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First trip

Houston, Texas
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First trip

My husband and I are bringing our 14 year old for our first trip to Grand Cayman. Does a resort on the East End seem like a nice option? I read how popular Seven Mile Beach is, and I figure we can travel the island easily if we are away from activities. But i wonder for our first trip should we just go for a resort on Seven Mile Beach. I would welcome any suggestions on nice family resorts/ condos that are well worth the expense. We love all the water activities and like rental options that have several amenities. Thanks!!!

Middlesex, New...
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148 posts
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1. Re: First trip

Like you, May of 2013 was our 1st time too. My husband and myself. It depends on what your vision is for this vacation. 7MB is very popular b/c it is a very long, clean, beautiful beach. The soft white sand is immaculate, crystal clear water which is calm. It is also the place that many cruise ship visitors go to. One town over from 7MB is Georgetown, that is a port town and at any given time can have up to four cruise ships in port. Lots of shopping, dining, excursion rentals along the beach. We only visited 1X when no ships were in port. Check this out for dates and times: http://www.caymanport.com/shipschedules.php It can get pretty "touristy" and crowded there. I prefer not to see any Burger Kings, KFC's, or McDonalds while I am on "Island Time".

We staryed on the East End, The Reef Resort. It was perfect for us as we wanted a more authentic Island vibe. It has the best snorkeling right off the beach. The also have a very professional crew who can create any idea you can conger up in your mind: WHITE SAND WATERSPORTS, the link is: http://whitesandwatersports.com/

They have morning Yoga and other daily activities such as painting driftwood, movie night on the beach with a huge screen. There food is decent, nothing to rave about but the view from the 3rd fl balcony was amazing. Nice gym on premises, excellent condition. Subway on premises and a "computer room" with a pay-as-you-go rental.The Reef Resort has a convenient shopping center across the street, groceries, nice gift shop, liquor store and The Italian Kitchen Restaurant. It's whatever meets your families requests. I highly recommend renting a car, as the fun is in the exploration. The East End leads toward North End where you can see Davinoff's Sculptures, Rum Point, Starfish Pointe. I'll be coming back for 2nd time May 17, This time found a lovely condo on VRBO, $130.00 per night for two bedroom unit in Kaibo Yacht Club. Best of luck.

hudson valley
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2,331 posts
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2. Re: First trip

My preference is for the east end or the north shore. Most visitors stay along the west end, so the east end and the north shore are generally less crowded and quieter. There's a better chance of having really good snorkeling right out front ( all that beautiful sand along SMB tends to extend out into the water, too, and what you want for snorkeling is reef and grass because that's where the critters tend to be).

That said, what kind of amenities are you looking for? You'll have fewer resorts to choose from (but lots of private villas), and fewer restaurants close by. You can find groceries nearby, but for lots of groceries or other types of shopping the west end is where your choices are. The east and north also face the prevailing winds, so you can expect it to be breezier than the west end. If you'll be diving things can be a little more challenging, but east end diving is widely considered to be better than diving on the west end.

Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
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5,628 posts
145 reviews
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3. Re: First trip

For a first visit with a teenager, I'd go the SMB route. However, there's some inaccurate info on the first post. FIrst, there are no McD's on the entire island. None. And I'm not sure how a preference not to see fast food on "island time" is compatible with a Subway (i.e. fast food) on premises at a resort on East End. More specifically, SMB is not a town. It's the strip of land between West Bay and GT. North Side is the northern side of the island and Rum Point is a separate area west of the North SIde. Check out google.maps to get a full lay of the land. Also, you can see the cruise schedule easily online but I see no point unless you're planning to visit one of the few places cruisers go. Otherwise, you'll never see them no matter where you stay.

Yes, East End is someone more remote and there are plusses and minuses to that. While snorkeling is better (when it's not windy), you're not going to be getting a pristine white sandy beach like you'll find along SMB. In exchange for better snorkeling and a somewhat quieter atmosphere, you'll likely need a car to get anywhere or otherwise feel somewhat trapped at your resort. Along SMB there's cheap public transportation and it's relatively easy to get to the abundance of shops and restaurants.

My suggestion would be a condo on SMB. If cost and a quieter vibe is what you're after, look at the northern section.

Destination Expert
for East End, Grand Cayman
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895 posts
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4. Re: First trip

"you're not going to be getting a pristine white sandy beach like you'll find along SMB"

Actually the beach at The Reef is a sandy beach. It's not as wide as parts of 7MB and the sea floor is rockier and grassy when you walk into the water, but the beach itself has nice soft sand and is as well maintained as any along 7MB.

*disclosure - We own two timeshare weeks at The Reef and may make an additional 14 cents on any unused time this year if the OP books there instead of 7MB,

Edited: 05 May 2014, 16:07
Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse
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5. Re: First trip

To add to what smushie said - Seven Mile Beach is 5.5 miles long (I know, someone liked to exaggerate when they named the place!) - of that there are certain very restricted areas that can get busy... the cruise ship locations which are the Royal Palms, Tiki Beach and Public Beach/Calico Jack's. Those tend to be busy from about 10am until 3pm - outside of those times they are ideal beach locations.

The rest of the beach is either in front of condos or in front of nothing, and provide very sandy beach, and very sandy water entries.

In my time on this forum it is obvious that there are fans of each part of the island, who have their own very good reasons for going where they do, and preferring it to other areas. That says a lot about what Grand Cayman is as a destination. However, they do tend to exaggerate a bit the downsides of the other areas that are not their choice, which usually comes down to Seven Mile Beach area being over-run with cruise ship passengers and fast food joints, and the other side saying that the east coast and north shore are deserted wilderness wastelands. There may be an element of truth to both sides, but it's not the reality that most experience. SMB *is* more developed, and the east and northern sides are relatively undeveloped, but each have their charms which can be thoroughly enjoyed.

In summary, I don't think you can go wrong with either decision - you will find some 2 bedroom condos in the quieter areas of SMB which will suit you, and the resorts on East End will give you a great experience.

* disclosure - while I own rental property on the island, I don't own anything in Seven Mile Beach, East End or the North Shore.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: First trip

My vote is for SMB. Our kids would have found the East End far too isolated. Not that they were out nightclubbing or anything like that, but it was easy to walk to places. I agree with the above posts that the beach is rarely crowded.....if anything, it can be quite empty with long stretches seemingly empty. If you choose to go to the cruise drop-offs, you'll see a lot of people in a relatively small area. But they are free to take their towels & use any spot that they like, almost anywhere along SMB.....just not on condo property. If you get a condo you will have the obvious advantage of a kitchen for snacks, etc which does add up $$$ quickly.

SMB is world renowned for a reason, & I feel that first timers should experience it. IMO.

Rhode Island
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for Grand Cayman
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7. Re: First trip

We first went to GC in the mid 1990s with a teenaged daughter and stayed at former Hyatt in the central part of SMB upon the recommendation of a friend who had gone there previously with a daughter same age as ours. We rented a car and visited Rum Point (Rum Point beach was all but deserted back then!) East End, toured a few Cayman Kai villas and ultimately decided to reserve a condo directly on SMB for our next vacation there.

Over the years have returned many times with teens, young adults, with another adult couple, and as an independent couple. We still prefer to stay along SMB for its world class beach, easy accessibility to so many terrific restaurants, grocery and other stores, and ability to stroll the beach for miles whenever the mood strikes. I recommend SMB for first time visitors and urge renting a car for at least 3-4 days of a one week vacation to explore and get a sense of other areas. All who have taken our advice have been very happy doing this.

Macomb, Illinois
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8. Re: First trip

“I would welcome any suggestions on nice family resorts/ condos that are well worth the expense. We love all the water activities and like rental options that have several amenities.”

If you are looking for lodging with onsite (or nearby) water sports operations, I believe you would need to either stay in the central SMB area, the East End (at the Reef or Morritts’) or near Rum Point. Along SMB, Red Sail has locations at the Marriott, the Beach Suites and the Westin. Hopefully, someone will chime in if I have missed other water ops/locations.

You can find the locations of these hotels (and the names of nearby condos) by looking at the Cayman Good Taste SMB map:


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9. Re: First trip

SMB really. Please leave the less traveled beaches for those of us who are not easily "bored" by the silence and beauty of nature!

Smithsburg Maryland
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10. Re: First trip

We are going for our first time in July. We are staying near Rum Point but plan to rent a car for the week. My kids are 25,23 and 16 so we will see if they are bored being away from all the excitement. My husband and I prefer to be away from it all and frankly since we are paying for it they have no say. Haha. We rented from VRBO and the beach looks beautiful from the pictures and there is supposed to be a beautiful reef out front for snorkeling. We are all very excited for some great family time since it is very difficult to vacation all together anymore. I'm sure wherever you pick you will have a wonderful and memorable vacation.

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