The secluded cays of the Exumas in the Bahamas, set in crystal-clear blue waters, have long drawn yachtsmen looking for a little slice of paradise far from the madding crowd. Undoubtedly some of those cruisers have wanted to stick around. But the relative isolation and small size of many of the islands, as well as the hit-ormiss nature of fresh water and electrical utilities, make it hard to find land that's suitable for development.
This is where the Ocean Ridge Estates on Staniel Cay come into play. Dangling like a pearl from a string in this beautiful Bahamian island chain, Staniel Cay lies 75 miles south of Nassau and 250 miles southeast of Miami. This may seem to be the perfect spot for a luxury development-a real getaway. And here's the best part: it's not built yet. The Ocean Ridge Estates consist of eight, once-acre plots of land that sit 40 feet above sea level. After all, no one else can tell you what your dream house should be. But the lots here are a pretty good start-particularly for yachtsmen.
"It's a unique part of the island," says John Quinn, of Haber and Quinn Public Relations and Marketing, a representative of Ocean Ridge Estates. "These lots actually have water frontage on either side, there's the ocean side with the beach, and then the inlet where you have your own dock slip at this little marina that will take boats up to 60 feet." Each of the private slips includes fresh water and shorepower, and the marina has its own thatch-roofed gazebo, a perfect place for relaxing with a cocktail or taking in the sunset with friends after a long day on the water.
For those cruising the Exumas on a yacht too large to fit in the private slips, the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is located close by. "The yacht club, which has slips for megayachts as well as whatever boat you might have, [is] maybe an eight-minute ride in a golf cart from the docks to the Ocean Ridge Estate location," said Quinn. "If you've got a big boat, you've got everything you need there to dock it and head to your own little private hideaway in a hurry."
The settlement of Staniel Cay has all of the amenities visiting yachtsmen need, such as a post office, a chandlery, a library, retail shops, and a church. Though the Exumas offer plenty of dive sites, reefs, and remote beaches to explore, on Staniel Cay you can find all of this right in your backyard. "There is the grotto there from the James Bond movie the water [is] jaw-droppingly clear, and there are one zillion shades of blues and aquas," says Quinn, in reference to Thunderball Grotto, made famous by the James Bond film, Thunderball. "That's about a 10-minute boat ride." The Ocean Ridge Estates sit on the edge of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. Founded by The Bahamas National Trust in 1959, it is the world's first land and sea park, and covers 176 acres of protected marine and wildlife habitats. "I don't know if you've heard about the swimming pigs they have," said Quinn, referring to the island's wild denizens. "It's just hysterical they come out of the bush and hit the water like surfers."
While most of the Ocean Ridge Estates are still being sold and developed, one home has been built already: Kayu Maya-a 7,000-square-foot, Balinese-style home with a 2,000-square-foot guesthouse. Kayu Maya was built by Ellis Diversified, an affiliate of Ocean Ridge Estates, as an example of what is possible on an Ocean Ridge lot, and it is currently available for rent or sale.
While every house built here can be staffed with chef and housekeeper, the greatest luxury may well be the sunsets and sunrises over the ocean-the views from Ocean Ridge Estates might be the world's best sales brochure.
"If you're looking at the website, and you see the Kayu Maya views outside from the dining or living room area, they're just extraordinary," said Quinn.
The Ocean Ridge Estates offer a unique opportunity for those looking to acquire their own little piece of paradise in the Bahamas. Five of the original eight lots remain available for purchase.
"Of the various choices that people have when they are looking for a home of this level in the Bahamas, one of the attractions for this particular location is that everything is there," says Quinn. "Staniel Cay is a little, outof- the-way island, but everything is already in place the island is there, the yacht club is there, the slips are there for the boats, the infrastructure is there, the town is there, and the airstrip is there. All you have to do is build your home and you're done."
Ellis Diversified, (954) 522-4800; www.ellisdiversified.com