After years of traveling to different tropical islands, Disney and other beach trips, we are taking some time off of the big vacations and enjoying life at home with our little Brielle. For now, I’ll live vicariously through my friends and their vacations, including this one from my previous roommate Sue, whom I affectionately call my “wifey.” Take it away Snoozen! Over the July 4th weekend, my boyfriend, two other couples and I traveled to Grand Cayman for a long weekend. It is easily my favorite of the 6 or so islands I have visited in the Caribbean. It feels safe and friendly, and the water is a shade of blue that I have never seen anywhere else! While it is really hot and humid in July, the beautiful water is just begging to be jumped into! This makes the heat and humidity almost a non issue. Also, July/August is their off-season which means you can find much better deals on flights and accommodations. Now that I have sold you on a trip to Grand Cayman, here are some tips and tricks I learned from our visit:
My boyfriend, organizer of the trip, found an amazing deal at Grandview Condos through VRBO, named “the most popular vacation rental site in the US.” We have used VRBO for 2 other trips in the past and they have always been wonderful. The condo complex was located on Seven Mile Beach, a gorgeous length of beach with an abundance of hotels and resorts to choose from. Our condo had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, dining area, living room, laundry, a screened in porch, and a good-sized balcony with lounge chairs. (You can see our amazing view from the picture above) The beach and pool were basically all ours. We ended up paying under $400 each for 4 nights. Vacationing during off-peak times has its perks!
This is a British Territory, which means that you drive on the opposite side of the road. The extra tricky thing about driving in GC is that there are both British AND American cars on the road. My boyfriend loves to drive and had rented a car through Expedia. Neither of us realized the driving situation there, and we ended up with an American car. This was a little tricky at first, but he was up for the challenge. Luckily there are no high speed roads, as it’s a tiny island, and everyone is super friendly and patient there. After about 20 minutes, we got more accustomed to it. It was nice to have the car for errands and exploring, but if you would rather not try your hand at this, there are plenty of taxis around to take you where you need to go. Or there is always walking :) Also if you do excursions, many packages will include a pickup from your hotel included in the charge.
Things are often listed in American and Grand Cayman dollars. If you see a price, it’s most likely GC dollars, which adds 20% to American dollars. This will come in very handy at restaurants, which brings us to…
I may be a small person, but I love me some food! Just ask Ms. Spot of Tea Designs. One thing I did not anticipate in Grand Cayman was the price of food. We made a trip to the supermarket the first day (the car came in handy for this) and stocked up on breakfast foods, some lunch items, snacks, and the ingredients I needed to cook a big ol’ pasta dinner for us one night. The price of food at the supermarket wasn’t terrible, but eating out was pretty costly. It sometimes made Manhattan look like a bargain! Carlos and Martin’s Tex Mex Cantina: The first night we arrived we were starving for some dinner and went here since it was by our condo. The food was good, but the wait was long. This was our introduction to people operating on “island time.” It was slightly frustrating as we were hungry and used to the pace of NYC and Boston, but we kept reminding ourselves where we were and we dealt with it. The Wharf: For July 4th we decided to be a little fancy and went to a nice seafood restaurant in walking distance from our condo. It had some amazing views as the sun went down! We started with conch fritters (so delicious) and ordered a trio of fish for two for our entree. It included red snapper, tuna, and mahi mahi. The red snapper was the favorite for both of us but all of the fish were delicious. And if you aren’t into seafood, there are plenty of other options including steak, pork chops, and chicken. One of our cohorts got the beef tenderloin and said it was amazing. **If you happen to be there around sunset, they feed the tarpon, and it is an event. They are enormous, ugly fish who get super excited about you tossing them some food. A sight to behold. Thai: We also ordered from a Thai restaurant on our last night there. While the food was fine, the price was crazy. I basically paid $25 for pad see ew. Yikes! I can get the same thing for $9 in Manhattan. I would generally suggest sticking to Caribbean food, beer and seafood as those are things not imported into the country. The price and flavors will be your the best for your money.
Fun Times and Things:
While I could probably lay on the beach all weekend, my boyfriend is restless. He can get a little antsy so we booked a few excursions while we were there. Seahorses – First up was horseback riding on the beach which we booked in advance. The ride consists of riding down the beach and back again. But, in the middle of that, you’ll get to ride the horses bareback into the ocean. The horses swim with you on top them once you get to deeper water. It’s a pretty amazing feeling riding on a horse that’s swimming. I would highly recommend this for any and all horse lovers out there! The staff was super nice and helpful during our time on the ride, even offering to take some photos of us riding. Fat Fish Adventures: The following day we were picked up at our condo for an adventure out on jet skis. With 2 to a jet ski for a 4 hour tour, it worked out to $85 each — a great value for the money! You start off by going out to Stingray City. Lucky for us, no cruise ships were at port so it wasn’t super crowded there. It’s a little disarming at first to jump into 4 ft of water from your jet ski and have stingrays that are probably about 2 ft in diameter come swimming towards you. But don’t worry! They won’t sting you! They really just want to eat the squid that our guide had. After a few minutes I got more comfortable. By the end I was kissing and holding our friend Freckles, who is apparently our guide’s favorite ray out there! From there, you jump back on the jet skis to a spot where you will snorkel for a bit. There are gorgeous coral below you and beautiful tropical fish all around. Boyfriend described it as looking into an underwater set because it was so pristine. Hop back on your jet skis and you head over to a beach that has a bunch of big starfish lounging at it. Please be sure to not keep the starfish out of the water too long here! It will end in their death, and no one wants that. For lunch, we got back on the jet skis and took the short ride to Kaibo Beach Bar and Grill, right on the beach. I had a yummy wrap and mojito. The mudslide is also very good! After that you head back to the docks you started at, hop back in the van, and drive over the the Caybrew brewery to try out a few of the local brews. My favorite was the White Tip Lager. You can also buy some beer and wine there to take back with you. All in all a great adventure. Those are the highlights of our trip! I hope that if you go, you come away loving GC as much as I do.