We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.” —Wallace J. Nichols, scientist and New York Times bestselling author

The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.”
ules Verne

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” —John F. Kennedy

It’s one of the island’s greatest lures. Indeed, the postcard-perfect waters surrounding the Cayman Islands attract millions of visitors each year. With the sea’s symphony of blue hues contrasting with the white sand beaches and shining sun, it’s easy to see why this tiny island paradise is among the top destinations in the Caribbean.

Not only do our warm and welcoming waters add to our tourism product and economy but also bolster our quality of life and well-being. The sea is a natural mood enhancer – water has been hailed for its healing and transformational properties since ancient times.

And people are naturally drawn to the water.

The first great civilizations all started near bodies of water, which provided sustenance, transportation and, of course, plentiful water. Today, maps of the world’s population show that the bulk of humanity lives near water – along coastlines, bays, rivers, streams and islands.

In Cayman, the coastal community of Bodden Town was the first settlement of any size – drawing residents because of its locale next to a once-protected natural harbor.

Historically, the sea was the source of economic sustenance for the people of the Cayman Islands. Turtling and fishing were a main source of food and income for islanders from the early days of settlement. Cayman’s hearty seaman would often go out to sea for months on end to provide a living for their families.

Today, the sea remains a vital resource, providing added value and enhancing just about every experience in Cayman.

People build their lives and homes around being near the water – it’s what draws many here.

In some cultures, it is believed that living near the water brings prosperity. Those who call Cayman home – or who visit here – would likely agree.

George Town Harbour

Coastal lifestyle

The real estate market has been rapidly rebounding of late, with the luxury market a growing niche.

Residential and commercial properties with waterfront appeal are in demand, and developers are responding.

One of Cayman’s most prestigious addresses – Seven Mile Beach – is now home to the island’s most exclusive luxury residences. The WaterColours has now been completed, offering unparalleled waterfront living in Grand Cayman.

This nine-storey masterpiece boasts all the amenities that would be associated with a five-star resort, including valet parking, concierge services, oceanfront infinity pool and beachfront conservatory with a professional chef’s kitchen and wine cave.

It sets unrivalled standards for today’s contemporary coastal lifestyle.

A number of other developments are set to elevate the coastal living experience.

Poised to invest US$1.3 billion over the next 20 years, Dart’s designs for the Seven Mile Beach, West Bay Road and Barkers areas include doubling the Camana Bay Town Centre, multiple hotels and several waves of new residential units.

Its latest mega-project will see a major expansion that will create a pedestrian corridor through Camana Bay from sound to sea.

The former Courtyard Marriott that Dart is now redeveloping into a 10-storey luxury hotel is expected to open in 2016. The resort will be managed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. The property will feature five restaurants and lounges, expansive indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, and a cascading oceanfront pool and a destination spa. A signature of the property will be the panoramic views of the sea from all the guest rooms and public spaces as well as six beachfront bungalows.

Other developers are also wading in. The owners of the former Hyatt are planning to rebuild as the new Britannia Hotel. In Beach Bay, developers are planning a five-star seaside resort. And a US$200 million development will create an ocean-front community overlooking the North Sound. The Gran Palazzo will feature 123 luxury condos and town homes, and will be built in phases over the next five years.

Units are selling quickly at the latest Davenport development in South Sound called Vela, which is Spanish for “sail.” Vela will feature one-bedroom townhomes and one-bedroom apartments as well as two-, three- and four-bedroom townhouses.

Again, water plays an important role. Each segment of the three-phase development will feature ocean views plus an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Cayman’s outer districts are also experiencing development. In Frank Sound, the Ironwood group is seeking to build an ambitious $300 million golf resort community comprising of a town centre, championship golf course and residential communities overlapping the districts of North Side and East End.

David Morritt continues to expand and enhance his seaside resort in East End, including the addition of a luxury 20-unit property called The Londoner.

Dining by the Seaside

Luxury coastal living goes hand-in-hand with sophisticated dining experiences, particularly by the sea. Waterfront dining is an island mainstay, with sparkling waters and spectacular sunsets adding an appetizing dimension to the experience.

Fortunately in Cayman, there’s no shortage of by-the-sea venues serving up stunning views along with the food.

Two new stylish waterfront restaurants have recently come on stream – Catch in West Bay and Morgan’s at the newly developed Cayman Islands Yacht Club. Both offer stunning views of the sea that enhance the culinary experience.

At the Marriott’s Solana, the sea is just steps away. This elegant alfresco beachfront eatery is a prime spot to dine while taking in spectacular sunsets on Seven Mile Beach.

This famous stretch of sand is home to a number of stylish restaurants including the Westin’s latest entry, the Beach House. This upscale yet casual restaurant offers incredible views of Seven Mile Beach. The cuisine is centered on coastal living and foods from the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Asia.

The Wharf is a waterfront mainstay. This long-standing seaside attraction makes the most of its prime waterfront locale with plenty of open-air seating. There’s a comfortable seaside bar, and its famous dockside tarpon feeding always a crowd pleaser.

Another venerable seaside establishment is Grand Old House in South Sound. Specializing in European and island-inspired cuisine, the restaurant is a former plantation home – and evokes all the charm and elegance of the era.

Camana Bay is a popular dining destination, with a growing mix of restaurants that overlook the picturesque harbor leading to the North Sound. Michael’s Genuine, Karoo, Ortanique and the Waterfront Urban Diner are among the options.

Beckoning Blues

Living by the water means taking full advantage of all it has to offer – both above and below the waves.

Cayman’s world-class waters offer a multitude of fun and adventure – whether it’s playing with the friendly stingrays at the island’s top attraction, Stingray City and the Sandbar, an action-packed day of sport fishing or simply cruising the North Sound for a relaxing day out on a well-appointed pleasure craft.

Cayman is renowned as one of the world’s premier dive destinations. Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts can enjoy the colorful fish and corals in Cayman’s pristine waters, which boast crystal-clear visibility.

Anglers also have a plenty of options – from fly-fishing in the shallows to deep sea adventure. Year-round, good catches can take place as close as a quarter mile offshore. Local captains know all the best spots for a custom angling experience in well-equipped luxury sport yachts.

Boating is big here, and getting better with the $6-million refurbishment of the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, another Dart project.

These new developments and ongoing investment show confidence in the island – and enhance Cayman’s coveted coastal lifestyle.