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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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...