First off, I want to thank Cayman Activity Guide for all the information, forums, and coupons. I think we saved a couple hundred dollars on all our activities because of the discounts in the booklet. I also found things to do I never otherwise would have considered without the postings in the forums. So a big thanks for helping make our vacation great!
I took my wife, three kids (ages 10, 7, and 4), and parents to Grand Cayman Island from June 17 to June 24th. We are from Houston, TX and this was our first trip ever to the Caribbean, let alone GCI. I’ll give a rundown of our activities and hopefully some useful tips for future travelers.
Weds – June 17th Continental Airlines – We took the direct flight from Houston to GCI and it was a pleasantly short 2 ½ hours. It was very easy to keep the kids entertained on such a short flight and we didn’t have to deal with jet lag. I was shocked to see the flight was 100% full, though. Continental must have been giving some great deals or this was one of the few flights going to GCI.
TIP – On the way there, sit at the back of the plane. They let you off the back down a stairway and you can get to Customs ahead of everyone else.
GCI Customs – We were at the very end of the line at Customs and it went very quickly, even with 3 fidgety kids. They seemed to have a very smooth operation going. Andy’s Car Rental – I was expecting people to be on ‘Island Time’, but it took over an hour for them to get us our van despite only 2 people being ahead of us. I went with Andy’s because they were cheaper and it was one of the few places I could get a van large enough to hold 7 people plus luggage. When they eventually got to us, they said the van wasn’t clean yet. They offered to give us another car temporarily and drive our luggage to the condo. Considering we still had to go grocery shopping and I had no idea when they’d show up, I offered to take the van dirty (we were going to fill it with sand anyway!). Andy’s opted to rush it through vacuuming and they gave us a discount on the van. It was a 9 seater and had PLENTLY of room for everyone and luggage. Despite the slow start, I was happy with Andy’s and would use them again.
TIP – Andy’s told us their gasoline was cheaper than that around the island. You may want to wait and top it off when you return it to save some money. Also, read the fine print – you have to leave a substantial deposit when you take the car. If you’re on a budget, it could hurt.
Silver Sands Condominiums – I zeroed in at staying on North Seven Mile Beach. The south side was rockier and busier than I wanted. Central SMB was too expensive and crowded. That left the North side. And since I wanted to keep all 7 of us in one condo, that left two options – Silver Sands Condos and another one. I called the other one first and they told me I could have a max of 6 people in a unit. When I asked if they could allow 7 since 3 of them were kids, they said no and tried to talk me into renting a SECOND condo (I don’t know why they wouldn’t work with me since it was the slow season). I turned them down and moved to Silver Sands. Boy, did I luck out. The Silver Sands property was absolutely beautiful. It was perfectly landscaped and as I later discovered, it had a much larger beachfront than many of the condos in the area. It was so large and so far from the crowds that we rarely saw anyone at all. It was like having the beach to ourselves. And with the large trees there, we had plenty of shade while still enjoying the beautiful view. Even better, it was just 100 yards from Cemetery Beach and the beautiful reef there. I could enter the water at Silver Sands and swim directly to the reef in very little time. The units themselves were very nice and suited our needs perfectly. Everyone had a private room and private bathroom, there was maid service, and the kitchen had everything we needed. The balcony overlooked the beautiful turquoise water and we saw everything from pirate ships to waterspouts as a storm passed. Who needed the TV? The only drawbacks were the roosters nearby. They would crow at 5 – 5:30 am and wake the kids, my wife, and I up. By the third day we figured out we could drown out their noise by turning on the AC fan. The staff, though cordial, wasn’t particularly chatty. They didn’t volunteer any information unless I specifically asked about it. Despite this, I’d go back there in a heartbeat. I was amazed because I didn’t hear much talk about this condo online and many of the locals didn’t know where it was. Maybe I should keep it a secret!
TIP – The staff leaves work at 4 pm and that’s before the Continental flight arrives. We arranged for them to leave the key under the mat for us.
Eats – We went to Eats for dinner based on many online recommendations. It was good and the interior was much nicer and trendier than I had thought based on online photos. But it was quite busy and didn’t have a lot of seating space. I also didn’t find the prices to be quite as cheap as expected, but it was still very good with a little something for everybody. Foster’s Food Fair – We then hit the grocery store. I didn’t know what to expect but was quite impressed with the selection. Everything you could want was there. We stocked up to cook at the condo and it ended up being a good thing. We saved a LOT of money by cooking there. We shopped at the one in the middle of SMB, but I later discovered that the one in West Bay, much closer to our condo, had a new section that was like a Sam’s Club. You could buy stuff in bulk. That would have been better on some of our items.
TIP – Despite the times listed on their website, the Foster’s in West Bay is open till 11 pm just like the one on SMB. I found that a number of the times listed on websites were wrong.
Thursday – June 18th Boatswain’s Beach / Turtle Farm – We took the kids to the turtle farm that morning. Though it was quite expensive for the full access, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was blown away by the size of the turtles in the main pond. They were amazing. We bought food for the kids to feed them. My son then chased an iguana down the sidewalk. (I loved all the iguanas everywhere on the island! They’re sadly the national roadkill, but I always got a kick out of seeing them in random locations.) They all held some smaller turtles (though they didn’t seem to have any hatchlings like in the ads). We also saw the birds and blue iguanas. I took the kids snorkeling in the pond. Now I specifically went here first because the kids had never snorkeled before. I wanted them to practice in this enclosed location before unleashing them in the ocean. There were plenty of turtles and fish to see in the lagoon, but dealing with a dramatic daughter and two kids who weren’t strong swimmers kept me from thoroughly enjoying the experience. It was cool to see the shark tank next to the main lagoon, but the underwater window was covered in algae and it was hard to see them, especially with the required lifejacket dragging you to the surface. I’d say it’s worth checking out once, but return visitors to GCI will probably prefer to just see the turtles and leave the snorkeling to the real beach. Cayman Kayaks / Bio-Bay Tour – This was easily one of the coolest things we did at GCI and one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in the natural world. I’m amazed it’s not hyped more online. Tom is the operator and a young man (in his mid-20’s). He is quite difficult to get hold of as I know many of you have said. He didn’t respond to e-mails and I think I got lucky when I got him on the phone. But I’m glad I did. We met him in the airport Foster’s parking lot, paid him (and used an Activity Guide coupon!), then followed him to the site. It was in an old quarry connected to the bay and near an industrial area. We loaded up the kayaks and already started to see the glowing water. It was stunning. Anything that agitated the water caused the plankton to emit a little green spark. If you disturbed the water, you got a very visible green glow. You could cup the water in your hand and you’d see thousands of little green sparks. As you poured the water out you’d see sparks continue to be on your hand. As fish would dart away from you, you’d see green trails in the water. We put one child with each adult in a kayak. I wasn’t sure how strenuous it would be and was expecting to be sore in the morning, but it was actually very, very easy. My wife had never even been in a canoe before and she had no problems using the kayak. Tom told my kids that the water was green because of “alien blood” and that an alien ship had crashed in the area. The boys were freaking out a little and I told them Tom was joking. Then Tom took us to a wreck of a tri-maran on the end of the water and guided us under the pontoons while pretending it was an alien spaceship. However, it was very low and I barely made it under. I told my Dad behind me it was low, but as he ducked they tipped the kayak and went in the waist deep water with my daughter (with a spectacular glow, I must say!). They got back in and Tom was very apologetic. He said this was the first time he’d had anyone take a spill in one of the kayaks. Based on how easy we had it up to that point, I believe him. (My dad and I are quite tall, but so is Tom and another guest on the tour. I think they need a height limit on the ‘alien experience’!) He then took us by the mangrove trees and gave the scientific explanation behind the bio-luminescence. Overall it was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Just expect to have to call Tom a lot.
TIP – Take insect repellent. I got bites on any part of my body I didn’t spray.
Friday – June 19th Eats – We returned to Eats for breakfast, but it was VERY crowded. I think you would want to get there early to avoid crowds.
We used Friday just to relax and shop while the cruise ships were out of town. We bought the Lladro Cayman exclusive stingray statue, some pirate stuff for the kids, and other things. We went and saw the glass blowing, ate at the Burger King on the beach, and then drove up to the Rum Cake factory to buy some cakes (though you could buy them anywhere). My daughter also took a bunch of coupons for free opals, sapphires, treasure coins, black coral, etc and hit them all to get the freebies. She was happy with her trinkets.
Cathy Church’s – I wanted to try out a digital underwater camera for taking reef and stingray pictures. We drove out to Sunset House and went downstairs to the shop. It was very, very busy but someone helped us. I asked to rent a digital camera. They offered me one of the expensive ones first, but I asked for the one for $40 a day. However, they were going to make me bring it back before I went to stingray city on Saturday. They eventually allowed me to use it Friday and Saturday just as I was about to give up and walk out the door. I now wish I had simply bought one of their underwater cameras because I had so much fun snapping pictures. I was doing it blindly a lot, but I probably got one fantastic shot out of every 10 shots I took. I was just getting the hang of it when I had to return it. I also made the mistake of using the flash a lot that drained the battery faster and only allowed me to get about half the pictures I would have otherwise. When we later returned the camera, it took quite a while to burn the CD, but we spent the time buying Cathy’s prints. Her husband also let my 4-year-old son hold their parrot on his arm and he told me their stories of meeting James Cameron, Gene Hackman, and Clive Cussler. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more underwater photography. The Wharf – We went to the Wharf with my parents and two of the kids while my wife stayed at the condo with a sick kid. While I felt underdressed and I was worried my kids might disturb other diners, we really liked the place. It had a great setting next to the water. The harpist came by and did some amazing songs and requests for us. The salad was OK, but the fish I ordered was good. Dessert was even better. I knew it was going to be expensive, but even I was shocked when the bill came back at $300. That was without any alcohol! We then let the kids feed the tarpon. The Wharf had more tarpon at feeding time than any other restaurant we went to. I would go back, but I’d budget for it.
TIP – You don’t have to wait till 9 pm to feed the tarpon. Our waiter brought some fish scraps for us early to feed them which was good since we wanted to get the kids home to bed.
Saturday – June 20th Soto’s Cruises – I had originally booked a tour with Fat Fish Adventures (see more below), but that fell through due to some mechanical problems they were having. Not wanting to miss Stingray City, I booked with Soto’s at the last minute. While it was a bit hard finding their location in a residential area, the staff was great. I believe it was Randy, Billy, and Sonja. My son got sunscreen in his eyes and Billy helped us wash it out. We went to the coral reef first for snorkeling. It was a bit overwhelming trying to take care of 3 kids in the ocean, but it was easily the best reef we saw while snorkeling. A stingray with no tail showed up and came right up to us. It initially freaked out the kids because it was rather pushy for food, but they soon became enchanted with it. Billy also said, “Want to see a moray eel?” We followed him and he swam down, clapped in front of a crevice, and the eel swam out. Now I’m a bit familiar with marine life, so I know that the eel was pissed off and defending its territory. I hung back with the kids and snapped photos, but I was wondering about the wisdom of antagonizing an eel. At the same time, I wanted to see the sucker and knew he wasn’t being hurt. J We then got back on board and went to Stingray Sandbar. (I now know Stingray City and Stingray Sandbar are two different locations – they just call them all Stingray City.) Earlier I posted in this forum that my Dad was very, very wary of interacting with the stingrays. He quickly warmed up to it when he saw how tame they were. And though Billy harassed the eel at the reef, he was very respectful of the stingrays. He told us to remove shoes and snorkeling equipment so we didn’t hurt the rays. I saw not everyone was doing that on other tours, especially on the Red Sail boats in the area. I would have liked to look underwater at the rays, but the welfare of the animals was more important. My 7 year old started really freaking out about the rays, though. Sonja took the time to work with him and just as we were about to leave, he agreed to pet one of the small males. By the end, the kids wanted to go back (and we did). They still say it was their favorite part of the trip. Overall Soto’s did a very nice job, were very personal, and I would use them again. They also did the tour for a good price.
TIP – Use the snorkel gear Soto’s provides. It’s one less thing to haul around and clean up later. They also take photos of you and burn them on a CD for a fee, but it can add up quick. We spent $60 for around 20 photos. I recommend taking your own waterproof camera (Cathy’s $40 would work) and taking your own photos.
Domino’s – My wife and I left the kids with my parents while we went out. We ordered them pizza while they played on the beach at Silver Sands. The pizza was over $50, but satisfied them and we ate leftovers for a while after that.
TIP – The West Bay Domino’s only delivers on certain nights. Check in advance.
Grand Old House – My wife and I then went to Grand Old House. It was almost empty, but we were blown away by the location. We sat so close to the water that it actually splashed on my leg at one point. We got to see a spectacular sunset but forgot our camera at home. We got Caesar salad, I got rack of lamb, and we ended with chocolate cake. Overall, a nice location.
TIP – Take a camera!
Sunday – June 21st Church – We went to church on Sunday morning. We were debating it since we were tired and had activities we still wanted to check out, but we were ultimately glad we went. Half the congregation came up and said hi to us. The kids met some of the local children and we met people on a personal level that we otherwise would not have. It made us feel a little closer to the island and our fellow Christians. We’re going to try to continue to support them even though we’re back in Texas. And since it was Father’s Day, they gave my Dad and I some gifts. Overall it was a very good and encouraging experience. Ragazzi’s – Having heard good reports about the Italian restaurant, we went here to get some air conditioning and lunch. Good food and good pizza. Very nice setting for a storefront restaurant. But like everyplace else, it was expensive. Starfish Beach – My Dad was feeling ill, so we left him at the condo and drove around the island. It was nice seeing the flowers in all the yards, the local houses, and the rest of the beach around the island. It was a good thing I had detailed directions to Starfish Beach because I never would have found it otherwise. When we got there, we found a group of loud and obnoxious college age students drinking and flirting with each other. Not a good thing for my kids or my Mom who was with us. But I was determined to find a starfish, so I swam out looking for one. I found one and brought my prize back to shore…only to discover the rest of them had already found two in knee deep water. We took photos and returned them to the water. I was a bit shocked, though, to see numerous jet skis and boats tearing through the water where I had just been swimming. We then left. Rum Point – We stopped at Rum Point for photos and a look around. I had heard this was always crowded when the cruise ships came into town. But on that Sunday, it was jam-packed despite no cruise ships in town. There were boats everywhere and people all over the place. It was the most crowded place I had seen on the island. I had always heard this was the least crowded place on the island, but it wasn’t the case that day. We let the kids play in the sand, swam a little, then left. Monday – June 22nd
Atlantis Submarines – We took a morning submarine tour. Though it was extremely expensive, it was a great experience. There was only one other family on the sub and we practically had it to ourselves. We saw some stunning sights as it descended as far as 100 ft. We saw sea turtles, all sorts of fish, and other things I hadn’t seen on shallower reefs. For my Mom who didn’t snorkel much, this was a fantastic sight. The younger kids did start getting bored towards the end, but my older daughter loved identifying fish.
TIP – Try and sit at the front of the submarine so you can hear the tour guide better. Between the poor speaker system and his accent, we missed most of what he was pointing out.
Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise – We then got on the pirate ship. My youngest son was most excited by this. He had a hat, a sword, and a self-appointed pirate name – “Nose Hair the Pirate”. (I don’t know how he came up with this.) We all got on the ship and then started cruising north along SMB. The crew then gathered all the kids together for inspection and pirate initiation. They were all very much into it, but as the pirate started swearing in the crew as official pirates, it all became a little too real for “Nose Hair” and he ran to mommy. ? He eventually calmed down when he realized they were “good pirates” and enjoyed the rest of it. We shot cannons at a sailboat. I also discovered that forum poster “tracya” was on the pirate ship with us. She was dubbed the dreaded “Mommy Spankbottom” and tied to the mast. I’m sure she’ll have the full story here, but she was tortured with “Caribbean Diamonds” aka ice, much to the enjoyment of her kids. Her father fared less well as he got quite seasick. I’ll be sure to stay upwind of him next time! ? We then stopped for a swim near Eden Rock then returned to port. Wreck of the Cali – Since I was still wet from the pirate cruise, I asked if we could stop for a moment so I could quickly check out the wreck. While my parents and daughter went to get ice cream at Dairy Queen, I hopped in the water with my wife and kids and looked for the wreck. I had a hard time finding where to enter the water and where to swim because I never found clear directions or maps. I eventually found it near a floating dock and some orange buoys just out from Hammerhead’s. Wow! It was much bigger than I expected. We saw the ship’s remains and the engine block. We also saw a stingray swim by and a sea turtle swam under us and lingered for a while as we took pictures. It was incredible. I would highly recommend people check this out.
TIP – Don’t pay to enter the water at the dive shop. Just park and jump in nearby for free and use your own snorkel gear.
Cracked Conch – My parents then went for an evening on their own at the Cracked Conch. When they returned, they said it was “interesting”. They liked the setting, enjoyed the sunset, and saw the Jolly Roger cruise by, but they just said the food was OK. They were also seated next to a table of 12 that was very loud and was led by a particularly loud idiot whose conversation consisted of, “If you could only eat one food forever, what would it be?” Highly intellectual. It went downhill from there, apparently. But my parents hit the gift shop and found some shells for my daughter and a nice Caymanite piece. In the end they liked the Wharf better. Tuesday – June 23rd Pampered Ponies – My 10 year old daughter decided she wanted to try horseback riding. She had never done it before, so we thought this was the perfect time to try it out. We drove to their location and I have to say I started having second thoughts. The place was pretty run down and the building was a shack, and when the woman in charge showed up she had sunglasses on and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. It didn’t look very professional. But the location was so beautiful and we had such good experiences so far, we kept open minds about it. We made it clear my daughter had zero experience with horses and they helped her out. It was time to get her on and she shook her head and said, “No.” I said, “Get on, it will be OK.” “No.” After threatening her, she got on. J I said, “See, it’s OK.” I asked, “What’s the horse’s name?” They replied, “Jet.” DOH!! Fortunately, he was an old horse so he wasn’t going anywhere fast. As my wife and I got on horses, I came to the realization I hadn’t been on a horse in over 25 years. But we headed out and all went well. It was a beautiful part of the island we hadn’t seen much of yet and there were conch shells everywhere. The dogs from the stables followed us and pranced around much to our amusement. But as we came up to an overturned tree on the beach, we told my daughter to steer the horse around it. She panicked and did not steer the horse. It raked her bare leg along the exposed roots and scraped up her leg pretty good. We assured her she was fine and we pressed on. (Later we ended up pulling a number of large splinters out of her leg. They were quite deep, quite large, and I thought we were going to have to take her to a doctor to dig them out. Fortunately, we had tweezers and I got them out and she was fine, but not before some drama first.) From that point on the guides watched her carefully, talked with her more about how to steer the horse, and stood between her and any obstructions along the way. On the trip back, another couple on a private tour rode past very quickly. They were obviously experienced, but it made our horses really want to bolt and run. I led my horse to the side of my wife, but when he saw open beach in front of him, he took it as a sign to take off. He started running and I had to give the reigns a good yank and a loud, “WOAH!” to stop him. I had seen a review online where a woman said a Pampered Ponies horse bolted with her daughter and they had argued with the owner about the cause of it. I now see that if you didn’t have good control over the horse, it probably would bolt with you hanging on for dear life. Fortunately I had no problem giving “Moonstruck” a good yank on the reigns and I was able to get him to the back of the line without problem. The rest of the ride went fine. I’d do it again, but with kids 10 and older.
TIP – Wear jeans on this ride, take a first aid kit, and don’t ride unless you have confidence you can control the horse. Also make sure they tell you the quirks and personalities of the horses in advance. Ask for “Jet” if you’re a newbie. Also make sure they adjust the stirrups for you. They didn’t for my long legs and I felt it the next day. Oh, and I’d recommend the evening ride over the morning ride in the summer. It was very hot in the morning.
Pure Art – We stopped by Pure Art to check out the local crafts. I was actually quite blown away by what was in there. This wasn’t some local arts and crafts crap. This was really nice stuff. Beautiful art prints, glassware, Christmas ornaments, toys, etc. You could spend a lot of time here. I would advise folks to skip downtown and go to Pure Art first, then double back and hit the main shops. You’re going to find better stuff here. I never would have thought to check it out if I hadn’t seen the online recommendations. Fat Fish Adventures – I really wanted to ride a jet ski and I thought I’d combine that with the Stingray City trip early in the vacation. Since my Mom has a bad back, I was also going to rent a boat at the same time for her to ride in. I saw Fat Fish was highly recommended at Tripadvisor.Com, so I went with them. Unfortunately, when I called to confirm the trip the day before, I was told they had gotten a batch of bad gas and ALL of their jet skis were out of action. They were being repaired and I was to call back to see if the trip would still happen. When I called back, they had more bad news – the boat engine was having problems and being repaired (it died 4 days after the warranty expired and was ultimately totaled.). Not knowing if they’d get over their mechanical problems, I cancelled with Fat Fish and went with Soto’s (see above). But I told them if they got the jet skis going, I’d still like to do that. I called a few days later and more bad news – Peter’s wife who does all the booking was sick! Normally, I would have given up but Fat Fish was so highly rated I stuck with them. We finally confirmed that we’d get two, possibly three jet skis for a tour. We dropped my Mom off to shop and went to meet Peter. We got all geared up, got in the water, had a safety orientation, and got the skis started. Everyone took off, but when I hit the gas, it made this horrible noise and did not go. Peter came back and knew that we had sucked something up. He got the ski out of the water and spotted a blue rope in the impellers. An hour later he had it dismantled and had two knots of rope out. (As he was taking it apart, he said he knew why he was having such a string of bad luck. He said he had found a bottle in the water, opened it, and discovered a note in French and a straw doll inside. Spooked, he threw it back in the water. Hence his bad luck. Peter was laughing about it, but I bet he half believed it was the source of his bad luck!) We finally got on our way out to Stingray City/Sandbar. It was a rough but fun ride out there. My daughter wanted to go fast to she rode with Peter and he gave her a spectacular ride. My Dad had never driven a jet ski before, so he hung back with my son. We arrived at Stingray City in the afternoon and were pleased to have a spot to our own private, small group. Peter talked a lot about the rays and gave a little more detail on their behaviors than we had heard at Soto’s. (Maybe Soto’s said more and I was distracted dealing with kids.) He said that he had taken Terrell Owens from the Dallas Cowboys out there and the football player refused to get in the water with them. That made my sons a little happier that they had at least touched the rays, which was more than could be said for TO! And since we were with a small group, we had more squid to feed the rays. Since we had all the mechanical delays, we had to cut the trip short. Peter would have taken us for more coral snorkeling, a stop at Starfish Beach, and a stop at Kaibo. But I had to pick up my mom, so we left. On the way back we swung through some mangrove trees and got a little more stingray education. We found a patch of dead calm water and were able to really open up the jet skis at full speed. It was incredible. We got back to shore and Peter gave us a significant discount for all the delays, shortened trip, and mechanical problems. I’d definitely use them again for the smaller trip size, the variety of things you see beyond other tours, and the combination of jet ski, Kaibo, snorkeling, etc in one package. You pay more, but you get more and it may ultimately save you money. Rackham’s Waterfornt – That night we went to Rackham’s Waterfront and watched the sun set while we ate dinner. The kids fed the tarpon again though there weren’t as many as at The Wharf. I had the fried shrimp, which were huge – even bigger than those we get in Texas. There were a few mosquitoes as it got dark, though, and parking was a challenge. Wednesday – June 24th Cemetery Reef – I had snorkeled a little on the reef every day since it was right next to our condo, but I did one last trip with my daughter before we left. Lots of Sergeant Majors follow you around hoping to get food. We saw flounder, all sorts of bright fish, and a variety of coral. If you’re staying on SMB, this is worth visiting. Pedro St. James – We drove around the island again to visit Pedro St. James Castle. On the way, the flowers seemed brighter than ever and there were thousands of yellow butterflies all over the place. We arrived at the Castle and were introduced to a tour guide. The kids quickly became bored and I started thinking we had made a mistake, but we were taken into the theater and they quickly got interested. There was a mock-up of the Castle inside and they made fake rain and other things on the set as the video played. It was a small taste of history for us that we would have otherwise missed. We then walked around the grounds and the ‘castle’ with its beautiful mahogany wood decks. If you like history, this is a brief stop worth checking out. Blow Holes – We then tried to find the blow holes based on the CAG map. We saw a sign pointing to the blow holes on the road, but the map indicated they were AFTER the Texaco station. We drove a ways down the pretty road, but quickly realized the first sign we saw was the correct location. Unfortunately, nothing was happening there – the conditions were apparently not right. Having to catch a flight, I regretted trying to find them. Pirates Caves – We stopped at the Pirates Caves on the way back and I took the kids in for an accelerated tour. There was a small zoo with a few animals…nothing that spectacular. Some pigs, goats, and chickens, but also some crabs, freshwater stingrays, and Cayman parrots. We went in the caves and the kids were freaked out by all the rubber skeletons and voodoo stuff in them. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the actual history of the caves, who used them, etc. It was a tourist trap and little more though they could potentially turn it into a legitimate pirate attraction with a little effort. I’d only recommend this for kids 10 and under.
We then returned to the airport, hopped on the plane, and took off. I will say that Grand Cayman airport security is pretty thorough. They trashed all ‘fluid’ containers, even a bottle of my mom’s mascara. They also patted down half the people in line. The airport is small, but you need to prepare for delays like you would at a major airport.
Despite all my online research in advance, there were a few things I learned along the way that I thought other travelers might like to know:
– Things don’t air dry there! We would hang wet clothes on the balcony and 24 hours later they’d still be damp. The high humidity and lack of high winds seem to keep things from drying. And as things failed to dry, they started to stink from the seawater. Wash out all wet clothes with fresh water and take extra swimsuits.
– GCI does NOT observe Daylight Savings Time. So though they are in the Eastern time zone, in the summer they are on the same time as Central time. What this means is the sun comes up WAY early there in the summer. Expect to wake up to ultra-bright sunlight at 6 am.
– I didn’t have any trouble driving on the left or maneuvering the roundabouts. I did have problems with the narrow roads, pedestrians walking in the street, and small parking lots with the big vehicle. The smaller the vehicle you have, the easier time you have driving.
– Mosquitoes are a problem, but in the evenings they fly an airplane over SMB and spray insecticide. We were dining at The Wharf when they flew over spraying. My Dad and daughter said they smelled the pesticide, but my Mom and I did not. I would rather not have been sprayed with poison while eating.
– The stingrays are tame, but you can get hurt while interacting with them. My wife and Dad got scraped by them accidentally as they ate. They had minor cuts on their hands, but nothing serious. You also want to keep your hand away from their mouths as they powerfully suck in food. My finger accidentally went in one’s mouth. It didn’t have teeth, but it felt like someone was pinching my finger with knuckles wrapped in sandpaper. After that I just let the squid go generally under them and they found it and ate it.
– There are critters EVERYWHERE! I loved the ‘curly tailed lizards’. They have lots of personality. I also loved seeing the large iguanas everywhere. I didn’t know about all the wild chickens. There were actually some pretty roosters. Then there are the crabs. We saw tan crabs on the beach at night, purple and red crabs in the flowerbeds in the morning, and striped crabs on the beach rocks during the day. It was amazing!
I’m sure I’ll remember more later, but we had a blast. I’ve recommended GCI to all my friends and I can’t wait to go back soon. Thanks again for all the advice and information shared on this site!