When looking at a world population map it’s interesting to note that the majority of the population is located along bodies of water, whether it be the ocean or inland lakes and rivers. In ancient history, this was likely the result of gathering around a food source but in current times living by the water’s edge is connected more with relaxation and pleasure.

Come with TopTenRealEstateDeals.com to tour some of the most interesting waterfront properties, from oceanfront jungles like Mel Gibson’s Costa Rica compound or Ted Turner’s private island in South Carolina, to a floating condo that travels the length of the Mississippi River following the change of seasons. Or get your groove on in surfer territory on a San Diego, California beach house with an amazing retractable roof. Maybe the tropics appeal with palm trees leaning into the breeze over white powder sand. We take you from Southern California and Hawaii to the Nicoya Peninsula Pacific Coast, Key Biscayne, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Lake Tahoe and the Oregon rocky coast.

Mel Gibson’s Costa Rica Jungle Hideaway

Beach access / Photo courtesy of TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

Mel Gibson is one of Hollywood’s most diversified talents. From action hero to comic to high drama, directing and producing, he has made an indelible stamp on the industry. Like fellow celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pit and Diane Keaton, Mel has been a serial real estate collector including a Spanish-style hacienda with life-size chess board and three guest houses in Malibu; his own island in Fiji; a 15-room mansion on 75 acres in Greenwich, Connecticut; a Montana ranch on 45,000 acres; and a farm in Victoria, Australia.

Gibson’s roster of real estate over the years has shown a common thread. The homes are large and expensive, but the common denominator is exceptional landscaping that shows Mel’s love of nature. Several of Mel’s homes have been in settings of cultivated jungle and gardens such as his oceanfront Costa Rican retreat on the Nicoya Peninsula Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica is well-known as the original getaway outpost for semi-expat Americans when having an off-shore home became a practical alternative to Florida and California. Still rated by the Happy Planet Index as the happiest country in the world, Costa Rica has safe streets, nice weather, good medical care, a thriving economy and is only a 2.5 hour flight to the United States. When Gibson decided the country was a good place for a real estate investment, he didn’t just look at cookie-cutter mansions or penthouse condos. Instead, he bought a 500 acre portion of land with one of the largest and most beautiful white-sand natural beaches in Central America.

Mel’s compound includes three homes with each of the smaller single-story homes having two bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, kitchens, verandas and their own swimming pools. All are built for the tropics with wide expanses open to the outdoors to collect the ocean breezes. The main two-story hacienda-style residence overlooks the long, wide beach and has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a large courtyard and pool.

Originally listed for $35 million in 2010, Gibson has re-listed his Costa Rican jungle hideaway for $29.75 million.

Beach House with Retracting Roof

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Pacific Beach is a suburb of San Diego and a short distance south of La Jolla. If living in a beach house on Pacific Beach isn’t cool enough, how about a beach house with a thirty foot glass atrium and fully retractable roof? Starry nights, the full moon and shooting stars? As if looking out to see the beach wasn’t enough, imagine an evening stroll up the 3-story glass stairs to the retractable glass ceiling crown. Every floor of this home opens with floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls for views across the beach to the Pacific’s horizon. When it’s time for privacy, the touch of a button closes the glass walls and window coverings.

Other features in the glamorous 2,550-square-foot four bedroom, five bath home include a gourmet kitchen with opalescent glass bar top and high-end appliances, smart home technology to operate every electric feature and three media rooms with 50-inch screens. One of the most stunning and unexpected features is a retractable glass-walled Jacuzzi in the main living area. Entertaining and family cookouts can be enjoyed on the beachside patio.

See stars overhead from an ultimately cool Pacific Beach beach house, previously priced at $6.49 million, now reduced to $5.9 million.


See the U.S.A. in Your Floating Condo

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If you think the prospect of retirement is too restrictive or, heaven forbid – boring, here’s a fresh idea that may change your mind. Everyone fears getting too old to have continuing adventures, but the people at River Cities Condos have gone all out to say it ain’t so. Even if you’re confined to a wheelchair, you can have a new adventure every day without ever leaving your home. Follow the spring flower blooms as you travel up the waterways to the northern parts of the United States, or outrace the winter as you head south to the wide beaches of the Texas coast. These are floating condos that can go almost anyplace where there is a river or bay.

The first River Cities condo will be the Marquette, built on barges that can be hooked together side-by-side for wide waterways such as the Mississippi River, or can be unhooked and attached end-to-end to navigate and explore the nation’s narrow scenic waterways. The boat will always be rolling on rivers and waterways, except while in port for restocking and land excursions.

The floating condo sales were on hold during the real estate crash, but have now restarted. A $1,000 refundable deposit is required to reserve a unit. Packages range from a low of $54,600 for two months a year in a 528 square-foot studio to $1.9 million for full time floating in their largest built-out custom condo. Completion date depends on future sales. So far, 40% of the condos have been sold.

The Marquette will cruise the northern rivers in the summer and the southern rivers and Intracoastal Waterways in the winter.

Key Biscayne’s Mashta Point

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Key Biscayne has come a long way since it was originally inhabited by the Tequesta Native Americans, occupied by Spain and successfully getting through the Seminole Wars. Florida became a U.S. Territory in 1821 and Key Biscayne was purchased by Mary and William Davis of St. Augustine for $100, thinking that the government would build a lighthouse on the southern tip of the island. The Davises sold just the tip of the island to the government for the lighthouse for $225. Key Biscayne was also part of the Underground Railroad as the Seminoles and Black Seminoles would escape from slavery to the Bahamas in their ocean going canoes. The island went through several changes of hands through the years. It was a coconut, banana and pineapple plantation until the advent of World War II, but it wasn’t until 1951 when the first real development began. It was mostly tract homes about 1,000 square feet with a carport that sold for about $10,000. These same homes are now selling for over $1 million, demolished and replaced with mega mansions.

In the 1900s, access to the island was strictly by boat. Mashta House was built by John Matheson in 1917, part owner of the island, as a party house. His main home was in Coconut Grove on a ridge overlooking the bay with Key Biscayne in the distance. He held fabulous parties on the Key where the cream of society would arrive in their yachts and moor in his deepwater cove. It was said that during the Roaring Twenties, partying guests would include the Carnegies, Mellons and Vanderbilts. Being secluded from the rest of the island, it was also easy to off load boatloads of liquor during Prohibition. Though the glamorous Moorish-style mansion was torn down in the 1950s, it wasn’t until 1991 that another mansion was built on the site.

Now for sale, the “new” Mashta House sits on its private and gated 1.63-acre peninsula, with the enviable protected cove and 360-degree water views. The 11,588-square-foot house consists of six bedrooms, eight baths, five floors, an elevator, attached garage and swimming pool.

Possibly Key Biscayne’s most prized address and steeped in Old Florida history, priced at $60 million.

Oregon Postcard Home

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Whether referred to as paradise, utopia, nirvana or the Garden of Eden, Nestucca Sea Ranch, perched above its 26 acres and two secluded beaches on the rugged central Oregon Coast is where it’s found. Abounding in natural beauty, the coast is home to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, large boulders arising from the water, wide beaches, towering cliffs and an abundance of wildlife. Nestucca Sea Ranch is located on a cliff where the Little Nestucca River meets the Pacific where one can enjoy fishing for fresh salmon, crabbing, hiking the many wooded trails, observe the many pair of bald eagles that call it home, or maybe wake up to a seal pup napping on the beach below. The possibilities for nature activities are endless whether by land, ocean or river.

Included in the ranch compound with traditional shingle-style exteriors, is the main house with its own viewing lighthouse, a three-car garage with apartment above, guest house with one bedroom, one bath, wide decking and two-car garage and the quaint fisherman’s hideaway with an additional garage, totaling 7,442 square feet of modern living space.

The main house has four bedrooms and five baths. Only the best materials and surface finishes and state-of-the-art appliances have been used, including more than $1 million in millwork. Surrounded by large windows to capture views from every angle, window glass is rated for 120 mph winds and all windows have electric window shutters. The tower “light house” has a circular stairwell of maple, mahogany and purple hardwood with lighting in the viewing peak obtained from the film, “Titanic.”

Like living in a postcard, this quaint estate is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and Little Nestucca River on over 25 acres with 4 bedrooms and a viewing tower. Was originally listed at $7.998 million and was sold at auction in July, 2014 to a very lucky buyer at an undisclosed price.

Historic Laguna Castle by the Sea

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One of Southern California’s most historic properties, Villa Rockledge, originally known as Mariona, was built in 1918 by Frank Miller, the famed developer of the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, as a wedding gift to his second wife, Marion, for whom it was originally named. He brought his architect to Laguna Beach when it was first being developed and had him design a home along the order and style of the Mission Inn on a cliff overlooking its own 120-foot private beach and the Pacific. During its early days, a number of Hollywood stars spent time at the home including Bette Davis, who met her third husband, William Grant Sherry, there in the mid-1940s, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Errol Flynn.

In 1973, after years of neglect, new owners bought the property, began painstakingly restoring Mariona to its former elegance and later changed the name to Villa Rockledge. In 1984, it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places by the State of California and the U.S. National Park Service. The home has breathtaking panoramic views from practically every room including some closets and bathrooms. One of the former owners, Roger Jones, is a noted author and historian and has published a number of works about the history of the home and the Laguna Beach area.

With an overall total of 12 bedrooms and 11 baths, the estate is comprised of the main house and six villas encompassing 8,065 square feet of living space spread over a half acre. Designed in the Mediterranean style, the buildings have old world feel through the use of stucco, red tile roofs and massive ceiling beams all opening to the vast ocean views. Hidden gardens and vine-covered walls, courtyards and pathways create a magical and romantic invitation to explore the grounds with steps leading down to a private cove beach with a tidepool.

Villa Rockledge, Laguna Beach trophy beach estate, is now back on the market with additional restoration and technology. Priced at $30 million.

Howard Hughes’ Lake Tahoe Cabin

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To anyone who has experienced life in the warm natural beauty of a log cabin, it may not come as a surprise that reclusive billionaire, Howard Hughes, had an appreciation for uncomplicated raw nature. When he bought his cabin in the 1950s during his prime, Hughes used it to decompress after living the high life of dating actresses, running a film studio (RKO), making controversial films and designing aircraft.

Hughes’ enchanting log cabin at the edge of Lake Tahoe is the essence of the rustic cabin experience. Built in 1934 by skilled log crafters, it is located on over 5.5 gated acres with over 500 feet of Crystal Bay waterfront. The main house consists of 2,518 square feet with five bedrooms and five bathrooms. The large vaulted, beamed great room contains a massive stone fireplace and lovely water views. The guest house, built in 1940, is 1,343 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths, also with commanding views of the lake and stone fireplace. The property has a four-car garage, pier, buoy and large meadow.

Howard Hughes charming log cabin on Lake Tahoe near Incline Village, was listed at $19.5 million.

Ted Turner’s Private Island

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At the age of 24, Ted Turner was thrust into the media business when his father committed suicide and Ted took over the family billboard business, Turner Outdoor Advertising. Ted soon expanded into radio with a few stations and later into the Turner Broadcasting System that began when he purchased a small Atlanta UHF station in 1970. Always a visionary, Ted was one of the first to use satellite to broadcast his television programming of old movies and sitcom reruns across the United States. He bought the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks sports teams in 1976 and founded the Goodwill Games in 1986, providing more programming for his WTBS super station. He launched CNN, the first 24/7 all-news station, in 1980.

Quite diversified in his holdings, Ted is the second largest private landowner in the United States with 15 ranches on almost two million acres, using much of the land to provide bison meat for his Ted’s Montana Grill restaurant chain, a business he started in 2002 to help save the animal and also makes him the largest bison farmer in the country.

One of the properties in Turner’s real estate collection has recently been put up for sale – an entire private island off the coast of South Carolina. He purchased the 4,680-acre St. Phillips Island in 1979 for family recreational use and, as he told the Wall Street Journal, “While we have enjoyed the island and made so many wonderful memories there, we, unfortunately, are not able to visit it as much as we would like. Therefore, we have chosen to sell the property, in an attempt to pass on St. Phillips Island to another family who will enjoy this natural oasis as much as we did.”

Accessed only by boat from the mainland, the island has only two structures including the main house, which Turner built soon after purchasing the island, and the caretaker’s house. St. Phillips Island is one of the few barrier islands in the southeastern U.S. that has a long, white sandy beach and total privacy. When docking at the island’s pier, it is a four-mile ride through unspoiled natural woods and trails to the house by SUV or cart. Since the island has been preserved under a conservation easement, all improvements are completely self-sufficient with solar, backup batteries and its own water tower. Under the easement, the island is to be kept in its natural condition allowing for only ten residences. s ago under the Turner Endangered Species Fund to help repopulate the endangered species.

The 3,800-square-foot main house has five bedrooms and five baths with a large screened porch. The island is located off the Atlantic coast near Hilton Head and Beaufort, South Carolina. The asking price is $23.8 million.

Hawaii Beach Home

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What could be more idyllic than living on a lovely private beachfront in Maui, famous for its shore breaks and overlooking Molokai? Award winning architect, Jeffrey Long, captured the spirit of aloha with Hawaiian style open air living and by using many of Hawaii’s natural island materials in the construction. Located in an exclusive gated Kapalua resort community on Oneloa Bay, the home has 120 feet of pristine beachfront.

The two-story, 6,631-square-foot home is on .64 acres with prime beachfront, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The drama factor first comes when entering the two-story living area with Sapele walls of glass that slide back into their own pockets, instantly opening the whole house to sea breezes and dramatic ocean and Molokai Island views. Other special features include the use of Ipe wood and travertine floors, an exceptional free standing granite soaking tub carved from a single block in the master bath and Sapele glass doors and windows, cabinets and shutters throughout. The chef’s kitchen is filled with professional-style appliances and onyx and granite counters. There are three bedroom suites with ocean front lanais as well as a guest suite with a separate entrance. The property has stacked Kapalua blue rock walls, double gates and security systems providing excellent privacy. Nearby are fine restaurants, spas, championship golf courses, tennis courts and hiking and biking trails.

One of only four beachfront homes in the exclusive gated Kapalua resort community of Maui. Priced at $20.88 million.

Donna Karan’s Island Sanctuary

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The Turks and Caicos Islands have long been an escape for the rich and famous who have homes on the north island and Pirate Cay. Originally named for another celebrity who stayed there in the 1720s, female pirate Anne Bonny, today there exists the exclusive Parrot Cay Resort and Shambhala Spa Retreat. The 1,000-acre island of Parrot Cay is separate from the mainland and can be reached by boat from Providenciales. The resort has 60 rooms and suites, beachfront villas and two restaurants.

Savvy business woman and long time Parrot Cay villa owner, Donna Karan, has recently put a portion of her large beachfront villa estate on the market, though she is keeping three acres, a house, a spa, and some swimming pools. The seven-acre portion she is selling is a compound of two luxury four-bedroom villas, each featuring a second-floor master bedroom with stunning ocean views, three bedroom suites, and an infinity-edge pool. Designed by Cheong Yew Kuan, the villas’ crafted interiors are complemented by cedar and coral walls, teak furniture, and eclectic works of art from around the globe. A screened-in guest pavilion sits adjacent to the wooded terraces, while a chef’s kitchen and yoga studio are further highlights.

The Parrot Cay Resort is where Bruce Willis married Emma Heming, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner and frequent visitors include Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Robert De Niro, Prince Edward, Michael J. Fox, Janet Jackson, Eva Longoria and Paul McCartney.

Donna Karan is now offering a seven-acre beachfront portion of her Parrot Cay estate for sale. Neighbors include the Willis family, Keith Richards and Christie Brinkley. Priced at $36 million.

Image Credits: Photo courtesy of TopTenRealEstateDeals.com.