Travel to Grand Cayman – Do It or Ditch It? May 18, 2016 – Posted in: Blog
Travel to Grand Cayman, why? Aquamarine glassy waters, National Geographic-style tropical fish, and an international melting pot of languages and culinary delights.
Needless to say, we decided to extend our respective work trips to Grand Cayman to fully enjoy this little gem in the Caribbean Sea. Dive into my article to help plan your own trip to the British West Indies.
The first thing to do is wipe out any expectations of what the water looks like in Grand Cayman. It’s 1,000 times more beautiful than you can imagine without seeing it first-hand.
Below you’ll find a list of what to expect when you choose dreamy Grand Cayman for your trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure (or my favorite hybrid, a work-caytion to soak up more #TravelLikeABondGirl travel inspiration for my jewelry designs).
While I rarely report on actual airlines, I have to mention this. If you have the opportunity to fly Cayman Airways to Grand Cayman, it’s well worth choosing them as your carrier. Whenever it’s possible I love to fly a country’s native carrier because it gives a slice of a country and its people on the journey to the destination. Why choose Cayman Airways (and no I haven’t been paid to say this):
• Complimentary rum punch (which is delicious and tastes nothing like some of the super sweet island punches of the Caribbean.
• Leg Room – I’m not sure how Cayman Airways has mastered this while every other airline seems to struggle with it, but it’s amazing. Whether they’ve removed rows or configured the plane differently, it’s working.
• Pilots who share the wealth – On our flight to the island, our pilot acted as a personal tour guide telling us the exact destinations we were passing. From the West Coast of Florida to explaining points which can be seen from the air on the island of Cuba, I was in Geography-Nerd Heaven. How many times have you flown over something only to wonder what it is you’re looking towards? Cayman Airways, you win, big time.
We are lucky to have a direct flight to/from Grand Cayman on Cayman Airways most days out of Tampa. If you’re flying out of other parts of the country and have to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch multiple flights, just keep one thing in mind. The sleepies in your eyes and exhaustion from work and life will literally melt away as soon as you see the water.
We stayed at The Westin Grand Cayman Resort & Spa located on Grand Cayman’s famed Seven Mile Beach. We entered the beach-chic lobby and caught a glimpse of the pool and beach. It was a fabulous welcome along with friendly faces. From Kirk, the doorman, to the front desk concierge, check-in was seamless. The hotel was actually sold out that long weekend so we opted to take what was available, an “island-view” room which simply looked out from the front of the hotel. While I missed the ocean view, we did love using our balcony to enjoy a cocktail after sun-drenched days. Yes, life could certainly be worse.
There are various hotels, condos and private homes available for your stay on Grand Cayman. There’s no scarcity of options whether you’re looking for a five star property or a private chef to create an ultra-luxe experience.
Seven Mile Beach is literally the most beautiful beach I’ve seen in person. I must have 1,000 photos of the water alone.
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I must have commented 100x/day how the color of the water was unlike anything I had ever seen. After visiting almost 50 countries, I had no idea how impressive this really would be. Powdery white sand leads into an almost transparent glassy aqua sea. It’s a watersport paradise.
The Westin is located right next to Governer’s Beach. This public beach happens to be a haven filled with reefs teeming with tropical fish. It’s a snorkeler’s utopia. Instead of renting snorkels we purchased them at the gift shop (owned by Red Sail Sports) and went to explore. Parrotfish, Angelfish and countless others literally came right up to us as we snorkeled above untouched coral. It seemed like we were paying $200 (or more) for a snorkelling excursion when all we had to do was walk right for one minute. Beyond amazing and a must-see.
If you don’t feel like working off some of that piña colada and swimming out to the reefs, it’ll only be a moment until you see gorgeous needlenose fish swimming in the crystal clear water along with other tropical fish as you wade.
Full disclosure: I had a meeting for Chelsea Bond Jewelry at Hibiscus Spa. The spa team was incredibly warm and I could have spent a whole day exploring the different treatments and services which are available. I had a tour around the treatment rooms, and we chatted about the spa experience that awaits guests.
You’ll soon be able to pick up Chelsea Bond Jewelry at Hibiscus Spa in the retail area! I have a good feeling that I will be designing many Cayman-inspired pieces of jewelry after this trip.
I tend to do quite a bit of research before a trip, but Grand Cayman was an exception. I’ve been so busy with work (which I’m grateful to report) that I just didn’t have the time to read up on restaurants that I usually plot out in a foreign land. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn’t realize this place was such a culinary destination. The restaurants and the menus are a testament to an international melting pot of cultures and techniques. You can truly eat your way through the island.
Over the course of a few days, we tried out only a small portion of what this culinary gem has to offer. Here are the highlights.
Ferdinand’s (at the hotel)
We had the non-buffet breakfast option here. It’s a beautiful restaurant where you can eat al fresco and take in a view of the gorgeous beach. The coconut muesli was a perfect light breakfast.
Tortuga Beach Bar & Grill (at the hotel)
Fresh shrimp cocktail, hummus and veggies, a salad with watermelon, tomatoes and feta (my absolute favorite), and more. We chose this as our lunch option on most days since it was a beautiful setting, convenient and consistently wonderful. We’ve also never had better piña coladas in our lives. Try the Cayman Piña Colada made with a dash of Chambord. Unreal.
OMG. This place is unreal. Located in a strip mall area (don’t judge it by this) within walking distance from our hotel, this place is a must-go if you enjoy fresh authentic Mexican cuisine. The queso fundido was to-die-for and the ceviche sampler knocked me off my feet! The all natural 7 Mile Beach Skinny Margarita (tequila, agave and lime…no mixer junk) was delish.
This adorable restaurant at Morgan’s Harbor was a 20 min cab ride from our hotel (about 27 Cayman Dollars). We sat on the deck right on the water and our table of four ordered a range of dishes. While everything was good, it’s hard to ignore the fact that virtually nothing compares to the ‘sticky toffee pudding’ which we shared for dessert along with a Millionaire shortbread cookie dipped in dark chocolate. We all left in a food coma.
Did I mention the sticky toffee pudding?
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN INCREDIBLE AND UNIQUE EXCURSION
If you’ve ever seen photos of the millions of blue lights in the water featured in glossy travel magazines, this is a must-do. I thought this only existed in the Maldives, but it turns out Grand Cayman has one of the most beautiful bioluminescent bays in the world! Not only that, but I thought kayaking was the only option to see this incredible natural delight, but George’s Watersports offers snorkelling to see them.
These tours are typically only offered on moonless nights, but even with the moon out we were able to snorkel through the water as millions of particles lit up, giving the illusion of fairy dust every time you move your arms and hands. It’s hard to explain the beauty of this. Unable to be captured on camera (unless you’re taking professional photos) it’s a feast for the eyes that you need to experience to truly understand.
This turquoise and aqua utopia is everything you’ve ever heard about it and more. To be clear, this isn’t a place where the dollar is strong. Everything (and I mean everything) is imported to the island. We heard from my Caymanians that it’s even expensive for them, so while it’s not the prices of places like Mexico and other Caribbean islands, in my opinion you do get what you pay for here.
Whether your plans are to dive, parasail, jet ski, snorkel, or lounge on a sun-drenched beach as you gaze out to water that must be made in heaven, remember one thing.
Always order the sticky toffee pudding!
Thank you Grand Cayman for your welcoming smiles, utopian beaches and lifetime of memories.