Grand Cayman Trip Report
An intro – my wife and I are both 32. We enjoy traveling and have been to 10 other islands in the Caribbean. We enjoy snorkeling and good food – we live in NYC and like to enjoy good food when we go out to eat.
Day 1 – Arrived in Georgetown at about 1pm. Originally, we had planned to pick up our car at SMB and drop it off at the airport. A few travel changes necessitated picking up our car at the airport. We asked Andy’s (www.andys.ky) if they would cross-honor our reservation for a pick up at SMB at the airport and they said that they would like to but that they didn’t have the economy car that we reserved at the airport. No problem – Andy’s drove us from the airport location to the SMB location free of charge to pick up our car. We got our economy car (a small Chery QQ) and drove to check in at Shangri-La B&B in West Bay (204 USD – 5 day economy rental plus 2 temp driver’s permits). I quickly adapted to the semi stick Chery QQ and the opposite side driving and we were on our way. We checked into the Shangri-La B&B and were very happy with the place. Usually, we would stay in a chain hotel since we often do package deals through Expedia or Travelocity or a similar site. However, this time, we were able to get the plane tickets through miles, which left us needing to piece together the hotel stay on our own. With chain hotel rates hovering around ~ 250 to 350 USD + / night, I started to look at the smaller places. I crosslisted everything on Tripadvisor.com and became a member of the site so that I could email people who had left reviews about Shangri-La directly. The five people I emailed responded promptly and positively about their stay at Shangri-La. For 139 USD / night (Hibiscus Room) with a hot breakfast included each day, it really can’t be beat and we would definitely stay there again. We usually supplemented the hot breakfast each day with a small sandwich and snacks (procured from Foster’s Food Fair) and then went out to dinner. However, we did go out to lunch the first day at Cimboco. My wife and I split the bruschetta and I had the jerk chicken sandwich and my wife had the Caribbean greens salad with jerk chicken. The jerk chicken that was used in the sandwich and the salad was fantastic and spiced very well. The total bill with the currency conversion and the 15% automatic tip came to 67 USD – a bit high for a lunch for 2 people but a good warning for what was to come! We checked out the beach at the Westin and it was clouding up pretty badly. The water was rough and it was only about 78 degrees. We called it an early night and went to split a pizza at Raggazzi’s (30 USD).
Day 2 – After loading up on a great breakfast, we went out to check out the snorkeling at Cemetery Beach. From multiple sources of research, my wife and I had a list of snorkeling spots to hit and Cemetery Beach was pretty high up there. The snorkeling was pretty decent at Cemetery and we saw a basic variety of smaller tropical fish there – however, nothing really spectacular. The ocean had calmed down from the previous day and the beach was not really that crowded at all. From there, we went down to check out the downtown area – we walked around and got a few snacks and souvenirs for people back home. We went back to a stretch of SMB later on and then went to dinner at Papagallo’s. My wife and split two orders of ravioli – one was wild mushrooms and the other was duck. We then split an order of blackened mahi-mahi. I was fairly underwhelmed at the quality of the food at Papagallo’s. It was good – the sources were obviously of high quality and the pasta was house made but given the reviews on this site and others, I was expecting more. I found the mahi-mahi to be a bit overcooked and the saucing of the pastas to be a bit dry and flat. Our bill came to around 80 USD for the evening.
Day 3 – We drove out to Rum Point – it was a great and easy drive. The water there was unbelievable – crystal clear, warm, and teeming with fish. We saw a 6 foot long barracuda hanging out underneath the pier – he was just waiting for smaller fish to swim by. We went to Yoshi’s for dinner – my wife had shogiyaki set dinner with teriyaki beef and I had the udon noodle bowl. The bill was around 50 USD and the udon noodle bowl was excellent – great tempura flavoring and strong broth without being overly so. Yoshi’s reminded us of some of the Japanese places we’ve visited in NYC.
Day 4 – Snorkeling at Eden Rock was fantastic – we saw several large tarpon (6ft + / 50lbs +) and awesome coral formations about 50 meters from shore. Schools of tropical fish were abundant and visibility was great! We then took a trip with Captain Marvin’s to Stingray City and had a great three-stop visit. Although my wife and I really enjoyed the third stop the most (Coral Gardens) since we saw stingrays in a natural habitat, we enjoyed Stingray City as well. This was undoubtedly the best water sport day we had for our entire trip. We went to Cimboco again for dinner since many restaurants were closed for Good Friday. The place didn’t disappoint – my wife had the Caribbean curry chicken pizza and I had the Caribbean roti with jerk chicken. Both were great and ended up being around 50 USD.
Day 5 – Snorkeling at the Wreck of the Cali and went back to Rum Point again. Finished the day with a quick snorkel at Cemetery beach. Again, a great day of seeing the underwater world but it did pale a bit in comparison to the previous day. All of the beaches were pristine, not crowded, and visibility in the water was great. We had dinner at Calypso Grill – my wife had the grilled tiger shrimp – a bit overpriced but good nonetheless. I had the blackened tuna and crabcakes as an appetizer. This was probably the best meal we had whilst on the island. A few subtleties would have made the meal even better – I would expect that each main entrée would have slightly different accompaniments. Both my wife’s shrimp and my blackened tuna came with the same (great) micro shoe string fries and grilled asparagus. However, the outdoor dining was great. With one glass of wine, our bill came to around 130 USD.
Day 6 – Snorkeled at Bonnie’s Arch in West Bay. We really didn’t see much here that we hadn’t before but the underwater terrain was quite moonlike with several large crater formations. If we had more time, we would have explored further from shore, near the reef wall. The entrance to this point is a bit tricky to find but it’s the dive spot also for a shop called “Dive Tech.” They didn’t have any problem letting us park and enter the water from their dock.
So…that’s it…thanks for reading to here. If you have any specific questions, just post and I’ll try to answer them!
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Grand Cayman Trip Report