Sitting at the Dock of the Bay, there's no better place on earth to watch the tide roll away.

A quiet, dusty road fringed with neatly coiffured, swaying palm trees delineates one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate the world over— Sand Point Road at Rum Point, in the district of North Side on Grand Cayman. It’s in this unique setting that all the clichés roll into one when describing a typical idyllic Caribbean location. On either side of this small stretch of road the turquoise/aquamarine Caribbean ocean twinkles at you, glinting between a handful of ocean-front properties which sit gracefully next to each other, comfortable in the knowledge that their location is very special indeed. The spit of land that makes up Sand Point Road means properties on either side of the road are similarly afforded stunning ocean views, making this real estate a particularly rare commodity.

In 2008 a sailing-loving couple from Europe decided to visit Grand Cayman in order to list their yacht at this popular destination for marine registration. They were already extremely enamoured of the sophisticated yet relaxed and laid-back lifestyle the island offered, yet a visit to the dazzling ivory white sands and hypnotic shallow waters at Rum Point caused the couple to quickly fall in love with this location in particular. They immediately purchased an existing property called Villa Azure (no doubt named after the colour of the waters over which the home presided) nestled on Sand Point Road which enjoys the crystal clear water and white sands of Rum Point, and set about converting the property to their innate design and taste.

Highly celebrated local architect John Doak worked alongside the couple to fulfill their vision, while local designer Michelle Butler created an interior that spoke to their desire for the ultimate in beach chic living. The square-shaped, one-storey, two-bedroom property painted a bright aquamarine features an expansive ocean-front outlook, complete with a wide wooden deck and deeply comfortable sun loungers just beckoning you to lay on and enjoy, with a central lantern for extra light and living space. Whitewashed walls, oak floors and pale details are accented by splashes of aquamarine in the soft furnishings which creates an elegant and restful interior, at one with the aquatic landscape just beyond its doors.

Realising that the location was as pleasing and alluring to their friends and family as it was to themselves, the couple purchased the adjacent property, Purple Haze (once owned by a member of Jimi Hendrix’s entourage, legend has it). Once converted, this property offered everything that Villa Azure gave them, and more. Designed along similar lines to the first property in a square-shaped one-storey lay-out, this time painted a cheerful purple, the home also boasts two private and secluded bedrooms and a living area that offers the ultimate in indoor/outdoor living, with over-extended sliding patio doors that open up to reveal the entire frontage of the property to the gorgeous ocean beyond.

As with Villa Azure, expansive wooden decking gives an extension to the living space where the owners and their guests can gather, relax and drink in the extraordinary beauty of this peaceful location. This time the owners opted for a more contemporary interior, still embracing cool clean whites but combining them with sleek lines, space-age light fittings, and accents of purple. A relaxed palm-fringed Caribbean cabana links the two properties—an ideal secluded spot in which to rest and play.

But still these two properties, as gorgeous as they are, were insufficient for the couple’s needs, which included a growing family with the advent of grandchildren. Instinctively they turned to the opposing side of the road, with the initial intent of purchasing the land to develop it as an outdoor relaxation spot where their family and friends could dine, entertain and play sports, installing a grass tennis court and expansive, beautifully crafted wooden decking that takes you step by step down to the tranquil waters beneath. It was also the perfect location from which to launch boats into the stunning North Sound (hence the house was named Dock of the Bay), Grand Cayman’s hidden gem, a unique expanse of tranquil water that is home to some of the most intriguing and richly diverse coral reef and marine life anywhere in the world.

Having realised that this spot was incredibly special, offering the family particular privacy from the busier location opposite (Rum Point is a popular beach destination at the weekends), they decided to build a one-bedroom home there, to complement their existing properties, a retreat within a retreat. Heightening the tranquillity and privacy the space affords the owners, the lush landscaping is truly commendable—immersing you into your very own paradise island. Neatly trimmed palms fringe the property, offering height and seclusion, while bountiful bougainvillea in colourful hues of purple, apricot and pink add excitement and character and crimson birds of paradise dramatically punctuate the green foliage of the gardens.

Following John Doak’s earlier designs of the first two properties, Dock of the Bay offers the family unparallelled views of the North Sound (technically the body of water is known as the Lagoon, Cayman Kai, a place where you can see the amazing phosphorescence under the light of the full moon) via similar extended patio doors, which open up not only the frontage of the property but also the sides as well to the unbelievably still waters beyond. The architects treated the space as an open concept, creating an entertainment pavilion which opens seamlessly to the outdoors.

Mirroring its sister properties over the road, Dock of the Bay enjoys the same central lantern and one-storey design, but this time the exterior has been painted a cheerful yellow.

Inside, the whitewashed walls reflect the pale washed oak floors that fill the entire interior space, in a finish that blends with the ipé wood on the deck, which naturally fades. Ipé is a large tropical hardwood tree found throughout Central and South America, enjoyed for its durability and strength and was the ideal material choice for the exterior decking.

Sumptuous seating with overstuffed neutral-coloured cushions craves a good book and a cool cocktail for the ultimate vacation location. A feature glass coffee table has a base comprising bleached driftwood, while citrus accents of juicy lemon and lime bring a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the contemporary sleek interior. In the kitchen, the hand-painted concrete tile backsplash in yellow is a nod to the house’s theme colour. The galley kitchen was designed in a high-gloss reflective white to introduce a very modern complement to the flooring and natural setting. Appliances were all fully integrated and panelled to keep the surfaces clean and visually uninterrupted. The designers clearly had great fun creating the technicolour-tiled bathroom, a playful way of reflecting the sporting aspect of the house, with the bathroom having a view to the tennis court.

The Italian tiles each have a gradation of colour which gives a clever three-dimensional quality to the walls. Both the kitchen and the bathroom cabinetry were crafted locally by KW Woodwork, as a high level of customisation in both colour, sheen and fit were required. If Villa Azure is beach chic and Purple Haze a venture into contemporary design then Dock of the Bay is full-on contemporary.

However, it is arguably the outdoor elements to this property that linger in the mind. When the doors open up to the water, the peace and calm is all-encompassing, enveloping the soul in quiet meditation. It’s not just the sight of gently lapping waves that soothes the soul; it’s the salty scents that linger in the air, the repetitive gentleness to the sounds of the water caressing the shoreline and the taste of paradise in the air.

 

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