Grand Cayman Day 6: Return to Rum and Starfish

By day 6 of our family Cayman island adventure, We had pretty much explored the majority of the island by vehicle. So we decided to spend the day enjoying some favorites, as well as taking in something new.

First, it should be noted that it was a Sunday. The majority of the island is closed on Sundays, including grocery stores. Therefore, one needs to plan ahead should you need something. Also, the majority of Georgetown closes on days when cruise ships are not in port. So unfortunately, one needs to plan a visit to all the local shops in Georgetown when all the other people are in town.

On our family’s way up to Rum Point, we decided to see the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens. While the gardens cost $10 per adult (kids free), you can also pair your visit with a trip to the Pedro St. James Castle, which costs a combined $32 per adult instead of the combined $40.

We spent a good hour and a half walking about the trails and gardens. While it was something to do, we did not see any iguanas and the gardens were not that impressive. We had wished we could have seen some of the orchids, but unfortunately none of them were in season.

For the remainder of the day, we spent time at two of our favorite points on the island, Rum Point and Starfish Point.

While both locations had higher crowds then we previously experienced, because the locals use them too on Sundays, they are so perfect for families because of the calm waters and shade. Not to mention how could you not fall in love with walking out into the water and seeing starfish in their natural environment.?

Grand Cayman Day 5: Stingrays and Tarpon

For our fifth day on Grand Cayman, we elected to go on a chartered boat trip with Captain Marvin’s to Stingray City. After a 10% discount, the trip for 2 adults and 1 child was only around $110 US, which I thought was a bargain considering they pick you up at your hotel, take you on a three hour tour, and bring you back to your hotel. Two of our kids were also young enough to be free.

The trip consisted of three stops, the first being Stingray City. This was a sandbar off of the Rump Point area. Even being on the early morning trip, arriving at the sandbar we found at least 10 other boats anchored. Regardless, it was pretty cool diving into the water and being surrounded by wild stingrays in their natural environment.

The trip also makes stops at an adjacent barrier reef and then another area that was a corral garden. Guests were free to dive in an snorkel the area. We spent about a half hour at each of the locations.

Besides our two oldest not doing particularly well with the boating experience and getting sea sick, the trip was still worth it and an excellent way to spend the day (and our wedding anniversary).

Since everyone was rather tired, or so we thought, we relaxed the afternoon at the Holiday Inn pool and enjoyed lunch at the Blue Iguana.

After heading back to the room for some naps, I snuck out of the room and secured us a dinner reservation at The Wharf. The restaurant, which besides providing spectacular views of the ocean and sunset, also feed the tarpon at 7:30 pm. That was pretty cool seeing the kids throw scraps to the fish. The food at the restaurant was also excellent, but also the priciest meal we have eaten at around $200 for the five of us. Still for the occasional splurge, and wedding anniversary, it was worth it.

Grand Cayman Day 4: Turtles and Hell

With the majority of the Grand Cayman island self explored, it was time for our family to make our way to the Western Bay area, as well as start planning some paid excursions.

First thing we did, after talking with the dive shop in our hotel, was head downtown to talk with Captain Marvin’s for a stingray city tour, as well as Atlantis Submarine to discuss that unique underwater tour.

Unfortunately with no cruise ships, the Captain Marvin’s location was closed. Atlantis Submarine also informed us kids have to be four years old, but recommended a glass bottom boat tour. They were also able to call Marvin’s for us, as their other office was open, securing us a reservation for day 5.

Once we were set, we headed out to West Bay and the Cayman Turtle Farm. Upon arrival, my wife was smart to research ahead and determine it was best to buy the all-access pass, which gave us free reign of the entire park.

Upon entry to the park, you encounter a large outdoor pool with very large turtles in the range of 500 lbs each. It was quite astonishing to see them that large.

Then further into the park there were smaller tanks with turtles in a variety of sizes and ages. Towards the end of the tanks, guests were allowed to handle and even get into the tanks with the smaller turtles. What an experience to have the turtles swimming all around you!

Our pass also gave us access to a large outdoor pool with slide which are kids really enjoyed.

In addition, there is a snorkeling pond, where guests swim with turtles and fish in an expansive area. This proved to be an excellent starter location for our kids to learn to snorkel.

The Cayman Turtle Farm also provides an Aviary and Blue Hole, both which we did not see.

While visiting the turtle farm was really cool, one also needs to be aware what the facility really is, a breeding farm.

The large turtles at the front are breeding, and the eggs are taken to incubate. From there, select turtles are placed into the tanks to grow and eventually breed. The majority of the turtles are released into the wild within a couple weeks of hatching. Lastly, there is a whole other side of the property guests do not see for butchering. Those turtles are grown rapidly for slaughter, which apparently there is a high demand for turtle meat on the island.

While the system seems to be sustainably done, experiencing any farming activity of once wild animals is always unnerving.

Across the street and behind the Cracked Conch restaurant is Macabuca Tiki Bar, which came highly recommended by our hotel dive shop. The bar/restaurant is perched right over the rocks and ocean, and guests can dive right into the water using the attached dive shop or snorkel gear.

The views at Macabuca Tiki Bar were amazing, and the food equally impressive.

We also extensively explored the rest of West Bay, which is mostly residential.

The only real other thing to see was the town of Hell. Known for a rock outcrop which is said to resemble the namesake, the town has built upon the touristy nature with a gift shop, post office, and service station.