Thursday, November 29, 2012

Return to Grand Cayman Island !

Hello fellow bloggers,

A couple months ago I learned that two friends, Michael W and Denise O moved to Grand Cayman Island a few months prior to that. As a joke, I asked 'what color is my room'. Their immediate reply was 'the Gates suite' is open and ready for whenever I and a travelling companion can get there!'

Well, I happen to have a friend who is a travelling companion and we happen to have a friend who is a travel agent so we booked our trip there and for a week in duration. This trip was a sudden and almost a last minute trip. As such neither I nor my travelling companion, Wendy, had any big 'must do while there' plans. My goal was to go to Grand Cayman and see Michael and Denise, enjoy the weather, eat seafood drink a few beers and do a little diving with my camera. I had not been to Grand Cayman since 1996 so thought it would be great to go back and see and dive it again.

Both Michael and Denise are scuba divers and Michael has an interest in free-diving and shooting video with his Gro Pro video camera setup. Denise is a wonderfull UW photographer and former scuba instructor. I met both in 2010 during the time they spent with me in Key Largo working with her as she just purchased a new housed dSLR UW camera system.

Wendy had never been to Grand Cayman Island so had no preconceived ideas about the place and her goals were to go to a warm place, meet Michael and Denise, do a little diving and eat a lot of seafood. The only diving goal I had was to make sure Wendy got to do Stingray City. This blog is kinda akin to a trip-report. It is not very well organized but I wanted to publish the blogpost as soon as possible, while things were still fresh in my memory. I also want it to serve as part of a huge thank you and debt of gratitude owed to Denise and Michael for welcoming us into their home and island.

Our travel agent and friend, Gloria, scored us a wonderfull airfare and great itineary. We flew American Airlines from the high plains to Chicago, Miamia, Grand Cayman Island and back in reverse order. AA had some mechanical issues and while we arrived on schedule our luggage did not make it until late the next day. This was okay as I enjoyed my first day just being in Grand Cayman, enjoying Michael and Denise's hospitality and their wonderfull home on the beach and water.

We also stocked up on some provisions at one of GCI's well-stocked grocery stores and more than stocked up on adult beverages. Most of the foods we ate, we ate out. We ate at the Sunset House, Cobalt Coast, Macaruba's, Morgan Harbor, The Prime (a Brazilean steakhouse) and Deckers (all the grilled lobster you could eat) to name some of these. Foods we ate included-Mahi, snapper, triggerfish, scallops, shrimp, salmon, fish (grouper) and chips, lobster, steak, rib, lamb, chicken and pork. We hardly starved.

The Cayman Islands can be a spendee place but due mainly to the exchange rate. A Cayman Island Dollar is worth roughly $1.25 USD. For example a fish sandwich listed at $10 CI on the menu is $12.50 USD. Tipping is accepted and the average is 15% for anyone who serves you in any way. The service we experienced everywhere was excellent. CI has a departure tax as do many Caribe Islands and theirs is $20 USD and already included in your r/t airfare. Grand Cayman has a good first world infrastructure with goods and services available there that we have in the US. The island hosts a lot of divers so it has whatever a diver may want or need. I wouldn't want to drive in GCI as they drive on the left hand side of the road. If you go there and are a diver you will likely stay at a dive resort and not need to. I, staying at the 'Gates Suite, GCI' had 'my man', "Wingrave".

I have good things to say about a dive store, Divers Supply (whose staff of this well stocked dive store helped with a regulator issue), Divetech, a premiere dive operation (that we did Stingray City with), Sunset House and Eden Rock two other dive operations whose facilities we used to do some shore-diving.

The weather was near perfect during our stay. We had one rainy afternoon, which we used to simply relax at Michael and Denise's beautiful home. The rest of the time it was sunny with a slight breeze if any. Daytime air temperatures were in the mid 80s or warmer, and I never needed long pants or a jacket during the evening. Water temperature was 82-ish and I was comfortable doing 50 minute+ dives wearing my 3mm shorty. The diving in Grand Cayman Island is fairly easy. In the sense that even if currents exist or waves are rocking, sites can be found and dove where there are no currents or big waves. Divers have been diving a long time in the Cayman Islands. They, like the Bahamas (and Hawaii in the Pacific) were pioneer islands back in the day when dive travel got its start. The Caymans have all the corals and aquatic life, large and small, along with super visibility that is found in other parts of the Caribe. The Caymans, in my opinion, are one of those diver-places that if you have not been there, you should go there, and, if you have been there, it is worth going back to.

Well, I hope I gave a good enough trip report in this blog and that some of it will help you should you go to Grand Cayman. I know in this blog I can't thank Denise and Michael enough. The trip gave me a nice break physically and spiritually from life on the high plains and a chance to see Grand Cayman and dive it again. Wendy had one of the thrills of her diving life with the Stingrays and travelling to a new place. So for these reasons and many others thank you Denise and Michael; we both had a trip and time of our lifetime!

Follow this link to some images, especially Denise's, taken during our trip:

Happy diving, lg 

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