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Grand Cayman/Little Cayman Trip Report

Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:20 PM
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Grand Cayman/Little Cayman Trip Report

My husband, our 4-year-old son and I just spent a week on Grand Cayman with a day trip to Little Cayman (4/9-4/16/06). I'd like to thank everyone who ever posted a question, a reply and/or a trip report about Grand Cayman (positive AND negative). I most certainly read your posts and they helped me plan our trip.

GRAND CAYMAN AIRPORT:
We were very surprised at how small it is since GC is such a popular tourist destination. We went through immigration/customs and got our luggage fairly quickly. Getting a taxi was a bit more tedious. If you need to take one to your hotel, you have to stand in line for the taxi dispatcher who'll write down how many in your party and where you're going. Then you have to wait until they call you, in our case "Party of 3 to the Hyatt". It was somewhat chaotic because they were short on taxi drivers that day (we were told). Airport-Hyatt Taxi Cost: $17.50 (All the prices I'm listing are in U.S. dollar).

HOTEL:
We stayed at the Hyatt. Only the building housing the beachfront suites is open. The building seems to have been completely renovated with no signs of hurricane damage to it.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/e63b4932.jpg

We were in a lovely suite located on the 4th floor. Our suite had a bedroom, a spacious bathroom, a living room/dining room area and a kitchenette.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/a631f87f.jpg
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/60b41daf.jpg

We also had a large patio with a fantastic view of the pools and the sea.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/cc16f397.jpg
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/d16104d4.jpg

The building across the street that houses the standard rooms has not reopened since Hurricane Ivan. The property is fenced off and no work is being done on it.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/e267b656.jpg

HYATT POOLS:
There are 2 of them, fairly small, all with varying depths. One pool has a swim-up bar and the depth varies from 5 inches to 7 1/2 feet.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/d64fd6e5.jpg

The other pool has a jacuzzi and the deepest depth is 4 feet.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/c3317f41.jpg

HYATT BEACH:
I was a bit surprised by the beach. I thought the sand would be much softer and there would be a gentle slope into the water. There are lots of pebbles/shells on the beach, some rocks in the water and a fairly quick drop once you're in the water. This does NOT mean you need water shoes. You DON'T. I'm just saying the sand is not like powder (my own pre-conceived notion). My husband thought the beach was just fine, meaning I'm difficult. What--ever.... The color of the water is BEAUTIFUL.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/9bacf2da.jpg

Our son having a great time with the waves:
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/2c3ea05f.jpg

HYATT FOOD:
It was good but not outstanding. We ate by the pool, did room service and ate breakfast and dinner at Hemingway's, one of 2 restaurants on the property. A 15% service change is automatically added to all your bills. Your bill will show the total in U.S. and Cayman dollars.
Some Hyatt Food Prices:
--Cumin-rubbed chicken breast $27.50
--Salmon $27.50
--Caesar Salad $8.13
--Creme Brulee $7.50
--Pepsi $3.13
--Cayman Colada $10.93 **Bartenders are REALLY GENEROUS with the alcohol in the mixed drinks which made for a very happy Mom!

FINAL THOUGHTS/ADVICE ON THE HYATT:
We never felt that the property was crowded. We always found beach/pool chairs available whether we got there in the morning or in the afternoon. There were lots of families with kids, likely on Easter break like us. The kids (10 years old and under) were REALLY LOUD. So I would not suggest this hotel for couples seeking quiet and romance during school breaks.
This is a VERY NICE hotel but can I be honest? We won our room with Priceline for $205/night. In high season, those suites go for $850/night and can be on sale for $550/night. We DEFINITELY came out on top with what we got for what we paid for. Personally, we'd never pay $850 for a room and food is not even included. If you can/do without blinking an eye, more power to you. I'd be more willing to pay the $550 for those suites, but why when I can get that price on Priceline?!
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:20 PM
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THINGS WE DID IN GRAND CAYMAN:

STINGRAY SANDBAR:

We originally booked our 2-hour excursion with Captain Marvin's. A couple of days before it, we got a call from them. They cancelled that excursion for our day (I had picked a Friday because there were no cruise ships in town). They said something about being Good Friday and the fact that they were no cruise ships in town. It was all a crock if you ask us, we think they just didn't have enough people signed up for that tour and chose to cancel it because it would not have been cost-effective. Not cool at all. They tried to book us on another excursion but we chose to spend our money with another company.

We went with Soto's Cruises. They had a 2-hour excursion on the Friday we wanted (9:30am-11:30am). They picked us up at our hotel (Hyatt) and took us to the dock which turned out to be about 2 blocks from the Hyatt. There were about 35 people on the boat with 2 crew members (great guys by the way). The weather started cloudy with a bit of rain which really worried us as we thought our excursion would be ruined. However, the weather cleared pretty quickly. Leaving the marina:
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/38e46039.jpg

It's a 20-minute boat ride to the 1st stop: snorkeling at Coral Gardens for 30 minutes. I snorkeled, my husband stayed on the boat with our 4-year-old son. It was very nice, lots of colorful fish, but the water was CHOPPY.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/71535aa1.jpg

After that, it was maybe a 3-minute boat ride to Stingray Sandbar (another 30-minute stop). The plan was for my husband to just carry our son through the entire experience. Our son was all game, but just as he was going into my husband's arms, he got hit by a wave (the water was kind of cold), got upset and completely changed his mind. I ended up staying on the boat with him. The water was also VERY CHOPPY there. My husband would be standing with water by his knees, then the next minute, a wave would hit and water would be up to his neck! (he's 6'2''). My husband had a grand time at the Sandbar. Thank goodness, our son was fine on the boat only because he loves boat rides. However, we were very happy the excursion was only 2 hours or it could have turned out to be a VERY LONG day. One of the crew guys brought a stingray next to the boat for me to touch. Very soft and fleshy. Pretty neat.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/26ce4a65.jpg

At the end of the day, we had a really good time. The trip was $85 for all 3 of us (our son was free). They only take cash.

SIGHTSEEING:
We booked a rental car through the Avis desk at the Marriott for 3 days and drove all around the island. Be aware that traffic on West Bay Road (this is the main road along 7-mile beach) and Georgetown can be PRETTY BAD. Gas is about $5/gallon.

DRIVE TO WEST BAY:
This is a fairly easy, short drive that you can do in the morning and stop at points of interest.
By Boggy Sand Road:
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/bec1d59e.jpg

TURTLE FARM: This is no-brainer if you have kids. We paid $15 to get in (free for our son). We enjoyed it as much as he did. The turtles are separated by age. There's one big pool with the older turtles (they're HUGE!). Then there are several holding tanks with all the others. You can look at them and touch them. There's one tank with the smallest turtles and you're allowed to pick them up and snap a picture if you want. There's an employee who makes sure you do it right. There is one tank that has snapping turtles, you can't touch those or you'll lose your fingers. This self-guided tour is easily done in 30 minutes, less or more depending on how much your kids are loving it. Be aware that there are turtle turds floating in the water!! Yes!! Eewwwww! So make sure your kids' hands are properly cleaned afterward!
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/ff51f986.jpg

HELL: Yes, we went there being very well aware that it's a tourist trap. I think it's really easy for someone who's been there to turn around and tell someone not to go. I say go if you're in the area and have never been. I swear it takes no more than 2 minutes to see what it's all (or not all) about. Judge for yourself! Having never seen this type of rock formation in any of our travels, we actually thought it was something to see.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/eb2f1798.jpg

DRIVE TO RUM POINT:
We took the long scenic route which took us about 1 1/2 hour. We stopped a few times to take pictures, etc... We saw remnants of Hurricane Ivan (homes damages, trees uprooted, etc...).
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/1046adf2.jpg

We saw lots of HUGE BEAUTIFUL homes, many of them for sale. Got a few million? We passed the Reef Resort and I considered stopping by to say hello to TomCayman but thought that would be kind of weird. It didn't help that my husband kept muttering "freak" after I asked if I should stop

We finally arrived at Rum Point and may I say how overrated we thought it was? I know a lot of people like it. Yes, the beach is nice and the water is shallow for quite awhile. But there are lots of nice beaches on GC. So because everyone is told it's a must-do, it's CROWDED! So guess what happens to bathrooms in crowded places? There are only 4 toilets in the women's bathroom and 2 of them were backed up when I went in with my son. When we went in a 2nd time, a 3rd toilet was backed up.
Sorry to go from bathroom to food but our lunch at the Wreck Bar was MEDIOCRE at best. I had the jerk pork sandwich with fries. My husband had the chicken club with fries. Our son had the cheeseburger with fries. With 4 juices, the total cost came to $50 (15% tip included) for this meal. Did I already mention how MEDIOCRE it was?? We didn't get the whole Rum Point thing, but that's okay we don't all have to love the same thing, and maybe we just missed something. Needless to say, we didn't stay all day.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/aaa1c5f9.jpg

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to drive all over the place. Thank goodness, the drive itself to Rum Point was enjoyable so we didn't feel like we wasted our day going there. You can take a shorter cut to Rum Point (we did on our way back), this will cut your driving time by maybe 20-30 minutes).
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/e8d2291c.jpg

FAVORITE BEACHES:

CEMETERY BEACH: This is a beautiful beach located next to a cemetery that you'll see on your left side as soon as you enter West Bay. The water is clear, calm and the most gorgeous blue. I did a bit of snorkeling but did not go all the way to the reef. Saw a few fish, but not many. Others who went all the way to the reef said it was nice. There weren't too many people on this beach. There are no facilities, but you will find some trees for shade. This is one of our favorite beaches and would recommend it.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/772df2c6.jpg

GOVERNOR'S BEACH: This is another beautiful stretch of 7-mile beach located right next to the Governor's house (which is near the Westin). We spent a morning there enjoying it. There are a few trees for shade but they're not really right by the water, more set back on the beach. There are no facilities here as well. This beach is our other favorite beach on GC. We walked back to our hotel from there, passing the Westin and the Ritz-Carlton's beaches.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/e8c9ca83.jpg

WATER TEMP: I found it to be a little cold when you first enter, but fine once you're in. My husband says it was fine.

WEATHER: We had mostly GREAT weather. On day 2, it poured for about 10 minutes early afternoon and on and off the rest of the day. We had a couple of days when the weather didn't look good in the morning but then the clouds cleared up quickly. The sun is POWERFUL so protect yourself WELL if you need to. The evenings were PLEASANT, very comfortable with a nice breeze.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/03640a8b.jpg
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:21 PM
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RESTAURANTS:
Unfortunately, NONE of the restaurants WOWED us in terms of food. One came pretty close but for the others, the food was either just okay, or good, or very good.
Always check your bill, as most restaurants include a 15% service charge. They will also write on the bill the total in U.S. dollar (assuming you're American).

COCONUT JOE'S: This funky little place, which is not on the water, is located across the street from the Marriott. You can sit on the outdoor wooden deck and enjoy a good cheap breakfast. My son and I had scrambled eggs with toast. My husband had a cheddar omelette with toast. With 3 juices, the total came to $26.25 (tip not included). The combination of good food and funky/casual atmosphere made this place our favorite for breakfast. We'd HIGHLY recommend.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/b62629f4.jpg

EATS CAFE: This restaurant is located in a little shopping plaza across the street from the Westin hotel. There's indoor seating only. The look is modern. There are booths and also bar stool seating. Several giant TV screens tuned to whatever channel are up on a wall. The place is on the small side so there's a good chance you may have to wait a bit for a table. Luckily for us, our wait wasn't more than 5 minutes. My son and I had scrambled eggs with toast, my husband had a cheddar omelette. With 3 juices, the total came to $31.19 (tip not included). The eggs were SLIGHTLY BETTER than Coconut Joe's but we liked the atmosphere of Coconut Joe's better.

CIMBOCO CARIBBEAN CAFE: This is another nice little place for breakfast, located not too far from the Marriott. You can sit either inside or outside. The outside is really just the sidewalk with a view of the parking lot and the busy street nearby. We sat inside. They have EXCELLENT bread. The waitress told us that they make everything except for the pasta. I had a quiche lorraine, my son had his usual 3 scrambled eggs with toast and my husband had waffles. With 3 juices, the total came to: $37.75 (tip not included). The food was very good, and a place that plays Santana's entire Supernatural CD is FANTASTIC in our book! We'd recommend.

RAGAZZI: This Italian restaurant, which is not on the water, is located near the Hyatt. You can eat there or do carry-out. We chose to do carry-out for lunch and ate back in our suite. My husband got himself a Spaghetti Bolognese and I got a Pesto Fettucine with grilled chicken, sun dried tomato and basil pesto. The food was good although I could feel my arteries clogging and my thighs expanding with each bite I took! Total cost: $38.63.

CALYPSO GRILL: We had lunch there after our visit to the Turtle Farm. We LOVED this place and its look. You can chose to eat inside or outside. We ate outside on a wooden deck right on the water. So you know, there's not a lot of shade on the deck. Maybe 2-3 umbrellas and a couple of trees. I had mussels in a creamy white wine sauce and french fries ($13) and my husband had a cheeseburger with fries ($11). I thought my mussels were REALLY GOOD. My husband tasted one and thought the sauce was GROSS. Go figure. His burger was good. We thought they made GREAT french fries. With 1 coke, 2 fruit punches and 1 bottled water, total cost: $44.56 (15% tip included).
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/c478dd0c.jpg

DECKERS: This restaurant is located right across the street from the Hyatt. We had our dinner there on our first night in GC. This is the restaurant whose food came VERY CLOSE to WOWING us. You can chose to eat inside or outside. We sat on the patio outside. Lovely mood/atmosphere. They play all music genres (I think they have live bands on the weekends). I had the teriyaki chicken which is a breast of chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce over penne pasta with light cream sauce ($24). My husband had the jerked pork tenderloin ($24). Our son had the past with marinana sauce. With a strawberry daiquiri ($9.25), 1 bottled water ($8), 2 juices, the total cost came to $100 (tip included). Our food was VERY VERY GOOD. We'd HIGHLY recommend.

PAPPAGALLO: This was to be dinner on our 2nd night in GC. Well, we got there and our son proceeded to throw a tantrum So to not ruin other people's night out, we left. We were so FURIOUS with him. We were really looking forward to dinner at this place which gets really good reviews. I bet the food there would have WOWED us. Oh well....

CALYPSO CHICKEN: ....And so this is where we ended up that night. This is basically a take-out place. We ordered some food to take back to our suite. The food was just okay. We ordered 2 bbq ribs with rice ($30) and 1 jerk pork with mashed potatoes ($12). The portions are really big. With 2 sodas, the total cost came to $47.

THE LIGHTHOUSE: This is another restaurant with a great unique look. You can eat inside or on a covered patio with a view and the sound of the sea. Really lovely. If you're a couple out for a romantic dinner, try to book this table - see the picture. It's SO GREAT!
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/7439974d.jpg

Hopefully, you won't have a toddler hovering over you. Thank goodness, no one was having dinner there that night or it would have been another tantrum when we would have had to pull him out of there. He stood and sat on top of the stairs all night staring at the water. My husband had the lasagna ($18) and I had the filet mignon ($48!! Yes! $48! Word of advice, don't order filet mignon in GC!). Our entrees were good. The desserts were YUMMY. With garlic bread ($4) + 1 bottled water + 3 fruit juices + 1 cheesecake ($9) + 1 chocolate mousse ($9), the total cost came to $123.55 (15% tip included).
So you know, the Lighthouse is a bit of a drive from the 7-mile beach area. We miscalculated the distance and the rush-hour traffic and it took us 50 minutes to get there. The drive back was much better, only 30 minutes.

HEMINGWAY'S: This restaurant is located at the Hyatt. You can chose to dine inside or outside on the terrace. We sat on the terrace which is surrounded by lit tiki torches and near the water. Very nice, relaxing setting. My husband and I both had the soy and ginger marinated salmon ($55 for both). It was VERY GOOD. However, there was a side called Udon noodle cake which we thought was just GROSS. They also brought us a fish fritter as an appetizer (complimentary of the chef). It was a blended tuna and salmon with a tamarind sauce, and it was EXCELLENT. Anyway, with 1 juice, 1 Cayman Colada and 2 desserts, the total cost of dinner came to $98.11 (15% tip included).

THE REEF GRILL AT ROYAL PALMS: We had dinner there on our final night. You can dine inside, outside under the stars (not quite on the beach) or indoor on an upstairs deck with a sea view. We ate under the stars. Another lovely setting. This is not an upscale place, more of a casual chic place (casual due to the plastic chairs). I had the sea bass. My husband had the red snapper. Both fish were good. Desserts were YUMMY. I had the cheesecake, my husband had the chocolate hazelnut mousse. With 1 juice, 1 coke, 1 bottled water, 1 glass of red wine, the total cost came to $101.88 (tip not included).
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/f957f21b.jpg

MOSQUITOES: They love me, my son and ignore my husband. Invariably. My son and I got bitten multiple times while having dinner that first night at Decker's. So I sprayed myself and my son for all the following outdoor dinners and we were okay. The days were not an issue. So spray up in the evenings if you need to.

FYI: I'm sure you'll notice that my son is not eating lunches/dinners. It's not that we don't feed him. Invariably, he refuses to eat restaurant food during vacations which is so weird since he's such a good eater at home. So we shop at grocery store for fruit and make him sandwiches. That's all he'll eat. 8l

GROCERY STORES: Speaking of them, we bought some items (fruit, juices, yogurt, bread, etc...) at a couple of different places (Foster's and Kirk). You can find pretty much the same brands you find in the U.S.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:22 PM
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LITTLE CAYMAN DAY TRIP:

After I booked our trip to Grand Cayman, I started looking at Little Cayman and Cayman Brac to figure out if it would be feasible to do a day trip to one of the 2 smaller islands and whether it would be worth it. After some research, I decided that Little Cayman would make a GREAT day trip, and boy was I right. We it!
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/669ec554.jpg

We flew Cayman Airways Express (a DHC-6 Twin Otter that carries 19 passengers) mid-morning for the 37-minute flight and took a flight back to GC around 6pm.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/57327701.jpg

Look at the tiny airport terminal...
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/03e487b1.jpg

...and the dirt/grass runway!
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/bbcaa31d.jpg

We rented a jeep with McLaughlin Enterprises a few weeks before our trip. He's located right by the airport and the only car rental company on the island. His business number is 345-948-1000. Gas is a little over $5/gallon.

Our first stop was Point of Sand beach, located on the southeastern part of the island. The most beautiful out-of-this-world beach you could ever find. It will make you feel soooo good, as if you're the only person in the world. There's one big palapa for shade with a couple of picnic tables under it. Just a GORGEOUS piece of paradise.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/c9217042.jpg

After spending the rest of our morning and early afternoon at Point of Sand, we drove to the restaurant called the Hungry Iguana for a late lunch (it's back by the airport). We did 2 cheeseburgers with fries + 3 drinks + 2 desserts for a total of $55.35 (15% tip included). It was a VERY GOOD lunch. View from the restaurant:
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/c189706a.jpg

After that, we drove around the island. It's about 10 miles long so it's a quick tour. The island has a mangrove pond called Booby Pond. It is home to lots of birds. The STENCH of the pond is UNBEARABLE amp; . It's amazing that it doesn't overwhelm the entire island! We took a and climbed back into our jeep VERY QUICKLY!
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We saw quite a few Iguanas.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/06b4af7a.jpg

They apparently have the right a way in Little Cayman! LOVE it!
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/c44726d8.jpg

There's another GORGEOUS piece of paradise in Little Cayman and it's called Owen Island, a little island right off Little Cayman (about 600 feet away). You can go to the Dive Shop at the Little Cayman Beach Resort and rent a kayak to cross over or have them take you ($5/person) on a little motorized boat. They'll leave you there, just let them know when they should come back to pick you up. According to the guy who took us to Owen Island, the water in between both islands is between 2 to 4 feet deep and you could walk across if you wanted to. How cool is that? Owen Island is a Robinson Crusoe fantasy. Beautiful clear water, lots of conch shells on the beach. There's nothing else on the island though, no facilities and no real shade. Go there for a couple of hours, bring water and maybe some snacks. This is yet another piece of paradise.
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/6bac48b9.jpg
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h1...r/3f9babb5.jpg

If you don't handle the sun very well, I don't think a Little Cayman day trip would be good for you. If you love solitude and the feeling of being on a deserted island, you'd love Little Cayman. If you need entertainment and people around you, then don't go because you'll get bored.

On our flight back to Grand Cayman, our plane stopped in Cayman Brac for refueling. Since we had to get off the plane, does this mean I can count Cayman Brac as an island I've been to?

This was an EXHAUSTING but FANTASTIC day trip.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:22 PM
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FINAL THOUGHTS:
I do a lot of research before a vacation and Grand Cayman turned out to be mostly what we thought it would be. We agree with the common opinion that a Cayman vacation is not cheap, but there are options for doing it on somewhat of a budget (Priceline, using less expensive restaurants, grocery shopping, etc...). We did find the island to be MUCH MORE Americanized than we had thought. You could be forgiven for thinking it's a U.S. territory and not a British one.

We liked GC because of its great beaches/water, , the multitude of restaurants and the friendliness of the people. If you like fun-sun-sand-sea and don't mind the crowds and the americanization, you will love Grand Cayman. It was a VERY GOOD vacation for us. I personally am not tempted to go back because I'm not crazy about highly developed and americanized islands. My husband really liked the beaches and said he'd go back just because of them (not in the near future though). Well, since I plan our vacations, the only way he'd go back would be with his next wife I guess.

Hope this trip report is helpful to anyone considering/planning a trip to the Cayman Islands. I tried to be as detailed as I could be but if you still have questions just ask away and I'll do my best to answer them. Happy travels!

P.S.: Yikes! That was a LONG trip report!!
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 03:28 AM
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caribtraveler, Thanks for a fantastic report. I especially like the way you included photos. But most of all, I liked your honesty. We were on GC last fall, and like you, and for the reasons you stated, we won't go back either. Plus, I had what turned out to be influated expectations for fantastic snorkeling.
Glad you had a good time and thanks again, Owa
 
Old Apr 18th, 2006, 03:42 AM
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caribtraveler,
What a wonderful trip report!I love the detail and the way you added the pictures as you went.


We are going to GC May 10-15th and I really enjoyed reading your report and the pictures.

BTW..I know exactly what your talking about with the tantrum thing..when we went to St John our almost 3 year old (at the time..now almost 4)threw a fit one night when we were eating so we had to eat our food and leave really quick!

The beaches look really beautiful!I cannot wait to go!

Thanks again,
Christie

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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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Welcome back! I was just thinking of you yesterday and wondering if you were enjoying your time in GC, thinking you had just left this past weekend.

That was one of the most informative trip reports I've ever seen--your attention to detail and your tongue in cheek humor made it a pleasure to read. I'm off now to take a look at the photos, since I didn't want to interrupt the good read waiting for them to load (still on dial-up out here in the boondocks!).

Glad it was overall a good trip for y'all!
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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What a great trip report! Thanks for providing so much detail--it will be a HUGE help for planning out some of the details for our trip... which starts tomorrow!!

Little Cayman looks fantastic, though I don't think we'll be able to work that in this trip. And your restaurant reviews are great, especially because we have small children too, so it's helpful to know what places are ok for kids. We have similar issues with our kids about eating out, particularly with our 8-year-old son, who has food allergies. So it's good to know that it wouldn't be a problem to bring food for him.

Thanks, too, for the advice on mosquitoes!! They love me and the kids and ignore my husband--maybe they just have good taste. ;-) We'll be sure to bring the bug spray.

One question: Did you ever need rain jackets or long pants/long-sleeved shirts? We're travelling from the Northeast, so we'll probably have to wear some warmer clothes on the plane, but I'm wondering if we'll need them at all while we're there.

Thanks again!! Your trip sounded fantastic, and your photos were great. I'll post my own report when we're back next week.
JS
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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What a great report! Glad you had a good time, your little boy is adorable.
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Wow, what a comprehensive report !

..but hey, you could have come by to say Hi

Also, I would tend to agree with the comment about things being Americanised, but not off 7MB... East End, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac... I think they all still have a distinctly Caymanian flavour to them, which is one of the intangibles
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 09:02 AM
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Thanks everyone for the kudos!

Owa: I in no way have your experience in snorkeling but I admit I wasn't too impressed by what I saw. My barometer is Cozumel where I had a great snorkeling experience off the beach. We did love Little Cayman and if we do end up learning how to dive (we'd really like to), I think we'd go back there just to do that.

Christiegr: The beaches are very nice. I believe you've been to St. John, right? I'd give higher marks to St. John's beaches though. And yes, how embarrassing is it when the kids act up?? At least you got to eat even if it was quick, we didn't even get to sit down!

ejcrowe: Hi! So how's your planning going for the trip you're arranging for the hubby? Still doing it, right?

Jspen: We never needed long-sleeved shirts and pants. The evenings were just perfect. My husband did where long pants when we went to nice restaurants but only because it was a nice restaurant and not because if was too cool. Have a GREAT time!

Wyatt92: Thanks. We think he's pretty adorable too! Except for when he throws a tantrum

TomCayman: Hi! yes you're right. It's the 7-mile beach area that's very much Americanized. Can I just say our jaws dropped at the mansions in your neck of the woods?? Wow!! And yes Little Cayman is definitely NOT Americanized, that's why we LOVED it so much. There seemed to be a lot of activity at one part of your resort. Is it a new wing you guys are building? That's also part of the reason I dind't stop by. I was thinking you were probably busy and here I am some strange Fodorite stopping by to say hello!


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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Oh and I should say that I "borrowed" the idea of putting my photos this way from our fellow Fodorite Ikemerson who did it for her recent trip report to Turks and Caicos. I used to do Shutterfly but I like her way MUCH BETTER.
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 11:41 AM
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caritraveler,
Yes we did get to sit down and eat but really really fast!

We are really looking forward to Pappagallo (I love Italian food) so I am hoping now that our son is almost 4 and better behaved...that we can enjoy it.I will do a trip report when we return and hopefully it will include Pappagallo.

I think that my husband will love the fact that it is Americanized.I like more exotic places.(but feel that I will like GC for the snorkeling and water)
I also think that with the kids...Americanized will be better for them.

I want to go to Jamaica oneday (husband will not go)I guess I will go with a friend!

Take care,
Christie


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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 02:27 PM
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Caribtraveler, yes we are building a new addition (36 suites) that will open August 1st, plus a shopping center (with Fosters supermarket) is right across the street and opening any day now.

..but I'm never to busy not to say hi
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 07:48 PM
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Caribtraveler: Thanks for taking the time to post the new standard for Fodor's trip reports! Simply outstanding. You have a lovely family, as well! Your photos are wonderful and your report filled with great information on anyone visiting GC in the near future. Thanks again! Glad you enjoyed your trip!
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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I really shouldn't be posting when I'm tired... telling jspen "where" instead of "wear"??? and asking christiegr if she's been to St. John when she just said she did. Doh!

Christiegr: I've read about your Jamaica dilemna. We're going there the 1st week of August and we're expecting to just love it. I will post a trip report with pics that you will forward to your husband and he'll wanna go there right then and there. You can thank me later

CaribbeanSoul: Ohhh...Thank you. You're making me quot;>
Your favorite place (Negril) is our next stop. Looking forward to it. Hope your wife is doing well.

TomCayman: You're one of the people I think always offer valuable info about GC on this board (several restaurants on our list came from one of your responses to someone else's post). It's been very much appreciated. Now I'm really sorry I didn't stop to say hi.
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 03:56 AM
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caribtraveler, what a fantastic trip report. Believe me, it is not too long especially for us. We are going there in a few days and will be visiting both Grand and Little Cayman Islands so all information is very appreciated.
I have a few questions. Were you able to pay with your credit card for your meals, groceries, activities or did you bring a suitcase full of cash?

If you paid with a credit card is your transaction posted to your credit card in the US$ or CI$?

Do you think we need wetsuits?

Did you find any nice shells?

Is tipping accepted or expected wherever you go, besides restaurants?

Did you tip taxi drivers and how much?

Did you drink a tap water without any problems?

I posted almost identical questions on separate post but only one wonderful poster helped me out so I would appreciate your help as well. Thank you for taking your time to post such helpful trip report with wonderful photos.
Pat
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 04:51 AM
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For Pat2003

Everything you can pay for with credit cards in the US you can do the same in Cayman. There are also lots of ATM machines that you can use to withdraw cash (US or CI) on your credit card.

Transactions will post to your credit card in US

Wetsuits, and even then only "shorties" are only really used in the cooler winter months.

I would note though that snorkellers often use those thin "skinsuits" to prevent sunburn.

I'm not an expert on sea shells, but although you can find some around, Cayman is not known for sea shells (not like Sanibel, for example!)

Tipping is, again, as per the US, so yes, tip your bellman, the maid who cleans your room in a restaurant, and in a taxi, but otherwise no, not really. Do note that many (though not all) restaurants charge a fixed 15% service charge and many (again though not all) resorts and hotels charge a service charge on the room rate from 6-10%. Those charges are, by law, distributed to the hourly paid staff, so you can factor that in when you decide on a tip.

Tap water is fine to drink... it is all desalinated, so to be fair sometimes it tastes a little of chlorine, but you won't catch any stomach bugs from it.

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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 05:17 AM
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Hi Pat. You're welcome. I must have missed your other post.

We brought a suitcase full of cash . We brought $2,100 in cash and used most of it (I think we came back with about $50!!). We just like to get everything all paid for. The only thing we paid by credit card was our rental car in Grand Cayman. We planned to pay our rental car in Little Cayman by credit card but their credit card approval machine was not working. Good thing we brought lots of cash! I'm sure you can pay by credit cards at the grocery stores and big restaurants (probably not at the smaller local restaurants and local stores).

Our excursion company only took cash (I do know that Captain Marvin's takes credit cards but will charge a fee if you do pay that way and not by cash). I would also suggest going to your bank before leaving to get some singles, and 5s for tips. I think we brought about $50 worth of singles and same for 5s.

Tipping is accepted. We tipped our waitresses and taxi drivers 20%. Some restaurants already include a 15% tip. In those cases, we would just add 5% to total 20%. At one restaurant, I did NOT see that the 15% was already included and tipped her 20% so she got a good tip from us! That's why it's really important to check your restaurant bill.
At the airport, leaving, a guy handled our bags. We tipped him $5.
I tried to tip our maid by leaving $5 each day but she would never take it. Not sure why.
We tipped the 2 crew members at Soto's Cruises. $10/each.

I don't think you need wetsuits.

We weren't really looking for shells but you can't miss the conch shells on Owen Island off of Little Cayman. They're HUGE and there are LOTS of them! I feel like I did a big no-no when I picked up one and a conch came out which scared the bejesus out of me! I made my husband put the shell back on top of it. I hope it didn't die.

We drank bottled water because we're just used to doing that not because there are any problems with the water. Both my husband and I drank water from the tap in our suite to take some aspirin and it tasted better than our crappy tap water here in NJ!

Enjoy your trip!
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