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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
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West Bay, 26 May 1998

A Wench's Vacation Guide to Grand Cayman!

Well, hello there! Come on in and sit a spell. I just had some folks asking me about things to do and see in Cayman, so I thought I'd make a few notes for the next ones who ask.

Now the first question I always ask someone who inquires about such things is, "What are you interested in?" You see, I'm kind of a laid back old wench, and I realize that what I like might not be what everyone else likes. On the rare occasion when I get a day off all to myself, I'm inclined to lie in the sun, go for a dive, and try out a few new recipes. When I have friends visiting, I try to do something a little more exciting.

Since I live in West Bay, I usually start my island tour just up the road at the Turtle Farm. You can learn a great deal about the green sea turtle from the self-guided tour, and you get to see the turtles in all stages of development, from the tiny hatchlings all the way up to the massive breeders. You can even have your picture taken while holding one of the smaller turtles, if you're so inclined, and pick up a few souvenirs in their big gift shop.

From there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to Hell, so you might as well stop in. That way, the next time someone tells you to go there, you can tell them you've already been! It's a good place to mail those "punny" postcards appropriately post marked "Hell, Grand Cayman" too. (You know: you write messages like, "You always said you'd see me in Hell first, and here I am!" or "Having one Hell of a time in the Cayman Islands!" and send them off to you friends.)

I've heard that they used to float oil on the water standing in some of those limestone formations and set them afire at Christmas time. It must have really been something to see then, and it probably made a lasting impression on some of the regulars at the Club Inferno next door the first time or two that they did it. If you're still in the market for souvenirs, there are plenty available at the Hell gift shops.

After you've been to Hell and back, you can turn north and head up to Morgan's Harbour to catch a boat out to the north wall to fish or dive, or join a dive or snorkel trip to Stingray City. If that's not on today's itinerary, head down West Bay Road toward George Town.

Just be sure to work a Stingray City trip in at some point in your visit. Whether you dive or snorkel or just stand on the deck of the boat, it's one of those one-or-a-kind, not-to-be-missed experiences. Can you imagine frolicking with 20 or 30 Southern Stingrays just like a litter of playful puppies?

If you only have a few hours to spare, you can still make the trip, but it you have a whole day, make it a truly Caymanian experience with one of the old Caymanian captains, who will prepare a native seafood lunch for you along the way and spin a few yarns about the old days. I don't know of a better way to get a true taste (both literally and figuratively) of the islands.

If shopping is your "thing," you'll have plenty to opportunities as you move down West Bay Road and into George Town. There's the new Strand Shopping Centre, Galleria Plaza, West Shore Plaza, the original Seven Mile Shops, and Queens Court for shopping centres, as well as dozens of shops in George Town proper.

Cameras, china, crystal, jewelry, perfumes, and watches are all reputed to be good buys in Cayman, but I'm afraid they're not items this old wench goes shopping for on a regular basis, so I couldn't say from personal experience.

I can tell you that I highly recommend the Cayman National Museum in George Town. It is truly well done and can give you a unique insight into the history, geography, and architecture of the Cayman Islands. There are special exhibits that change on a regular basis, so I go to see what's new whenever I have the opportunity.

There are also walking tours of West Bay and George Town, if history is among your interests. The walks are self-guided, and pamphlets are available from the National Trust. Of course the Trust House is another source of fascinating information about the history, flora, and fauna of these islands.

One of my favorite things to do in Grand Cayman is just to drive around the island. It doesn't take long - an hour or two one way with stops, and 45 minutes back without. We usually take the long way through East End to Rum Point and cut across the island via Frank Sound Road on the return. Go by the conch shell house on North Sound Road, stop in at Smith's Cove or Bodden Town to snorkel, visit the newly restored Pedro's Castle, check out the Pirate Caves and the Blow Holes, snap some pictures of the graveyards on the sea and the remains of ships run aground on the reefs, and explore the Botanic Park.

When you get to Rum Point, you can lie on the beach, catch a dive or snorkel trip, ride the ferry back to the Hyatt dock, enjoy a gourmet meal or a quick bite, visit Stingray City, or play on the various water toys. I usually prefer to slip up to Water Cay and wade out to visit the starfish, and I've heard that you can sometimes find a seahorse hanging out on the pilings of the Kaibo dock. Now that's an old wench's cup of tea for sure!

Just be sure to be back on the west side in time for sunset! It's Mother Nature's biggest show of the day, and I never miss a performance if I can help it. Afterward, you can check out one of Cayman's many restaurants and night spots (more on that another time!), but be sure to catch the tarpon feeding at The Wharf Restaurant or Rackam's Pub. It really is a sight to see! I hear they're doing shark feedings at the Reef Point Restaurant out at Breakers, but I haven't had a chance to check that one out yet.

There are lots of opportunities to enjoy live music or disco on Grand Cayman, but this wench prefers dancing under the stars. Now that the Holiday Inn is history, the only place to do that is the Royal Palms Beach Club. Rumor has it that the Royal Palms will be the new home of the Barefoot Man and Band, but as of this writing, we're still awaiting the homecoming. (There are plenty of locals and visitors alike who are keeping their fingers crossed on that one!) Meanwhile, entertainment is sort of pot luck at the Royal Palms - sometimes they have it, and sometimes they don't.

If your funny bone needs tickling, check out Coconuts Comedy Club at Legendz in The Cayman Falls Centre or at Chuckles Comedy Club, which is hosted by Sharkey's (The Cayman Falls) and the West Bay Polo Club (Seven Mile Shops) on alternate nights. If theatre is your idea of a good time, check out performances at the Harquail Theatre or the Prospect Playhouse. (I always try to go to the Prospect Playhouse when they're offering dinner theatre. Both the food and the acting are quite good and very reasonably priced.)

If you prefer to be at sea, there are sunset cruises, dinner cruises, and cocktail cruises in various locations aboard different types of vessels, from catamarans to an authentic tall ship and a replica pirate ship. And of course, if you want more of Mother Nature's underwater splendor, there are night dives (either scuba or submarine) available most nights, if you check around.

And that's it - A Wench's Vacation Guide to Grand Cayman! I know I've missed some things that are available here, like art galleries, parasailing, windsurfing, and such, so if those are among your interests, you'll just have to check them out for yourself.

This old wench is worn out from all this touring around the island. Think I'll just go out and watch the stars for a bit. I'll bet you I can see more here than you can where you are!

Come on down and give it a try, I'll probably still be counting when you get here...

Please send your comments and/or suggestions for future articles to the The wench apologizes that she really doesn't have enough time to answer personal requests for recommendations on where to stay and what to do in Cayman, but she does try to read all her email when time permits.

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Last update: 26 May 1998
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