HOME › Forums › General Discussion Topics about the Cayman Islands › Trip Reports › Scubachar’s Trip Report – Feb. 23 to March 8, 2008
As many of you know, we have been going to Grand Cayman since 1984, when we stayed at the old Royal Palms Hotel and then bought a timeshare at Plantation Village, where we?ve stayed each year since! Lots of years?.lots of memories?..lots of friends we see year after year ?.and now, lots of dives! Since those early years, we bought a second week in our unit, so now we go for TWO WEEKS! Can?t get much better than that!
For the last 8 years or so, we have gone to Cayman with our good friends (from college days), Jim and Lynda (arak on the board), and we have proven to be very compatible travel (and now, dive) buddies. They stay with us during our first week, and then they move into their own timeshare at Plantation Village for the second week.
Me, Lynda, Tim and Jim
One reason we love our Cayman Island vacation so much is that it is so totally relaxing?..we really don?t do very much except dive, hang out and eat (and drink)?..?..we dive most days, hopefully on the early 8:00 a.m. dive, and then we spend our afternoons napping, reading, sunning, walking the beach, maybe some snorkeling, and the hubbies play tennis most afternoons. We really don?t drive around a lot and do a lot of activities??well, except go out to dinner most nights. This year, though, we decided to eat at mostly really casual restaurants, where no reservations were needed, so that we wouldn?t have to be on any time schedule?.we really wanted to not be so rushed and to kick back even more than we usually do. We (that means our husbands?) cooked in a little more than usual, too. My husband loves to grill and so we had lobster tails and marinated tuna steaks a couple of nights each week?.
Lobster tails on the grill –
The weather was almost perfect?..we did have a Norwester? blow through one day, but it really didn?t bring a lot of rain, and the large waves really only lasted one day. In fact, the only rain we ever had was spotty and usually at night. When we say that it can be raining one minute and sunny the next, we?re not kidding??got this great shot of a rainbow early one morning. I hope you can see the rainbow….you have to look carefully!
There were a few things out of the ordinary this year and a few special highlights this year. During our second week, my niece (did I say ?favorite niece??) and her husband, Chris, came to stay with us. My niece, Kelly has stayed with us before in the past, but not recently, and Chris had never been. It was very special for me to spend that time with them.
The one activity that we did book was a trip to Stingray City on Soto?s, because I really wanted to be sure that Kelly and Chris got to experience that. I had never gone with Soto?s before, but now that I have, I can really recommend them from first hand experience. Kelly had been to SRC once before and didn?t like the Stingrays at all?..maybe it was a teenage girl thing back then?..anyway, she was willing to go again, so that Chris could experience it. Well, thanks to the crew at Soto?s she felt very at ease and enjoyed it very much. When she finds her underwater camera, and sends me the pictures, I?ll share some of her kissing a stingray and wearing one on her shoulder ?like a blanket?. She?s come a long way!
A real treat that day was that Joe and his wife, Peggy, came along on the trip. Joe was intent on doing a new video and some underwater shots of the trip. I was pretty intent that I would not be the subject of said video?..and encouraged him to instead point the camera at someone other than me. I haven?t seen the results yet, but I?m hoping for the best. It was really fun to spend the time with Joe and Peggy!
Joe and Peggy, with Joe looking out at the crowded boats that the other people were on. Ours only had about 15 people…
This was the worst looking one (remember, this is NOT A PICTURE OF SOTO’S)
As usual, we did lots and lots of diving! We did two tank dives on 7 days, so that?s 14 more dives I can add to my dive log. That puts me up to about 280 dives! Not bad for an old lady!
Where we dive is always dependent on the weather and the water conditions, of course, and this year we were able to dive the North Wall several days and the rest on the West Side?.never went to the South. A ?highlight? on one of the first days, on the North Wall, was seeing my first shark on a dive! I guess it was a Reef Shark?.it was at least 6 feet long?.seemed really big. Only Lynda and I saw it?.it was off in the distance, swimming perpendicular to us, coming from the deep and swimming up the reef, not paying any attention to us (which was fine with me).
So, we did a couple of drift dives along the North Wall during the first couple of days, which are always fun. Most of the sites we?ve done before, but they?re still great, like Eagle Ray Pass, Black Forest, Main Street on the North, plus a couple that were new to us ? Leslie?s Curl and Blue Peter, also on the North. On the West we dove Trinity Caves (always a favorite) and the Aquarium, Royal Palms Ledge, Holiday Inn Reef and Mitch Miller?s Reef.
Credits go to Jim for these underwater pictures?.my job is just to help him find stuff and point them out to him?.he?s the photographer! We?ve never seen so many lobsters as this year??many were out and about and moving quite quickly sometimes. Here are some shots taken by Jim ?
Some tarpon hanging out –
Tim and I –
Lynda and Jim –
The next picture shows a special group of people that I have been diving with for years, and on this day, two of them, Bernie and Duane had just completed their 300th dives. Bernie and Duane and their wives also own a timeshare at Plantation Village, so we have known them for over 20 years and have been diving with them many, many times. Also in the picture is another couple, Hal and Sarah, who also own a timeshare at PV and have logged in well over 300 dives! We have done many, many dives with them through the years as well. You can also see Jim and Lynda, who now have over 100 dives — Lynda just cracked the 100 mark on this trip! I think I?ve probably been on almost all of those with her, so that?s cool! So, this is a special picture of a very special group. We certainly don?t always dive all at the same time on the same day?..but I was so glad that we were able to be together on that special day. Who says old people can’t dive!
Another highlight of this year was we spent quite a bit of time up at the new dive shop, Turtle Reef at the Cracked Conch, that our friend, Ollen Miller, opened up last fall. We are so happy for him and so impressed with the quality of the whole operation. It has become very popular, and is always a hub bub of activity. He has built his own compressor room up there, so he fills the tanks right there. All the tanks and rental gear are brand new?..nothing but the highest quality in that operation.
It is such a great atmosphere?..you?ve got the Macabuca tiki bar and restaurant right there, so when you get done diving, you can just sit there and relax for awhile. For anyone who has ever struggled getting ready for a shore dive in the hot sun, you?ll appreciate the fact that you?ll be doing all of that in the shade, complete with overhead fans. Then, it?s just a short walk to the new ladder, which is really more of a ramp than a ladder. Joe just posted a great picture of it in the main thread on the dive shop.
Now, when Lynda and I take a ?day off diving?, that means we don?t dive that day. When Tim and Jim take a ?day off diving?, that seems to mean that they do a shore dive. So, we all went up to Turtle Reef and the guys did a dive, while Lynda and I took off and did a little shopping???then we all had conch fritters and drinks, which the guys got included in their Dive, Dine and Drink coupon from the Activity Guide. It?s good for any appetizer and a beer and the cost of the shore dive, all for $19!
Here is one of the places that you can gear up, and then there?s a much larger spot a few steps away with benches and a table and a clothes rack for hanging your wet stuff afterwards. Didn?t take a picture of that.
Enjoying our fritters and drinks after their dive –
By the way, it?s also a great spot for snorkeling. we took Kelly and Chris up there to snorkel and it was wonderful?..saw the largest Southern Stingray I had ever seen, just gliding along underneath us! Pretty impressive.
On our last day, we went up to say our goodbyes and Lynda and I took our turn at running the shop (jk) ?
Lynda, Ollen and me –
So, other than diving and snorkeling and hanging out at the pool, or walking the beach, we didn?t do all that much. We have such a nice pool…we spend a lot of time there…
Our daily routine, as I said before was to get up early and go diving….then back by noon……rinsed the gear in the dunk tank at Plantation Village and set it all out to dry for a bit. Kelly and Chris called this the “crime scene” –
Then, Tim makes us all Bloody Caesars (like a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato Juice instead of Tomato Juice)….and we talk about the dive and the fish we saw –
Like I said, we ate pretty casual and ate in quite a few times.
Eating in at the condo can be fun too…here we all are in our condo, enjoying tuna…
Our favorite meal was at the Reef Grill??had the Sea Bass again, and everyone was very happy with their food.
Our special dinner out the week that Kelly and Chris were here was at the Lobster Pot, which is always a favorite with us! I had the lobster stuffed salmon and it was out of this world!
Kelly and Chris at the Lobster Pot – went early to watch the sunset and the tarpon being fed down below (6:30 p.m.)
Every restaurant and bar that we went to, we ordered conch fritters! I wish I could remember whose were best?..I guess we?ll have to start the contest over next year.
We ate at the same place for the first night and the last night of the two weeks?..we went up to the Macabuca restaurant and just had casual fare??on Friday nights, Chuck and Barrie were singing. They have been around ?forever?, but I hadn?t heard them for a long time?.they were great.
Then it was off to the Royal Palms for our last night of dancing under the stars! We love to go dancing up at the Royal Palms on the nights that they have music?.I think we went three times each week! Here is a picture of Kelly and Chris in front of the signs as you enter the Royal Palms area from the parking lot!
So, I?ll end with a bunch of people pictures, some beach pictures, a few sunsets, and even a couple of VIDEOS (provided by Chris!).
Kelly and Chris went for a walk on the beach –
and then Chris took this video! (click on the center)
I will end now with another video that Chris took of a sunset! It was on a Tuesday night at Plantation Village, when they have a cocktail party and music….oh, and free rum punch. Everyone was sure we would see a green flash that night, and some swear they did……we have proof with the video…..don’t think it was there…see what you think…
Man, for not doing much, I sure can write a long report! Like I said, this was a very special year for me…..it’s always fun to be with our friends going back 40 years (Jim and Lynda), but to also be able to share such good times with Kelly and Chris……Life is Good!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading
Cool report. Too bad we missed being able to meet. We got there as you were leaving. Maybe next year…
It was good to see an actual picture of Joe. I kind of figured he was a mythical creation, or was like Charlie on Charlie’s Angels, you hear of him, but never see him!
I agree about Ollen Miller’s operation. I was impressed with the all-new equipment and on-site compressor. Loved the dives and easy in and out at the ladder.
You and me are on the same page about the Sea Bass at The Reef Grill! It is worth the year of waiting to get it again.
Hey, I didn’t know that C&B were at Macabuca. I also heard Hi-Tide was there, but we didn’t get to hear either of them. Guess we’ve got to go back soon.
Finally, my Olympus saves movies as .mov files. I gotta figure ourt how to load them to photobucket as .flv or .wmv files so I can post a few.
Thanks for the report,
What a wonderful report and fabulous pictures. Did I ever tell you that we stayed at what was the Royal Palms (it had a different name then) the first time we went to Grand Cayman (1969).
Tell your husband that I loved his underwater shots.
I’m counting the days until we return and am so happy that we can stay for a month again. It’s the most relaxing place, isn’t it?
Yes, Shelly, we did talk about the fact that we both stayed at the old hotel…
I have to tell you, though, the underwater pictures were taken by my friend, Jim, not my husband, Tim. Jim’s the photographer with the steady hand!
Great report. The pictures are fantastic, and I love the underwater shots.
Great report! It looks and sounds like you had a wonderful trip, as usual! Thank you so much for sharing with us…even though I got the first report over the phone when you got home.
Nice to see Joe and Peggy……….divesergeant, just check back thru other reports….they’re in quite a lot of photos in both trip reports and restaurant/activity reviews……..especially considering their very busy schedules…..and they’re not on vacation when we are! Celine
Thanks so much for sharing your trip and so many great pictures. I have watched that sunset video several times, thinking the clouds or something on the horizon have a greenish cast, but didn?t see what I would call a flash, but what a beautiful sight to see and have a video of!
It sounds like you had your usual great time with long time friends from home and PV, and I can tell your niece and her hubby were a treat to have along this time too.
Very cool about seeing the shark. And my compliments to your underwater photographer ? beautiful!
Your report was great and anytime I get to hear about it is better late than never for sure.
Hope someday, we can do some dives together!
Gonna wait to watch the videos. It is already bad enough having to look at these pictures at work.
congrat on all the dives. My wife and I are around 60-70 something. Just took Nitrox training this week. Someday, hopefully we will have that many dives.
In January, a guy on our dive boat looked at his dive computer, said he had around 400 dives on it, and maybe it was time for a new computer. I looked at my wife, Lisa and said, in another 17 years, we could be there. I’ll be 60 then.
Glad to hear and see you had a great time. I really wanna try the $19 deal. Sounds hard to pass up.
Great report!!! I just loved your videos. There is nothing better than the sounds of the Cayman waves.
Loved your report, the videos and pics, esp the pic of the sailboat against the sunset.
I can’t wait to return this year. We’re bringing my stepson with us this time. He’s 29, a UPS driver, and has never been to the Caribbean.