As of yesterday’s post, Sunshine and I had just about had our fill of shopping in George Town and wanted to take a taxi tour of the island. Thankfully, there were a TON of taxis around and for $20 per person, they were more than willing to take people around the island to specific spots.
The Cayman Islands are made up of three islands, of which Grand Cayman is the biggest (the others are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman). Because they offer tax neutrality to foreign nations, the Cayman Islands have become a financial center. Today, the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry encompasses banking, mutual funds, vessel registration, trusts, structured finance, and even the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange (impressive for a nation where the total population of all three islands is only 55,000).
While an absolutely beautiful island, Grand Cayman doesn’t have a million things to see in terms of tourism, so they make the most of what they do have. Example? How about the Old Homestead. This pink-and-white Caymanian cottage was built in 1912 and, being the oldest standing house on the island, is considered a big tourism attraction by the locals.
While interesting, I guess I don’t see the big deal…especially living in a nation where we have buildings going back a bit further than 1912. Still, knowing this cottage has stood the test of time with little updates or repairs over the years is pretty impressive considering some of the adverse weather it has had to endure.
We made our way down past Seven Mile Beach, which is widely considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. While we originally thought that we’d spend some time on the beach, we ended up only seeing it in passing from our taxi.
I felt a bit bad since Sunshine wanted to spend some quality time on the beach, but she didn’t seem to mind too much as the tour went on. We ended up parked off the main road for a photo op that was just off the beaten path of the regular tourists. Really…the views were incredible.
The next stop of our tour was Hell. No…seriously.
Hell is a very VERY small spot in Grand Cayman that consists of (literally) a post office and a souvenir store. The fun thing about Hell is that you can send a postcard FROM Hell (postage available) and you can also have your passport stamped to prove you were actually in Hell (we didn’t think we’d be visiting Hell, or else we’d have brought our postcards with us).
The name is derived from the black limestone that covers the land behind the store. Apparently, local officials thought that this is what hell must look like and BAM~!! Welcome to Hell.
Next on our tour of the island was a welcome surprise as it wasn’t initially listed on the itinerary: Dolphin Discovery. This is an ecological-tourism site that was designed specifically to house dolphins in a safe habitat and also promote tourism, as this was one of the places that you could swim with the dolphins.
The great thing about this spot was that while you had to pay a fee to swim with the dolphins, you could still sit and watch the goings on for free.
Okay…here’s an interesting tidbit to know about the Cayman Islands (well…it’s interesting to Sunshine and I, anyway). Something to keep an eye out for is the chicken. No…I’m not kidding.
Y’know how squirrels and chipmunks roam around residential areas in North America? Well…feral chickens run around here like that. They seem to be everywhere. Basically, a feral chicken is a wild chicken and are so common in the area that the locals were laughing as Sunshine and I were taking pictures to show our friends back home. I mean, it’s just so odd to see chickens running around free in non-farming areas.
It’s also not really that odd to be able to not only take a picture of a large iguana, but to be so close to one that you could pick it up if you wanted to (I didn’t want to, for the record…lol).
Across the street from the Dolphin Discovery was the Cayman Turtle Farm. Here you could swim with turtles in a lagoon full of marine life in a very beautiful conservation area. Inside there was also a restaurant area that served conch fritters and marinated conch appetizers. Because the Cayman Turtle Farm is dedicated to both conservation and carefully calibrated commercial sales of traditional food products, the restaurant also offers a modest selection of turtle dishes for those interested in exploring the island’s culinary background. We couldn’t make it over so, unfortunately, turtle soup will have to wait for another day (seriously…I would have TOTALLY tried it!!).
We started making our way back to the port so we could get back to the ship before the last tender left at 3pm. Along the way we saw the money of Grand Cayman in a really big way, thanks to the Britannia Villas area of the island:
After saying goodbye to the good folks from the Norwegian Sun (all from the Jersey area, I believe), we made our way back to our port, jumped in a tender, and began to make our way over the gorgeous water back to to the ship. I was just in awe at the beauty that appeared to be everywhere we looked.
Back on board safe and sound, we got ready for supper and head down to the restaurant. When we were seated, the maitre ‘d congratulated us on our engagement…something I found pretty classy (someone must have entered it into the “master computer” so that the restaurant would know once we checked in). We were seated and were given a complimentary bottle of champagne as a “congratulations from the ship”. Yeah…we were pretty impressed with that.
The meal was good (there will be a separate post on food later on) and I was so full that I couldn’t even order dessert. At this point, some waiters came over and began to sing to us completely out of the blue. I grabbed my camera about halfway through the song…
So I ended up getting a dessert and we ended up emptying the bottle of bubbly. I’ll tell you…we were one happy couple at this point.
We noticed that the evening had a few fun things on the agenda (highlighted in red at left), including a couple of trivia contests. We knew that this was going to be our opportunity to win more ships on sticks so we took off to the Atlantic Lounge for some Movie Sound Clip Trivia. I gotta tell you…this wasn’t easy. However, between Sunshine and I we were totally able to recognize clips from Pulp Fiction, Saturday Night Fever, and (thanks to her ) I Am Sam. It was the last one that won us ship #4!!
At this point I didn’t want to call them “ships on sticks” anymore. I had heard the term “vessels on tressels”, so that kind of stuck with me. We raced down the corridors to our next stop, which was a “Name That Tune” in Satchmo’s. Needless to say, I pride myself on my musical knowledge. Knowing something like “I feel good” by James Brown is actually called “I Got You (I Feel Good)” might be useless to some people, but it won us vessel #5!!!
The night ended with some karaoke (yes, of course I performed…lol), a pretty entertaining juggler/comedy act, and yet another towel animal. We had asked our room steward to please NOT remove the animals each night as we wanted to “collect” them as the week went on. Thankfully, he obliged our request:
Tomorrow on the agenda sees us stop in Cozumel, Mexico!!