers moment, it’s hard to say what these pros were thinking! They reached such secluded water that the only shot is a blurry paparazzi one from a long distance away. Post more vacation pics online, guys! We can’t wait to see where they go next.
References: Forbes.com, Daily Mail, New York Post, USA Today