LOCATED in the heart of the tranquil waters of one of Southern Africa’s richest ecological estuaries, the Thesen Islands are rich with southern Cape history, says local estate agent Schalk van der Merwe, whose office services Knysna and surrounding areas.
According to legend, the earliest inhabitants of the island were the San or bushmen, however other settlers arrived later, drawn in by the area’s beautiful indigenous forests.
The islands now carry the name of the Norwegian Thesen family who settled in the town of Knysna and established a timber processing plant on the island.
Over time it was realised that the scenic and eco-sensitive lagoon would be better served if the island was redeveloped into a residential marina. Due to the fact that the Knysna River estuary is one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the country and a major tourist attraction, the planning of the development of Thesen Islands was extremely sensitive, covering criteria involving ecological, architectural, engineering, aesthetic, social and cultural guidelines. Following eight years of careful research, approval of the plans was granted in 1998, with more than 100 strict and complex conditions. According to Van der Merwe, it is these strict guidelines and unique lifestyle offering that have assisted Thesen Islands in becoming one of the most sought-after residential hubs in the country as well as one of the most successful, award-winning marinas worldwide.
Thesen Islands has recently been awarded Blue Flag status. The colonial maritime homes on the islands can only be accessed through a gated guardhouse or by boat through one of two monitored access canals. Another drawcard of the development, is the fact that residents are within proximity to amenities such as malls, medical facilities and excellent schools and world famous restaurants.
“Due to the area’s popularity, the homes on Thesen Island have retained their value during the recession period and the value of the average home in the area is increasing once again. “It is the only residential marina of its kind in the country and it is this unique lifestyle offering that has boosted demand for property in the area and kept the value of the homes appreciating,” says estate agent Corlia Goris.
According to Lightstone data, the average property price has risen from R3.6-million in 2012 to R4.6-million this year.
Goris says that houses which are the most popular in terms of sales, are those priced between R4-million and R5-million. These are typically freestanding, full-title homes located on the water. “The homes that are specifically sought-after are north-facing, four-bedroom, four-bathroom houses that have their own mooring. Positioning in relation to the water has a huge impact on the value of the property and demand among prospective buyers. “The homes on the canals sell for between R500000 and R1- million more than the properties that are not on the water,” she says.
“The meticulous planning and research that went into the development of Thesen Islands will ensure that not only will the integrity of the eco-system remain intact, but that property buyers can expect a continually growing return on their investment while enjoying the exclusive lifestyle on offer,” Goris says.