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The Cayman Islands: A Tantalizing Trio

Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is often voted among the world’s best. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is often voted among the world’s best. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

We’re trudging along a rock-strewn trail topping a cliff more than a hundred feet above waves crashing ashore in white foam, waves like white lace crisscrossing cobalt-colored waters further out. We meet two people who smile at us and point in the direction we’re headed. “Brown boobies that way,” they say.

We don’t find them here in the eastern reaches of Cayman Brac but it doesn’t matter: the view’s spectacular, the experience is unforgettable.

Back in the car we make for Le Soleil D’or, an inn and elegant restaurant on the south coast, doing farm to table lunch, rounding out the afternoon at their beach club somewhere between a swimming pool and an alabaster swathe of sand, chatting with the other patrons.

Both other patrons.

Late in the afternoon we fly back to Grand Cayman, dining al fresco beside the waters of North Sound at Calypso Grill.

If I’d ever needed convincing about the allure of the Cayman Islands, I should consider it a done deal.

This Caribbean collection comprising Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac is a tropical triumvirate.

Located northwest of Jamaica, it’s got all the appeal of the Antilles but given its history as an offshore financial haven it’s also incredibly sophisticated, boasting luxury accommodation and a cornucopia of culinary choices.

Add in the expected sun-kissed delights like one of the Caribbean’s best beaches and a heaping helping of history and culture and you’re talking a veritable symphony of sensations.

In short, the Cayman Islands are a tantalizing trio.

Close encounters of the marine kind at Stingray City. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens
Close encounters of the marine kind at Stingray City. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

UNDER THE SEA
On my first trip down here my nephew, an avid diver and ex-pat resident from Canada, gave me an impromptu scuba lesson and we did a shore dive: a kaleidoscopic multitude of fish, a menagerie of coral. On this trip we snorkel off Rum Point, wading in waist-deep waters nudged and nuzzled by stingrays friendly as puppies.

By time we’ve boarded the catamaran bound for Rum Point, I decide that maybe this archipelago’s best features might be discovered under the sea.

Here you experience a different dive site every day for a year without repeating yourself, the healthiest coral in the Caribbean, almost unlimited visibility, wreck dives and walls that drop six thousand feet.

Then again, maybe it’s that feeling of solitude you can experience here, not only on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, but on Grand Cayman itself.

Rum Point – Far from the madding crowd at Rum Point. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens
Rum Point – Far from the madding crowd at Rum Point. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Rum Point: pastel-painted picnic tables, a lime-colored hut where you can buy a frosty Caybrew beer. Do lunch, stretch out in a hammock in the shade of casaurina trees fluttering like feather boas in the breeze. Try a standup paddleboard or just laze beside a rainbow-painted sign pointing to any one of a number of metropolises far removed from this hideaway.

Blowholes and Bodden Town: Driving the south coast, watch geysers reaching for the sky. Have a box lunch in a shore-side gazebo you share with only a couple of locals taking a break from their quest for the catch of the day.

On Little Cayman or Cayman Brac, you can find a beach to call your own.

Population on Little Cayman: roughly one hundred seventy.

Visit on your yacht and overnight at Grand Cayman Yacht Club. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens
Visit on your yacht and overnight at Grand Cayman Yacht Club. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

A HELPING OF HISTORY
Student of history and culture, check out Georgetown’s National Museum or the Cayman Brac Museum. Explore a great house at St. James Pedro. Visit the National Gallery, with its wealth of local art housed in a modern white showcase. Get a lesson in basket-weaving or rope-making at Camana Bay from a lovely lady named Marlena Anglan.

But don’t just expect history here at Camana.

For Camana, just like the rest of this archipelago, offers something for everyone.

No shortage of elegance in the Cayman Islands. Case in point: Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens
No shortage of elegance in the Cayman Islands. Case in point: Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa. Photography by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Cross over to Camana Bay’s ‘island’ where your kids can climb the jungle gym. Go shopping for jewelry, lingerie or the latest for audiophiles. Then dine and sip a cold one.

Head to West End to swim with a dolphin or bond with a sea turtle.

Learn about island horticulture and reflect pond-side while an iguana in a buttonwood tree looks down approvingly in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park.

Walk a beach: seven sultry miles of sand. Toast, at day’s end, one of the Caribbean’s best sunsets.

Then go for dinner – for the culinary offerings here are as appealing as the sunsets.

A TANTALIZING TRIO
And there it hits me, on a patio at Calypso Grill ten feet from the shore of Morgan’s Harbour. There’s something for everyone in the Cayman Islands. The allures are myriad, the appeal of this trio, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, unsurpassed.

 

SHIP’S LOG:
To chart a course to this tantalizing trio begin your float plan at: www.caymanislands.ky 

No shortage of shore-bound berths here. For the ultimate in luxurious ‘staterooms’ check out Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa right on Seven-Mile Beach: http://www.seafireresort andspa.com

 

Mark Stevens is an award-winning travel writer whose specialties include Canada, the Caribbean and boating. 

Sharon Matthews-Stevens is a professional travel photographer, visit [email protected]

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