Grand Cayman Pictures and Trip Review

Old Dec 30th, 2007, 06:36 PM
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Grand Cayman Pictures and Trip Review

Grand Cayman Review

We stayed for a week in mid-December at the Marriott in Grand Cayman. We flew with miles and stayed at the hotel on points, so that gave us more money to splurge on activities and meals. We had a great time.

HOTEL
We stayed at the Marriott Beach Resort. We chose an island view room—because it cost the fewest points. Before we left, I wondered if a cheaper room would equal a really long walk to the beach. Luckily, the resort is not that big, and it was a very quick walk to the beach.

Room
The room was spacious, the bed was comfortable, and the bathroom was fine. We really did not spend much time on the balcony since we didn’t have a view. We did have a few meals at the hotel, and enjoyed most of them.

Food and Drink at the Hotel
I also really enjoyed the strawberry daiquiris, and my husband especially liked the mudslides. The breakfast buffet was good, but very overpriced (20 some USD each). We only had the buffet once. I just don’t eat enough to make it worth it. We did have lunch at the hotel once and it was very good. A couple of days we enjoyed their happy hours specials in the late afternoon. The service was better than I expected it to be in general.

Beach
The beach at the hotel is nice, but not wide like other areas of Seven Mile Beach. We only spent two days on this beach—the day we arrived, and a morning later in the week when the water was too rough for snorkeling. They have created a manmade reef of sorts. The one day that I snorkeled there, I saw more than I expected, but not much compared to other areas. It was nice that you did not have to pay for the chairs and umbrellas here like I have at many other resorts. We like to explore anyway, and didn’t want to spend too much time at the resort.

CAR RENTAL
We rented a car from Andy’s, which is across the street from the Marriott for 5 days. We had a Nissan Sentra. It was a bit rickety, but it did the job. My husband did all of the driving. Once he got used to driving on the left, and navigating the traffic circles it wasn’t too hard. The island is flat, so he just had to deal with traffic, as opposed to hills and curves that we experienced in other islands. We have no complaints about the car, it worked for us and was a good price compared to our other options. It was completely worth it to have our freedom and not to have to rely on taxis. With all our stops throughout the days, taxis would have been more expensive than the rental car rate.

ACTIVITIES
Captain Marvin- Snorkeling and Stingray City
We went on a boat trip with Captain Marvin on our first full day. There were probably about 30 or so people on this trip. That was plenty of people—but I know that in high season/cruise ship days, those trips are more packed. But having 30 people was more than enough to get in my way while snorkeling! We specifically chose a day that there was only one cruise ship in port (that was a really good thing, because we would have only been able to go on one other day, because the trip was cancelled on the other days we were there due to rough water from a nearby tropical storm). We went to two snorkeling spots—and they were really nice with lots of coral and fish—but it would have been much better if the water hadn’t of been as rough as it was, and other snorkelers bumping into me! Even though the water was rough, it was still very clear. We went to two areas in the coral gardens. I believe they usually go somewhere else, but that was too rough that day. We then made our way to the Stingray City sandbar, and that was definitely the highlight of the trip. We had done something similar in Belize in a place called Shark and Stingray Alley, but this was much better than that. There were stingrays everywhere. One accosted me and almost gave me a hug around my back—it scared me a bit! My husband even held one. The trip was definitely worth it.

Rum Point and Drive Around the Island
We drove up to Rum Point on our second full day. It was really nice to get a self tour of the island. Rum Point was a nice place—pretty with all the trees around and lots of chairs and hammocks for lounging. We were hoping to be able to snorkel, but the water was just too rough. We spent about three hours here. It was and relaxing, not crowded at all, but with not being able to snorkel we got a bit restless. On our drive back we drove around Cayman Kai, The Reef Resort, and Boddentown looking for good snorkeling, but the water was too rough everywhere. That was a bit of a disappointment. We actually drove back this way later in the week to see if we could find a calm place to snorkel after hearing great reviews, but had no luck.

Botanical Gardens
The only reason we went here was because there was one day that the water was too rough for good snorkeling. I really didn’t think we would enjoy it as much as we did. The flowers were beautiful. We also encountered quite a few iguanas, so that was really fun.

Turtle Farm and Hell
We drove up to the turtle farm, and on our way stopped at hell. It really wasn’t that interesting, but everyone had said it was a must see. At least it was a good photo op. Once we got to the turtle farm, we decided not to go in. Just a little too touristy and I think it was more geared towards kids. I was tempted by the snorkeling lagoon—but I prefer real snorkeling experiences to a “fake” one.

Red Sail West Bay Snorkel
This was a great trip. It was a huge boat that holds 80 people or so. And there was a total of 7 people on the trip! It left from the Hyatt and we went snorkeling at Eden Rock and the Wreck of the Cali. We were a little disappointed because we had already been to Eden Rock on our own, and we could have just gone to the Wreck of the Cali on our own. But the sail was nice, and it was nice not having to swim out to the reef- we could be a little more lazy. I thought Eden Rock was better than when we had snorkeled there another day. The Wreck of Cali was interesting too—lots of huge tarpon to see.

RESTAURANTS

The restaurants are definitely expensive. We spent a lot more on food than we planned. I thought it was the most expensive of all Caribbean islands I have been to except for St. Barts. We did not have a bad meal anywhere we went.

Marriott- We ate the breakfast buffet once, lunch, and spent a couple happy hours at the hotel bars and restaurants. The food was generally good, but definitely expensive compared to other restaurants (but that’ to be expected of any hotel!).

Coconut Joe’s—We had breakfast here a couple times. Fairly priced and good food. It’s very convenient to our hotel.

Cimboco’s- We had breakfast here once and it was very good. I had a great omelet and my husband was happy with his French toast.

Eats Café- We had lunch here once and dinner once and enjoyed it both times. They have great sandwiches and yummy fries.

Westin (beach side restaurant, can’t remember the name)—We had lunch here after snorkeling nearby. The food was very good but similarly priced to the Marriott. But I really wanted to check it out. If we come back I want to stay there for sure (mostly because of the wide beach and proximity to great snorkeling).

Restaurant at Rum Point—great food at this beach bar. I had chicken fingers and fries, and my husband had wings that he enjoyed

The Wharf- We had a nice waterside dinner here. There are tarpon nearby that you can feed—but I just think that’s kind of gross! Where we have a lake place, there is a similar area where you can feed carp—and I just never found that very appetizing! But we were both very happy with our dinners there.

Ragazzi’s—This was one of my favorite dinners. I had a delicious pizza, and my husband had gnocchi that he thought was great.

Bed- When we arrived we were the only people at this restaurant. That worried me a bit, but the food good (but nothing too special). We had a great calamari appetizer. I had steak that was good, but my husband can’t remember what he had, or if he liked it, so it must not have been that memorable for him!

Neptune’s—We had dinner here. I had good chicken Parmesan and I believe my husband had a seafood pasta that was good. It was good, but nothing special. They did have a nice touch—a free appetizer of bruschetta.

Aqua Beach—We got a cheese plate that was tastey, and would have been enough for both of our meals! But we also got roasted chicken and potatoes that were good.

Copper Falls- This was our most expensive meal, but also the best one. I had filet and my husband also had steak (but I can’t remember what kind). I mean, it’s no Ruth’s Chris, but it came pretty close. I had the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had.

BEACHES AND SNORKELING

Overall all, we really enjoyed the snorkeling here. It seemed like there were more fish here in general compared to other places I have been. But maybe it’s because they are used to being fed by people. I just don’t like to do that—I have been taught that it’s not good for them, so I don’t do it. But those fish must have just been expecting it, because they would swarm you! We were disappointed that we couldn’t try out the north and east sides for snorkeling. We heard good things about them, but the water was just not cooperating. So our snorkeling experiences were limited to our boat trip, South Sound, Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, and Georgetown area.

Coral Gardens—We visited two areas here on our Captain Marvin’s boat trip. I think there was more sealife here than anywhere else we went in Grand Cayman. I would have like it better though if there had been less people with us, and the water hadn’t have been so rough.

Eden Rock—We visited twice- once on our own via a ladder at the Eden Rock Dive shop, and once on our Red Sail boat trip. The coral here is great, and there were so many fish. This ranks pretty high with everywhere that I have snorkeled. There were lots of brown and white fish here that I haven’t seen at any other snorkel spot that I can remember. I didn’t even see these fish anywhere else in Grand Cayman

Wreck of the Cali—We visited here on our Red Sail boat trip. It was interesting to see the submerged wreck. There was nice coral and lots tarpon hiding around.

Smith’s Cove
We tried snorkeling here twice, but it was just a bit too stirred up. If it had been calm, I think it would have been great. I did see a huge French Angelfish here and one of the biggest parrotfish I have ever seen, but my underwater pictures did not come out well because of the sand being stirred up. This was a pretty beach spot though!

Marriott
There is a manmade reef here. Nothing special, but I did see a flounder type fish here that was interesting.

Cemetery Beach- The beach here itself is nice, and the snorkeling was great. We came here twice. There was so much sea life here. We really enjoyed it.

Governor’s Reef—The beach here is amazing. The snorkeling was even more amazing. I don’t think this is the best of where we visited, but it’s special to me because I saw a turtle here, and he actually swam with me for a while. We decided to get up early on our last day since our flight was not leaving until 3 pm. We had about two hours to snorkel here. It was probably the best snorkeling conditions of our trip and the turtle was icing on the cake.

SHOPPING
I was really disappointed with the shopping here. I knew that it’s a cruise ship port—so it has the same stores that every cruise ship port has. I thought I would be able to find other places to shop besides the cruise ship area, but had no luck (except for the liquor stores!). I really like to buy things local to an island for gifts when I travel. Luckily I found a little silver shop tucked away in the cruise ship port that was just what I was looking for. We spent a couple hours looking for a place like this! It was called Silver Splash.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Knowing how touristy the island can be, it was certainly less crowded than I expected (of course I liked that!). We did go in shoulder season, so I think we missed the rush. I knew that the island wasn’t going to be very scenic compared to other islands I have visited, but I was still disappointed in the limited amount of photo ops I could find. I thought the beaches were beautiful though, and the underwater world was even better. We had some wonderful snorkeling experiences. I think we would visit again, but probably not anytime soon since there are so many other places we want to go.

Below is a link to my pictures if you’re interested.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=ic6p7f
lauren27 is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2007, 05:23 AM
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Enjoyed the trip report. Great pics (the turtle pics - very cool!). Thanks for posting.

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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 05:24 AM
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Thanks for the report. I agree with your assessment on just about everything! Glad you enjoyed your trip. Too bad about the water being so rough. Snorkeling is good in GC.

Peace, Greenie
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 07:28 AM
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Good report...thanks.

Being that you stayed at the Marriot, you were a couple block away from Treasure Island, where one of our favorite spots to snorkel is. We stayed at a condo right next to the Marriot one year, and used to swim over. There are two rock jetties in front of TI, and if you swim out about 100 yards, there is an excellent reef teaming with sea-life. Maybe next time....
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Nice report and beautiful pictures. Grand Cayman is one of our favorite Islands for their beaches and great snorkeling. However, it's become so cost prohibitive, we probably won't be making any return trips.
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Old Dec 31st, 2007, 07:20 PM
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Lauren,

Good report. We stayed on the northside mid-Nov and had the same rough experience. Finally on our last day we were able to snorkel Rum Point but I was much more impressed with West Bay Cemetary Beach.

Your underwater pictures are awesome. What kind of camera did you use?

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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 01:18 PM
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Scott B-- too bad we missed the snorkeling at Treasure Island. We walked by the resort a bunch of times. Oh well, maybe next time!

Alliegator--I have a Canon SD 700 and used the underwater housing from Canon for that model. I have really enjoyed this camera and the underwater housing. I think the camera takes better pictures than my Nikon which cost three times as much!
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Great report! We went to the Marriott in June 07 the same, on points and on FF tickets too. Always an easier vacation when the big ticket items are taken care of!

Your pictures were very good.
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Old Aug 1st, 2008, 05:06 AM
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TTT
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 10:20 AM
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Wow, great pictures. We were there in early June and had great water conditions for snorkeling but didn't get any great pictures. Looking at yours feels like I'm back there. Thanks for posting them.
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Old Aug 15th, 2008, 04:14 AM
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Shopping:
I do wish you may have read of Pure art on south Church st....one mile south of George Town...before Smith Cove (YES, usually fun swimming/snorkling). For well over 20 yrs. pure Art has been in charming Cayman cotteage, offering "fun local shopping" really ranging from fine cayman original paintings to souvenirs!
Do hope you may find it and enjoy next trip!
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 08:50 AM
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What a great review you have given of Grand Cayman. I used to work for a school system and every February school vacation my husband and I would visit Grand Cayman and stay in a condo on 7 Mile Beach. We love to snorkel, and of all the places we have visited over the years, the best snorkeling I have enjoyed was in Grand Cayman. We now spend our winters in Hawaii and continue to snorkel on a daily basis. It is nice, but just doesn't compare to Grand Cayman. We also have explored Little Cayman and Cayman Brac but our favorite of the three islands is Grand Cayman.
Your slide show is fabulous. Nice job.
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