- March 31st, 2012
- in Yachting
Coral Beauty in the Magical Land of Camanoe
I never understood why Dorothy chose the grey shades of tornado-addled Kansas over the opulent magic of the Land of Oz. When she declared, “There’s no place like home” while standing in a fantastical universe in her ruby slippers and wishing to go back to the dust of the rural South, I always thought, ‘No, there are plenty of places like home; there’s no place like Oz!’ But that’s not entirely true; there are enchanted worlds worthy of Oz right here in the Virgin Islands.
On a Tuesday afternoon, I whirled across the Technicolor blue sea toward Great Camanoe, and I felt like Dorothy, but instead of being jettisoned between worlds in a tornado-tossed farmhouse, I was comfortably whisked between islands on a 20’ powerboat. I landed at the marvelous Great Camanoe—a private island of 20 homes and few full-time residents only a two-mile boat journey from Beef Island in the unspoiled British Virgin Islands. Soon after docking in the protected enclosed marina, I boarded a sturdy golf cart and followed not a yellow brick road but a narrow black road over the hillside overlooking the marina and shared tennis court then beyond with eastern views I’d never seen before of Marina Cay, Scrub Island, Virgin Gorda, Fallen Jerusalem, Bellamy Cay and Beef Island.
Our buggy arrived at Coral Beauty, a home near the northeastern tip of Great Camanoe. Stone clad paths led us through a wild garden of bougainvillea, cacti, native frangipani, turpentine trees, mature fruit trees and other lush vegetation on the two-acre property. Blooming red hibiscus summoned Oz’s poppy fields, and several loblolly trees seemed to have personalities akin to those in the Tin Man’s forest. I kept expecting them to wake up. All the colours—from the green palm leaves to the sapphire sea to the magenta blossoms—rivaled the swirling array of Dorothy’s first eye-opening glimpse into Oz when she stepped through the farmhouse door. I truly had the impression of being transported to a world over the rainbow.
The magnificence of the gardens surrounds Coral Beauty, even from inside the property. Solid mahogany framed glass folding doors in the living room become disappearing walls and remove boundaries from the outdoor splendor with only the branches and leaves from the canopy of trees to frame the blue sea and sky. For those times when the weather doesn’t cooperate, the doors can be shut partially or all the way but still let in the light and stunning vistas. Inside the living room, tumbled slate floors and natural stone walls mimic the textures from the boulders and cliffs on the island’s rambling hillsides. When the accordion doors are open, the garden dining area and seaside lounging deck extend from the living room, becoming part of the expansive space. A few steps up, an immaculate kitchen reveals solid mahogany cabinetry, granite countertops, gourmet appliances and artistic fixtures. Light pours in through clerestory windows just below the 20’-high peaked ceiling.
Archetypally, windows and doors play an important role in providing insight and revelations. Coral Beauty harnesses the power of these architectural features to their fullest potential. Every window and door has been carefully considered for its size, shape, functionality, material, beauty and wow-factor. Arched windows in the master suite mimic the arched doorway to the shower and the roundness of the turret shower. Many of the windows and doors in the home feature tilt-and-turn technology which again allows the level of breeze to be adjusted. In the master bedroom, an oversized window frames the stunning view beside a tilt-and-turn door which opens to the overhanging balcony. The downstairs guest shower, adjacent to the lower-level guest bedroom, includes what is doubtlessly the most stunning shower view I’ve ever seen in the Virgin Islands with an arched window between the shower head and the faucet handle—giving an optical illusion that adds to the magic of the home.
A few steps down from the refreshingly cool guest bedroom, a private pebble beach with lounge chairs and private swimming dock showcases the reason for Coral Beauty’s name—the vibrant, shallow snorkeling reef beside the property. This is an underwater Emerald City—the epitome of radiance—an even more magnificent world within the fantastic paradise. Water temperatures range from 75 to 80 degrees—the perfect temperature to allow for prolonged swimming or snorkeling sessions.
A stone path led me back to the main house then through the gardens to a separate guest house nestled in the canopy with its own riveting vistas. From the guest house porch, a loblolly tree made me giggle again about the Tin Man’s enchanted orchard while a turpentine tree stopped me in my tracks with how closely it resembled the Scarecrow when he tangled up his arms showing Dorothy the way to go to find the Wizard. I stepped down to the dining deck between the two houses where a looming shaggy cactus conjured the Cowardly Lion. I definitely had Oz on the brain, mainly because the gardens, the beach, the house and the island deserved such a wondrous comparison.
In order to explore other realms, the property comes with a Jeep Wrangler and the golf cart with a two-car garage and the 20’ foot Scout and a 17’ whaler with dock space at the marina. The marina, library, haul out dock, boat launch, hurricane storage yard and careening yard are all part of the package provided in the communal grounds tucked away in the marina basin of Indigo Plantation Estate. Roads are all in terrific condition and also very well-maintained. Covenants in this freehold estate restrict any commercial development, so the residential community remains peacefully serene. However, fine dining, bars and shops are just a short 10-minute boat ride away at the nearby Marina Cay, Scrub Island, Bellamy Cay, Trellis Bay and Tortola.
Land excursions include the additional beaches and hillsides of Great Camanoe while sea excursions include trips as far as Anegada. Camanoe is centrally located in the BVI archipelago, with Anegada and North Sound to the north and east and Jost Van Dyke, Cooper and Norman Islands. All take between 20-40 minutes to reach by speed boat. But for those like me who would choose Oz over Kansas, Coral Beauty is its own magical world on a private island where one could declare with certainty, “There’s no place like home.” For more information, contact Maritha Keil and her associates at Sotheby’s International Realty.