Whether the backdrop is sea and surf, lake or pond, the waterside lifestyle delivers a level of escapism that few other environments provide. In this Luxury Defined collection, we spotlight nine uniquely situated homes, but there’s more on offer than water. Choose from a 340-acre rainforest retreat on British Columbia’s Bute Inlet, the ultimate escape for sport fishing, hiking, and outdoor adventure, or a tiki-style lodge on Maui’s Honokeana Cove, where you can surf, snorkel, or watch the whales and sea turtles. Further inland, consider living on the shores of one of America’s Great Lakes or, across the pond, in a country idyll on a Dutch canal. These dream properties capture the splendor of air and light on the water.
British Columbia, Canada
Fawn Bluff is the quintessential Canadian waterside retreat. Situated on 340 oceanfront acres within the Emerald Edge and the Great Bear Rainforest—one of the world's last great coastal rainforests—this spectacular property has a private lake and the only sheltered deepwater harbor on Bute Inlet. Built into the pristine wilderness, the property was designed as the ultimate sports fishing retreat and includes eight dwellings, which can accommodate 30 guests and eight support staff, a private three-mile road system, an expandable dock, helipad, and barge access. The property is 14 minutes by seaplane from the Campbell River International Port of Entry.
Modernist Retreat on Lake Michigan
With its prime position on 303 feet of Lake Michigan frontage, overlooking the Leelanau Peninsula and South Fox Island, this private retreat is steps from the water's edge yet close to the town of Charlevoix. Residents can walk the beach for miles or wander the estate’s 19 wooded acres. Built in 1992, the property has been expanded and remodeled to showcase its majestic Lake Michigan setting. Highlights include a great room with a two-sided stone fireplace and vaulted beamed ceilings, chef's kitchen, master suite, and a log cabin-style “man cave.” A whole-house Generac backup generator, a three-car garage, and extensive storage are among the amenities.
New South Wales, Australia
A landholding of immense privacy and sophistication, the Nook is one of Sydney’s finest waterfront estates. The property was reimagined three decades ago in the style of a French villa, custom designed to accommodate large families and all the benefits of the Sydney waterfront lifestyle. Scenic water views from nearly every room of the grandly proportioned, five-bedroom main house complement vast terraces overlooking the landscaped gardens with level lawns, a pool, spa and cubby house. At the water’s edge is a permanent private jetty and pontoon, a boat shed with a studio space above, a slipway, and a sandy beach on the Lane Cove River, an estuary west of Sydney Harbour.
De Negen Linden
Architect Egbert Hoogenberk conceived De Negen Linden in the manner of a grand old estate, yet built in 2010-12 with 21st-century amenities and home automation. Multiple sitting rooms, lounges, a dining room, billiard room (all with fireplaces), and a vast covered terrace grace the ground floor. Upstairs are eight spacious suites, seven bathrooms, and nursery rooms. The lower floor is devoted to the swimming pool with jet stream, sauna with steam cabin, whirlpool and showers, fully equipped bar, wine cellar, elevator, and an amazing terrace below the water level of the pond. Negen Linden’s nearly 30 acres of forest and meadows include a monumental park garden; sheepfold; an equestrian facility with 25 stables, solarium, paddock with treadmill, and two competition-grade riding arenas; a tennis court; and even a deer park.
San Diego Bay Haven
At 0.41 acres with 65 feet of bay frontage, this property is one of the largest waterfront lots in San Diego. The extraordinary Santa Barbara-inspired, Mission-style estate offers breathtaking harbor and skyline views. LEED Certified and meticulously designed, this “eco residence” has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and numerous technological upgrades, including a subterranean, six-plus-car garage with an auto turntable. The residence is complemented by a detached two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest house with 1,200 square feet of living space and a private deck, patio, and spa.
Covefront Paradise in Papaua Place
This idyllic tropical estate is in Papaua Place, a private oceanfront enclave at the tip of a lava rock point on Maui’s west coast. A true Hawaiian ambiance with breathtaking ocean and Honokeana Cove views, the property has been completely updated for modern living and is offered in impeccable turnkey condition. The flowing interiors and lush gardens are ideal for entertaining and relaxing. A rock staircase descending to the cove below provides handy access to snorkeling, surfing, as well as turtle and whale watching.
Lake Norman Waterfront Estate
Denver, North Carolina
Situated on the 520-mile-long shoreline of North Carolina’s Lake Norman, this elegant 2.5-acre estate captures 180-degree lake vistas that stretch for miles. The sumptuous waterfront property is defined by luxurious and warm living areas with sweeping lake views and unmatched privacy. Styled as a grand manor house, the home’s Old World details include a slate roof, gas lanterns, and cobblestone driveway. The deluxe appointments include a two-story wine cellar, cigar lounge, owner’s suite with gym, four-car garage, helipad, and a pier with a rooftop deck.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Surrounded by mangroves, Calico Quay is a 6,200-square-foot home offering 250 feet of canal frontage with a 60-foot yacht dock at the tip of a private peninsula in Canal Point, a prestigious gated community on the isle of Grand Cayman. With five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms, this expansive home is ideal for both entertaining and family living. Calico Quay’s unique features include its dramatic ceilings, a wet bar adjacent to the formal living room, an immense kitchen with two islands, a glass-walled master bathroom with jet-soaking tub, a large swimming pool and sundeck with a canal-side gazebo. Two garages with an electric car charging station, and staff quarters complete the picture.
Treasure Cay Beachfront Estate
This splendid 2.5-acre estate was built on three adjoining beachfront parcels with an unrivaled 268 feet of frontage on pristine Treasure Cay Beach. The open-plan five-bedroom main residence encloses 5,560 square feet of living space, with open patios and a beachfront deck. Its great room offers an abundance of oversized windows onto the seaside patio and verandah. Beach and sea views extend to the dining area, living area, and the contemporary kitchen. The master suite overlooks the turquoise Sea of Abaco. The property also includes a separate guest apartment (currently used as a fitness room), a backup generator, and a detached, three-vehicle garage.