Grand Cayman Trip Report with Photo Link

May 15th, 2008, 02:19 PM
  #1  
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Grand Cayman Trip Report with Photo Link

Here's a summary of our recent trip to Grand Cayman.

--CONDO--
- Christopher Columbus Condos:
http://www.christophercolumbuscondos.com/
We were very pleased with the location on 7MB and condition of the condo. The staff was extremely friendly as well. We had a 2nd floor, oceanfront, 2 bedroom w/ a den. The den could have easily be an extra bedroom for kids. Next time we'd select a room on the 1st floor just so there was easier access to the beach, but our view was awesome.

--RESTAURANTS--
We picked up a copy of Good Tastes when we arrived and it helped us quite a bit!
http://www.caymangoodtaste.com/
Here is just a short list of a few places that we tried:
- The Wharf: I called for reservations and they only had 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. available. I opted for 6 p.m.--we ended up being there from approximately 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. and the place remained fairly empty. I don't know why we couldn't get seated at 7 p.m. ? They offer nice views, but it was expensive and my meal was just okay. Dessert was excellent though!
- Fidel Murphy's: Good lunch, decent prices, good staff, fairly smokey though.
- Hammerhead's: Fun location, good prices, good food.
- Aqua Beach: Fun atmosphere, amazing waitress (very fast and attentive), loud. Loved eating w/ our feet in the sand.
- Paradise Restaurant by the Sea: Quiet dinner, nice views, good service, good food.
- Decker's: Great food, great service--the chef even brought our meals out to us as 3 out of the 4 of us ordered the chef's special, which was awesome. It was very expensive though and we didn't even order drinks.
- Rackham's: Fun atmosphere, good location, good food, decent prices.
- The Reef Resort's Castro's Hideway: We stopped there for lunch on our drive around the island. Fun atmosphere, good service, good food, good prices.
- Breeze's by the Bay: We just had drinks there. Fun location, lively atmosphere.

--ACTIVITIES--
- Captain Marvin's Snorkeling 1/2 Day Trip:
http://www.captainmarvins.com/
We were very pleased with Captain Marvin's service--they picked us up from our condo exactly on time, brought us to the main office so we could pay, and then brought us all to the dock. We boarded and left the dock right on time again. I was very impressed by this as most services are "on island time." Our first stop was Coral Gardens: We loved it! We even saw a stingray. The next stop was the Barrier Reef: Also wonderful. Not as many fish as I would have thought, but the coral and plants were beautiful. Our last stop was Stingray City: I enjoyed it, but it was a lot more exciting to see the ray in the "wild" than in this "tame" area. I would highly recommend the trip though and Captain Marvin's.
- RedSail Sunset Catamaran Sail:
http://www.redsailcayman.com/gc_index.html
We signed up on Wednesday for Friday night's sail. The woman told us to go to the Westin at 5:15 p.m. to sign in and the sail would depart at 5:30 p.m. We arrived early, shortly after 5 p.m., to find out they actually don't depart until 6pm on Fridays. No big deal, we just hung out waiting. But, we were told to come back around 5:55 p.m. to actually board. We started heading back around 5:40 p.m. and the boat was already 1/2 full! That was extremely annoying since we then had to struggle to find places to sit together. We took off shortly after 6 p.m. but had to go to another location to pick up more passengers. The boat was packed. The front (where the nets are) was very calm and relaxing, but the back (where the bar is) was crazy and loud. Had we have known it was more of a "booze cruise" we may have passed, but we did really enjoy the sail. The weather was beautiful and the catamaran ride was smooth. Overall, I was not really impressed with their service or lack of organization, but the ride was definitely worth the price.
- Nautilus Submarine:
http://www.nautilus.ky/main.php
We took the 1 hour semi-sub ride to Cheeseburger Reef and over the Wreck of Balboa and the Wreck of Cali. We enjoyed it and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you don't snorkel.

--SNORKELING--
- 7MB (right in front of the Christopher Columbus Condos): AMAZING! We couldn't believe how great the snorkeling was right outside our condo. The water was crystal clear and the beach access was very easy to get in and out of. Loved it!
- Cemetery Reef: Good snorkeling, however I wasn't as impressed as I was with the beach right in front of the condo. The beach itself isn't that nice and the entry to the water is very rocky.
- Smith's Cove: LOVED IT! It truly felt like we were in an aquarium. We saw two weddings there while we were there. Great little area. No real area to lay out though.

--MISC ADVICE--
1. Bring bug spray and After-Bite! No matter how much bug spray you slather on, you will get bit and they itch!
2. Bring your own snorkel gear. We had our own and were glad we did... great snorkeling was found every time we stepped into the water.
3. Get the cruise ship schedule http://www.caymanport.com/schedule.htm We skipped Georgetown on heavy traffic days and were glad we did.
4. Don't plan on much nightlife. We knew Grand Cayman was going to be low-key for night activities and maybe it was even quieter due to it being the offseason, but we couldn't even find a little excitement after 6 p.m.
5. Rent a condo (or hotel w/ kitchen area) so you can save money by eating in.
6. Skip Hell--we just drove through while driving around one day and really can't figure out why people would want to go there?
7. Drive around the island just to see the other sides. The water on the south side was beautiful. The east side was completely laid back and relaxing. The north side and Rum Point was fun, yet quiet--tons of people just laying around in hammocks. Love that!

--PICTURES--
I posted a few pictures from throughout the trip:
http://community.webshots.com/album/...host=community

--FINAL THOUGHTS--
Overall, we loved the snorkeling and water activities in Grand Cayman. The island itself is pretty commercialized and not all that pretty (no offense, it's just not tropical or lush). I would recommend it for avid snorkelers, older couples or families with kids looking for a great beach. We would go back, but have many other places on our list to get to first.

**Please feel free to ask any questions and THANKS to everyone who helped make this trip great!

pijeta is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:08 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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Pijeta, thanks for the organized post and great pics! We leave the 24th and can't wait. Can you tell me where Smith's Cove is? We've been to Cayman before and I've heard of it, but not sure how to get there. Also, did you have any problems with jellyfish hatchlings? We never had a problem with them in June or mosquitos for that matter but am wondering since we are going a bit earlier this time. Thanks!
january89 is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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Smith's Cove is just south of Georgetown.
luvtotravl is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 07:44 PM
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january89 - Smith's Cove is located on S. Church St. just south/east of Georgetown. We got there by just staying on the main road through Georgetown until we saw the "Beach Access" signs on our right, directly across/south from Grand Old House.
We didn't have a problem with jellyfish hatchlings, but the no-see-ums were definitely out at night!

Have a great trip!
pijeta is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 04:47 AM
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Smith's Cove is directly across from a nice big house, but it is not the "Grand Old House".
luvtotravl is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 06:46 AM
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Correct luvtotravl, it is across the street from that nice big house, but it is also just south of Grand Old House as well (they'll pass that first coming from Georgetown).
pijeta is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 01:39 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Thanks for the great trip report!
Our family is headed to Grand Cayman
in December and your trip report will be very helpful. When we go,
our two kids will be 17 and 21 - we
are staying at the Westin and will
want a fun, casual spot for dinner our first night - in your opinion, would Aqua Beach fit the bill? thanks
JMK38 is online now  
May 16th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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I loved your pics. I will staying at the Christopher Columbus condos in 3 weeks and I was happy to hear you enjoyed your stay there. We reserved condo #10 a ground floor oceanfront 2 bedroom with a den. I had a hard time choosing between a ground floor or a 2nd floor but after reading your TR I am happy I choose the ground floor.

BTW do you have any pics of the condos?
jiffer21225 is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 08:00 PM
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JMK38 - Yes, Aqua Beach would be great for your first night, especially with kids that age. It's loud and fun and the menu is big enough for everyone to find something good. It's downfall: It's not on the actual beach, so no views. But the atmosphere is exciting and the floor is all sand, so it still has that vibe.

Have a great trip
pijeta is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 08:09 PM
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jiffer21225 - I just attached a few pictures I have from the condo (I wish I would have taken more, but the fish were so much more exciting). Sorry I don't have any photos of the kitchen, bathrooms, or other bedroom. The bathrooms and bedrooms were both fairly equal: clean, but on the small side. The kitchen was very nice: new cabinets, granite countertops, fully stocked.

The same photo link should work:
http://community.webshots.com/album/...host=community

Enjoy your trip
pijeta is offline  
May 17th, 2008, 04:57 AM
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Pijeta,

Thanks for the photos. I cant wait. we plan on doing a lot of snorkeling so this seems like the right place for us. BTW what condo number did you stay in?
jiffer21225 is offline  
May 17th, 2008, 05:28 AM
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Thanks for posting about your trip. We had a good vacation in GC back in '06. Glad to hear Deckers still has great food. We had our best dinner there.
caribtraveler is offline  
May 17th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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We spent one week in GC - first part of the trip was at the East end for three nights, then two nights at the west end. My 12 year old son loved the stingray sandbar tour - (stingray city is deeper water). We did the tour with RedSail, which was nice; however my son wanted to do this tour again, as it truly is an amazing experience swimming with about 50 stingrays in the open ocean. We ended up doing the second tour with a local, true Caymanian (versus big company) - Fantasea Tours with Captain Dexter. What an incredible experience - it was a smaller catamaran with 20 people on board (versus about 60 on the RedSail) - so more room, it was less expensive (you only pay if you had a good time - of course everyone did), included soda and water, was a longer (less rushed) more enjoyable trip and a much more personalized/friendly experience (they gave you food to feed the stingray - how awesome!). If you want to avoid a tour with cruise ship people - go in the afternoon. The second most memorable part of the tour was when we went snorkeling and John (the helper on the boat) took my 12 year old son with him and they came back with two live conch shells. Captain Dexter took the conchs home, ate the meat and delivered beautiful cleaned out conch shells to our hotel room for us to take home as souvenirs! I can't say enough good things about this tour and Captain Dexter.
dorineo is offline  
May 17th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Opps - I forgot to include their email: [email protected] or 916-0754 or 949-2182 (Captain Dexter usually answers his cell phone unless out of range). He is there to serve - and it was also great to hear the stories about the hurricane a few years ago (sadly destroyed his former boat).

Enjoy the Caymans!
dorineo is offline  
May 18th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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We have a stingray city trip planned with Captin Dexter and I am happy to read he runs a good operation.
jiffer21225 is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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Pijeta,

Can you compare GC to other islands, and which ones you think are better?
Joshpal is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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Joshpal - I wish I had a little more experience to fully compare Grand Cayman with other islands, but we've only been to a few in the Caribbean so far: Grand Cayman, St Thomas, St John, and Tortola (and Maui and Oahu in Hawaii).

Is there something specific you are looking to compare?

In my opinion, here are the perks of the islands I've been:
Grand Cayman: snorkeling and 7MB
St John: choice of villas, beautiful views, and quiet beaches
St Thomas: plenty of shopping
Tortola: loved the "Caribbean-y" vibe
(Maui: Haleakala, beaches, hikes, views and waterfalls
Oahu: the north shore, Diamondhead, Pearl Harbor)

Next on our list: Turks and Caicos, St. Kitts and Nevis (and Kauai and the Big Island).

pijeta is offline  

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