Lots of Grand Cayman questions--please help!

Old Feb 5th, 2008, 06:47 PM
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Lots of Grand Cayman questions--please help!

I'm trying to plan a trip for my husband and myself and my parents. We were considering St. John, but since we've been before we wanted to try someplace new. Hoping we can get some advice on Grand Cayman to decide if this is the island for us (or if we should just go back to St John--we do love it there). So, here are my questions:

1) Is Grand Cayman really busy? We'll be going in April/May.

2) Is the food, etc. really that much more expensive? Eating conservatively, what could we expect to spend per couple for 8 days?

3) We're considering the Reef Resort--any comments or advice?

4) Is driving on the island okay? We'd rent a car.

5) Any other advice that might help us make our decision? Special activities that we must not miss?

Hopefully we'll get this trip booked soon and can start to look forward to it instead of being so wishy-washy on what to do

Thanks in advance!
pijeta is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2008, 06:56 PM
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Sorry, me again.

I also wanted to ask about safety. We felt very safe on St. John; would we feel comfortable on Grand Cayman as well? And would we have to worry about health issues (drinking water, etc.)?

Thanks again!
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Old Feb 5th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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I have been to St. John once, and Grand Cayman many times. Here are my thoughts on your ?'s.
1) Grand Cayman is very busy in Georgetown (where the cruise ships come in) and along 7 Mile Beach. However, the rest of the island is not busy at all.
2) I can't really comment on the food prices for 8 days, we usually eat breakfast and lunch in our condo (ocean front) and go out for dinner. Yes, it costs more than where we live in the US, but LOTS less than our trip to Europe this fall. It's relative.
3) We love the Reef Resort, and just returned from a two week vacation there in January.
4) Driving on the island is fine, good roads, etc. However, you drive on the left (British). Both my husband and I are very comfortable with it.
5) If you love the water, soft sand beaches, snorkeling, etc. you'll love Grand Cayman. If you want casino's and/or spring break atmosphere, you won't enjoy it.
6) Grand Cayman is the safest place we've been to, and we travel a lot. The drinking water, food, etc. is all fine, no worries there and no need for bottled water. Their standard of living is like the US, maybe higher.

If you go, make sure and include a trip to Stingray City. If you like to snorkel and/or scuba dive, you'll be very pleased. There are long stretches of white sand beaches, and multiple "walk-in" snorkel spots around the island, including in front of the Reef Resort. Good luck deciding!
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 07:49 AM
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ditto luvtotrvl.

Here's a link to the port schedule so if you want to visit Georgetown, you can take a look and see how many ships are in on a given day. Also keep that in mind when visiting Stingray City since that's a huge cruise attraction.

http://www.caymanport.com/schedule.htm
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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As for food prices, expect to pay about 20% more in restaurants than you would pay in a big city in the US. So if a pasta is $14 at a nice restaurant, it's going to be at least $17 in Grand Cayman.

In better restaurants, the $30+ entree is not at all uncommon. Even in more modest restaurants, the $25 entree is not that uncommon.

Similarly, grocery prices are about 20% more than what we pay in Manhattan, but this might be 50% more than what you pay in the midwest. So hamburger might cost $6 a pound; a little can of tomato sauce might be 89 cents.

Budgeting is so hard, but I usually allot $80 to $100 per person per day for meals when I go to the Caribbean if I am eating out all the time. It will be substantially cheaper if they cook in their room.

The Reef is a great resort but it's as far away as you can get from Seven Mile Beach (about 40 minutes by car); plan to spend at least one full day on Seven Mile Beach; there's a public beach on the north side near the Courtyard. (Tom Cayman can tell you exactly where it is.)

The only must-do activity for me is a trip to Stingray City, preferably when there aren't many cruise-ship passengers.
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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We paid more to eat well in GC this past May than we did in Europe and the quality of some widely recommended restaurants was disappointing. Dinner for 4 adults with 2 bottle of moderate wine was in the 250-300 GC range. And these were not the top restaurants. Blu at the Ritz was $1020 for the 4 of us on the smaller tasting menu.

It is very safe and I have never had a problem out by myself for early morning runs. Clean and safe and easy to get around.

We really enjoyed our snokeling trip but the highlight of GC for us is always 7MB. We rarely stray.

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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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1) Busy? It can be in and around the Georgetown area, and in the mid & southern end of 7MB, it can be conjested during certain times of the day such as rush hour. The east end (where the Reef is) is very quiet. You can also escape the crowds by simply staying at a resort on the northern stretch of 7MB.

2) Food is expensive, as are the drinks. I think prices are comparable to St John, maybe slightly higher due to the exchange rate. You dinner bill can be influenced by mnay things such as desserts, apps, and especially drinks or wine. Typically, for a nicer meal, my wife & I spent around $125-150 for a dinner without wine. That usually included apps, drinks, and maybe dessert. We also ate at a few more casual places that the bill was well under $100. So it depends on where you eat. In my opinion, the best bet is to get a condo, and eat breakfast & lunch in, and go out for dinner as mentioned by someone else. That will save a lot of money.

The Reef gets good reviews. I have never stayed there, but I do know it's in a more secluded/isolated part of the island. If you want to be close to many restaurants, and also be near 7MB, this may not work for you. Keep in mind that the 7MB has the most resorts for a reason, the beach is spectacular. If you don't mind not being on 7MB, and a much smaller choice of restaurants, and be pretty isloated, it could be great for you.

4) Driving is simple on GC. The hardest part of it would be dealing with traffic at rush hour, which you should be on the beach anyway!! If you can handle the driving in STJ, Grand Cayman will be a breeze.

5) If you are looking for hilly & lush like ST John, this is not the place. Grand Cayman is flat & pretty dry & scrubby. But, 7MB is stunning. The real beauty of GC is below the water. It has some incredible diving & great shore snorkeling. The food is better than on STJ. The people are very friendly, and we felt very safe during two different 10-day stays. I would go back in a heartbeat. My next trip I will opt to find a condo on the northern end of 7MB, so I'm on the best beach, it's quiet, and restaurants are a very short drive away. Hope this helps....
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Thanks everyone!

The food prices help a lot; I think we'd be able to budget accordingly.

We liked the Reef Resort because of the great reviews and the seclusion, but is it too secluded? We want peaceful and beautiful, but near some activities (but we will rent a car). Would we be better off to stay on 7MB? If so, can we get a room or condo for a reasonable price? (I don't really know what reasonable is - maybe approximately $300/night for 2 bedroom/2 bathroom ??)

What tour operators would you recommend to Stingray City?

Thanks again
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 06:40 PM
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I posted this on another Cayman thread:
The northern end of 7MB is the most quiet, where the middle and southern end are closer to the restaurants, shops, etc.

Check out www.caymanvacations.com

That site will help you find just what you are looking for. It lists where the resorts are located on 7MB, and also prices, pictures, etc...
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Hi pijeta (et al),

TomCayman from The Reef here.

Re food, personally I don't find it that expensive... Doug, I've done a lot of travelling to US major cities and to Europe in recent months... trust me, I came back with sticker shock... and the worst of all was Atlantis in Bahamas

Now, for a first time Cayman visitor, perhaps it might help (and this is my first time noting this on this or any forum) if I mention that (effective end of March), The Reef is launching an all inclusive programme.... to answer just the sorts of questions raised, particularly for first time visitors.

I'm really trying to help answer questions and concerns, so won't give more details as always concerned about "plugging".... but the info is on our website, and it is the first premium all inclusive programme ever for Cayman, so may be of interest.
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