Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Blue Heaven - The Grand Cayman






I felt a rush of excitement as the Flight attendant announces through the system
that we are getting ready to descend.
From the air, you can see the remarkable beauty of the island.
I can't wait to breathe the fresh air,
to wade into the cooling calm turquoise waters.

As I looked out the window,
for a second I thought I was back in the island where I grew up.
The green foliage,
the color enhanced by the recent rain,
small homes built a few meters away from the runway.
 
 
 
 
As the cabin door opened, you can feel everyone's excitement.
My 5 yr. old tugging my arm saying, "Let's go now Mom!"
As we walked out of the plane,
you can hear island music being played from steel drums.

 
I could taste the warm, moist air.
As we walked onto the tarmac,
that warm air felt so soft as it hits my face.
 
As we entered the airport passing through Immigration,
we were welcomed with the widest white smiles,
and a peaceful pace of life.
 
While my husband was waiting in line for the taxi dispatcher,
the kids and I sat on one of the benches,
 and amusingly watched the roosters freely wandering about the airport grounds. 
Besides the roosters,
we enjoyed counting lizards,
 they scurry away every time my son gets close.
 
 

For those who are terrified of lizards,
 they look prehistoric but they are quite harmless.


In my country this rooster will be trained for cockfighting or would be someone's dinner.
 

Taxis and Buses at The Grand Cayman are both mini-vans.
The way you can tell a bus from a taxi is by the colored route number sticker in front of the van.
Taxis from the airport to your hotel at Seven Mile Beach will cost you about $12 CI.
and Buses are $2 CI per person.
Taxis at the island is not metered.


As we drove to our Hotel, it is obvious that
the Grand Cayman has all the advantages of modern technology.
The people here are incredibly cosmopolitan.
There are more than a hundred different nationalities in the Cayman.


Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
 
At the Capital City Georgetown,
business is booming, with over 600 Banks and Trust Companies.
It is considered the 5th Largest banking capital of the world.
Over the last 30 years,
Cayman has seen a steady appreciation of its real estate product.
I am assuming not just because of it's beauty but because it's tax free.

After we have checked-in at the resort,
we headed across the street to a warehouse store
similar to the one we have in the U.S.
We bought a case of bottled water,
 the 2 bottles a day they provide at the hotel is just not enough for our family.
My kids are water drinkers more so than juice.
Isn't that incredible?
My take, if you don't buy it, they don't crave it.
Though we were greeted with a basketful of fruits,
we still bought more fruits,
and snacks for the children to take on our daily excursions.
On vacations,
I still encourage my children to eat healthy.

 
 
 
 
Waking up at the Cayman was such a treat.
Not everyone gets a chance to escape to a beautiful island.
I took a walk while my family was still sound asleep.

When my feet got tired,
I sat and enjoyed
the sound of the ocean crashing, waves hitting sand, then pulling back to sea.
The sound I have been longing for since our last visit at the beach.
The ambient sound always help me relax, focus and escape.

In the Cayman Islands
you'll find the ideal environment for a great family holiday.
Shallow clean white sand beaches, ideal playgrounds for children.
Overhanging trees offer shady spots to hang a hammock
 in which to simply relax while the kids go off to build sand-castles,
hunt for hermit crabs
 or swim and snorkel in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Every night,
my husband and I would go outside our bedroom and lie on the hammock,
or sit on our chairs with our feet on the water.

We would talk about anything, about our day, or our plans after his retirement,
and how wonderful it would be to settle at a place such as this island.
Our chats would be temporarily interrupted by the Catamaran docking at the beach
full of very happy intoxicated guests after their sunset cruise.
People fascinate us.

Ahhhh!!!!
An idyllic week in Grand Cayman.
Ridiculously beautiful place.
Lying around, drinking tropical drinks,
 dining on the Catch of the Day specialties, 
and basking in the golden hues of the Cayman sun.
Everyone is relaxing, and having fun.
 
The beaches here are the ultimate in pampering in opulence.
This is the hidden gem of West Caribbean.
Expensive but worth every cent paid for.
The Grand Cayman captures the authentic island experience.
Ahhhh! Life's a Beach!


If you don't Dive, here are the
MUST DO & SEE AT THE GRAND CAYMAN

  1. Snorkeling trip to the Coral Garden
  2. Snorkeling at the Barrier Reef
  3. Get a Massage and Kiss from a stingray at Stingray City
  4. Lunch at Kaibo and visit Starfish Point 
  5. Shopping at Georgetown
  6. Cocktails and delicious Food at Rum Point
  7. Participate in watersports
  8. Take a real submarine ride
  9. Visit the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm
  10. Simply Bask in the Sun
  11. and of course ... You have to go to HELL
Yes you heard me, we were in Hell ... Hell, Grand Cayman that is. ;)

A must do when at the Grand Cayman
is a snorkeling trip to the Coral Gardens,
 Barrier, Reef and of course,
 Stingray City.
 
We booked our tour with Captain Marvin's.
We opted for the Beach Lunch Tour.
Captain Marvin's started the beach lunch tour in Grand Cayman.
His wife used to cook for the guests beach side on every day trip.
Now, we get to have our beach lunch at Kaibo.

It rained on our way to our destinations, the waves seemed massive,
 the 10 minutes ride to Coral Gardens felt like a lifetime,
 the only thing playing on my mind is the movie
Perfect Storm.
I haven't prayed so hard in my life.
Our group was a bunch of "funnies",
and someone blurted out the theme song to Gilligan's Island,
we all sang and laughed.
That calmed our fearful children and I!
My prayers were heard,
the rain stopped when we got to our first stop.


CORAL GARDENS



They love eating cuttlefish.

Because it was raining,
the current was a bit strong for our little swimmers,
Captain Marvin's crew were great in assisting the kids.

My little Taz had so much fun on his snorkeling trip.
TIP: DO NOT BUY THE SNORKELING SET FROM THE FAMOUS WAREHOUSE STORE in the U.S.
It was a waste of money!!!
 

Oh how I wish it was sunny, the colors on these fish are unbelievable.


THE BARRIER REEF


The current was strong at the Barrier Reef, my husband went,
but had us stay in the boat.


Here's our steward Gerardo cleaning the fish he caught for dinner
while everyone else was busy snorkeling.
 
 
 
STINGRAY CITY
 
 

When we got to Stingray City Sandbar, it was all fun.
 
Snorkelers will prefer Stingray City Sandbar than Stingray City Dive Site
because of the shallow 3-6' average depths.
The sandbar was full of very friendly stingrays swimming around you.
Stingrays can be somewhat aggressive while you're feeding them,
but they will not sting or bite you because they don't have any teeth,
unless you threaten or attack one of them.

The boat crew gave us cuttlefish to feed the fish and stingrays.
When you put your hand up,
the stingrays think you have food for them.
At one point my husband had his hand up,
 he was actually holding our underwater camera,
 and not cuttlefish,
and a few stingrays swam towards him thinking he has food on his hands.



Here I am getting a free back massage from the female stingray with Gerardo's assistance.
 


Ok! Here it goes. anything for LUCK !
7 years of GOODLUCK according to the local tale if you kiss a stingray.
 I kissed her 3x, I guess that's 21 years. LOL!


He did it to make me happy. He really didn't like it!
  

I love watching this creatures swim around me.



Here I am trying to get a shot of the stingrays behind me.
Next time I'll hire a photographer to come with us. Hahaha!

Little Taz was not happy with the stingrays brushing against his feet.


Female Stingrays going crazy over my husband, thinking he was holding cuttlefish.
 LOL!!!
 
Gerardo showing us the Male Stingray which is smaller than the female stingray.


 
KAIBO BEACH BAR & GRILL & STARFISH POINT
 

After snorkeling, we needed to fuel up,
so we headed back to shore and had lunch at Kaibo Beach Bar & Grill.
On our way there,
we had a friend that swam with us all the way to the dock.
We all had the chance to introduce ourselves, or him to us.
He just wanted some good company
and we all named him,
of course  ... what else? ...
"FLIPPER"! 

WHY IS THE WATER GREEN?
The bottom is filled with sea grass or some call it turtle grass.

 
Kaibo is at the North side of Grand Cayman.
It is a rustic Caribbean Bar surrounded by coconut palm trees,
 away from the busy Seven Mile Beach.
Perfect place for a romantic dinner at the beach.
Or just quietly lounge around, sipping a Mudslide in one of the Cabanas
on a lazy afternoon.
 
http://www.kaibo.ky/
                                                                           photo courtesy: Kaibo


After our delicious lunch at Kaibo,
we headed back to the boat to set sail just a few meters to
Starfish Point/ Starfish Beach a.k.a Ivory Kai Point.
It is a beautiful remote beach on the Northern coast of grand Cayman.
It has shallow, crystal clear water, perfect for little swimmers.
Cushion Starfish naturally live here
and frequent the shallows looking for food,
though there is no guarantee you'll be seeing them.
We were lucky to have found a few.
My son just could't stop talking about the starfish
being bigger than his head.
That was the icing on the cake
for this trip.
 
 
 
  
 

GEORGETOWN
 
 
What comes to mind when you say Georgetown?
SHOPPING!!!
JEWELRY SHOPPING & NO TAX SHOPPING!!!
But there is definitely more to see at Georgetown than jewelry shops and banks.



Visit the Local Library built in 1939 and opened in 1940.


Peace Memorial is open on special occasions.
 

Historic Cayman Home

Heroes Square
 



Tile artwork by locals at The Legislative Assembly (Parliament).


Shops
 
Of course the Shopping Center's clock is made by Rolex!


 






a little hat shopping 

 

 
 
 
 
WATERSPORTS
 
 
If snorkeling and diving is not for you,
there's always something for everyone at the beaches of The Grand Cayman.
Watersports Centers offer waverunners, stand-up paddle boarding,
catamaran sailing,
you can try wakeboarding,
learn to sail on a Hobie Wave Sailboat,
Kayak or take the fun Banana Boat ride,
always a hit to the young ones and the young at heart.
If you're feeling a bit adventurous like my husband and daughter,
you can Parasail 
and there's the Jetpack for extreme adventure. 
 
 
Water Trike, its fun and quite an exercise.
Can't contain her excitement to go sailing.


My really tanned son just watching,
not old enough to go on the Hobie Wave Sailboat.


My husband and daughter taking in the beautiful view
of Grand Cayman from above.
 
Our new friends from Chicago leisurely kayaking.
Little Taz on the waverunner just for a photo op.
He was not allowed because of the age limit rule.
He was just happy to get to sit on it, the motor was off, of course.
Ahhhh!!! The simple joys of childhood.

 
 
 
RUM POINT 


Rum Point is a beautiful spot in the Northern tip of the island.
named for remnants of rum barrels washed ashore from ships.
Rum Point had long been a gathering spot for locals, in 1994 improvements were made to create a welcoming atmosphere for both locals and visitors.
Visitors can swim the extensive shallow waters,
snorkel under the dock and look around for  "Barry the Barracuda",
go on a stingray tour in a Glassbottom boat,
then when feeling hungry head to lunch or dinner at Wreck Bar & Grill,
enjoy a massage at the beach
or just take a snooze on a shady hammock.


 
 
 
A very funny board post from the staff at Rum Point
 
 
 
 
 
 



Enjoying the Rock Pool.




 
 

Sunset @ RUM POINT
 
 
HELL, GRAND CAYMAN
 
How does it look like, how does it feel like going to Hell?
 
Well, we went, and we found out.
 
Pretty ironic,
we just got out of Church and here we are wanting to go see Hell.
 
It was comical finding our way to Hell.
Everyone in the island just tell you,
just ask when you get to the West Bay, they'll lead you there..
And we did,
we stopped and asked a man tending to his garden,
 
"Which way is it to Hell?"
 
And he replied,
 
"Just go straight to Hell, it's on the left side of the road!"
 
Hell, Grand Cayman
is a wide open space filled with clusters of rough short black limestones.
This was created with salt and lime deposits over 24 million years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
There is a post office,
and a gift shop where you can mail postcards
to your family and friends post marked
from HELL.
 
 
 


Well this is it for now,
my family is hungry and I have to head back to the kitchen.
More on our trip next time.
I will show more of the island and the beautiful people of Grand Cayman.
 
 
 
 
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