Travel Guide + Photo Diary: Grand Cayman


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I have been thinking about the direction I want to take my blog lately, and I decided I definitely want to start doing more travel posts. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to take a lot of family vacations that sparked my love for travel. Now that I am an adult and live on my own, I take around 2 vacations a year. I save my pennies so I am able to do this for myself because travel is so important to me. I am going to start a new series on the places I visit; travel guides. I know that before I take a vacation, I do tons of research on what I want to do. Hopefully these travel guides can help some of you with your adventures.

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To put things in perspective, I traveled to Grand Cayman from Wisconsin. I was there for 7 days (including travel days).

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Flight
I was so excited about the flight to Grand Cayman. The actual time spent on a plane was less than 4 hours!! It felt like I blinked and we were there. We had one layover in Atlanta. The airport in Grand Cayman is really tiny (like 3 gates total), but I heard they are about to undergo some major renovations. The security process on our way home in the Grand Cayman airport was an absolute nightmare.

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Hotel
We stayed at Grand Cayman Margaritaville Beach Resort. The resort had literally opened for the first time only days before we arrived.  Only part of the resort was actually open. There were only guests staying on two floors of one building, and only one of the on-site restaurants was open. Overall, I still really enjoyed staying here.  The staff was so nice and approachable, and the atmosphere was amazing.  I loved the decor of the lobby and the rooms.  There are two giant pools and two bars.  The beach access is not what I expected.  It is a tiny half moon area that had a rock wall around it. When you walked down the beach to the left, it was very rocky.  When you walked down the beach to the right, it was rocky at first but then it was white sand beaches for as far as you can see. I felt like I was staying at a luxury resort, I loved every minute of it. The resort was not busy and most of the time it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

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Food
Okay, I'm just going to warn you in advance, I pretty much only eat American food. Also, food is EXPENSIVE here. Pretty much everything costs double what it did at home. Burger Shack is heaven if you're a burger lover like me. It is literally a shack but it is so good we ate there multiple times. I highly recommend. We also ate at Hard Rock Cafe a few times. Hard Rock is a personal favorite and I make it a point to visit one every time I travel somewhere. The restaurant at our resort was also really good. We also ate at Margaritaville, and that was okay. They did have margarita happy hour when we were there, which was nice. They had a really cool two story gift shop. I think that was pretty much all for places we ate meals. We snacked throughout the day and just went out for dinner. We went to two different smoothie places, Smoothie King and Jessie's Juice Bar. I liked them both a lot. Another place we loved was Gelato & Co. It was a gelato and dessert shop. Their pineapple gelato was amazing!

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 Beaches
Oh my god, the beaches on Grand Cayman were AMAZING! They were the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.  The water was unbelievably blue and clear. Every single inch of beach we saw was beautiful. Some of our favorite spots were found by chance while we were driving around. We loved Seven Mile Beach, but it was very busy and touristy. We also loved Smith's Cove for snorkeling and cliff jumping! It was pretty rocky underwater though so we had to be careful where we jumped. There is public beach access every mile or so, and you won't be disappointed if you stop at any one of them.

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Activities
We did some really awesome activities while we were on the island.  This was one of the most amazing trips of my life.
  • Snorkeling: We did a lot of snorkeling, and the views were incredible.  The water was so clear that you could see the bottom even when it was 20 feet deep. We saw all sorts of marine life while snorkeling, like an eel, stingrays, fish, and sea turtles. 
  • Jet Ski Tour: We did a jet ski tour with Fat Fish Adventures and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life. I HIGHLY recommend. The tour was in a small group of my family of 4 and two other people. It was so fun to drive around the island on a jet ski. We made four stops on the tour, Stingray City, Starfish Point, a reef to snorkel, and a bar at the end. I would do this 100 times over. It is absolutely worth every penny.
  • Spott's Beach: We snorkeled here a few times on our trip. It was so amazing!
  • Cayman Turtle Centre: This was an interesting place. There were hundreds of sea turtles here in exhibits, touch tanks, and a man-made snorkel area. It was cool to hold a baby sea turtle, but it kind of made me sad to see these turtles in captivity.
  • Paddleboarding: My sister and I rented paddleboards from the Westin resort on Seven Mile Beach. I'm a whimp so I sat on my board most of the time instead of standing, but the views were awesome. Stingrays and fish swam under me and the water was so clear and you could see so many fish. I wouldn't need to do this again when I return to the island, but it was fun once.
  • Starfish Point: This was a beach area on a point of the island where tons of starfish can be found. The starfish were huge and were vibrant colors. It was really awesome to see them in their natural habitat and to be able to hold them for photos. Out jet ski tour (read above) stopped here, and we went back again because we thought it was so cool.
  • Stingray City: This was another stop on our jet ski tour. This was SO COOL. One of the coolest things I've ever done in my life. Swimming and holding wild stingrays with no nets or restrictions was definiely a bucket list item. It is a sandbar a little way off of shore where stingrays flock to eat. We saw at least 50 while we were there. Most of them were huge! It was kind of scary, but I am so glad I did it. They swam right next to me and brushed up against me. I even got to hold one of the huge ones! They are so much more gentle than I thought they would be.
  • Camana Bay Shopping Center: We didn't spend that much time here, but we did go to Jessie's Juice Bar and Gelato & Co. (see food section).
  • Island Drive: I am so glad we rented a car so we could drive around the island. We did this over the span of two days, though it could easily be done in one. We didn't really have a plan, we just stopped when we saw something cool. There were some really amazing mansions we passed on the way. We stopped by Hell (the city), Rum Point (there was a cool pier here), and some natural blowholes. I am so glad we did this.  

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Transportation
We rented a car from Hertz. The steering wheel was on the wrong side and they drive on the other side of the road, so that was challenging.  We let my dad handle the driving, and by the end of the trip he was a pro.  The traffic was a little heavier than expected, and the roundabouts were sketchy. I am glad we rented a car because it gave us the freedom to explore the entire island on our own time.  I would definitely recommend renting a car if you visit the island.

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Overall, it was a beyond amazing trip. I actually am considering moving to Grand Cayman. We are already planning our next trip back! I hope you enjoyed my first Travel Guide and are excited for many more to come!

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