Michael C. Trip Report: Grand Cayman Part 1
One of the best parts about the Caymans is that if you’re traveling from the East Coast, you can arrive before lunch time. That’s exactly what I did, meeting up with my hosts at the Georgetown Yacht Club, a quick ride from the airport. We sampled a tasting of appetizers (coconut shrimp, conch fritters and ceviche) and it felt great to be back!
From Georgetown Yacht Club, we were shuttled over by water taxi to Cayman Kai. A forty-minute trip and just slightly choppy, it was nonetheless a great way to arrive. En route we could see some construction popping up, including Sir Richard Branson’s new estate. We docked at Kaibo Yacht Club and took the short ride to our home for the next three nights, Villa GCM SUN, a six bedroom villa on the beach. We took off our shoes and walked to the popular Rum Point just along the beach. We finished the night with a catered dinner at the villa while we watched the sunset.
Each morning the housekeeper provided fresh breakfast, which guests can expect as well. The kitchen was fully appointed, whether guests cook themselves or we arrange a chef for them. Our first day started with a tour of Grand Cayman’s newest natural attraction, the Crystal Caves, which has been known by locals for many years but not yet accessible until 2016. While developing this site, Grand Cayman enlisted the help of those who look after Harrison Cave in Barbados. I highly recommend visiting Crystal Caves, where you’ll be toured through these naturally formed (through millions of years) caves of crystals. Along with Stingray City, the Turtle Farm, the Botanical Gardens, Cay Brew (a local brewery) and Seven Fathoms (a local distillery), and of course, 7 Mile Beach, the island has such an array of attractions. Did I mention the scuba diving is world-class, too?
Once the nature trek was complete our driver took us to Villa GCM EVO, a 7 bedroom villa where a buffet lunch was waiting. This impressive property facing the ocean provides all seven bedrooms with beautiful sea views. With two king bedrooms, four queens, plus a kids’ suite, this villa can sleep twenty. The buffet lunch allowed us the opportunity to savor the full effect of the beachfront location, and is a wonderful spot for alfresco dining. While the ocean is slightly rocky from the shore, a dock has been erected out past the rocks to allow for easy sea entry. The staff who provided lunch for us can be arranged at any villa, and the standard of service is excellent. A night dining in can make a huge difference, as it allows guests to feel taken care of in their villa, feeling relaxed with friends and family.
The afternoon continued with villa tours from the south coast to the east end of the island. Villa GCM TRN is a recently remodeled 6 bedroom beachfront villa, while Villa GCM WHT, also beachfront, is a wonderfully peaceful spot, and an ideal family villa. Villa GCM STP was a stylish four bedroom on the most easterly point; while 7 Mile Beach is a 40 minute drive away, the location itself is very desirable, and has a small store and several dining options nearby. The firepit and sunken seating would be delightful in the evening.
From here we headed back to Cayman Kai, now having traveled over two thirds of the island. Dinner was at the Kaibo Yacht Club, at their first floor restaurant Upstairs at Kaibo—a great venue with a sea view verandah. The menu was chef’s choice, and each choice (artichoke salad, pumpkin gnocchi, coconut-crusted grouper) was excellent. The Cayman Kai area has four dining spots and all are popular for their varied style. Upstairs is a more refined experience with a varied menu and extensive beverage list. Kaibo Beach restaurant is far more casual both dress and menu wise, and open late. Rum Point and The Wreck Bar are toes in the sand style relaxed spots. These four options give some nice variety, but I would certainly recommend venturing out. Blue by Eric Ripert at the Ritz, and Cocolobo at the new Kimpton hotel are definitely must-dos!
Thursday we took a great drive from Cayman Kai to the South Side. We visited some beautiful villas, including 7 bedroom Villa GCM TAT, and Villa GCM POV. With sweeping sea views, this villa is perfect for family. We enjoyed lunch at the villa, massages, and a jet-ski ride right from the property. This can all be arranged for our guests, and it was a terrific way to spend the afternoon!
We finished off the first part of our trip with a sunset trip to Stingray City, plus dinner aboard our catamaran. “The City” is a shallow sand bar where stingrays come to be fed and people can interact with them. We saw some over 3 feet wide. The water is bathtub warm and waist deep; it is known as an absolute can’t-miss activity when visiting Grand Cayman.
Unlike other Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman is quite developed in the best ways possible – infrastructure is fully functional, the tap water is safe to drink, and most visitors will find no difference with any grocery stores here. Rest assured I’ll be be back to visit this wonderful beach island…I look forward to speaking with you and telling you more about it!
Stay Tuned for Part II of my trip…