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The Cayman Islands Turtle Farm

sunny 27 °C

Our visit to the Cayman Turtle Farm was another day's adventure. large_A49A2F82F82E527134C24821A8AC331D.jpg
Mature, very large turtles are in the breeding tanks.

Lively, young turtles sped and dived throughout the pools.

I think they look like happy turtles...... If you "click" the arrow, then drag the cursor right over to the right, the full screen is visible.

The price for the entire park is $45 U.S for adults, but there is a 20% discount for booking on line. The tour of the whole park included the turtle breeding pond, turtle touch tanks, the turtle wading touch pool, where we were encouraged to pick up the 10 inch wide turtles, and shown how to stroke them under the neck to calm them and then have them kiss your cheek or nose.
We were encouraged to stroke the turtles. Nico and Danielle in the turtle wading pool.

Sorry!!!!!!! I videoed this with my camera sideways. ??????? ..."Click" on the arrow, then drag your cursor right over to the right.

Nose kissing turtles.....I believe we were told that these are not snapping turtles!....... I am crossing my fingers!

We were lucky to arrive there after the tourists from the cruise ships had left. This meant that we were alone in the park with only a few staff - one old worker feeding the turtles.
We explored Breakers Lagoon, from the top and from the sides and caught sight of small fish, barracudas and sharks.

......then we thought it was time to get a closer look. We decided to hop in the water and see the sights. What you see here is the largest swimming pool on Cayman with two waterfalls and an underwater view of the predator tank. One can swim right up to the sharks and hardly see the glass separation that keeps the sharks on their side and the swimmer on the other side!

The Cayman Island Turtle Farm is more like a theme park than a farm. We swam, sunbathed and tried out the water slide. The Turtle Twister Slide was quite high and proved to be lots of fun. Though there were instructions that sliders must sit and go feet first, an enthusiastic staff member instructed us on going down in kneeling position - a challenge, but fun. There is enough to keep you busy here for a full day.

Lots of steps to the top, but a fun splash coming down!
Our time was short, so we took a quick stroll through the grounds we hadn't yet seen. There is a small aviary where a few Carribean birds, including the Cayman Parrot, fly freely. We wandered through the aviary and found many small creatures on the ground too.
Papaya tree. large_aa1P1050112.jpg

The Grand Cayman parrotF1B43AA9D91037DCC2962F23ADA78E48.jpeg is the national bird of the Cayman Islands.

The Green Iguana is an invasive species in the Cayman Islands. There have been attempts to cull and to control it, but it seems that it is overrunning the native species which is the Cayman Blue Iguana, found nowhere else in the world. Meantime, this green iguana looks like he is planning to fight for the territory.

...we DIDN'T see one of these!

Cayman Blue Iguana iggy.jpeg
Fewer than 15 animals remained in the wild by 2003, and this wild population was predicted to become extinct within the first decade of the 21st century. The species' decline is mainly being driven by predation by feral pets (cats and dogs) and indirectly by the destruction of their natural habitat
Since 2004, hundreds of captive-bred animals have been released into a preserve on Grand Cayman, in an attempt to save the species.

Odd plant - I can't identify this one! .....and another green anole. There are more birds on Cayman Islands than animals. Seems that the only animals we missed were snakes, the bats and the rodents.
We arrived at 1:30 and the park closed at 4:30. It seems that it would have been wise to have allowed more time. We hadn't known that there was enough entertainment to spend the day there, though being in the Cayman Island turtle farm when the crowds have left was a real treat.

Well, the Turtle Farm was closing so we found a little spot across the road to enjoy the local fare before heading home.
Another successful adventure ended well. aa7P1050125.jpg

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Today is a day for relaxing at Rum Point, around our condo. The beach is spectacular, the fishing off the pier is good and walking on the beach, swimming and eating out (by the pool) is relaxing. Just one more day at the condo, and then we will head off to Seven Mile Beach for our last few days in Cayman Islands.

This is the "Eternity Pool". I'm still impressed *L*

We went for a walk on the beach and found signposts boasting of the hurricanes.

The kids found Jet-skis! So now this is the plan for tomorrow.

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Waverunner Snorkel Safari was booked with Red Sail Sports at Rum Point. It offered a jet-ski tour for an hour and a half and included 2 snorkel stops. That appealed to my three 20+ kids. (One double for $195 + one single for $135, minus 20% cause we were residing at Kaibo Yacht Club (It came out at
US$264) A bit pricey. I was pleased to see that Novelette was the guide.

Once the captain arrived - Novelette - it was time to "Hit those waves!"large_z10IMG_3419__1_.jpg
There was one more couple on another jet-ski. Novelette gave a few short instructions and then the group took off across the bay. MY group gave great reviews. Novelette did not rein them in - there was racing along and plenty of freedom. When the other couple went for the snorkelling stop, the 'wild crowd' was allowed to run free, doing circles and burning gas! After the diving, all the jet-skis headed off again to the everglades. . large_Iz15MG_3227.jpg
The kids said that the tour was actually more fun than a straight jet-ski rental. …..Someone to bring you to interesting spots and to be a buddy with a great attitude along on the ride.
Thanks, Novelette. It was a blast!z12.jpg

Once again Red Sail Tours gave the full 90 minutes, plus a little bit more.

The Airport
Eliot left the island 5 days before we did, at 2:45 p.m. There is no day before check-in, so we had to arrive at the airport early. We were there 2 1/2 hours before flight. Check in was fairly straight forward using a check in kiosk, once an airline employee said "Put in first stop where it asks for final destination."...and other silly requirements. Security check in was stupid, stupid, stupid! The line snaked through the building and out to the outside. 5 planes were leaving at much the same time, and one or two were arriving. It is wise to check on the Cayman Island Airport website before leaving to see if this is likely when you are due to leave. If it will be busy, get there in lots of time. Eliot was in the line for the best part of 2 hours. Conversely, Danielle and Nico left in the early a.m. 2 days later. Not many flights at that time and their check in and security took about 20 minutes in all.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 06:45 Archived in Cayman Islands Comments (0)

Sting Ray City

Manta Rays and other things that live in the sea

Most mornings, before the kids got up and while Eldon walked to some distant spot, I walked into the sea - smooth like glass and warm like a bathtub, and swam across to the pier - 100 metres or so. It is so peaceful. Looking back at the screened verandah and at the next door beach bar and restaurant - still nothing stirring for another hour or two. We ate and sat around the pool, or swam in the ocean until about midday each day. Then we headed out to look around and to do some of the excursions. We hit on three winners!

"Sting Ray City"

"Sting Ray City" was a tour we did from Red Sail Sports. The hour and a half trip takes a glass bottomed boat with up to 14 people (9 on our trip) out to the sting-ray area - a sandbar about 4-5 feet under the water's surface.
The rays - they are in fact Manta Rays - swim to the sandbar when they hear the motors of the approaching boats.
There are 6 rays in the left foreground.

Soon we are surrounded by these friendly, gentle creatures.
Staff were great. We all donned mask and snorkel and got into the water with Novelette (from Jamaica). She had a bucket with bait that attracted rays. She showed us how to feed the rays, holding bait and letting the ray suck it from our hand. She helped us to support a ray with both hands or arms and kiss the ray on the snout! WOW ! It was really a magical 20 or 30 minutes in the water surrounded by rays that she and others had named.

Novelette coaxed us to do a Christmas picture! ....with her favourite "Betsy" in the middle.

Rays on every side!
Oh, oh....... I just had my hand sucked into this ray's mouth. I'll be in trouble if he thinks I taste like squid!xxxxy.jpg
This feels like being embraced by friendly velvet!

A Manta Ray massage - Oh, what a feeling!

Back on board, we continued along to another spot where we donned mask, snorkel and flippers. We slid into the water and started to explore the prolific coral reef 15 feet below us. Warren, our captain hopped in and said he would show us something special. He had a long plastic tube, which he used to tap near a little cave. Out came a Goldentail Moray Eel. This one was about four feet long. It swam out to the stick, flowing and fluttering as though it were wearing a bright yellow spotted negligee. It swam towards our captain, but then darted into another small cave. Warren then found and coaxed out another eel - a Green Moray.
(The following are not my pictures.)

Sergeant Major Fish were in great numbers on the reefs. The rays prefer a sandy bottom.
Then I noticed that there was a circle of squid around the end of the plastic tube, which had attracted the morays. It was great to see these usually concealed predators (they have a row of sharp teeth that they don't mind using). We continued our snorkelling, seeing Sergeant Major Fish, pictured above, Queen Angelfish, Cowfish, Triggerfish and the pencil shaped Trumpetfish. Finally we were called back to the boat. We were offered fresh oranges and cold water to wash our salty mouths - the perfect thing!

Contemplating a wonderful day!

Both these captains had a fine time!

We arrived back at the dock, just OVER an hour and a half after leaving. The trip was $50 U.S. each, and it was worth every cent of it. Don't miss this once in a lifetime experience.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 07:26 Archived in Cayman Islands Comments (0)

The swanky end of the Isand

RUM POINT North end of Grand Cayman

What to do in a tropical paradise?

Rum Point is on the exclusive part of the island, hence no public transportation. The cab fare is U.S.$150, so we set out to rent a car. That was quite straight forward. $49/day, but with the service fee and taxes, it ran into U.S.$60/day. We took it for a week and were told that there is no problem to extend that for 3 or 4 days. There were many car rental companies on the same spot, just 100 metres from the airport. The place gets busy with cruise ships, but it seems that it is not overrun with the car renting type of tourists.

Wow! Kaibo Yacht Club is SWANKY ! No check in desk - so we checked our email for a message from the agency. Aha! There was the unit number and the code to get the key from the lock-ox by the door. All 5 of us spilled in. What a roomy, tastefully furnished condo with patio opening out to the pool and 40 metres from a sugary beach and glassy smooth sea. We gave a bedroom to D&E and the second one to Eliot- a strategic move that meant that the sofa bed would not have a grumpy body stretched out in it for the first half of the day.

Bougainvillea grow on the grounds, so our table was always adorned.

We walked through our condo and out to the glassed in porch which looks onto the pool and barbecue area.

From the pool, there is a great view of the bay.

Eternity pool - I had never heard of one of these.

Drinking coconut in the shade under the palm trees.

The beach stretched out long and clean in both directions.

Robinson Crusoe style, we set out to explore the north of the island. The beach had beautiful white sand and warm water lapping at our feet.
Follow me!

These fellows had good success with the fish.......Further along at the edge of the beach we found a bright green lizard.

When the going got tough, some people slacked up!

There were plenty of bright red starfish.
The star fishbbstar1.jpg
is at extreme risk of any water pollution as they have no way of filtering the toxins from the water when it becomes polluted. Oil spills in particular are a great threat to the them. So finding starfish is a pretty good indication that these waters are pristine.

It may gross you out, but starfish excrete their stomach into creatures like clams and digest them in their shell!!!large_bbstar2.jpg

The days were blissful. (Too quiet for the 20+ crowd.) Next door is The Kaibo Beach Bar and Grill. The kids dropped $100 there for lunch. It was time to head to town and the supermarket. We had a barbeque so we prepared wonderful grilled pork chops with picante rice and beans and fresh salad, BBQ fresh snapper that Eldon caught off the end of the pier, Steak done sizzling and spicy with baked potatoes and tropical salad. We sat on the screened verandah to eat, while we watched the calm sea or the sun setting. One evening we enjoyed the live band playing next door at Kaibo Beach Bar - the music: jazz, reggae and others, while we ate our own great cuisine, with beer at a buck each. I prefer to drop those big bills for the sports and tours rather than for the grub.

We geared up and fished off the pier. The fish were biting.
Enough of the fishing - Eliot delighted in cereals from his childhood - no longer available in Canada.

A fiery end to this day: Grilled chicken legs along with the catch of the day.
We sat out by the pool and enjoyed the music from the beach bar while we dined on our own haute-cuisine.
This had been a fine beginning for our days in Paradise.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 19:45 Archived in Cayman Islands Comments (0)

Grand Cayman on a Budget

A week in the life of Grand Cayman

sunny 27 °C

Grand Cayman and a Budget (5 people for 2 weeks)

I often read travel articles and they inspire me to visit the wonderful places mentioned, but cost is always a factor to consider, so I've put in the prices paid in 2014 U.S. dollars for many items in Cayman Islands
So this is where Cayman Islands are located. The usual hop down south, just below Cuba.

If you head over to the west side of the island you will find Seven Mile Beach and 10 Ks south of it is George Town.
The Waterfront has tasteful shops and outdoor kiosks, stretched along the beach where cruise ships can be seen at dock.

How we got here:

Early January, during rolling power outages (apparently third world stuff, but we were having our black outs in Newfoundland due to colder than expected weather, government policy (!) and lack of preparation of the electrical companies who had scheduled yearly maintenance and shutdown - for mid winter (Can you believe that?) ….well, it seemed like a good time to plan to escape to a sunny clime. We chose Grand Cayman Island.

Online seems to be the way to find a spot, so we started with "Flip-Key". We tried for a condo, a house or whatever to accommodate 5 people, thus 3 rooms. Hotels were out of the question until we win a lottery. Flipkey.com came up with a number of options. The one we picked was Kaibo Yacht Club, Phase 2. It is on the northern point of the island - at Rum Point. (Look at http://www.gobeach.com/cayman/kaibo.htm) We could get only one week, so we added a few hotel days before that and after that and started to look for flights. Again, online was the way to find a good price. I used "One Travel". One Travel checks airline prices for various dates, and using flexible dates +/- 3 days we found return flights for Canadian $660 from St. John's to Grand Cayman. One Travel comes up with good prices BUT if you want to change your booking, you must pay a 2nd time and wait months for a refund. Also, the airlines don't let you do online check in with the booking from One Travel, so yo have to physically go to the airport some hours or the day before you fly to get your boarding pass. Checking on Air Canada's official site I found $779 Cdn for flights Mar 20 returning 2 weeks later! In future I will check the airline itself - maybe less hassle.

Online again, we found a Holiday Inn Hotel on the west end of the Island. It was a fine place by a golf course, though out of the way and too quiet. The price is better if booked online rather than at the front desk. We paid $230/night for 3 in a room. Eliot travelled with us. Danielle & Nico will arrive when we move to the condo. There was a free shuttle 6 times a day to the city, the supermarket or to 7 Mile Beach. The hotel had a nice swimming pool, expensive food and a rocky beach. Lying out on the pool deck in the balmy sunshine was good for a day or two.
The hotel pool was refreshing and clean, but we had to share it with the local inhabitants..........

......IGUANAS !alizard.jpg
Large ones often ambled around on the pool deck. This one was about 3 feet long if you included his tail.

We headed into town, and walked along the waterfront. This island has a different feel from most of the Caribbean Islands I have visited. Nobody hawking their wares with cries of "Look Madam, I give you good price!" More of the North American aloofness - and higher prices!
South Church Street is certainly the tourist area. New buildings, clean fresh sidewalks---- You will pay for it!
This road runs along the shore. Going north bringing you along seven mile beach; going south is a lovely walk, bracket by countryside on your left and a bay full of cruise boats on your right.
32BCC35FDC654E6FD4BF5A51D5A2BA1A.jpg seven_speedboats.jpg
The Waterfront in the Center of George Town between the two Cruise Ship piers. We also found a place for jet-skiing.

We left the cruise boats behind and headed for Seven Mile Beach. Sure enough, the beach stretched ahead, all white and sugary.

This stretch of beach promises action:

Canoes to paddle in the surfSevencolourful_boats.jpg
Massage for the decadent sevenmassage1.jpg

Nice breezy piers to watch the sunset:

A romantic moment.

My son is not impressed......

Remember the jet-skis?large_seven_speedboats.jpg
We will be heading back here when the others join us tomorrow.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 19:39 Archived in Cayman Islands Comments (0)

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