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Grand Cayman – Caribbean Paradise

Grand Cayman

It is called Grand for a reason!  The word grand means impressive and Grand Cayman does not disappoint.  I personally have visited this lovely island 4 times prior to our Christmas stay.  I was so impressed with its cleanliness, exploration prospects, & the kind welcoming Caymanians that we brought our entire family of 8 (ages 11-65) for a 10 day stay.

We rented the Christmas Palms – https://www.vrbo.com/291410 – appropriately named since we would be staying over the Christmas holiday.  The home is a 4/3.5 which accommodated our party of 8 quite well.  The 3 masters each had lovely views of the ocean.

Kayaking off the shore of the Christmas Palm house

It is located on the Northern end of the island away from seven mile beach and the more commercial areas.  We loved that the place furnished 2 kayaks for our pleasure.  We spent many mornings surfing the waves on the kayaks and laughing as some of us would get tossed over with the passing waves.  It was great exercise and allowed us to explore the shores from the top of the kayaks.

*caution the sea floor is full of coral closest to the home so wear water shoes.  Also the current is strong is some locations, so prepare & be safe – we always wore life jackets *

10 days gives us plenty of time to explore and analyze what GC has to offer

CTA Highlights:

  1. Captain Marvin’s – https://www.captainmarvins.com/  ** Ronnie is the owner of this family run business. He worked with our group of 8 as well as when I brought a group of 23 friends a few months later.

**FYI: they provide snorkels, masks, fins, and life jackets which saves room in the suitcase for those who thought they might need to pack theirs like me 🙂 **

Fresh lunch at Rum Point with Captain Marvin’s

We had the pleasure of boating on the Cayman Bear with Captain Rolly and Casey.

We did the lunch tour that started at 10:30 and ended at 3:30.  It included 4 stops and lunch.

Sting Ray City

One of the stops is the infamous Stingray City.

True confession – all those sting rays freaked me out so much that on the Christmas trip I didn’t get out of the boat but in January with my 23 friends I braved my fears and had a blast.  So do not fear the guides are wonderful & recognize that it could be the first time you have ever seen a sting ray.  They educate you on sting rays, what to avoid, and how to handle these lovely creatures.

Our stop at Rum Point for lunch which included fresh ceviche from the conch we caught earlier was the BEST!!!

Exclusive: Captain Marvin’s has added a new stop to their trips and it includes exploring the Cayman Crystal caves.

This looks AMAZING.  See the link below for more information on the caves and the address for location.

69 Northside Road, Old Man Bay, Northside, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands

https://caymancrystalcaves.com/

  1. Sail Cayman – Captain Neil – http://www.sailcayman.com/ On Christmas day we rented the sailboat Splendor in the Wind for a half day charter. Captain Neil based our experience on our requests.  He took us to a dive site with wreckage near the coral reef main channel.  We had such a lovely and relaxing time and Neil told us the history of the island & people.  We highly recommend this experience as it was a private tour catered to us and our preferences.

Captain Neil sunset cruise

  1. Horseback riding – http://caymanbeachrides.com/location/ – We had always wanted to ride horses on the beach. What better place to try this event then on the beaches of Grand Cayman.  We met at the secluded Barkers Beach *we thought we had driven the wrong way since the road was literally a muddy one lane dirt road without any signs & enthusiastic chickens everywhere*  We booked a tour with this group and the guide was patient and kind.  The horses were so sweet and the 5 of us that went all had a blast.

    Horseback riding on the Grand Cayman beach

  2. Rent a car – if practical we recommend renting a car.  This is a great way to explore GC and get into the areas where the locals go.  If this is not practical they do offer public transportation for just a few dollars.  *Please note their buses are more like minivans and can get full quickly.  They do run every 15 minutes from 6am to 9pm.  They do not have many designated bus spots but when you see a public bus you can wave a driver down and they will stop to pick you up.  Another fun note – they will also drop you almost anywhere you need.  FYI: They accept USD as well as KYD.
  3. We love to snorkel so we tried out several places throughout the island.  Here are the top 6 picks:
  • Cemetery Beach – Georgetown – this is a lovely place to snorkel. It is not crowded at all and has some lovely coral and fish variety a few dozen yards off the shore.  The current is strong and although we are strong swimmers/athletes we still wore life vests.
  • Eden Rock – Georgetown – this area boasts turtles and an occasional shark although we saw did not witness either of these magnificent creatures but lovely tropical fish. There are also interesting coral formations that look like tunnels that one can swim through.  This area also gives way to Devil’s grotto which is an extension of Eden rock.   Definitely worth a visit to experience these amazing coral.
  • Seven Mile Beach – Westin hotel – all beaches in GC are public so my hubby and I took to the beach of the Westin to see what the snorkeling experience was like there. While there are some tropical fish there are many more in other locations where coral and underwater debris are more present.
  • Coral Gardens -This area is shallow and is located near a barrier reef. There are many fish and an occasional turtle.
  • Turtle Reef – this area is north of the infamous Turtle Farm specifically on the Western side of the island off NW Point Road. This spot has easy access from the shore.  The snorkeling is one of the best on Grand Cayman if the weather is cooperating.
  • Wreck of the Calie – some discount this snorkel site because of its proximity to where the cruise ships dock however it is where a four-masted schooner sunk in 1944. It is literally refuge to many fish who take shelter under her hull, bow, and other ship fragments.  If you walk the shore North of town near Rackham’s Pub & restaurant.  You will see the location marked and often locate other snorkelers in the water to clue you in that you have arrived at the correct spot.

Holiday events – since we visited during the Christmas holiday we experienced some of the local holiday traditions

  1. Dashing through the Sand – 5 of us decided to wake up bright and early and participate in this 1.5 mile run/walk across the sand to await the breakfast and prizes at the end. The race begins near Hemingway’s restaurant, and ends at Calico Jack’s.  We had a blast and would definitely participate again. It was a great way to meet locals as well as other visitors.  One guy flies in from Australia every year to participate – that must be nice J
  2. Crighton’s Winter Wonderland – (opposite Ocean Club on Shamrock) 7 acres of Christmas displays adorn the lawn boasting over 2 million lights and many different themes. It is FREE and absolutely lovely
  3. Mission House in Bodden Town – it is decorated as it would be in the early 20th If you take the Christmas Light Bus tour you get to see this house and many others plus participate in caroling & sample traditional foods.
  4. Singing Christmas Tree – held the last weekend of November- so we missed out on seeing this magnificent event but the display was still up & reminded us that one day it would be an event worth catching. It showcases 75 singers from the island and around the world on a 25 foot stage.

CTA Care Tip:

On Christmas day 3 of us decided we wanted to hike the 2 mile Mastic Trail.  We took off from our rental home along the Frank Sound Road to the trail head.  We decided not to pay for a tour guide primarily because it was Christmas Day and we just wanted to take our time and enjoy the trail.

We had no idea what we were getting into when we set food on the path.  My brother led the way on what started out to be a small dirt path with tall grass on either side.  This lasted about 5 minutes before we were engulfed by the large trees and native forestry.

The sounds bounced off the otherwise undisturbed landscape.  We were mesmerized by the feeling of being transported to another setting where foliage, parrots, woodpeckers and other native species were nested in the trees.   However, this trail is not wheelchair accessible nor for anyone with mobility issues.  We were about 30 minutes into the hike when we encountered knee deep water.  At one point we kind of “lost” the trail and fortunately saw a staircase in the distance.  We directed our steps toward this elevated platform consisting of about 7 steps.  Most of the trail was muddy slippery at times.  We had a blast but we had NO idea how long it would take and were thankful the older members of our party had not joined us since the trail had some difficult moments.

CTA recommended yummies for your tummy:

  1. Tukka – this restaurant we found on our first day.  We met the owner, Ron, a native Aussie who lives in GC now.  He offered up some amazing entrees one of which included Kangaroo lollipops.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere was even better. http://www.tukka.ky/
  2. Ms Vivine’s Kitchen – do you want authentic Cayman cuisine?  The restaurant at first glance looks like someone’s home so you know it’s going to be good. Info here:  http://www.caymangoodtaste.com/restaurants_detail.asp?restaurantID=87
  3. White House – this restaurant was close to where we stayed and we dressed up for a fancy, delicious, and lovely meal.  The staff is fantastic my only complaint … they dont serve anything chocolate for dessert http://www.thewhitehousecayman.com/restaurant-bar/
  4. Rankin’s Jerk Pit – there are several locations but we always stopped (4 times in fact) at the location in Boddentown.  Their Jerk Chicken is fantastic but my personal favorite were the homemade fresh smoothies.  Goodness I am craving one now! https://www.flava.ky/restaurant/rankins-jerk-centre/

The Grand Caymans more than fulfilled our dreams.  The people are lovely and genuinely kind (during our walk to the Mastic Trail we had several Caymanian families invite us in for Christmas food/drink).  There are adventures at every turn whether in the sand or seas.  The weather and water are gorgeous & the food delights your taste buds.  The Caymans has captured our hearts and will forever be exceptional to us.

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