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Three Jewels of the Western Caribbean

By Edited Aug 25, 2015 1 1

Three Jewels of the Caribbean

A True Tropical Paradise

The Cayman Islands are truly jewels in the Western Caribbean, the islands are a tropical paradise that anyone can enjoy.


During your visit you will realize why these islands have been hotspots in Caribbean for vacationers for decades. Experience the warm friendly people, great hospitality and breathtaking sights both above and below the water's surface as well as exciting adventures for all ages and interests.

Relax by the Caribbean Sea in Little Cayman

There simply is no better time than “island” time in the Cayman's. So why not leave the hustle and bustle behind? Find paradise, simply enjoy the now, and treasure the life long memories made.

Where are the Cayman Islands?
These beautiful islands are a territory of the United Kingdom and consist of three sister islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. You will find them in the western Caribbean, about 480 miles (roughly 770 km) south of Miami, Florida.  And about 167 miles (almost 270 km) northwest of Jamaica. The closest Caribbean neighbor is Cuba, which is 150 miles (240 km) to the north.

Cayman Islands Map

The islands are part of the Cayman Ridge geological formation that extends westward from Cuba. At the deepest part of the Caribbean is the Cayman Trench, with a depth of over four miles (over 6 km).  This trench is what separates these islands from Jamaica.


The islands also sit on what is called “the plate boundary”, which is the border between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates.  The Caribbean plate is moving eastward while the North American plate is shifting toward the west. Because the islands lie at the interface of these plates earthquakes are not only possible but common.  However, they are usually of small enough duration and intensity that residents don’t even feel them.  That does not mean tremors of sufficient intensity cannot occur.  Back in December 2004 a severe quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, shook Grand Cayman. Unlike most quakes in the quiet little island group, this one was noticed by the occupants—several sinkholes opened up on the island.

How do you get there?
Getting to the Cayman's is not difficult as they are a popular destination.  Cruise ships offer routine excursions with docking.  Most airlines have regularly scheduled flights both to and from the locale. Checking on-line or with a local travel agent reveals package deals in abundance (“x” days and “y” nights at certain hotels or resorts with or without meals, child care etc., for a fixed rate).  Most of the resorts catering to tourists offer expansive activities packages, most of which include scuba diving.  
 
What about the weather?
A good rule of thumb is to always check the weather and predictions before departing.  Specifically, checking the weather forecasts for the dates and areas planned as destinations is critical—the island chain gets hit with its share of tropical storms and hurricanes!
Typically, as expected from a tropical climate, one can expect two seasons: a hot, humid, and rainy season (summer), and a cooler, typically dryer, season (winter).  Visitors from northerly climates (or deeper into the southern latitudes), however, will likely think it is warm no matter what time of year.


The warmest weather is in July and August; the coolest in January and February.  During the year the temperatures range from 77–85 degrees Fahrenheit.  While a winter coat and boots are not necessary, a swim suit, light clothing of breathable materials and comfortable shoes (a lot of walking may involve anyone’s particular vacation package) are “must haves”.  Packing a light sweater, just in case of a fluky, cooler night, is a good idea.  Most anything you may have forgotten, can be purchased at a myriad of shops designed to aid the forgetful tourist.

 

What kind of activities will you find?
In the Cayman Islands one will find folks that are ready to tell their life stories, island history, and give advice about the best places to visit, to dine, or to enjoy other activities.
In the Cayman's you will never be board, there is an abundance of things to do, both on land and in the water.  Perhaps nothing is more relaxing than lounging in a hammock or on a shore-side beach towel, doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. For the land lover there are miles of soft white sandy beaches, historical sites, museums, hiking trails,caves to explore, tours to take along with horseback riding, and bird watching.

Other activities include snorkeling,  kayaking, paddle-boarding, fishing, and much more. There are also less nature-oriented things such as golfing, shopping, wellness spas, and a vibrant nightlife. There is also an annual Mardi Gras celebration in the Cayman's.  And a curious event called “Pirates’ Week” in November.  During that particular, quirky celebration you can sit back and watch a parade, learn how to act and dress like a pirate, take part in treasure hunts, and witness pirate hangings.  There are also less “pirate-y” Jet Ski stunts to watch, with dancing available as well.


However, getting out into the ocean may be the Caymans’ most singular charm.  The warm salt water allows the casual swimmer or the more serious Scuba diver the opportunity to experience some of the most pristine dive sites around.  In the water you will meet a wide array of marine life. including the Southern stingrays which love to play up close and personal with visitors at Stingray City.


Each island offers its own unique tropical flavor
Grand Cayman, is the largest of the three islands, with an area of 75 square miles. It is the most commercialized, and its tourist industry designed around tantalizing cuisine, exciting night life, exquisite beaches, and underwater sights.  And, yes, there are many relaxation opportunities available as well.


On the West side of Grand Cayman you can find Seven-Mile Beach (often rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in all the Caribbean).  Travel north and Stingray City invites visitors to play in the water with friendly Southern Stingrays.

Stingray City

Simply jump in

 

Stingray City - a Scuba Divers View

From a Scuba divers angle

 

The other Islands:
Cayman Brac is the “middle sister” in this island paradise.  It lies about 30 minutes by small plane from Grand Cayman. Once there, the serenity and the breathtaking scenery is what this more out-of-the-way island offers.   The residents (of whom there are less than 1,800) are warm, friendly, and very proud of their island, which is rich in culture and natural wonders to experience. While you are there be sure to look out into the water. Below is a juvenile Spotted Eagle Ray who is one of several sea residents that frequent the shallows at supper time.

Graceful Young Spotted Eagle Ray

 
A few beautiful places to visit on Cayman Brac are the limestone caves and The Bat Cave.  More heart-wrenchingly tragic is the history behind another cave, “Rebecca’s Cave” and the Cayman Brac Museum.


On Cayman Brac, islanders fled to high locations on the bluffs seeking shelter in caves from the storms.  The hurricane in November 1932 in particular was extremely devastating to the area. Tidal waves and strong winds wiped out most everything on the island.

An oft-told story concerns “Rebecca’s Cave” and that dreadful storm in 1932.  A family named Bodden, among who was 17-month-old Rebecca Bodden, sought refuge in a particular bluff cave from the storm (as did other islanders). Over 100 lives were lost throughout the Cayman's during that storm. While Rebecca Bodden’s family members survived, tragically she did not.  Baby Rebecca was laid to rest there in the cave; it was later named for her.  It serves as a natural memorial to her little life and a reminder of how fragile life really is.


The Cayman Brac Museum (as of 2013 there was no admission charge) is also a must-see on this island.  It is the oldest of the island group’s museums.  Exhibits include memorabilia about island home-life, information and artifacts from the 1932 hurricane, ship-building, and maritime history (including the hunting of sea turtles, once very popular in the Caymans’ history, and called “turtling”).

Little Cayman— This little jewel is the tiniest of the three islands, positioned  only five miles west of Cayman Brac.  It is  small:  only 10 miles long and about 1 mile wide.

Most of this beautiful little island is undeveloped.  Less than 170 people live there as permanent residents, so most of this island is given over to Nature. However, the island’s tiny size does not mean there isn’t plenty to do and see there. Additionally Little Cayman is considered one of the top honeymoon destinations  in the Caribbean.

 

Proposal on the Beach

How romantic!!  These two were engaged on one of the gorgeous white sandy beaches there in Little Cayman.


Like the other two islands, Little Cayman has its own unique “adventures” both on land and in the sea for the inquisitive tourist. And while it is mostly a serene little place there are times of the year when cultural events transform this dot in the ocean into a destination party spot.
And last but not least, on Little Cayman there is the Little Cayman Cook-off, a chance to try the best foods the islanders can offer.


While Little Cayman may best give a sense of “getting-away-from-it-all” perhaps not found elsewhere in the Caribbean all three of the Cayman Islands are charming and memorable, each in its own way.  Once you visit one Cayman island you will find yourself making plans to see the rest of these shinning jewels of the Caribbean.

Plan ahead, do your homework and have a safe, relaxing holiday in paradise.

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Comments

Feb 18, 2014 7:02am
vicdillinger
The pics are GORGEOUS!! Good work! A thumb (travel articles are always interesting).
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Bibliography

  1. Cayman Island Department of Tourism "About Cayman." Cayman Islands. on going/on going/on going. 5/12/2013 <Web >
  2. Cayman Islands Government "Location and Geography." Cayman Islands Government. on going/on going/on going. 5/12/2013 <Web >

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