Find It Your Way - Cayman Islands Style! by Sarah White
By Sarah White
Renowned the world over for its spectacular diving, friendly locals and beautiful pristine beaches, there is plenty to see both on land and water. Whether you want to explore a sunken wreck, dance the night away, or simply go sightseeing, Grand Cayman is the place to start.
Diving is the number one watersport in the Cayman Islands. There are many excellent dive operators that offer you every type of professional dive service, whether you are a beginner or a dive master, you can find what you are looking for. There are over 200 dive sites among the three islands that include a mixture of wall, wreck and reef dives. Your choices are endless. Other popular watersports include snorkelling, parasailing, board sailing, water skiing and ocean kayaking. Sportfishing is also very big in the Cayman's.
Grand Cayman, the largest and most active of the islands, attracts 95% of the tourists. This island features over 120 dive sites, some with beach access and some by boat. One of the largest tourist attractions in the world is found here and that is Stingray City. You can swim alongside and feed swarms of stingrays in just 12 feet of water. It's a snorkelling and scuba diving adventure that will never be forgotten!
If getting wet isn't your thing, or maybe you're just looking for a really unique experience; well that can be found aboard the Atlantis Submarines! Atlantis submarines offer rides aboard the 48-passenger Atlantis XI, and the Deep Explorer 1000 which takes two passengers on dives of up to 800 and 1000 feet below the ocean's surface. The Seaworld Explorer takes 35 passengers just five feet below the ocean's surface, and Cayman Submarines' SEAmobile Submarine Tours also offers room for two passengers to explore underwater life at depths of up to 60 feet with a 360-degree view. Nautilus offers the 60-passenger air-conditioned Nautilus semi-submarine with a protected glass hull that cruises five feet below the sea's surface. What a way to explore the world that lives under the sea!
To see a miracle of nature, head over to the Cayman Turtle Farm, the only one of its kind. The turtles are a protected species and there is no where else that you will see an endangered species raised so successfully for conservation. It is home to over 16 000 sea turtles that range in size from 6 ounces all the way up to 600 pounds! The farm has released close to 30 000 turtles back to their home in the wild since 1980 to help replenish the population.
While the real beauty of Grand Cayman lies under the water, it has plenty to offer on land. There has been an incredible amount of work and dedication to restore landmarks and bring the true history and beauty of this island alive. A true must see is Pedro St. James Historic Site. The birthplace of democracy and its first national landmark, you will find a historically accurate reconstruction of the 1780 Great House, formerly known as Pedro Castle, it is truly a spectacular site to see. One of the most beautiful locations in the Cayman Islands, it is a popular location for weddings and social events, with landscaped yards resembling a tropical park and an amazing view of the Caribbean. Among the many attractions located here, the main one is the 49-seat state of the art multimedia theater featuring a 20-minute video presentation on Pedro St. James and highlights 200 years of Cayman history.
There is a destination that most people who visit the Cayman's have never heard of that should not be missed. It is Grand Cayman's Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park featuring a visitor's center, Heritage Garden and Floral Garden, a 2 acre lake and it is also a safe home to the endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. You will see a diverse landscape of native trees and shrubs, wild orchids and epiphytes in a 65 acre park. The Park not only preserves a segment of the Caymanian landscape, but also offers a walk through time into the rich floral history of these islands and by demonstration encourages conservation and horticultural values.
As you can see, there are so many sites to see here on Grand Cayman. Others to note are a trip to the National Museum, as well as the National Trust where you can learn all about historic buildings, bird sanctuaries, wetlands reserves and nature trails on all three islands. And of course, no trip to Grand Cayman would be complete without a trip to Hell! You can go there and then come back with tales of a blackened and jagged rock formation that gives this little district in West Bay its name. Hell's intriguing weathered rock formation is over 1 1/2 million years old and resembles the charred remains of a hell fire. Its own post office was opened in 1962 for tourists who wanted to send postcards from Hell.
The Cayman's have the unique ability to make you feel at home as soon as you arrive, with beautifully landscaped resorts, you are sure to feel close to nature wherever you stay! If ever there was a place to live your fantasy lifestyle, the Cayman's are it! Whether you are looking for luxury four-star hotels and condos on Seven Mile Beach, to comfortable guest houses and casual dive resorts, the islands are sure to meet your vacation needs. One of the Caribbean's best selections of luxurious beachfront condominiums, apartments and villas are also found here.
There is so much to be found on Grand Cayman that you are sure to have the vacation of a lifetime! With unparalleled beauty, sophistication and a surprising amount of variety, whatever you choose to do, you'll find your way - Cayman Islands Style!
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.