There is a special place where the sand meets the surf, where golden sunsets whisk me to an other-worldly place. This time, that place landed me in Grand Cayman.
How to get there:
You can access this small but action-packed island (it’s only 75 sq. miles) via airplane or cruise ship. We have traveled here by both cruise ship and plane. This trip, we elected to fly into the island where we could spend the week exploring the sights and getting a real feel of the local life. The airport is easy to access with friendly attendants willing to help you with any questions. Once you arrive, simply follow the signs for a cab to take you to your hotel or vacation rental. We snagged a minivan ride with other airline passengers. A point of note, if you do decide to share a minivan with others, it’s not necessarily cheaper and you will make multiple stops on the way to your hotel. For example, we stopped at two other resorts before coming to our hotel.
Where to stay:
There are plenty of gorgeous places to stay on this island. We chose to stay on Seven Mile Beach at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. We chose this hotel because of the great location and the many amenities offered on-site. Our hotel offered beach access with chairs and umbrellas that were available for no additional fee. We also had use of water sports and activities. Most of these activities were at no additional cost. For example, you can snorkel, use the kayaks and paddleboards at the hotel. This property also had nightly/evening activities and themed events. One night we chose to dine at the resort where our entire theme of the dinner was lobster. This was an additional cost, but worth every penny.
Things to do:
If you love the ocean and love to explore, this island is jam-packed with all you can imagine.
Hotel activities: we snorkeled at the resort, as well as made use of the paddleboarding available on site. One afternoon, we rented a couple of bicycles and rode from our hotel into Camana Bay, which is a fabulous area that has great shopping and some restaurants.
Day excursion, Stingray City: we signed up for an excursion through our hotel to visit Stingray City. This is a Grand Cayman must-do. A small tour bus picked us up at the hotel where we picked up a couple of other hotel guests along the way. We stopped at a marina to catch the catamaran that would take us to Stingray City. Once we are there, you have the opportunity to swim with stingrays in the wild. No, these are not in cages or swim tanks. If you’re lucky and get a chance to hold a ray (with help from the local professionals, of course) and snag a kiss from a ray, consider yourself doused with seven years of good luck. Once everyone has had their chance to swim with the rays, you are next taken to a gorgeous reef where you can snorkel to your heart’s content.
Day excursion, horseback riding/swimming: After some research, we found Pampered Ponies, a local horseback riding and swim facility. If you have never had a chance to swim with a horse, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. We rented a cab to take us to the facility, where we met the owners and guides who would be helping us that day. After a few brief introductions and instructions, we were matched with a horse and set off for our tour. A short walk down the road took us into a trail right off the beach. From there, we were able to stop for some pictures. This facility even had GoPro cameras that we were able to borrow in order to capture videos and pictures of our day. I thought this was an incredible way to capture the adventure without having to worry about renting or buying one, or accidently losing your own while having fun. The guides were assigned to a family and took as many pictures and videos as you wanted. A major bonus! After a nice long swim with the horses, we made a loop through a sandy trail which led us back to the facility.
Day excursion, rent a jeep: A quick word of warning. If you’re not used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, this may take some getting used to. There are multiple round-abouts, so if you do rent a car, make sure to pay attention to the road signs. Luckily, most of the island isn’t very crowded, so once you get the hang of it, driving along the beach is incredible. If you do rent a Jeep, or a car, these are the major sites we hit along the way:
Rum Point. Here you can spend an entire day relaxing on the beach. There is a restaurant and bar in the area.
Lovers Wall. I’m still not exactly sure why this wall was dubbed as such, but it made for a lovely picture and is an iconic stop as you tour the island.
Blowholes. Nature at its best! It took us a little bit to find this area. There weren’t a lot of signs to indicate we had made it, but once we found it, there is a small walkway that leads you from the street, down to the rocks, where you can watch these blowholes in action.
George Town. Shopping, restaurants, cruise ship tourists. If you want a little bit of bustle, some great port shopping, you could easily spend an entire afternoon here walking along the streets and enjoying some local fanfare that overlooks the water.
We love to eat local. We love to try foods that are not just catering to tourists. We discovered two restaurants that are on our must-stop places to eat for anyone who visits the island.
Peppers. https://www.peppers.ky A local restaurant within walking distance from our hotel that offered delicious local food and drink. If you like Jamaican jerk chicken, look no further. It also offers plenty of seafood options for those that want to stay away from the spice, as well as sandwiches for others wanting to play their palettes a bit safe.
Case 43. https://www.casa43.ky We love Mexican food. It’s just that simple. So, wherever we go, we can’t seem to steer away from the stuff. This time, we asked a local where to find great, authentic Mexican and it led us here. It was a short cab ride from the hotel, although you could probably walk there if you felt like stretching your legs a bit. The restaurant is small and gets packed with locals very quickly. The restaurant offers typical Mexican dishes with a flair. There is quite a large taco menu, which you can choose to purchase a-la-carte. If you enjoy Mexican food as much as we do, you can’t go wrong here. In fact, we loved it so much, we ate there twice.
If you are looking for a laid-back vacation where you can be as busy as you’d like, or as relaxed as you prefer, you won’t want to miss Grand Cayman. This beautiful and small island truly feels like paradise and welcomes visitors with open arms.