06/01/2009 at 11:00 AM EDT
When not making blockbusters, Johnny Depp
likes to relax far from Hollywood – around his 45-acre private Bahamian island, Little Hall's Pond Cay, to be exact.
As experienced from aboard his 156-ft. yacht, the Vajoliroja, an amalgam of the names of his children, himself, and partner Vanessa Paradis, "I don’t think I'd ever seen any place so pure and beautiful," the Public Enemies
star, 45, tells Vanity Fair
for its July issue, on sale nationally June 9.
The Pond Cay life, he says, "is my decompression. It's my way of trying to return to normalcy," he says. "Escapism is survival to me."
On the island itself, one can snorkel among barracudas and neon-colored fish, and nurse sharks in what Depp has named Heath's Place, after Heath Ledger.
"You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It's instant freedom. And that rare beast – simplicity – can be had. And a little morsel of anonymity," he says.
"Whenever I was getting frustrated about being 'novelty boy' and making movies, I told myself, Calm down. I can come down here and disappear. I spent the Christmas season here with Vanessa and the kids. You can feed hot dogs to the nurse sharks in the Exumas [the out islands of the Bahamas] – but it's best to not swim when doing it."
Owning one's own island also affords its special privileges, and Pond Cay allows Depp to indulge in his hobbies, which include reading, playing guitar and painting. Quoting an old adage, he admits, "Money doesn't buy you happiness. But it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it."