Are you the type of person that dreams of a warm, tropical getaway destination that is liberally scattered with white sand beaches? Do the smell of ocean air and the sight of clear waters make you want to do a small jig? If so, Grand Cayman may well be the ideal vacation spot for you!
When my boyfriend informed me that one of his friends was having his wedding in Grand Cayman and that he had invited us both to go, I immediately jumped on board. I’m a beach enthusiast through and through, so I was thrilled to have to chance to enjoy a warm, tropical vacation and leave the Kansas winter behind for a while.
Upon our evening arrival, we were immediately greeted with strong, ocean-scented breezes the whipped my hair into a frenzy. We trekked over to the car rental location, tossed our luggage in the car, and obediently tailed our way after the kind car rental employee who had offered to guide us to our Airbnb.
Our bedroom at the Airbnb had an amazing view of the ocean, and we were able to hear the waves rolling as we fell asleep. Outside the townhouse, there was a boardwalk skirting the shore, as well as a perfectly placed gazebo for picnics and resting.
We started our first day with a grocery store run so that we could stock up on a few essentials and try to make some meals at our Airbnb. It was our first introduction to the prices in Grand Cayman, and we were quite taken aback. But given that it is an island to which most products have to be imported, it’s understandable that prices are a little higher.
After eating our lunch in the windy gazebo, we set out for 7 Mile Beach. Armed with towels, books, Ritz crackers, and watermelon gummies, we made our way down to the waterfront and settled in to relax.
Some of my favorite moments from this trip were when I just sat on the beach and took in the sights and sounds of the ocean. There’s something about it that invigorates the senses and gives you a grounded sense of being.
After napping and reading a bit, we were beginning to feel a little chill from the brisk wind. A walk down the beach as the sun began to set helped get our blood pumping again, and we enjoyed the feeling of the warm waves on our ankles.
We finished the day back at our Airbnb, tired but excited for the days ahead!
Both my boyfriend and I enjoy botanic gardens, so we made the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden a priority on our trip. They have an orchid garden (though the orchids mainly bloom in the summertime, so, unfortunately, we missed out on that), an educational area with a historic Caymanian residence (quite fascinating), a xerophytic garden (plants from around the world that require little water), and a beautiful, year-long floral color garden that has a variety of plants arranged by color. There is also a woodland trail that you can walk through, though we elected to continue on to our tour of the island.
While we drove our way around the eastern side of the island, we stopped at the Blowholes and observed the jets of ocean water shooting up in the sky. It’s not an essential stop by any means, but somewhat entertaining nonetheless.
The rest of our day was not well photographed. (For shame, Melanie!) But we were in the moment and just taking it all in, so no regrets! We drove our way around the east side and up to Rum Point, which has a public beach area bordered by shops and restaurants. While it was pleasant, my boyfriend and I tend to opt for quieter scenery, so we didn’t stay long.
We drove back to the other side of the island to Camana Bay, intent on hitting up a restaurant that had excellent ceviche, according to our Airbnb hosts. Sadly the restaurant was closed down for the evening, so we went to The Brooklyn Pizza + Pasta instead. Happily, I realized that Gelato & Co. was also in the Camana Bay shopping center, so my boyfriend and I were able to finish off the night with strawberry gelato and coffee gelato, respectively.
Our third day had something of a slow start, but we were determined to relax during this particular trip. While researching activities to do in Grand Cayman, I came upon an adorable, locally-owned business called Beach Bubbles that sells handmade soaps. Since I had recently switched over to using bar soaps for handwashing and body care, I was interested to see what they had!
There was an amazing variety of soaps, lotions, bath bombs, and hair care items to choose from, all handmade at the store. The scents were phenomenal, and I left with several soaps to use at home and give away as gifts.
Later in the day, I went to Spotts Beach, which is a smaller, quieter beach that is popular with snorkelers. The time I spent there basking in the warmth of the sunshine with my book and watching the wild chickens deftly run about was probably my favorite of the entire trip.
After de-sanding myself back at the Airbnb, we were finally able to have our ceviche experience at Agua Restaurant and Lounge in Camana Bay. I’ll pass the same advice on to you that our Airbnb host gave us: get the three styles ceviche trio!
Before dinner, we went out to the boardwalk at our Airbnb to take in the sunset. Periodically, we were hit with a gust of ocean spray as we roamed about taking our photos. It was a beautiful time to just be in the moment, taking in the amazing views.
Our last day was spent entirely focused on our friends’ wedding, which took place on 7 Mile Beach at sunset. It all came together wonderfully, and everyone had a great time celebrating with drinks and dinner afterward.
Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better trip! There were so many beaches there yet to be explored, and I would be thrilled to return for more beach-going one day.
Essential Tips for Grand Cayman Travel
1. Remember that driving is done on the left side of the road.
Can you believe that I forgot about this one until we were almost there?? Well, I did. My boyfriend happened to mention it offhand, and I had a small freak out because I was unsure as to whether or not we would even legally be able to drive there. Which brings me to my next tip…
2. You don’t need an international driver’s license to drive in Grand Cayman.
Phew! Quite the relief. You don’t even need a visitor’s permit, so long as you have a current, valid license from your own country.
3. Be prepared for a large number of roundabouts.
Roundabouts are just starting to become more numerous in the US, and honestly, I didn’t even know there was a certain way they were supposed to be used until we got to Grand Cayman! I’d highly recommend doing some research before diving right into the roundabouts, just for your own safety!
4. Budget for the expense!
As I mentioned earlier, Grand Cayman is not the cheapest vacation destination. If you’re trying to save money, have some meals where you are staying. Stock up at the grocery store for lunch and breakfast, and perhaps just eat out at dinner. The good news is, there are plenty of FREE public beaches to enjoy!
5. The gratuity is included in restaurant bills.
A gratuity of 15% will automatically be added to your bills at restaurants, but if you experienced great service, you can certainly add on more! Just don’t forget to take into account that the initial 15% has already been added to your total.
If you’re considering a trip to Grand Cayman, I couldn’t recommend it more! The people are lovely, there’s so much to do and see, and BEACHES!! Like any trip, it requires a bit of planning and research, but the results are well worth the money and effort.
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