James in Grand Cayman

01/10/2015

What makes the Cayman Islands so special? Beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants and more than enough places and things to see and do.

We arrived quite late at our hotel which meant we couldn’t check out the beach, however the following morning when I awoke and went for a quick walk I was amazed. I’ve seen some spectacular beaches in my time and have always referred to the Maldives as my point of reference, but I have to say Seven Mile Beach is on a par. The sand is powdery white, the water is clear and warm and the beach is huge! Despite the unbelievable quality of the beach, the thing that struck me the most was how peaceful and quiet it was. There was no one trying to sell me anything, no struggles for loungers or chairs, simply no fuss.

Following my morning stroll we headed for George Town and took a trip on the Cayman Islands Submarine where we cruised along and spotted a plethora of fish, a ship wreck and a few turtles, all while keeping dry! The captain of the ship was extremely knowledgeable and was able to guide us through the different species of fish and coral, before diving in and feeding them in front of us. It was a nice relaxing experience while also proving to be entertaining and educational.

One of my favourite resorts was the Marriott Grand Cayman which we saw after the Submarine experience. It’s a very chilled out 'Miamiesque' resort, based around the theme of being a beach house. This has resulted in huge open plan dining, lots of natural colours and beautiful furnishings, which while giving the impression of being upmarket remains friendly and relaxed.

After the Submarine experience we grabbed some lunch at Hemmingways which was fantastic, they offer a wide range of food from fresh Red Snapper and Salmon through to an Indian Style Lamb Curry. I personally settled for a Philly Steak and Cheese Panini and was not disappointed when it arrived. The food was simple but unbelievably tasty, set against the backdrop of Seven Mile beach. It was an impressive way to start our culinary tour of Grand Cayman. After lunch we headed back for a relaxing afternoon on Seven Mile Beach where we relaxed and watched the sun go down, all the while sipping a cold beer while sat in bath warm sea.

After our afternoon of relaxing we had the pleasure of dining at Craft, which is best described as a luxury Gastropub and has a dazzling array of local and international beers. I was even able to find a BrewDog beer here!

The following day we headed out early for an early breakfast at the Ritz Carlton, and what a breakfast! It was a feast consisting over every possible breakfast item you could imagine, the usual bacon and sausage was available, the more exclusive eggs benedict was also present, however the signature dishes were the fresh pastries and muffins which were simply divine. We had a good walk around the property (partly to burn off some of the breakfast we had just consumed!) and we were able to take a look around the property and take in all the facilities that are available – basketball courts, children play areas, golf course, the list is endless.

After our tour of the Ritz Carlton I was excited to head off to Stingray City. This was possibly my favourite afternoon of our entire stay. We hired a small yacht for the day and sailed out to Stingray City. We arrived late in the afternoon which is the best time to go as there are fewer boats and you get more time with the Rays. f you go in the morning or at lunch time sometimes there can be 10’s of boats as a lot of Cruise Passengers head out to do this excursion. This is a must do excursion as you get to be up close and personal with the Rays, you can even feed them if you want.

In the evening we had dinner at Ortanique, a Caribbean restaurant located on the waterfront. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere was elegant without being stuffy, another restaurant that I would definitely recommend.

The following day we drove to Pedro St James where we learnt about the history of the Cayman Islands and then carried on to the Botanical Gardens and Blue Iguana Park. Grand Cayman is one of only 2 countries in the world that have Blue Iguanas and they pretty much brought the species back from the brink of extension single handily. For a bit of relaxation before dinner we spent a few hours at Rum Point where you can lie on the beach in the sun, have a few cocktails from the local bars or even hire a Jet Ski and head out for a bit of fun on the open sea. Rum Pointe is a great place to spend the day and has enough to do for adults and children alike, you have the choice of a few beach restaurants and bars and can indulge in a range of activities from paddle boarding to kayaking.

That night we had a meal at Luca, one of the best restaurants on the island. The food was faultless and the steak was to die for. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many a steak in some great fine dining restaurants around the world, including Dubai, Las Vegas and Kuala Lumpur and I have to say that the steak here was the best one. They serve a wide range of fresh seafood, pasta and local dishes but what sets them apart is the unbelievable amount of wine that they have on offer. It is the most extensive wine lists I've ever seen, it looks more like an encyclopaedia of the world rather than a wine list, but it's to be expected when they have over 3000 bottle on offer.

The next few days were spent relaxing and seeing a bit more of the island before we left for the UK. We did have one final surprise though at the end of our trip, a 45 minute helicopter flight around the island with Jerome who just happens to be the stunt pilot from the film Speed. It was an amazing 45 minutes in which Jerome showed us the island and the bits we had missed, we were able to see Manta Rays, Shipwrecks and some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen.

What would I say makes Grand Cayman so special? The food, as I had some of the best meals of my life. The beach, a stunning beach that very gradually deepens making it ideal for families and snorkelling. The diving, while I was unable to dive due to equalization problems the island usually boasts 100ft visualisation which makes the dives sites among the best in the world.

Grand Cayman also combines well some other great spots in the Caribbean like Cuba, so you can even make it more of a multi-centre adventure.. So when are you going?

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