There are a number of waterways which cut inland from the North Sound creating canal subdivisions that are a very nice and a more affordable alternative to buying or renting a property directly on the oceanfront. If you are planning to buy a boat, you cannot beat the convenience of having a dock right in front of your home or apartment.
There are 20 canal subdivisions in Grand Cayman, half of which can be found along the Seven Mile Beach corridor and West Bay, and the other half run east from Prospect to North Sound Estates and the Cays in Rum Point. Canal subdivisions take time to mature and to be built-out and this will have a significant effect on the values that land and homes in these areas can command. Over time this will change as various subdivisions develop and it is something to think about when buying.
The following is a pretty straightforward and honest overview of the various canal subdivisions which can be classed into five levels, one being the most expensive and five being the most affordable. Some subdivisions straddle two levels and this invariably depends on specific roads within the area and the quality of the homes and landscaping on those roads.
Level 1: Top-of-the-line estate homes. Meticulously maintained with strong covenants and manned security gate. Vista Del Mar and Salt Creek are first in class in these tier one communities because of their formal security and attention to detail, well maintained public open spaces and the quality of the homes build within. The most expensive non-beachfront homes are found here. OLEA, Camana Bay’s first for-sale residential community offers beautifully landscaped common areas and access to the highest-quality amenities.
Level 2: Excellent maintenance and services. Luxury homes with a manned security gate and strong covenants. Crystal Harbour leads this class of the field and has been one of the most actively developed canal subdivisions on Grand Cayman in recent years. New to Crystal Harbour is the upscale sub neighbourhood of Lalique Pointé and recently sold out Cypress Pointe North developments. The redeveloped Cayman Islands Yacht Club has benefitted the most from direct access via the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, and residents are taking advantage of its boating facilities and two very good restaurants (Morgan’s and Bàcaro). In due course, a pedestrian trail to Seven Mile Beach will be built. New to the Yacht Club area is the gated waterfront community called Stone Island, which is being developed by the same people behind The WaterColours. Britannia is fading a bit, but is still very well-regarded and a convenient living location. One important consideration, if you are planning on buying land to build on, is that concrete pilings are required in the house foundations of properties in both the Yacht Club and Crystal Harbour. This raises the cost of construction considerably.
Level 3: Good services with upper-middle class luxury homes. Well maintained with good covenants. Canal Point is in this class followed by The Shores and Mangrove Point, all gated neighbourhoods with evening manned security. Governor’s Harbour has lost its sheen due to there being no landscaping buffer from the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, and haphazard road maintenance, but could come back. A newer canal development in the area is Clipper Bay, which is located between Snug Harbour and Canal Point.
Grand Harbour is the most conveniently located of the Eastern subdivisions and many of the homes here are high level properties. There are three distinct areas to Grand Harbour: the older and more developed side called South Reach, which is now a gated community, The Isles and The Estates, both of which have had a lot of building going on recently. The commercial area of Grand Harbour has a recently renovated supermarket called Hurleys, plus two restaurants and a very well-run and popular Skate Park which gets active in the evenings with 6-16 year olds. A little further east, Patrick’s Island has some older and beautiful homes with mature landscaping and wide open basins. It also backs onto a huge sway of undeveloped land with numerous dyke roads cut into it which lead to the North Sound, via numerous inland lakes, and are lovely for walking dogs, running and getting away from it all. Sunrise Landing rounds out this level. Both of these last subdivisions are popular with successful local entrepreneurs. No houses are built in the Cays yet.
Level 4: Decent services with mixed mid-level homes. Older subdivisions like Red Bay, Omega and Prospect all have their “good” and “not as good” sections. As one of the newest projects, Newlands Sound has the potential to move higher but has no homes yet, though land is for sale. Palm Heights in Snug Harbour has the benefit of looking across at Britannia, but this area contains mainly duplex properties. Canal subdivisions in this level: Palm Heights, Omega and Newlands Sound. Sunrise Landing and the Cays at Rum Point all straddle level 3 and 4. Prospect, Red Bay and North Sound Estates all straddle level 4 and 5.
Level 5: Minimal maintenance and either no covenants or these are not enforced. Mid-level to lower-value homes, but most still to a very reasonable standard. All these subdivisions are similar and are mixed quality developments. The developers are now deceased, so there is no consistent ongoing maintenance responsibility. North Sound Estates is farther out, but has been quite active due to pricing. Some homes are very nice, but there is too much debris around keeping prices down. Canal subdivisions in this level: Red Bay, Prospect and North Sound Estates, all of which straddle level 4 and 5, depending on which street you are looking at.