If you’re planning a destination wedding in Grand Cayman, naturally you’re going to hire a professional photographer. But, how often do you think about hiring a professional photographer to commemorate a family vacation?
Many of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos guests come to Grand Cayman to celebrate special occasions. Sometimes they’re celebrating a milestone birthday. Sometimes the celebration is an important anniversary or a family reunion. If this is something you’re thinking about doing I encourage you to capture the spirit and joy of the week and schedule a family portrait!
Two of my favorite photographers on Grand Cayman happen to be husband and wife. Melissa Wolfe and David Wolfe of A Better Angle Photography do amazing work. They’re friendly and so easy to work with. Everyone in your group will be relaxed and enjoy the experience. Better yet, everyone in the picture will look great!
Over the years, David and Melissa have photographed hundreds of families and weddings. I’ve included just a few examples of their work in this blog. I’ve also included the work of David and Melissa’s associate, Janet Jarchow.
David is especially great with weddings. I personally think Melissa and Janet do stunning work capturing close family relationships.
Granted, everyone in your group, especially the younger members, will probably be snapping pictures a plenty throughout your trip on their iPhones. There’s something wonderful, however, and so much more special, about a beautiful portrait of the entire family framed in just the right way with just the right lighting and background. Why not have both?
Whatever the occasion for your visit to Grand Cayman, even if it’s just the annual family vacation, I encourage you to give some serious thought to having David, Melissa, or Janet be a part of your trip. You’ll have a priceless souvenir of your time together on the island. Our guests who have used them rave about their work.
Camana Bay is one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in Grand Cayman. It’s not a tourist trap, but rather a town center spanning over 650 acres in an urban, mixed-use community setting. Camana Bay is located in Grand Cayman’s West Bay near Seven Mile Beach.
There’s an outdoor mall offering high-end retailers, excellent restaurants and family-friendly entertainment. You may enjoy everything from gourmet coffees, home-baked pastries, healthy lunches and freshly squeezed juices, to alfresco dinners, designer cocktails and live music. Many of Cayman’s local professionals live in Camana Bay’s upscale apartments above all of the shops and restaurants.
Camana Bay’s shops and restaurants are situated around a lush outdoor Paseo with four beautiful courtyards named after prominent local flowers – Jasmine, Cassia, Gardenia and Canella. The Jasmine courtyard has a water fountain with changing colors. The Crescent near the boat dock has a fountain (pictured here) kids love to play in with bursts of water shooting upwards of 30 feet in the air.
There’s live music every Thursday and Saturday on the Paseo and a Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market every Wednesday from noon until 7pm where you can shop for authentic, handmade souvenirs and taste locally grown exotic fruits and vegetables. I will admit the Farmer’s Market can be hit or miss. There are times when it’s been great fun and the selections have been excellent and times when the vendors have been disappointing. The environment is relaxing and beautiful, so it’s definitely worth a visit even if you simply get lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants.
There are many restaurants at Camana Bay offering a variety of dining options. A personal favorite is Abacus. It is located on the corner of the Paseo. Karoo is another favorite that has a great view of the water. Karoo offers tapas, small plates, sliders and oven-baked artisan pizzas. If you’re looking for something Asian, Mizu has a gorgeous sushi bar where you can watch the chefs prepare your fresh tuna roll.
The following is a list of some of the other stores at Camana Bay:
Cafe Del Sol – internet coffee house, Regal movie theater showing the latest releases, Books & Books – a large book store with a great selection, Island Jewelers – nice selection of watches, David Yurman, and Ed Hardy, Little Angels – stylish children’s wear, The Cabana – Lilly Pulitzer store, and Sand Angels – gorgeous bathing suits and cover-ups.
Here’s the best news! If you’re renting a villa on the North Side or East End of Cayman, you no longer have to drive to Camana Bay. Cayman Ferries now makes water trips across the North Sound to and from the Kaibo Yacht Club in Cayman Kai to Camana Bay. The ferry runs every day but Monday.
Avoid the tourists of George Town and enjoy the local flavor of Camana Bay.
Perfectly Pampered Cayman offers a variety of mobile spa services. Many of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos guests have used them and their reviews have consistently been excellent. Whether you’re staying in a condo or private villa, they will travel to your private residence and provide a range of services in a setting and a time that is most comfortable for you.
Make your husband or partner’s experience in Cayman even more relaxing by treat him to either a one-hour Swedish massage for CI$80 (US$100), manicure/pedicure for $CI70 (US$87.50), or a a 45-minute Swedish massage AND pedicure for CI$110 (US$137.50). While you’re at it, treat yourself as well. Perfectly Pampered offers couples massages.
Perfectly Pampered Father’s Day Specials Terms and Conditions:
*Book from June 1st through June 31, 2017
*Offer cannot be combined with any other promo, special rates, or packages
*Based on therapist availability
*Cannot be used with existing bookings
You don’t have to be in front of a computer to find the perfect villa to rent for your trip to Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman Villas and Condos has a smartphone mobile app that’s easy to navigate and allows you to instantly make a reservation or call our office, and it’s FREE from the app store!
Download the app into your smartphone and click “Explore” to look at our 6o plus properties to find the one that’s right for you and your party. Scott, in our office is always ready to answer any questions you may have and help guide your selection. Once you’ve signed a contract, you will then log into the app as our guest, using your email address and arrival date. A wealth of Cayman Island information will be at your fingertips.
What to pack, how to navigate customs, ATM locations, mobile spa services, scuba charters, rental car companies, baby equipment and paddle board rentals, clinics and pharmacies, are just a few of the items our app contains including driving directions and telephone numbers. The app is also a great way for us to communicate with you while you’re on the island should there be a weather issue or housekeeping item during your stay.
Our mobile app is just one of the advantages to renting with Grand Cayman Villas and Condos. We are “guest-centric” and go the extra mile to make your trip easy as well as memorable. Download the app today. You’ll be glad you did!
On June 9th the Kaibo Yacht Club will be hosting a 1oth Anniversary Celebration of their monthly full-moon dining experience known as “Luna Del Mar.”
If you’ve been to Grand Cayman but haven’t visited the Kaibo, you’re missing a relaxing caribbean experience. The Kaibo is located down the road from the Rum Point Beach Club in the neighborhood of Cayman Kai. Facing Grand Cayman’s North Sound it has a casual bar downstairs near the shore and an elegant, white linen dining room upstairs, appropriately named the Kaibo Upstairs. Many of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos guests catch their private Silver Thatch snorkel charters from the Kaibo dock.
Each month, the Kaibo serves diners on the sand under a beautiful caribbean full moon. It’s a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else on the island. The Kaibo calls this night their Luna Del Mar.
June 9th marks the 10th anniversary of this Kaibo tradition. To commemorate this popular event, the Kaibo is having a Luna Del Mar party. Chef, Laurence Thram, will serve a fabulous, contemporary, three-course meal. Guests will dine on white linen, surrounded by tiki torches, with their toes in the sand, listening to music, under a full moon. After dinner, guests will join together and release paper lanterns into the night sky.
Space is limited and reservations are a must for the June 9th celebration. Click reservations at the top right corner of this link.
Don’t be disappointed if you miss the Luna Del Mar Party. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to attend one of these future Luna Del Mar dinner evenings:
- July 7th 2017
- August 4th 2017
- September 8th 2017
- October 6th 2017
- November 3rd 2017
- December 1st 2017 (Christmas Party edition with DJ from Oneworld)
According to an April, 2017 CNN article, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main carrier for Zika and dengue, has had a 90 percent reduction over the last six months in Grand Cayman!
Beginning last June, the British biotech company, Oxitec, began releasing millions of their genetically modified mosquitoes into Grand Cayman’s environment in order to eliminate the Aedes aegypti species. The mosquitoes were chiefly concentrated in the Cayman’s West Bay area near Seven Mile Beach. Oxitec’s genetically modified males don’t bite but mate with females that produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood. The goal for this approach being that the Zika carrying species of mosquito will be die out over time.
Florida is also pursuing a similar strategy to eliminating Zika. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, released 20,000 male mosquitoes on Stock Island in April for a field trial that will last 12 weeks. The mosquitoes, which do not bite, have been manually infected with a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia. Wolbachia is a bacteria found in many insects but not in mosquitoes. This bacteria is transmitted from the males to the females and ultimately to the pupae and kills them before the mosquitoes can hatch.
Grand Cayman has not had any confirmed cases of Zika since December, 2016, however the doctors and scientists at Cayman’s Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) are not letting down their guard. Dengue as well as Zika is carried by mosquitoes. Oxitec and the MRCU are working to eliminate both threats.
Mosquitos seem to be a non-issue for most of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos guests. Cayman’s caribbean breezes typically keep mosquitoes at bay near the shore. That being said, it’s always a good idea to pack or purchase insect repellant if you’re sitting outside in the evening or engaging in activities that take you more inland (like a hike on the Mastic Trail).
One of the most fun and welcoming restaurants on Grand Cayman is Tukka’s located in the east end of the island. Not only is the food great – a “taste of Australia with a Caribbean twist,” but every afternoon at 5pm they feed the Frigate Birds which is a blast to watch.
Frigates are long-winged, fork-tailed seabirds found across all tropical oceans. What’s so interesting about Frigates is that, unlike other seabirds, their feathers are not waterproof. This lack of waterproofing renders them unable to land on water. They soar on the rising warm air during the day and glide along on trade winds. These constantly changing winds allow Frigates to easily stay aloft for months at a time.
Frigate birds spend most of the day in flight hunting for food. Their main prey are fish and squid that they catch when chased to the water surface by large predators such as tuna. Frigates also steal the food from other seabirds. For this, they are known as kleptoparasites.
It didn’t take long for Cayman’s frigates to learn about the free meals at Tukka. Every evening around 5pm or 5:30pm, Tukka’s kitchen assistants bring down a plate of seafood scraps to the shore and the frigates begin to gather. It’s so much fun to watch them hoover in the air, waiting for their turn to swoop down and take a piece of squid or fish and then shoot back up into the air.
No matter where you’re staying, bring the kids and your camera to Tukka any day around 5pm and feed the Frigates. It’s great fun and a great eco-friendly experience! Tukka’s food is good too!
(This video titled, “Snorkeling Rum Point, Grand Cayman,” was taken by Joshua Turner and posted on his “Snorkel Blog.”)
You don’t have to scuba to experience Grand Cayman’s gorgeous fish and coral reef formations. Because of it’s exceptional visibility, Grand Cayman is one of the best islands in the Caribbean for snorkeling! The water is so much clearer here than almost any other island.
Unlike Scuba, you don’t have to take classes and become certified to snorkel, however, you’re still swimming in open water. It’s imperative to have a health respect for the power of the ocean. Having comfortable equipment and command of a few easy to master skills will make all of the difference in the quality of your experience.
I personally recommend purchasing a well-fitting mask and snorkel from your local dive shop before arriving on the island. Red Sail Sports and White Sand Water Sports are dive outfits on the island and both rent snorkel equipment. They generally only carry one brand of mask which may not properly fit the shape of your face. Not only is a leaky mask uncomfortable, but it can also be unsafe if it causes you to feel panic and require assistance from your boat crew. So, even if you hate to spend the money on what you think will only be a one-time experience, I encourage you to go ahead and do it. You’ll never outgrow your equipment and the benefit of being comfortable in the water is worth every penny.
Except when swimming with the stingrays, fins are a must when snorkeling anywhere in Grand Cayman. The high salinity of the Caribbean increases your buoyancy but you may encounter strong currents, even near shore. Fins give you the power necessary to push through those currents. If you don’t want to spend the money on fins or pack them in your suitcase, you can always rent fins once you’re on island. Just make sure you get a good fit. Fins should fit snugly on your feet, almost tight but not uncomfortably so. Don’t get into the water with loose fins. They will loosen a bit once you start swimming and you don’t want to lose a fin in the ocean.
Now that you have well-fitting equipment, you’ll want to practice in your villa or hotel pool before getting into the ocean. Most of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos rentals have pools so that shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure your mask doesn’t leak. Make sure your fins feel good. Experience what it feels like to have water in your snorkel and practice blowing it out.
If you there are 12 people or less in your party, I highly recommend booking a private snorkel charter. Not only is it cost effective, but you’ll be able to avoid the crowds and take your time on the reefs. You’ll be able to enter into the water when you’re ready and not be rushed by strangers waiting in line to jump in behind you. You’ll also see many more fish by more going in a small group. Best of all, you’ll also be able to spend as much or as little time as you like at each site – leisurely floating along and taking it all in.
Not all private charters are created equally. There are many island locals with boats who advertise private charters but not all are equally safety conscious and not all are professional. Our sister company, Silver Thatch Charters provides a 27 foot new Boston Whaler and an Australian Captain, George, who is a certified professional and knows all of the best spots. Captain George is a certified SCUBA instructor, CPR certified, and has a great personality to boot! He will tailor the experience to your personal needs and make you feel at home. George also knows all of the best snorkel sites and will take you where other groups can’t go. To inquire, email firstname.lastname@example.org
To sum it up, you don’t have to SCUBA to experience Grand Cayman’s crystal blue waters, but you do need to take some time to read about snorkel safety and practice with your equipment in order to get the most out of your snorkeling experience!
For more information, I encourage you to explore the website, Tropical Snorkeling. There’s a great article titled, “First Time Snorkeling, Essential Tips for Beginners.”
If you’re renting a villa in Cayman Kai, North Side, or East End, AND a nature lover, you should definitely add the Mastic Trail to your list of Cayman Island must-dos. The trail is a 200-year-old gravelly path that winds through a native mangrove swamp and a 2 million-year-old woodland area. You will see exotic birds and fantastic and rare plant life.
The trail is preserved as a flat, beginners hike by the Cayman Islands National Trust, which also sponsors guided tours. The hike is challenging but worth the trek, especially with a guide. Wear tennis shoes or other closed-toe style and bring plenty of water!
You’ll need at least two or three hours to enjoy the Mastic Trail on a guided tour (held Tuesdays through Friday mornings) that costs $20 for members and $24 for non-members. Contact the Cayman Islands National Trust to arrange a tour. You can also choose to hike the trail on your own, however, we recommend to our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos guests to go with a guide. A few of the plants are beautiful to see but may cause a bad rash if they are touched. Maps of the trail are available at the visitors center.
You’ll find the trail about 15 miles east of George Town in central Grand Cayman. The map below shows where the trail is situated on the island.