Trip Report Grand Cayman

Old Jul 17th, 2003, 07:17 AM
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Trip Report Grand Cayman

Ah...we just got back from the most relaxing trip to Grand Cayman. I want to go back!! My husband and I took our 10 year old son with us. I booked through expedia.com and we paid $2100 total for air/hotel for 5 nights.

We stayed at Sunshine Suites which is across the street from the Westin and Villas Of Galleon condos. That stretch of beach is the best. The sand is great, its not crowded and its shady with the trees. Sunshine suites was nice. However, when we go back we will stay at a condo on the beach. Sunshine suites has a complementary breakfast each morning and kitchenettes in the room. It is new and clean. We rented a car at www.rentalcargroup.com and got a rate of $225 for a jeep for 5 days. My husband quickly mastered driving on the left.

We were immediately surprised by the lack of "islanders" on 7 mile beach. Everyone who works there is white, and had either a british accent or they sound like they are from Canada. We felt very safe and comfortable walking around. It did remind me of being in Florida.

We shopped for groceries at Fosters which is close to the hotel. Groceries are expensive. We got some lunch food and snacks for $88. We bought beer at a liquor store...$10CI for a 6 pack. ($10CI is equal to $12.50 US money!) My husband loved being able to get Cuban cigars.

We got down there on Friday morning. On Friday night we ate at Coconut Joes Happy Hour. We just happened to be driving by and saw a crowd there. They offer a free buffet with finger foods and cheap drinks from 5-7. It was a festive place with a deck outside.

On Saturday we had dinner at the Cracked Conch which is out on West Bay. It is on the ocean and we ate outside. It is a nice restuarant. They have excellent fried shrimp. Our dinner was $96 for the three of us. (Ordered two meals and shared with my son, did get an appetizer (mussels) and drank beer.)

Sunday we had dinner at The Verandah which is by the golf course across from the Westin. We were the only people in there and it was not very good. The menu was all really strange stuff. I had goat cheese stuffed chicken on a bed of pumpkin seed rice. It was $80 for dinner that night (just the two of us, my son had chineese food earlier...$20 for shrimp and snowpeas)

Monday afternoon we had lunch at Yoshie's Sushi which is right across from the Westin and in front of Sunshine Suites. It was great! The sushi was fresh and they have awesome rice bowls with shrimp or salmon. I highly recommend it.

Monday night we drove into Georgetown and at at Breezes Cafe which overlooks the harbor. My husband had a huge plate of ribs and jerk chicken. I had the mahi mahi. It was pretty good. We were surprised at how empty Georgetown gets when the cruise ships leave. It was pretty dead that night.

Tuesday we ate at Eats Cafe because I was craving "normal food" and they offer hamburgers, wraps, salads, etc... It was great. We went back on Wednesday for lunch on our way to the airport.

We went to Sting Ray city with Captain Marvins. ($80US for 3 people) I booked online with them and then saw that Sunshine suites has a deal with them for 10% off. She did give me that deal. We went on Sunday. There are no cruise ships on Sundays on the island which is great. It was a lot of fun. The stingrays swim right up to you and bump you. They are not scary at all. They also took us to two other snorkling places which had fantastic fish.

My husband went scuba diving each morning. He went with a man named Tom Burns who is a marine biologist. He said the diving is the best in the world in Grand Cayman. The visibility is fantastic.

We drove to Hell and took some photos. My son thought that was great! We enjoyed having a car to drive around the island. There are a lot of gorgeous homes along the beach.

Sunshine Suites offers complementary beach chairs but after we met some folks at Villas of Galleon condos, we just used their chairs instead. Both villas of Galleon and the Westin had a pile of left over floats too. It is so great to float on the water. There aren't many waves and the water is so blue and clear. Its heavenly!!

Some nice condos I saw while walking included The Plantana, and The Avalon. I want to check these out for our next trip. We will be going back.

I did check out Treasure Island because I had thought of staying there. Expedia had offered $1800 for the three of us to stay in a room there. It looks okay from the outside...but the hotel part did look dumpy. I can see if you have a "garden view" you could end up looking over the parking lot. I would not stay there.

They are building The Ritz beside the Villas of Galleon and Sunshine Suites. We did hear construction noise early in the mornings.

Overall...it was a Great Trip...I'm going to miss being on my raft floating away. Thanks for everyones advice while I was planning this trip. Let me know if you have questions that I can answer.

Cindy
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Old Jul 17th, 2003, 07:44 AM
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Im glad you had a great trip

its so funny, I loved cayman and after my 1st trip, I couldnt wait to go back. I think about the days I spent floating on a raft doing nothing. And the snorkeling trip was by far my favorite part.

Thank you for posting your review, we plan to look into a condo for a trip next year.
JK
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Old Jul 17th, 2003, 08:03 AM
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Hi cyncruiser...

I have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind.

We are planning to stay at Villas of the Galleon in December for our wedding/honeymoon. What did you thik of it? I noticed it wasn't one of the places that you said you would look into for next time.

Also, where is Coconut Joe's?

Thanks
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Old Jul 17th, 2003, 08:17 AM
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Just curious . . . how did your husband hook up with the marine biologist? I'm an avid scuba diver and would welcome such an opportunity.

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Old Jul 17th, 2003, 12:32 PM
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Dr. Tom Byrns, the marine biologist who has a dive operation in Cayman Islands can be found at www.caymanmarinelab.com. My husband got his name from a neighbor who had also dived with him.

I did like Villas of Galleon. They are nice looking and the people we met who stayed there really liked it a lot. (They have been staying there for many summers in a row.) There is no pool, but they are right on the beach and the ocean is so incredible you won't miss a pool. The Plantana condos have a screened porch which looked great.

Cyn
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Old Jul 17th, 2003, 12:38 PM
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Kristen,

Coconut Joes is right on 7 mile beach beside a Andy's rental car place. Its near Treasure Island resort if I recall correctly.

Cyn
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 06:01 AM
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cyn......
We stayed at treasure Island in June 2002! We had a dumpy room and I made my husband go ask the front desk for a diff. room . It was ugly and dingy! the a/c wasnt even working!!! It was horrible.!! They then gave us one of the NEW rooms in the NEW ADDITION........
If anyone stays here request the new addition area!! MUCH BETTER BUT I wouldnt personally stay here again!
We are going to the royal reef resort this Sun. SO i will report back to u..!
the rates for car rental thru avis are 23.99 a day! not bad for the caymans.We almost rented the sunshine suites but changed our minds last minute..this is away from 7 mile beach..and on other side of island.Rum point was boring..It was like a grateful dead retreat there..with alot of hippies!LOL..
Its ok for the kids I suppose..But.,,we didnt get much out of it..
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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 09:51 AM
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We too stayed at Treasure Island while in Grand Cayman [April 2003]. While the room was clean, and we had a pool/ocean view, we did have some problems with getting some things [towels, etc] in the room. Seemed we were downstairs asking for them more times than not. When I got back home I wrote them that I thought they should do more to make sure guests had towels, and hoped they would look into making that better.

Would I stay at Treasure Island again? If I were going to stay on the 7MB area of the island and wanted some place cheap to sleep, maybe. If you are a person just looking for a place to 'lay your head' with not a lot of extras included, this may be the place for you.

We will be returning to the island in April of 2004 and fortunately found a wonderful place on the north side [more relaxed pace which is right up our alley] to stay.

Great trip report. I am going to file away the info on restaurants for next years trip.

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Old Jul 28th, 2003, 03:26 PM
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To Ikemerson,
Just curious, but where will you be staying on the north side?? We love the Retreat condos,(Rum Point) and always stay there, so I was just curious what condos your staying at?
Sandy
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Old Jul 29th, 2003, 10:50 AM
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Reply to Sandy:

We are staying at the Northpointe Condo's. It is a smaller group of condo's on the north side. We looked into several of the larger condo's and even some homes on the north shore and cayman kai area's. We found this condo when a wonderful woman read my trip report on the travel forum of Caribbean-on-line http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/cy/cyforum.shtml and wrote that she felt about the island, much as I did. She had a place there and has been coming to the island for a gazillion years. She then emailed information, as well as sent me her web site. This looks like a lovely place, and as we are taking our grown children for their first trip to the Caymans we figured it would suit our needs perfectly. My daughter-in-law likes to have a pool about, and this pool looks wonderful. We love Rum Point and the whole Cayman Kai area. Looked into staying there too We eventually decided on this site, as we love to snorkel near here, it has a pool, is ground floor and on the beach. Very reasonably priced too.

If you would like more info on this condo, I'd gladly send it.

The Condo's at Rum Point are gorgeous and the swimming/snorkeling/sunning is great there...we're just going to be 2 miles away!

Can't wait to go again!

Karen
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Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:43 AM
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Karen,
You'll love Northpointe condos! I've been inside one of them, and it was really nice. Nice pool area also!! I'll bet the woman you e-mailed was Sue. She owns a condo there, and she is a wonderful person. Her and I have talked many times. We are both die hard north coast Cayman people. Next door to that condo is a "local" bar called the Driftwood. What a great place!!! Everyone in that area hangs out there, and the people who run it are fabulous. Frank, the manager, has been a friend of ours for many years. They have a Sunday BBQ from 3-7 pm that shouldn't be missed. Great food at very reasonable prices for GC. It's a great place to mingle and get to know some of the locals in that area. If your staying at Northpointe, you'll love the Driftwood bar next door. We head there for happy hour almost every day. We're going down the last 10 days in April, so maybe we'll see you there. You will truly enjoy the north side of the island.
Sandy
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Old Jul 31st, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Sandy...

It is Sue, and she is delightful. We are staying at Harv's Kai. Not only is she delightful to deal with, but she is also going to send us a little booklet [?] she made up with helpful tips about the area, and places to not miss. Sue is in Grand Cayman right now, lucky duck.

Thank you too for the info you sent along. We will certainly give the Driftwood a try. Have you ever been to eat at Miss Viviene's? I think that is the right name...we drove by on a day she wasn't serving food, and thought we would give it a go while there this time.

Another thought...as someone fairly new to snorkeling...first of all, do you snorkel? If so, have you seen anything BIG while doing so on the northside. I read in Skin Diver magazine [work in a library, so I get to see all the periodicals] that most of the larger marine life tends to live toward the northside.

Thank you again Sandy. I've met the nicest people on the fodors site, as well as the caribbean travel site. We are also looking for a nice church to attend while there one Sunday. Last year we went in somewhere between Georgetown and Spotts Beach, but would like to find someplace a little closer to where we'll be staying. Sue has one she goes to, and I'll try and get that info from her too...nothing more interesting and uplifting than attending a church while on vacation. You meet some very sweet folks.

Karen
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Old Jul 31st, 2003, 03:34 PM
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Karen,
We have never tried Miss Vivians, but many people love her food and the price can't be beat. Another great place to eat, just a few miles away is Over the Edge. Great food and you can order off the lunch menu all day. Plenty of food and half the price of dinner items.

As far as snorkeling, I spend every day snorkeling on the north side. And yes, there's lot's of big fish in the area. Where we stay at Rum Point there's a baracuda that has been there for years in the water and he's good size. There's also some big fish that hang out under the pier at Rum Point. We have also encountered some huge stingrays right in front of our condo. There's a small reef in front of the Retreat, lot's of fish , but not big ones. I've never snorkeled where you guys are staying, but I know there's good snorkeling all over that area. There's a reef about 100 yds out from there, but I'm not a strong swimmer, so I've never ventured out there.

As far as churches, there are several on the north side that might interest you, and close to where your staying. And your right, you meet some of the nicest people. Any of them would welcome you with open arms. When in April will you be down there? If we're there at the same time I would love to meet you. Like I said before, we're at the Driftwood every day. Take care, Sandy

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Old Jul 31st, 2003, 06:28 PM
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Who did you book Northpointe condos with? I haven't been able to find them listed on the sites I usually use or through "google". Do you know the cost of a 2BR in January? Thanks!!!
 
Old Jul 31st, 2003, 08:01 PM
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Karen
I was reading about the condo...would you mind giving me sue email address,,,it sounds like a place we would like to stay at
thanks
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Old Aug 1st, 2003, 07:06 AM
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Sandy,

We will be on the island from April 15 through April 27th. We'd love to meet you too if you are around when we are there. Are you at the Driftwood every evening. Perhaps we could just meet up there.

ANONXX - here are a few links to sites with info on homes/condos on the northside... http://www.caymanvillas.com/html/RumPoint.htm and http://www.caribbeandays.com/caymani...eretreat.shtml and

I really do think I'll give Miss Viviene's a try. I am a people person, and just getting to go someplace more intimate and 'homemade' appeals.

We saw the baraccuda at Rum Point. Every day we went there, he and a couple others, were under the pier keeping cool. We got a couple of cloudy pics of him. He surely is a toothy guy! I asked about the big fish, as I am a bit intimidated by them. We went to dinner at a tarpon feed one night, and those suckers are plain old UGLY. If I came around a coral head and came face to face with one of them, I may be freaked out a bit.
I have also heard that there is the occasional hammerhead shark, but the waters are so warm, they tend to like to stay out a ways.

I understand that the reef is 200' from the beach at the Northpoint condos, so that makes it even more appealing.


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Old Aug 1st, 2003, 07:27 AM
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I HIT POST MY REPLY INSTEAD OF PREVIEW...SORRY.

To finish my post...

Blemke -
The place we will be staying is Harv's Kai. The web site is
http://www.harvskai.com/

another web site for this property is
http://user.mc.net/~wanninge/harv0.htm

I hope this helps whomever can use it out. I know Sue has been phenomenally kind and helpful to me. I can't imagine she would be anything else.



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Old Aug 1st, 2003, 03:32 PM
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Karen,
We'll definetely have to hook up at the Driftwood some evening. We'll be there around the same dates as you are, so I'll look forward to meeting you. The reef out from Northpointe is suppose to be fabulous, so I hope you'll enjoy it. Like I said, it's just a bit too far out for me. I agree with you about the tarpon, hope I never encounter one of those while snorkeling!!!! Not real crazy about sharks either, but have seen an occasional nurse shark down there. If you have any questions about the north side, please feel free. If I don't have an answer, I'll just e-mail Sue. LOL !!!! Can't wait to get back down there, the rain here in Ohio is making for a really crappy summer.
Sandy
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Old Aug 1st, 2003, 05:06 PM
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Sandy,

Sounds good, so we don't bore all these other people with our chat...how about you emailing me at [email protected] That way we can also keep in touch, share info, and make plans to meet.

Nurse sharks I can handle a lot better than those tarpon and their rolling eyes. Maybe it was the lighted water, maybe they were really anxious and hungry, but let me tell you, that swarm of them that comes to be fed in the evenings in Georgetown, although fascinating were...icky!

One last question. We went out with Captain Dexter for our trip to Stingray City the last time [made sure to check those cruise ship schedules] and had a very good time. We will probably go out with him again, but I am interested in snorkeling trips to places other than, or as well as, stingray city. Captain Dexter was a wonder, funny, affable and we sailed back in to land. He even coaxed that huge eel in the one reef out for us to snap pics of, but he only stopped at Stingray city and the one reef. If you know of any you would recommend, we're all ears [or I suppose that would be eyes].

Look forward to hearing from you.

Karen
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Old Aug 3rd, 2003, 09:20 AM
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Hi,
My family of 6 rented a home on the north shore for easter and xmas last year. It rained every day we were there at xmas which the locals said happens frequently dec/jan. Anyway easter was much better weather. We love to snorkel and loved the north shore and felt it was much better than anyware else on the island. We did a great 3 hour snorkel trip with ocean frontiers on the east end. They were great and we snorkeled at two wreck sites and one other site. Interested because I have children about the large fish on the north side if anyone else has any other info. While snorkeling there you are pretty isaolated in case anything happens. We did see large barracuda, but no sharks.
Susan
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