I feel like it’s been forever since we last left you hanging out in Jamaica on the first stop of our cruise, getting to know the local culture, food, and incredible people…. That’s because well it has most definitely been awhile since you’ve heard from us. Life has been quite the rollercoaster ride since the calendar turned over to 2018 waaaaaaaay back in January and a lot of things have happened, changed and are in the process of changing. We honestly can’t wait to share those things with you but as of right now we aren’t quite there yet. Patience is a bit*$, I know. All in good time! So for now let’s talk about the Cayman Islands…
Originally dubbed, Las Tortugas by Columbus when he stumbled upon them in 1503, and then later remained the Caymans after the population of crocodilians that surrounded them these Islands have a rich history reflected in the face and traditions of the people that call them home. Unfortunately do to the high volume of tourists from cruise ships and resorts it can be significantly harder to seek out these bits of culture especially on the busy island of Grand Cayman. We had been warned ahead of time to expect this and so it was no surprise when we stepped off of our tender and immediately spotted a litany of shops designed to cater to tourists every need!
The crystalline blue waters of the Islands are instantly enough to make you less interested in trinkets and a whole lot more anxious to take a dip. For once we actually planned ahead (shocking, I know), and were prepared with a pre-booked adventure on the water to fill our time here.
For 52 dollars a person we booked a 3 hour tour ( hmmm Gilligan reference anyone?) with Sting Ray City Tours that took us in and around the waters of these stunning islands. The tour included three stops, an absolutely stunning reef snorkel, a visit to the Cayman’s famous Sting Ray City (we had mixed emotions about this visit, scroll on down to find out why), and lastly to a secluded marine sanctuary well known for its dense population of starfish.
After having a bit of trouble actually locating where we were supposed to meet our group for the tour, we finally got our ever late selves checked in, and loaded up onto the weirdest and tiniest bus we’ve ever ridden on and headed straight for a boat at a local marina. Our captain and crew were friendly and funny in the kind of way that we’ve come to expect throughout the Caribbean, and before we knew it we were hopping off the boat on our first stop snorkeling a local reef. The water was gorgeous, the sea life was incredible, and honestly I think we would have both happily spent the remainder of our 3 hour tour exploring this spot. Unfortunately, we had to move on.
Stop number 2 was Sting Ray City. I knew from the very moment the boat pulled in and set anchor among 20 other boats and what felt like a thousand other tourists that I was not going to enjoy this experience. This is a bit of a hot topic so I’d like to start by saying, to each his own. Travel is unique to each of us in terms of our likes and dislikes, as well as how we interpret and internalize each and every experience we have. When it comes to responsible tourism all we can each do is pick and chose our experiences and apply the best moral filter we can to them. That being said, while there are things we may not be huge fans of one thing you will never EVER read on this site is us condemning another person for their choices. To each his own- ok rant done.
Sting Ray City is in all it’s a giant sandbar where hundreds of wild Atlantic Stingrays are drawn in daily by the prospect of tasty treats doled out to them by tourists. For me personally, animal tourism isn’t our jam, however the flip side of that is that experience creates interest and interest generates caring and desire to preserve and conserve our natural world- so again it’s your travel your choice! I will say this, the guides were as respectful of the animals as can be expected given the job, and A LOT of the people in our group had a great time interacting with the rays, as for us we were happy to stand a good ways back allow the rays to explore us and make the choice to pop up and say hi, delicious morsels of food not included!
After hoping back on the boat and wave a find farewell to our new finned friends at Sting Ray City we took off for Starfish Point. Starfish Point is a quiet and secluded beach, that falls within a marine protection zone, and as its name suggests is also home to quite the population of brightly colored starfish. After a quick lesson on how to properly handle these delicate critters-yes, yes I really appreciate the don’t remove it from the water rules, we had a peaceful 20 minutes or so to wander around the beach and shallow waters, enjoying the solitude and warm Caribbean sun before hopping back on the boat and heading back to town.
Once back on shore we had about an hour to kill before our self imposed tender time; you probably don’t know this but being left behind by a cruise ship is for real one of my major fears, this is probably a result of always being late! We had high hopes of being able to head over to Cayman Spirits Company for a distillery tour and a drink but sadly we just didn’t have the time. Instead we settled for buying a bottle of their signature Seven Fathoms Rum as a consolation prize. If you go to Grand Cayman and do nothing else do yourself a favor and at least buy a bottle of this ocean aged rum, aged in barrels at seven fathoms under the sea, pretty cool huh? It’s also worth point out that it’s freaking delicious!
Bottle of rum successfully in hand, we headed back to our tender and back to our ship with plenty of time to put my worrying mind at ease, and headed off to our next stop Costa Maya, Mexico!