Let me start by saying this report was experienced by a married couple who are 50, our oldest daughter/her husband 29/their 8 mo old, and our 27 year old son.
We love to travel and expeience the "new and different" and tend to shy away from the "tourist". Our trip involved some of both but more local and less cookie cutter establishments.
I will make note here that my husband had mentioned GC for a marathon he wanted to run. We had been there 2 years before and fell in love with it and wanted to share it with our family. He asked our SIL to race too and I said u guys run and I will make travel arrangements and so:
After a year of research and scouring the TA forum religiously here our report(u should see my tattered and worn tablet of notes).:
Arrived on time and I loved everyone's reaction upon exiting the plane---HOT, HUMID, TROPICAL(aka paradise!). Walked across the street to Andy's car rental for our mini van.
First experience driving on left side with roundabouts was hairy at first and had a few close calls.....but made it to Grand Caymanian resort on the North Sound.
Grand Caymanian has everything we want in a vacation spot--clean, well maintained, restaurant/bar on site, beach area, secluded. Unpacked and went for some groceries and find a place to eat.
SAT-Drove to the Lower Valley for the Farmers Market. Slow day with few vendors but we were able to get a "taste" of things. We bought sample meals from two locals. We had :turtle, cassava, breadfruit, red beans and rice, dumplings, fried fish,plantains.
We sampled jellies from Miss Ivy who had delicious pepper jelly, guava, seagrape, and mango. She didn't have enough of the size jelly I wanted to purchase and said she would get me some and bring it to the craft market in GT during the week. We also purchased some coconut candy from her as well as some hot pepper sauce. Picked up some guava "cheese"(sweet like a thick jelly and can be spread on crackers and served with cheese).
Family tried snorkeling at Grand Caymanian dock. Found some huge red starfish right in the shallow water. Son in law fell in love with snorkeling and as will be reported there was more snorkeling to come!
Went to Marriott to pick up marathon packets. Walked around the resort and through their turtle pond to the beach area. Nice.
Runners had to go to bed early and the rest of us went to the Reef Grill bar where there was live band. Nice atmosphere. Across the street was Camana Bay area where the Jazz fest was going on. Alicia Keys was there that night. We were told by locals this area is being devloped by man who was going to make it into a "city".
Sun: Runners up and drove them to GT for race...it started at 5 am and they said running outside of town it was so dark they couldn't see the runners beside of them! Nice turnout of runners.
Went back to G Caymanian and relaxed. Drove around a little bit and found Smith's cove. Walked the beach,
Mon: Girls went shopping in GT, boys went to find snorkeling at Smith's cove. All went to Seven Mile Beach and snorkeled, relaxed. Went to the public beach area around Calico Jack's. We had a nice covered shelter and baby was able to play on shaded playground area. Beach changing rooms there also. Off road parking.
Tues: Fat Fish Adventure Stingray city/lobster tour. AWESOME!
Everyone but baby and I went. We drove to Kaibo restaurant were the group met us with their fresh catch lobsters. We had read about how nice Peter was and it is 100% true. The lobsters weighed in between 5-8 lbs!!! They cooked them up by splitting and pouring butter and cheese on. Legs were cooked in curry gravy. Jet ski ride was incredibly adventorous! HIgh waves and skis came out of water etc. Neil from England and Peter who was from Jamacia sat and told us of all their adventures!
Wed: Shopping in GT again and this time daughter was asked if she was a local due to her ease of getting around and baby in stroller. She enjoyed that fact as she LOVES going off the beaten path and blending in with locals(she did Semester at Sea while in college and curcumnaviated the world--during Aug-Dec 2001!!!)
found Miss Ivy and she was so cute as she had "hidden" my jelly she promised to get for me. She was so good at telling customers about how to pack the jars of jelly etc. She also said she could not sell to some folks because they only had carry ons and could not take the jelly on plane.
Went to Rum Point..............beautiful, tranquil, scenic. Snorkeled again. Water was clear and we did see baraccuda under dock but he was peaceful.
Thurs: Went to Morritts Tortuga resort on East end. SIL read it was good for snorkeling. Beautiful. Somewhat windy but nice steady breeze. Son loved the infinity pool and swim up bar. Large fish just swimming around under beach bar deck. Drove around looking at all the mansions
Went back to Reef grill for drinks and beachfront scenery. Guys had to head to Lengends sports bar to watch Steeler football. Girls were going to ride around to look at all the Christmas decorations but......too tired.
Fri: Drove back to the East End and SIL wanted to go back to Rum Point. Scenic drive and took pictures of the castle resort, blowholes and absolutely love the "elderly crossing sign" on the highway!
We did enjoy the Christmas decorations in some of the yards and it is just so unique to be in stores where they are playing Christmas carols about "white Christmas" while walking around in shorts and tank tops! To see palm trees decorated is interesting to we who are used to evergreens and a true white Christmas.
We went down to our bar for one last drink the last night in paradise only to find our usually quite resort had the stirrings of a "party about to happen". Seems there was a promotion going on for a new beer "Carib" and there were bucket specials and music. Later as more of our group went down there was a parade with women dressed in "Carnival" type outfits, guys in togas, and a contest of some sort.....interesting way to end our trip!
Odds and ends: chickens and dogs running loose so be on the alert.
YES it is EXPENSIVE--BUT as the saying goes...u get what u pay for! If you want modern, clean, SAFE, and beautiful...go to Grand Cayman. As stated early...the island has everything we wanted in a tropical getaway.
I read on TA several times---eat in your condo, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwichs to afford the beauty, budget. There are ways to shop around for the best prices.
We went to all 3 major grocery stores and the cost u less. We were researching for specific diet required foods which are not always avaliable and were please that all three had the gluten free items we were looking for. A MAJOR plus for future returns!
Also--food was slightly higher than the states, but affordable.
Noted by son on the number of "foreign" workers there. Canada, Hungary, England, Australia, Jamaica, India, France, and of course USA. He would asked "what brought YOU here" to which he heard "a plane", "the weather", look around you......etc.
We have discussed since our return how we will downsize our bags and pack less. The extra $$ for luggage costs is comparable to items found in the local stores. To all those on TA you are correct to buy on the island.
Alcohol is expensive but due to the government imposed taxes.
Negatives: Yes expensive but see above mentioned comment.
Mosquitos!!! As soon as sunset or without wind ....WATCH OUT one night we were eaten and the bites lasted for days!
Exhausting!!! Drink, hydrate, watch sun exposure! We were all ready for bed nightly by 9-10 pm due to heat and activities!
Positvies: Friendly locals. Patient as we learned rate exchanges.
Modern, never felt as we were in a 3rd world country.
After a few days we can proudly boast we learned the driving and found it easy!!!!(at first SCAREY).
I am posting a seperate note on our food/drink experiences!
A month has passed since our adventure and I am happy to report family is ALREADY talking about our return trip in two years!!!! There was so much on our lists we ran out of time to do!!!
I did appreciate Testudo's advise to simply relax and ejoy the family and that is exactly what we did.
Thanks to all who helped plan our trip!