Just got back, I will post my trip report as a reply below because it is really long (just a warning!).
Just got back, I will post my trip report as a reply below because it is really long (just a warning!).
(Warning, this is long!!) We just returned from 10 days on Grand Cayman and had a fantastic trip. As background, this was our second trip to Grand Cayman, the first trip we stayed on Seven Mile Beach. On that trip we did all the tourist things like Sting Ray Sandbar and ate at lots of nice restaurants so our goal this trip was snorkeling and relaxing so we decided to stay in two locations, Rum Point and the East End. We spent the first 3 nights at the Retreat at Rum Point and the last 7 nights at the Reef Resort. Both were really great places to stay and we were glad to have tried 2 locations as they each offered slightly different experiences. I will write specific trip reports for each resort so I won’t go into too much detail about the resorts themselves here.
We arrived on Grand Cayman around noon after traveling all night from the West Coast and we were the only plane in at that time so getting through Customs and Immigration was a breeze. We were met by the nice gentleman from McCurley’s and he loaded us up and made a stop at Hurley’s and Blackbeard’s for some provisions. Then we were off to the Retreat at Rum Point, with our rental car waiting for us at the resort. We loved this service because we were tired zombies by this point and not having to drive ourselves immediately upon arriving was so wonderful! We have arrived before on an island, tired beyond belief, getting lost and having to shout at my tired husband STAY LEFT, STAY LEFT! is not a great way to start a vacation. We highly recommend using McCurley’s Car Rental because of this service.
So now for one of the only negatives about our trip……mosquitoes! Because of all the rain recently, the skeeters were out in force and I am a huge magnet anywhere I go. It started within the first 5 minutes of our arrival at the Retreat….by the time we got up to our room, I had already been blessed with 3 bites. Believe me when I say that this was not the end! Within the first 3 days I had huge welts everywhere including my face, one which was on my eyelid. I woke up one morning and couldn’t quite open one eye so I shook my hubbie awake and asked him to look at me. He had a look of not quite disguised horror on his face as he sweetly said “It’s not so bad honey, I can barely notice it!” Well when I looked in the mirror I started laughing as I faintly resembled Quasimodo. Anyway, long story short, the mosquitoes were bad but the mosquito plane came by quite a few times during the time we were there and it definitely got better. Why did she not wear insect repellent, you ask? Well I was, in fact I was covered in Deet the entire 10 days (went through 2 cans) but of course when you are in the water all the time it doesn’t stay on. So if you are a magnet like me, bring your Off and wear it.
Anyway, on to more pleasant recountings. We loved Rum Point, both the condo we had and the location. The complex we stayed at seemed fairly empty and we were often the only ones on the beach. We loved the little rocky tide pools where we explored and found eels, crabs and tiny fish. There were not a lot of people next door at Rum Point and we often walked over there and enjoyed the beach and shallow water. The only disappointment was the water conditions. We were expecting to see the vivid turquoise waters that we had seen in all the pictures and were instead looking at murky greenish waters during our trip. Our first day we tried to snorkel by the row of rocks and the water was so murky that we could barely make out the rocks, let alone any fish. We had religiously printed out Testudo’s snorkel guides and were anxious to try out the Rum Point drift snorkel and Connelly’s Cove but fate had different plans for us. The north side while we were there was really rough with white caps even inside the reef and the water was murky for quite a ways out from shore. So the best laid plans……but we didn’t care, we were in paradise! We just enjoyed the beach, found Starfish Point and found 1 starfish and were thrilled to be there.
As far as dining goes, we did a lot of cooking in since we both enjoy cooking but we did eat out or do take-out a lot. We loved Kaibo Yacht Club and ate at the downstairs restaurant twice (the upstairs was not open either time). The cheeseburger was amazingly good! But for those of you who are grouper fans, bad news….no more grouper on the menu, either here or anywhere else we went. They explained that grouper is endangered so they are no longer serving it. We both love grouper and were saddened but we understand why. The coconut curry grouper on the menu is now Florida catfish.
We moved on to the Reef Resort after 3 nights at Rum Point and settled back in. We said perhaps the East End will have clear waters for snorkeling! Well it was not to be at first. The water at the Reef Resort was actually brown almost out to the end of the pier with no possibility of seeing anything in the water. So we drove all over the island on a quest for some decent snorkeling. We stopped at the Turtle Nest Inn but same conditions. The nice gentleman there said it was algae coming in and making a mess of things. Off to Smith’s Cove which we had loved last time. No go this time! It was really rough and completely cloudy. We continued on, stopping here and there and finally landed at Governor’s Beach where the water was crystal clear and calm. We had achieved success!! The reef here was actually fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much since we were on Seven Mile Beach but honestly, the snorkeling was really good here and we were the only ones out there. We saw a well fed barracuda on the way out (he was fat! and about 4 feet long) and a beautiful spotted eagle ray. Once out at the reef, we saw almost every kind of fish…..queen angel fish, schools of parrot fish, schools of blue tang, a queen trigger fish, and all the other usual suspects. We drove back here multiple times and were never disappointed. We did see small jellyfish in the water closer to shore but they did not sting us. Guess I’m only attractive to the mosquitoes here!
On day 7 of our trip we woke up and looked off our lovely ocean front balcony and lo and behold! The water looked clear, well not completely clear but enough that we were sure we could finally snorkel here at the resort. We headed out immediately, started out by the Morritt’s dock and checked out the huge stingray in the sand there, the big tarpon and all the other fish, then drift snorkeled back to the Reef Resort. About 5 minutes after leaving the Morritt’s dock, we saw a 5 foot reef shark! He didn’t hang around long. There wasn’t a lot to see between the 2 piers but it was enjoyable. Finally we could see all the fish we knew were hanging out there! We saw lots of different fish around and out beyond the dock including one that looked like it had horns? Can’t remember the name of it. Saw a lot of lemon rays too. A ways past the dock was a big school of parrot fish. The fish that they feed periodically off the dock are a bit aggressive and this was the first time I had fish (and not the small sergeant majors) knocking into my legs repeatedly. It was a bit unnerving! But I was so happy to have some snorkeling conveniently at hand that nothing was going to ruin my fun.
So the last few days of our trip we were able to snorkel easily. We never got back to Connelly’s Cove or Wonderland because the tides had changed later in the week and high tide was not at the right time for us to go. So something to try for next time!
Some other items of note:
Weather: We really were lucky with the weather especially after all the rain others had right before us. It was sunny or cloudy everyday and we didn’t have any rain until our very last day and then only for about 10 minutes. It was hot and humid but that was to be expected.
Dining: Besides loving Kaibo, we also loved the Italian Kitchen. Really good food! We had the lasagna and the shrimp and pesto pasta and the garlic knots. The servings were huge and we had enough for another dinner from the leftovers. The Beach bar and grill right at the Reef Resort had surprisingly good food, in particular the coconut shrimp and the blackened shrimp quesadilla. The only meal that was so-so was at Mimi’s Dock at Morritt’s. We had coconut shrimp which was just OK, sweet potato fries that had cinnamon sugar on them which was good but weird with dinner, and jerk pork which was way too salty and really tough. We did take-out from Chicken-Chicken (had to laugh at all the live chickens running around right in front of the restaurant…..hope they don’t recognize the smell of cooked chicken!!) and had the beans and pesto pasta sides…all were quite good. We tried several times to get food from one of the jerk or fish fry places in Boddentown but no one was ever there cooking. Maybe they are only open on certain days.
Grocery Markets: We shopped at Hurley’s, Chisholm’s and Fosters Express. Hurley’s has just about everything you need. Chisholm’s only had 2 of the 4 things we were looking for. Fosters Express is surprisingly well stocked for a small market. We found everything we needed to restock after our initial shop at Hurleys.
Service: Island wide we had wonderful service with a smile. There was none of the “island time” issue for us anywhere. Every restaurant we went to had good service and both resorts we stayed at had cheerful and helpful staff.
Customs and Immigration: As I mentioned above, we breezed through upon our arrival. We brought a wine box with 10 bottles of wine packed (geez we sound like winos!) and it was no problem… they just asked us how many we had and we knew we were allowed 4 liters each which equates to 5- 750 ml. bottles each. (We live in the wine country and we love to bring some of our local wines with us when we travel). On the other end, for those of you returning through Miami, this was the first time we breezed right through the whole process. I think it only took about ½ hour. However, our 7:35 a.m. flight was delayed leaving Grand Cayman by 2 and ½ hours which really messed up some people’s connections. We were fine since we were supposed to have 6 hours layover in Miami anyway. But if you’re not sure if you have enough time for your connection going home, I would err on the longer side. We figured the first flight out of the day would not be delayed but we were wrong.
To sum up this ridiculously long report, we had a wonderful trip! We had a plan in mind and ended up having to go with the flow as mother nature doesn’t always do what you expect. We didn’t do the snorkeling we thought we would but we still did some every day somewhere and were thrilled to be in such a wonderful place again. We took hundreds of underwater photos and discovered that it is not so easy to take good underwater pictures as it would seem when you are moving and the fish are moving too! When I have time I will fiddle with them and try and post the ones that came out the best. Sorry this is so long!
Trip reports can never, ever be too long. Besides the rain, this year has not been friendly to snorkelers. Whatca gonna do? Maybe the back half will be better both weather and snorkeling-wise. A shame you did not get to wake-up to the blues of the Rum Point waters.
I have been waiting for a mosquito report from North Side, so thanks for the heads up. I guess I'll apply the DEET as soon as we clear the airport. Hope you had some Hydrocortizone or other anti-itch medicine to minimize the discomfort.
Sounds like you guys had a nice trip and got to try some different spots on the island, for for you.
No more Grouper. Somehow Coconut Curry Catfish just sound nearly as appetizing. Oh well, there are always the Kaibo burgers.
Thanks for the great report. Too bad about the coconut curry grouper! I agree with Testudo--not sure about the catfish.
Thank you for your trip report. I agree with Testudo, it can't be too long. I am sorry the water wasn't as clear as I think it usually is. It is so much fun to take pictures while snorkeling but the beautiful, and interesting creatures in the water don't sit still for us do they:) I look forward to seeing your pictures.
Thanks for the great trip report. We've booked for the first time at Morritt's in January. I agree with the rest...your report is not too long. Great info and sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I love it when people are flexible and can alter their plans to make the most of their vacation.
A very helpful trip report -- thank you for taking the time to share!
Thanks from another west coast traveler! We will be first timers to the island in about a month, this forum is so very helpful. Never too much info, appreciate the time you took to post. P.S. we're kinda winos too. Thanks again!
We have our first trip planned for next June. After reading the post I started worrying about water clarity, snorkeling conditions etc. How unusual is it for the water to be cloudy? We have never experienced that in any of our island travels.
"How unusual is it for the water to be cloudy?"
Unusual. Only happens when a westerly wind pushes stuff in the opposite direction it has been going all year or the surf is very rough kicking up sediment.
FWIW, I have seen it happen throughout the Caribbean when surf and swells are rough.Edited: 22 June 2012, 01:53
Thanks I figured as much. Cannot wait to become a Cayman fan.