Next up, Grand Cayman!! After spending a week in this beautiful paradisiacal island in the month of June, I will tell you all about it including places to see, things to do and where to eat if you are planning a trip to the island!
We took a 2.5 hour flight from Houston, Texas to Owen Roberts International Airport. This put us at our destination in the late afternoon in what was to become our first of hopefully many trips to the British West Indies. I was extremely excited to get off the plane after seeing the beautiful turquoise waters and lush green mangrove swamps from the window seat above. As we exited the rear of the plane and walked down the staircase onto the tarmac we were greeted by one of the friendly native inhabitants of this tropical island. Yes, a native only to Grand Cayman known as the blue iguana running rampant around the tarmac. The local Caymanians seemed super casual about it as tourists tried to rapidly get away…myself included! Although these lizards aren’t really dangerous, they are quite scary looking and when you aren’t used to seeing them, you run from them!
In true island fashion everything works at its own pace here in Grand Cayman which was a welcome change from the hectic lifestyles we live back home. Once we exited the airport we crossed over to pick up our rental car. We were looking forward to driving a right handed drive car and experiencing the novelty, but at Grand Cayman they have both right handed and left handed, and we were fortunate enough to get a left hand one (not!). See, there is one thing about driving on the “wrong” side of the road (for us Americans) while on the “wrong” side of the car, but when you get to drive on the “wrong” side of the road while on the “right” (left) side of the car, then it can get a little tricky! Parking lots, roundabouts and general mayhem to ensue.
So the adventure begins! If you’ve been to Grand Cayman, you will absolutely remember that there are no signs on the road. Actually, let me rephrase that, all major streets have no signs, but you can pretty easily find the small residential roads that no tourist is looking for, as all those have ample signage. So to drive in Cayman for your first day you need a map, and you definitely need to be looking out for the small streets in order to know how to get to major crossroads.
After a few twists and turns, getting lost leaving the airport, and circling the airport for what seemed liked an hour, we finally managed to figure out how to get on to Queens Highway and head towards the resort. We stayed at the Wyndham Reef Resort on the north East End of the island which took us approximately 30 minutes to navigate to once we realized where the main highway was. In our initial trip planning we had contemplated the use of Taxi and Airport Shuttle but quickly determined that renting a car on this island was the way to enjoy it best. The roads are easily navigated and the local drivers have somewhat become accustomed to foreigners. It was quite the experience and to be honest, I would do it again. The East End only has a couple hotels, a couple restaurants and of course many nice houses and mansions, but that is it. No shops, no convenient stores, cruise ships, malls, huge hotels, and influx of tourists on any given day. Most of that can be found on the west side of the island by Seven Mile Beach which is where most of the tourism happens at Grand Cayman. The eastern side of the island is the more remote side and that I believe, gives you a more authentic island experience.
We ended up arriving at the Reef and checking in around 5pm. It was somewhat of an overcast day and by that time, there really was no sun left for us to enjoy. Just the island breeze coming straight off of the Caribbean with the smell of warm salt water and sand. So after check-in what do we do? That’s right! We go down to the beach front bar and order some a-mazing pina coladas! You might not believe me when I say these are the best pina coladas I have ever tried, but they are. This is the first beach location that I have been too that has about 10 different types of them too. Nutty Colada, Kahlua Colada, Melon Colada, Mango Colada you name it, they make it into a delicious frozen concoction. Most knowingly their Cayman Colada which is made with raspberry liqueur and one which I became fond of over the course of our stay at the Reef. After a couple of these exotic caribbean drinks and talking to other travelers, it was time for us to check out the local cuisine.
The hotel reception crew provided suggestions and we did our own digging around through the free travel guides that can be picked up within the airport terminal near the baggage conveyor. There isn’t much for Yelp in the island so we used the booklets we had been given and googled some spots from the free Hotel wifi. We ended up heading to “Over the Edge” which was a local spot the concierge had suggested which was about a 15 minute drive in Old Man Bay on the North/East side of the island. Over the Edge is a caribbean restaurant that not only tourist visited, but was also filled with locals. The relaxed caribbean ambience was to be expected and we were sat down in the deck overlooking the water (although dark, in my mango mojito picture you can see the clarity of the beautiful caribbean water). Service was casual but attentive and we were brought some fried bread and ordered some tasty conch fritters to start followed by our main dishes which consisted of exquisite sautéed lobster Cayman style served with rice, veggies and fried plantains.
Heading back to the hotel in the dark proved interesting as we pulled out of the restaurant parking but we quickly gained our bearings and returned to the left side of the road. Our first day at Cayman was coming to an end, but not without a Cayman style ending. We get back to the Reef only to be surprised by a little visitor sitting on the stairs. See my last picture below. 🙂 Over the course of our trip, we soon discovered how common these little tasty guys are on the island…
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