Beyond The Deep Blue
On Grand Cayman, an often overlooked but incredibly charming destination amidst the Caribbean islands – you’ll enjoy sunsets that last forever and the relaxed holiday vibe of this aquatic playground.
Ravished by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 the resulting Grand Cayman offering is an intriguing mix of old-Caribbean and redevelopment. Amidst the plush pool villas and sunset-bathed bars is an eclectic and spectacular combination of modern luxe, British colonial taverns, oddball mum and pop stores and the odd down-at-heel dive bar.
It is one of those obscenely laid-back islands resplendent with turqoise emerald waters, coral reefs, bleach-white beaches and that amazing ‘local’ feel where the capital city is more of a village, the boats outnumber the taxis and the toughest decision you’ll face is how to avoid the return trip home.
From the jetsetters and go-getters to those seeking chaise lounges, suntans and respite, Grand Cayman meets every holiday persuasion; singlehandedly redefining your vision of paradise.
When activity calls…
For those with a spring in their step and energy to kill, Cayman is awash with things to do from golf to water sport shenanigans.
The Britannia Golf Course is a premier golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and spans Grand Cayman from Seven Mile Beach to North Sound, accommodating challenging holes that lie beside the sea and wind their way through natural lakes, making it hard to keep your eye on the ball.
For snorkelling and diving the best spots are Cemetery Reef, in West Bay (just north of Seven Mile Beach), and Eden Rock, south of George Town; both have water temperatures that hover in the low 80s °F (27°C) and underwater visibility in excess of 100 feet. Like any good holiday destination, there is a plethora of reputable companies offering day tours and diving trips along Seven Mile Beach.
For walking, the lush undulating hills promise postcard perfect panoramas like nowhere else across the Caribbean. It’s best to select walking options based on your fitness and commitment levels. Most hotels and the local tourist office can supply information on walking around the island.
Adventure junkies won’t be able to go pastswimming with the Stingrays in the popular Stingray city where you can swim and touch (carefully) stingrays up to 5m long.
If recharging the batteries is your raison d'êtreCayman invites you to crash on a sun-lounger alongside its calm, perfectly blue come-hither waters or visit some standout spas from the Westin’s Hibiscus Spa to the renowned La Prarie Caviar facial at the Ritz Carlton.
If leaving your sun-lounger is more activity than you can bare, call one of the island’s mobile spa salons such as the popular Oceanside Mobile Massage and have them come to you. A massage by the pool or looking over the Caribbean with your fingers trailing in the sand – life doesn’t get much better than that.
For the culture vulture…
It’s not all lazing in the sunshine, and if you want to return home with a little culture under your belt then wander around the Pedro St. James National Historic Site. This area is considered the birthplace of the Cayman Islands and at the heart of this seven-acre attraction is a circa 1780 Great House, the first substantial home built on the island of Grand Cayman.
If water is what you crave, visit the 40-year-old turtle farm – a 23-acre marine park dedicated to marine and terrestrial wildlife. The park not only has turtle exhibits but also a cultural district called Cayman Street with arts and craft demonstrations, an aviary, touch tanks, a predator reef filled with sharks and eels, a pair of swimming lagoons, a nature trail, and a restaurant and bar. This is a popular spot so go early. Wait till the cruise ships have left the port or expect to stand in line.
Alternatively, hire a car and drive through villages of brightly painted clapboard houses with that beautiful Caribbean design of soft yellows, bright pink and turquoise and whimsical botanical prints.
When the sun sets, the fun needn’t stop – night owls can enjoy a frozen mudslide in the place where it began or rum concoctions of very flavour and combination imaginable.
Try Aqua Beach for spectacular people watching and a vibrant music scene under picturesque palm treas. Alternatively chilled out chilangos and style mavens can be found sipping artfully made cocktails from the Kazatini to the Red Dragon atBamboo, Hyatt Regency. For low key, right on the beach fun, visit the Hideaway Beach Bar and leave your shoes at home.
This story was first published in the Appetite May 2011 issue. To see the restaurant and resort recommendations, pick up an issue now!