A Diamond in the Not So Rough  –  Great Camanoe and its houses have been featured several times in our magazine. Each time we visit there we are drawn into a world of an island living amongst great houses that have their own history in the land as well as their structure. Built on what is presumed to be Quaker land complete with ruins, Diamond Reef Estate is one of those houses.

Three generations of Berlin women have run the household. The current owners purchased the house twelve years ago, it was built in 1969. Though its sturdy stone walls and floors are original, the present owners refurbished the property to its current status as a timeless estate. In its predecessors' run, the house was decorated with 19th century Country French antiques handpicked by Mrs. Parish, the art décor advisor to Jacqueline Kennedy. The property was built by Dr Upjohn Light of the existing Upjohn pharmaceutical company.


On the 800-foot long waterfront side of the property rests the prize of a private beach and its protected Diamond Reef provides excellent diving and snorkeling.  A private swim dock extends close to the reef. The property comes with a Boston Whaler and a Glacier Bay 2670 power cat. This is island living at its best.


Getting around on the island is provided by the property’s three cars, a Land Rover, a mini bus and a golf cart. The best way to explore the estate and its vast gardens is on foot, following the stone walkways that join the houses together. Comprised of a main house, master suite and guest house each domicile is distinct with its high ceilings, tiled floors and heavy stone walls. The kitchen is the support for the two large terraces for dining and relaxing with all modern fittings and delightful cypress wood cabinets. Having a large pantry with three fridges is necessary for provisioning on Camanoe. The owner's cite the most positive aspect of island living to be the absolute privacy and self-sufficiency that they could not find in Tortola. Here there is no traffic noise, just beautiful starry nights with ocean breezes. Everything needed can be obtained from the island. The property has internet and satellite connections to the outside world, but there is little of the outside world coming in to Diamond Reef Estate.


Reminding us of a lodge, we walk past the overhanging pergola, past a view of hibiscus and bougainvillea and into the Great Room. Immediately, the height of the room and its space is evident. Large wooden trusses cross the high ceiling, its walls decorated with antiques. There is a powder room and fully stocked bar and this bright white room is one for relaxing after a day in the sun. Italian Terra cotta tile is prevalent again.


On the back side of the Great Room, en route to the main bedroom, we pass the hot tub which is surrounded by flowering bushes and vines. Approximately half of the ten-acre estate is landscaped. We reach the master bedroom and the adjoining sitting room which could be turned into a second bedroom. Currently an entertainment system housed in a wall unit and lounges dress the room. The marble bathroom with his and her sinks is decorated with classic fittings. Wherever you go in the property, there are views of the ocean and the islands.


Down another stone walkway we come to the guest house, self contained with kitchenette, an outside shower/ bathroom as well as an inside one featuring Sherle Wagner fixtures. In the courtyard there is a fireplace for warmth or quiet reflection. The bedroom and living room lead to a terrace overlooking the private swim dock and a beautiful view of the ocean and distant islands. Once again the guest house maintains the strong stone walls and floors that whisper strength and tranquility.


The property has undergone major renovation and continues to do so. Having a full time maintenance man and housekeeper is a great help in running the house and gardens. Over the years there has been extensive updating. Though the estate is now complete, its land has plenty of room for expansion.


One of the aspects of the house we came across was its absolute timeless quality. There is nothing outdated in the house in terms of its fittings, taste or furnishings. Running throughout the property are antiques, hand carved sculptures and artifacts from the sea of yesteryear and today.

Diamond Reef Estate has its own boat house complete with desalination system.

Camanoe’s residents enjoy the privilege of a shared dock and communal area by its beach front. The owners still enjoy the evenings at the mail collection library which now serves for get-togethers for owners and guests. Living on Camanoe is living in the BVI. Scrub island and Trellis are a boat ride away and the island is steeped in a history of hard living from the indigo plantations to the current status of self-sufficiency, privacy and contentment. Living on the estate is to live within the island and to let go of the pressures outside. To view the sanctuary of Diamond Reef Estate contact Caribbean Realty.