Ex­plore: The Cay­man Is­lands

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - CON­TENTS -

Grand Cay­man is the largest and most pop­u­lous of the three is­lands that make up the Bri­tish ter­ri­tory known as the Cay­man Is­lands. The laid-back is­land life and al­lur­ing clear wa­ter makes this a per­fect des­ti­na­tion for a no-has­sle week­end get­away.


Planes, bikes and au­to­mo­biles. Make the two-hour drive to Fort Laud­erdale to catch a di­rect flight via South­west Air­lines' new flight sched­ule and you will quickly be in a Caribbean par­adise. No need to worry about trans­porta­tion when you get there. Just book a rental car with Andy’s, be­cause nav­i­gat­ing around the is­land is sim­ple once you get the hang of driv­ing on the left side of the road and ma­neu­ver­ing through round­abouts. Many of the is­land’s re­sorts of­fer rental bi­cy­cles so you can cruise along the beach or ex­plore a lit­tle far­ther in­land. The is­land it­self is only 22 miles long and takes about 60 min­utes to get from one end to the other via car.


Snorkel at St­ingray City and Rum Point. For years, south­ern stingrays have flocked to this sand­bar, just 20 min­utes or so from land. Tons of tour boats drop an­chor here daily where you can jump into the chest-high wa­ter and ex­pe­ri­ence stingrays glid­ing by you like shad­ows. Whether you take a charter boat or book a half-day ex­cur­sion aboard a cata­ma­ran with Red Sail Sports as we did, you are in for a spe­cial treat.

Our sail­boat, Spirit of Po­sei­don, was a won­der­ful way to see St­ingray City. The crew was friendly, knowl­edge­able and help­ful. They made sure that each pas­sen­ger had the op­por­tu­nity to get up close with the stingrays. The boat also took us for some fan­tas­tic snor­kel­ing at Rum Point, where I saw fish, starfish and sea tur­tles. You can pick up the starfish, but do not take them out of the wa­ter. If you want a photo with them, be sure to keep the starfish un­der the wa­ter so they don’t suf­fo­cate. Grand Cay­man of­fers plenty of other snor­kel­ing opportunities right from the shore—for ex­am­ple, Ceme­tery Reef and Smith Cove.

Hike at Crys­tal Caves. Lo­cated on the north side of Cay­man is­land, the Crys­tal Caves is an un­der­ground cave sys­tem that re­cently opened up to visi­tors. Pre­vi­ously th­ese caves were pri­vately owned and inac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic, which ex­plains their pris­tine con­di­tion. You are able to ex­plore the caves only with a guide, who points out in­ter­est­ing sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites, as well as na­tive plants along the trails that lead you to one of the beau­ti­ful un­der­ground lakes.

Boat through bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence. You have to do this tour if you have never ex­pe­ri­enced bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence. The only elec­tric boat tour leaves from Rum Point. Since gas and diesel are killing the bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence, the elec­tric-boat and kayak tours keep the tourist foot­print to a min­i­mum.

WaveRun­ning along Seven Mile Beach. The coast is beau­ti­ful from the shore, but it is even more gor­geous look­ing at it from the ocean. Rent WaveRun­ners from one of the Red Sail Sports Dive Shop lo­ca­tions scat­tered along Seven Mile Beach. The wa­ter is per­fect for both begin­ner and ex­pert riders. This is a fun break from be­ing un­der the wa­ter.


Seafire Re­sort and Spa. This 266-room ho­tel is not only Grand Cay­man’s first new ho­tel in more than a decade, but also the Kimp­ton Ho­tel Group’s first in­ter­na­tional re­sort. The lux­u­ri­ous and mod­ern ac­com­mo­da­tions are lo­cated on the north end of the world-fa­mous Seven Mile Beach. On top of be­ing warmly wel­comed upon ar­rival by the bell­man, each guest is greeted at the door and of­fered a glass of cham­pagne be­fore even mak­ing it to the front desk.

The rooms are spa­cious with mod­ern ameni­ties, plenty of USB hookups, out­lets and thought­ful items such as um­brel­las and yoga mats. Out­side, the ho­tel prop­erty is cozy and cre­atively spa­cious, with sev­eral hid­den nooks to re­lax on var­i­ous forms of seat­ing from beds to bean-bag chairs to so­fas. The large pool is po­si­tioned di­rectly

across from the beau­ti­ful beach, with lounge chairs, ca­banas and a vol­ley­ball court. The re­sort of­fers a spa, fit­ness cen­ter, kids’ club and three restau­rants. Each evening all guests are in­vited to a com­pli­men­tary happy hour in the lobby, fea­tur­ing wine and a small snack.


Din­ing and drink­ing. From a quick break­fast bite on your beach­front bal­cony (the lo­cal cronut be­came my go-to break­fast item) to a pic­nic-style lunch and beach­front gourmet plates, there are many food and drink op­tions on Grand Cay­man to help you reen­er­gize af­ter some busy tour­ing.

The Ave Bar in­side the Seafire ho­tel is the per­fect spot if you love a cock­tail made by a true mixol­o­gist. A quick walk from the Seafire will lead you to Cal­ico Jack’s, a fun beach­front bar with loud mu­sic and wa­ter to splash in. If you en­joy try­ing lo­cal beers, stop at the Cay­man Is­lands Brew­ery for a tast­ing and brew­ery tour. I en­joyed Cay­brew, re­fresh­ing af­ter a sunny snorkel trip.

For an ocean-to-ta­ble meal, book a water­front ta­ble at Mor­gan’s and en­joy the breeze off Gover­nors Creek, or dine at Rum Point where you can change into your swim­suit for some re­lax­ing wa­ter time af­ter your meal.

A per­fect end­ing to your get­away is Caribbean fare at a premier ocean­front ta­ble on West Bay. On my last evening on Grand Cay­man, the Cracked Conch served up my fa­vorite meal: start­ing with a per­fectly pre­pared plate of crispy cala­mari with a home­made chili jam and a gen­er­ous por­tion of spicy oc­to­pus; mov­ing to the main course, which in­cluded a Cae­sar salad made with a com­bi­na­tion of ro­maine and arugula, fol­lowed by a fan­tas­tic fla­vored herb and panko mahi-mahi served atop a smoked mashed po­tato.


Ex­tend your trip. The part of this get­away that is not so easy is leav­ing par­adise. If you have a few ex­tra days, book a short flight to one of the sis­ter is­lands—Cay­man Brac or Lit­tle Cay­man—for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­tend your is­land va­ca­tion. If you are one-third wa­ter en­thu­si­ast, one-third beach bum and one-third ad­ven­turer like I am, then you will im­me­di­ately start look­ing up South­west flights for your next trip to the Cay­man Is­lands.

Mandy Carter is a lo­cal mom with a pas­sion for fam­ily travel, a pop­u­lar travel blog­ger, in­clud­ing her own fam­ily blog at acup­, and the Dig­i­tal Con­tent and En­gage­ment Ed­i­tor for TOTI Me­dia.


Tons of tour boats drop an­chor here daily where you can jump into the chest-high wa­ter and ex­pe­ri­ence stingrays glid­ing by you like shad­ows.

Red Sail Sports of­fers tours via cata­ma­ran for min­gling with rays at St­ingray City and snor­kel­ing at Rum Point.

Rum Point is a pop­u­lar spot on the north side of Grand Cay­man, where the Top Shelf Mud­slide (in­set) from the Wreck Bar is a fa­vorite li­ba­tion.

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