Monday, November 12, 2012

There's More Than Finance In The Caymans


Unlike other Caribbean islands, The Cayman's are the fifth largest financial center in the world boasting over 500 banks, and tens of thousands of business incorporated with "plaques" on a wall.  

Photo courtesy of Spirit of the West


However for vacationers, it's all about the powdery sand beaches, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and family friendly accommodations . . .  

All three Cayman Islands are ringed by coral reefs, and the waters are crystal clear.

Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach is the perfect picture postcard, making it the ideal spot to relax, sun bathe or swim with the string rays. The circular stretch of powder soft coral sand is lined with casaurina trees, the shallow waters are crystal clear, along with casual beach bars and restaurants, a playground, restrooms and showers.

While Grand Cayman offers more lodging, shopping, attractions, dining, and nightlife, the smaller islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are certainly worth a visit.

This is is one of the world's most popular water sports destinations. Scuba divers from all over the globe know this is a top dive destination with the deepest diving point, and over 200 diving sites.

The Cayman Trench surrounds the islands, and the depth of the Cayman Ridge drops to more than 25,000 feet. Divers and snorkelers anticipating an abundance of marine life will not be disappointed.

Touching the coral reef comes with a hefty fine of about $5,000, so hands off when snorkeling and diving!


The capital city George Town is quite busy with arriving cruise ships, shopping, and offers a great variety of dining.

Leaving the capital, head north to the less touristy areas of the East End and view the blowholes, along with the islands earliest settlements. Continue North to Rum Point and enjoy snorkeling, swimming, lots of dive shops, great food options, and plenty of beach chairs.

Aside from beautiful beaches, snorkeling and diving - there's plenty more to experience. The islands  interior is home to the Mastic Trail, a two million year old subtropical forest with tall mahogany trees and mangrove swamp. It's best to have a guide, as they can point out all the native birds and reptile species along the way. Make a note to not wear sandals as the path is uneven gravel, and do not forget the mosquito spray!

For an unforgettable experience, go for a Caribbean sea swim on horseback (pictured above). Spirit of the West offers several horseback riding tours - I highly recommend the sea swim and beach ride.

One of the most popular tourist attractions is Stingray City. Visitors can touch and feed Stingrays in a shallow sandbar located in the North Sound area.

The capital city George Town is bustling with high end shops, restaurants, bars business and government offices - and a great cruise ship port. If you are interested in the culture and history of the island, stop by the Cayman Islands National Museum.




Around the island you will spot the infamous blue iguana which has lived on Grand Cayman for millions of years.

Tropical flower lovers will appreciate a visit to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park which features a a state-of-the-art visitors' center, exotic gardens, walking trails, and butterflies.

The Turtle Farm has over 10,000 endangered green sea turtles - some of the adult turtles weigh up to 600 pounds. The farm has thousands of baby turtles, along with birds, fish, sharks, and a

Another unusual attraction is a tiny village called "HELL" - one of the most desolate places I've seen in the Caribbean. The big attraction is a tiny post office where you can send cards postmarked from Hell. The landscape is made up of jagged black limestone, dolomite rocks, petrified coral and sea life skeletons. I understand why early settlers to the island avoided this place, and today less than 100 locals live there.


Located 90 miles away is Cayman Brac which has the highest elevation in The Cayman's, and is a very different environment than Grand Cayman.

The islands landmark is The Bluff rising 138 feet above the sea. Numerous caves are located at the foot of the Bluff, and all along the ragged limestone rocks.

The friendly local residents (Brackers) are about 2,000 in number, and most live on the Northern coast. The southern coastal waters are quite rough, and this part of the island is home to wild green parrots and herons.

Little Cayman has a few hundred residents, and only one settlement 

The island's coastline is underdeveloped, compared to more touristy destinations, and offers lots of secluded beaches, lagoons, and salt ponds. Visitors will find the cost of guided tours on the island quite reasonable.

Divers travel to Little Cayman for the deep water vertical coral wall reef which plummets more
than 5,000 feet, and the opportunity to dive the 330-foot long Russian frigate wreck. This is also a popular spot for sport fishing, and an attraction for bird watchers with over 7,000 bird species to view.


On my last visit I spotted just one shop, a gas station, post office, and missed the museum - however the reason for my visit was a lovely beach day on the luminescent pink sands of Point of Sand beach. The beach does have a pinkish glow, was free of tourists, and definitely worth the trip.

Plan on visiting The Caymans? Download the Spot Cayman App, and discover everything you need to know for your vacation.


















Happy Travels,
Linda
Travel 2 the Caribbean


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