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Ever though what is paradise?
Well let me tell you about the Cayman Islands. They are 3 beautiful little islands (or splashes of colour as we call them) situated in the middle of the Caribbean in between Jamaica and Cuba. Originally discovered by Christopher Columbus after seeing Turtles nearby. The island is a British Overseas Territory so many things operate similar to Britain including driving on the left.
The Main Island and home to the Capital George Town is Grand Cayman. This is where most people visiting the Cayman Islands will come to weather it be by plane or cruise ship. The smaller sister island have very few residents and even less tourism. However are very beautiful and great for that unspoilt feel. A small shuttle plane takes you from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. There is not a lot to do on these island other than relax and dive.
Grand Cayman is a fantastic place to be. The island town centre George Town harbours the huge Cruise ship that visit the island. The moment you set foot on the dock you are faced with countless Duty free shops selling mainly, Booze, Jewellery and Perfume. In Town you will find some fantastic places to Drink and eat. One of the most popular is Breezes which over looks the Bay. Then Hammer Heads situated on the ocean front with decking, sit relax enjoy a mudslide and watch the boats sail past.
Further out of town but not to far is the beautiful Seven Mile Beach. Many rich Condo and Hotels are situated here. The beach is beautiful and you ca see it stretch right down the side of the island. The white sand mixed with the turquoise blue ocean is so inviting. You will find plenty of restaurants here selling the finest quality seafood.
The district of Westbay is home to the Sea Turtle farm where you can see hundreds of turtles from babies to 80 year old giants. Also in Westbay you will find a place called Hell named after it unusual land rock formation. You can even send a postcard from the Hell post office there.
In the more local part of Grand Cayman you will find Bodden Town home to the pirate caves. Where they claim buried treasure was once hidden by The Pirates of the Caribbean .
East end is very local but a nice pleasant area purely for relaxing. Bars tend to be local and local restaurants serving Conch and Turtle Stew. Not quite in East End is Queen Elizabeth botanical Park where you can enjoy a walk round beautiful gardens and see the endangered Blue Iguana roaming wild
My favourite spot on the island is a beautiful spot of peace and tranquillity called Rum Point. A small beautiful beach with a great wreck bar and grill. Sit on a sun lounger sipping an ice cold beer looking out onto the ocean. Here you may see small stingrays dotted around the jetty.
Further out from rum point you will find Sting Ray City. A home to wild sting rays. Situated on a sand bar you can stand in waist deep water and feed these beautiful creatures and give them a hug. An experience that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
The Cayman Islands are sat on top of an inactive volcano which means diving is great. Not a diver? No need to worry you can snorkel and se some of the most beautiful fish.
The climate is tropical so it's warm all year round. The summer months also mean the start of hurricane season when the island can be subject to high waves and winds. Rainy season means it will rain for 30 mins to 1 hour before stopping and the sun reappearing. Best time to visit is December to May.
The people are friendly and there are a lot of expats here due to it being a major offshore financial centre. Everyone is courteous and helpful.
The standard of living is high and therefore this island is not cheap to visit like other Caribbean islands. A beer will cost anything from £2 - £3.50. Bar food is around £5 - £15 and a restaurant meal with wine will cost around £50 upwards for 3 courses. The food in the restaurants is some of the best you will ever sample with chef from all over the world. A 15% gratuity is added to most bar and restaurant bills as standard.
The local currency is Cayman Island Dollars but US dollars are widely accepted.
Tour the island via boat, rental car or public bus. You can walk to most places if you can stand the sun. Everywhere is safe to walk round.
A great place to experience high class dining, luxury hotels, friendly people in a beautiful safe environment. Enjoy snorkling a diving in the warm waters and sea an vast array of sealife.
I love the island and the way of life, I actually now live and work here too.
My eldest daughter seems to realise she is attractive. I wish she wouldn't wear such skimpy clothes. A rich Arab has made me an offer. I can't stand cold water. I'm enjoying some spicy fish and a glass of wine beside the pool. But I'm not going into the water. I shall continue reading. But the kids have been snorkling. The kids also liked the 'Atlantis submarine', from which they stared at colourful tropical fish. Then there was the glass-bottom boat from which they viewed giant stingrays. The Jolly Rojer cruise was a trifle phoney as the ship was a replica of an old ship. But watching people walk the plank was a photo opportunity. My eldest daughter liked some of the boys. Cardinal D's Park was a hit. Lots of parrots, iguanas and other Cayman creatures. There's even a bowling centre with modern dance music and computers to do the scoring. And pleasant walks through a countryside of palm trees, flowers and funny little houses. Younger kids have lots of imagination and enjoy exploring. Certain teenagers don't seem to be interested in scenery. CAYMEN ISLANDS: 3 green, low lying Caribbean islands, with pine, palm trees, mangroves, turtles, coral reefs. GRAND CAYMAN: 7 mile beach; diving; water sports; golf. Lots of rich people. CAYMAN BRAC & LITTLE CAYMAN: gingerbread houses, deserted beaches, flower lined lanes, diving. GOVERNMENT: British Crown Colony; a tax haven; a trans-shipment point for drugs. The Cayman Islands is the fifth biggest financial centre in the world, having hundreds of banks, insurance companies and mutual funds. There is reputedly $800 billion in banks in Grand Cayman, an area with bank secrecy. PEOPLE: the population is approx. 37,000, most of whom live in Georgetown, the capital. Cayman Brac has about 2,000 people and Little Cayman about 120 people. You
will see lots of white faces as there are many Europeans living in the Caymans. In order to meet a native of the islands you may have to leave your hotel and the beach and travel inland. The islands are a bit too American in terms of culture. ALTERNATIVES to the Caymens: there are many: Cuba is picturesque, Dominica has volcanic hills and forests, Dominican republic has scenic colonial towns, Grenada is quaint, St Lucia has the Pitons, Trinidad has carnival, St Vincent is pretty... I like all these places, but I also like Caymen Brac because of its quiet charm. Cayman Brac would be too quiet for teenagers. FLIGHTS: British Airways has 2 flights a week via Nassau. LOCAL TRANSPORT: buses and inter-island flights. ACCOMMODATION: there are cheap guest houses as well as expensive hotels PACKAGES: Hayes and Jarvis, for example, offer 1 week in September at the 2 star Cayman Inn and Resort on Grand Cayman at a price of approx.£769 per person (single supplement from £28 per night). 1 week in December at the Hyatt Grand Regency would cost approx. £2379 (single supplement approx £178 per night). DIVING: The diving-tourism market is very active; April-October can be the best time for diving. There are both shallow and very deep dives. 'Ocean Frontiers' is reputed to be a good company. Hotels often have diving facilities attached. Diving is not my scene. CLIMATE: Hurricane season is June-October. Otherwise, warm but lots of sea breezes. SAFETY: only a few drug related thefts; Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 brought severe storms. Mosquitoes can be a problem. There are good hospitals. FOOD: fish and rum. SHOPPING: There is duty free shopping. But shopping is not fantastic. GEORGE TOWN: is the capital, and has many modern commercial buildings as well as older colonial buildings. ///////////// A typical day: breakfast of croissants and fruit juice and
coffee in our villa. Trying to persuade my eldest daughter to eat more. Making sandcastles on the beach, except for my eldest daughter, who is somewhere around. A treasure hunt involving pirates. The adults and younger children enjoy this. Lunch in a restaurant. An exploration inland. Dinner provided by our maid/cook. A silly wide game. ///////////// A bar in george Town: My number one daughter is bored. My sons are somewhere down the road. A tall grizzled gentleman from Texas tells me about possible links between Caymen banks and Enron, Bush and bin Laden. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has allegedly been told that Enron set up nearly 700 accounts in Caymen. The Cayman Islands are a favourite place for companies and individuals wanting to escape taxation. Deutsche Bank (allegedly one of the banks used by bin Laden and inside traders at the CIA) supposedly has an interest in Safron Partners, which is part of a corporate network on the Cayman Islands that is allegedly run by Bin Laden's half brother, Hassan. Bin Laden and the CIA and a Mr Hekmatyar are reputed to have been involved in the Afghan heroin business. Bin-Laden allegedly established branches of his business in the Cayman Islands; and he allegedly employed law firms and consultants connected to Langley, Virginia and the CIA. He was presumably conning poorly educated Moslems that he was a radical fundamentalist leader. Ho ho. Were the British interested? The French Internet publication, Indigo, reported that bin-Laden was a guest of British Intelligence in London in 1996. President Bush? One of his backers was James Bath, who was "the bin Laden family's representative in Texas." Bath supposedly managed millions of dollars for Khalid bin Mahfouz, one of the central figures in Bank BCCI, which was labeled as the bank for the Medellin dru
g cartel, Noriega, Saddam, Abu Nidal, and heroin godfather Khun Sa. Mahfouz was apparently an investor in the Carlyle Group of which Bush senior was a director. In 1999 it was reported that bin Mahfouz was financing Osama bin Laden. Mahfouz has a palatial estate in Houston Texas. James Bath was seemingly president of Skyway Aircraft leasing , a Texas company, owned by bin Mahfouz, and registered in the Cayman Islands.
Grand Cayman is the only place in the world where members of the general public can descend to 800 feet in a research submersible. They have two submersibles in operation, each carries two passengers and the pilot, and operates five times per day, seven days a week. Its been about five years or so since I was there, and it was 269 US dollars per person then (about £180 at that time). Expensive, yes, but the one hour journey was worth every penny - an absolute trip of a lifetime. The Cayman Trench is one of the deepest stretches of water on the globe, and the Cayman Wall, just a few hundred metres from shore, is reputed to drop almost vertically for 25000 feet. I can vouch for the first 800 at least. Having booked the trip several days earlier, I turned up at the harbour for weigh-in armed with my video camera and accompanied by my wife. The submersibles are moored about half a mile from shore so they had to take us out in an inflatable to board it. The trip out there took ten minutes or so and then we had to wait while they adjusted the buoyancy to account for our combined weight. Entering through a very small hatch we were soon perched in front of a hemi-spherical window that made everything look quite small. The small platform between my legs proved very useful for mounting the video which ran throughout the journey. Ten more minutes of safety and communications checks and we were underway, descending into the unknown. The descent to 800 feet was quite rapid (10 to 15 minutes) and the visibility was unbelievable - at 600 feet the pilot pointed out an object on the wall in front of us, it was a settee. We could see it quite clearly but it was miniscule so I asked him how far away it was - about 150 feet he replied. Now, in theory, you shouldn't be able to see that far in sea water, but the total absence of plankton at this depth greatly enhanced the visibility, and this was without the lights on. The sub was equipped with four 300 watt lamps
and the pilot finally switched them on when we approached the wall at 800 feet. There, before our eyes, was a completely intact shipwreck, wedged onto a ledge in the wall. The effects of the dome lens and the power of the lights were such that we could see the entire ship in one go - we were speachless. We spent a good ten minutes exploring the wreck from different angles, seeing some of the rarest animals in the world in the process. From here, the journey was a slow ascent of the wall, hugging it closely, (that close that we actually hit it once or twice) discovering awesome sight after awsome sight all the way to the surface. This was one amazing journey, and the memory will stay with me for the rest of my life, what's more I've got it on video too. The pressure remains at atmospheric so you don't need a housing for the video. The price may have altered since I went, but the experience will still be worth it. I have dived in some of the best locations in the world but have never seen anything to rival this. My wife is a non-diver and enjoyed it just as much. Be bold and have a go, you won't regret it. Incidentally, the cost of the trip included a free trip on the 60-man submarine that goes to 100 feet. If this is still the case, take my advice and take that trip first if possible (after the deep one you may find it disappointing), and you will almost certainly find the night trip more enjoyable, even if it means paying a little extra.
Not sure what I expected, I'd been to Mexico and loved it, done all the European places etc, but was not at all sure how the Cayman Islands would grab me at all. It is paradise - without a doubt. Lovely blue sea and plenty of beaches. Nice restaurants and the locals are without a doubt so hospitable. The problem was - I was not a scuba diver when I arrived, and realised that this was the place for that mainly, along with snorkelling, swimmming etc - If you dive YOU WILL LOVE IT!!! It has the best diving in the World (I think)- If theres better, then I'd love to know where. Scuba diving opportunities are abundant. Stingray City with it's enormous rays is a must, theres Edens Rock, The North Wall, and I could go on forever - If you do not love the water, fish and coral reef - then I think it would be hard to really get what you want from this place. The nightlife is generally quieter - it's a meal in a restaurant which is always expensive and although there is live music and dancing - we turned up at a few places that advertised it was on Mon to Sat only to find it was actually Thu to Sat. Sundays are mostly closed as the country is quite religious and everything stops Saturday night at Midnight. Walking round Georgetown one night in particular we saw about ten people - if that! Meals out cost an average of £100 per couple as it's mainly hotel based and the cheaper cafe style food bars just do not exist - although The Hard Rock Cafe was reasonable. Its the only place I have ever been to where I had to shop for food! All in all - to sum it up: Beautiful Country. Brilliant Scuba and snorkelling. Lovely people. Very expensive. A great holiday if you love the water, scuba etc. Not a good place to go if you don't.
I have been to the Cayman Islands three times now, each time to Grand Cayman the main island. The first thing which makes you feel at home, is the fact that they drive on the same side of the road as us!!!. There are lots of luxurious hotels, all with bars, restaurants, shops and much more. Its an excellent place for diving, lots of beautiful fish, coral reefs and you can feed the huge stingrays by hand!! The nightlife is varied, lots of the hotels have cabarets, there are some disco's and late night bars. There are plenty of restaurants including local and european cuisine, plus if you are really desparate they have McDonalds!!! As you can imagine it really looks like paradise, long white sandy beaches, clear blue sea and palm trees. It gets very hot all year round, I went in october and it was 103 degrees every day! I would recommend the Cayman Islands to anyone if you can stand the heat!!
I have been visiting Grand Cayman regularly for over 15 years, and I still have relatives who live there. I have built a web-site of links to accommodation, businesses and organistations, news, trip reports and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on/about the Cayman Islands. New sites are added every month! The FAQ covers immigration, customs, working/living in Cayman, hiring cars, golf, weather statistics, getting marries, legal age to drink or drive and more! For my comprehensive collection of links on Cayman, check my web-site at http://www.gotocayman.com
Mouthwateringly gorgeous shades of blue, with the veriest hint of greens, in so many different guises that you could spend hours mesmerised, simply watching them all. That is my favourite pictoral memory of the Cayman Islands. The sea and the sky, pure and clean, the colours Nature intended, are a sight to behold. I was helping an acquaintance select a hotel in the Caymans, when I realised that I had a tip or two which someone else might find useful, so here goes. Seven Mile Beach is the Mayfair of the Caymans. I recommend a room there. It has a really good beach and is very central. Don't worry too much about overcrowding as most of the hotels all have private beaches, which by their very nature will limit numbers. The thing to watch out for is that hotels will boast of this address in the brochures, but do read carefully to see if they are actually on the seafront. The "beta" rate hotels may be on "Seven Mile Beach Road", but they are on the other side of the road, the side not facing the seafront. Not the end of the world, but a walk of several hundred yards crossing another property will be involved to gain access to the beach. This would be a disappointment to anyone not forewarned and expecting to stroll down to the beach from a seafront hotel room. Properties of note on Seven Mile Beach include the Governor's residence and "The Great House". This is a lovely building with a summer sky blue roof. It looks lovely in the tropical setting. If you watched "The Firm", starring Tom Cruise, this where the swish penthouse suite which appeared in the film is. It was selling for 2 million US dollars at the time. At one end of this road is Georgetown, the capital of the Caymans. Be warned, it's not very big, being smaller than the average high street. A good place to stock up on groceries and suchlike, and as good a place as any to start thinking like a local. <
br><br><br> So, there I was, with my armful of shopping at the counter. There were two assistants behind it, and I was the only customer in the shop. They started chatting. I waited. They continued chatting. I waited expectantly. Their conversation continued. After a long while, they turned round and served me. It was later explained to me by my mother, who had lived there for a while, that I would have been quite welcome to join in the conversation. There would have been no conceivable need to miss out on an interesting discourse. After all, where could I possibly have been rushing off to? The post office, maybe? Well, the same thing would probably have happened there. Anyhow, the post office closes at half past three, so I would have been cutting it fine. It's best not to try to squeeze too many things into one day in paradise. It's a totally different world. If you get invited to a party, most of the directions will probably consist of driving north/south/east/west until you get to Doctor A's house, at which point you take the take the next turning left/right, and continue driving until you get to Doctor B's house. This is because a lot of the roads are still not named. The houses belonging to doctors tend to be the bigger ones and so serve as splendid landmarks. If you get tempted to invest, then it may be of interest for you to note that properties at the East Side tend to be larger, set in several acres rather than just the one acre. This is because the East Side has fewer sandy beaches like those on Seven Mile Beach, and so is deemed less desirable. However, the rocky outcrops on these beaches have a more wild and majestic presence which the tamer white sands lack. This reminds me of a bit of local gossip: Fifty years ago, the Caymans were little more than a mosquito infested swamp. Not very prosperous, they also suffered the indignity of the other Caribbean islanders in
sisting that the Cayman's national bird was the mosquito. The little portion of land that was farmable tended to be inland, away from the sandy beaches and the salty sea. When an estate was divided up, the firstborn would traditionally receive the more desirable plots, which were inland. Half a century later, the Caymans have been discovered as a tourist destination. Untouched and as yet untainted, it truly is paradise. Its irresistibility has resulted in numerous hotels springing up by the pristine beaches. Prime plots sell for millions. So what's the problem? Foreigners arrive, hand over some money, hang about a bit, and go away again. The Caymanians are now more prosperous. This is great. Well, the problem is that the prime plots are the previously worthless seafacing pieces of land. The second and third son are the ones raking it in, not the favoured heir apparent, who was bestowed the more farmable inland plot. This has caused a few disagreements between siblings. So, what is there to do? This is not the place for you if you want to shop. The Caymanians tend to visit Miami twice a year armed with a couple of empty suitcases. Visiting said destination involves a week of frenzied shopping and results in two suitcases full of essentials for the next six months. Even taking the air fare into account, it's cheaper that way. There are a few places to visit. Conservationists might find the turtle farm of interest, and the Caymans is to scuba diving what Hawaii is to surfboarding. The main attraction is simply the clean environment, balmy air and relaxed pace of life. Friday nights are great for anyone fancying a night out. The hotels battle for custom by offering free buffets. They normally have quite a good selection. I have a vague recollection of barbecued chicken wings. It is a very pleasant way of spending a Friday evening. There's normally a band, and one hotel even o
ffers a two hour boat trip out into the bay. All you pay for are any drinks you have, and there's no pressure to buy. My fondest moment is wandering away from the crowd to walk by the water's edge. The bright lights were left behind me, but I could still hear the band. I removed my shoes, braced myself, and placed my feet in the water. Nothing. The icy cold shiver never happened. I had been conditioned to the weather in the UK so well, that I had forgotten that I was now in the tropics. The waves which lapped over my feet in the enveloping night were warm and soothing. Balmy air caressed my arms and legs. It occurred to me then, as I stood there with the strains of calypso music washing over me, that this would be oh so perfect for a honeymoon.
Grand Cayman is worth visiting for this alone! Off the Cayman islands there is a reef where the water level is very shallow. You can get out of a boat and stand on the bottom, even though you are a long long way offshore. This is called "Stingray City". Obviously, the name tells you what's the attraction here - stingrays. They are quite friendly and tame, and once you get in the water, they will swim up to you in droves and try to persuade you to feed them. Although they are dangerous, they are quite used to people, and won't harm you intentionally. The only danger you are in is feeding them small squid - they can mistake fingers for food, so you must always feed them with your hand completely flat. These animals are incredible. It's a powerful experience rather like swimming with dolphins - almost mystical. And the fact that you are way out to sea but standing up not out of your depth makes it all a little more surreal.
After living on Grand Cayman for 2 years, I have formed many opinions of the place. Located just south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, the location makes for ideal weather conditions and sea life. The Cayman Islands consist of 3 islands; Grand Cayman is the biggest, then Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Grand Cayman is the main island although Little Cayman has even better diving and is very Island Paradise like. Grand Cayman is only 27 miles long and 7 miles wide with a population of around 39,000 people so one day of touring the island and you've seen everything there is to see. If you are looking for a holiday of lying on the beach or Scuba Diving, and money is not an issue, then the Cayman Islands may be just what you are looking for. It is easy and safe, coming from being a British Protectorate and having a very "American" feel about it and you won't have to attempt driving on the right side of the road. If you are looking for anything beyond this, and price is an issue, I would not recommend Grand Cayman. It has no great culture of it's own and beyond the beaches the island is not that pleasing to look at. It is flat and boring. I'm sure there are many other Caribbean Islands that have a bit more LIFE to them. I must admit, the beach and sea is spectacular and there is alot of it. There is so much beach, that you can always find a quiet bit. If you are not interested in the Caribbean culture and just the weather, then again, you may be quite pleased. You will rarely have a server at a restaurant or bar that is "local". There are more Expats here that you could imagine (I was one of them). I like a bit of life in my holiday destinations and Cayman just doesn't have it in my opinion. On the other hand, if you are looking to get away for a year or two and make some good money, Grand Cayman is great for this! As much as I rate this quite low as a tourist destination, I hold a soft s
pot for the place and it certainly changed the look of my bank book!
A nine hour flight from London may seem like hell on earth, but when you know that at the end of it lies paradise itself (complete with its own "hell" - of which more later), it's well worth. Grand Cayman is one of the few remaining British crown colonies, a fact which is clear throughout your stay on the island. They drive on the left for a start. They have a governer. And with so many expats, its like blighty on sea. Although Grand Cayman is one of the most expensive Caribbean islands to visit, this is more than reconciled by the fantastic expanses of clear white sands, and some of the most amazing diving and snorkelling in the world. Step into the sea, sit back and wait for the sealife to come to you. The pace of life on Grand Cayman is nothing if not relaxed - from the steel band which greats your plane, to the general malaise of the locals, it doesn't take long to wind down. And as for Hell? Well you can send a postcard back from "hell" - a rock formation on the island so-called because of its hell-like appearance. All in all a fantastic holiday destination.
"The Cayman Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the western Caribbean Sea comprising the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. It is a global offshore financial services centre and one of the leading tourist scuba diving destinations in the world. The Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean Sea. They are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Trench, standing 8000 feet from the sea floor, which barely exceeds the surface. The islands lie in the centre of the Caribbean south of Cuba and West of Jamaica. But even Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, is not visible on many maps. They are situated about 480 miles (770 km) south of Miami, 150 miles (240 km) south of Cuba, and 180 miles (290 km) northwest of Jamaica. Grand Cayman is by far the biggest, with an area of 76 square miles (197 km²). The two "Sister Islands" of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are located about 90 miles (145 km) east of Grand Cayman and have areas of 14 square miles (36 km²) and 10 square miles (25.9 km²) respectively."