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4 posts from December 2010

12/27/2010

Boxing Day in Grand Cayman

While celebrating Christmas with my family this weekend, it occurred to me that most people that travel to Grand Cayman would not anticipate a national public holiday on December 26th. I want to give a little background information on the December 26th holiday celebrated in the Cayman Islands to better prepare you for a holiday trip to the Islands.

One of the first times I ever visited Grand Cayman we arrived late on the night of the 23rd of December. We figured we'd go to to the store and stock up on groceries first thing in the morning on the 24th. Much to our disappointment, we found all stores, markets, and shops to be closed in observance of Christmas Eve. We knew we were going to be waiting a couple days to get groceries because they would definitely be closed for Christmas Day. What we didn't anticipate was everything being closed for a third consecutive day. We asked around to find out why shops were closed on December 26th. The reason? Observance of the national holiday called Boxing Day. What in the world is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a public holiday that is celebrated on December 26th. It is observed in Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Since the Cayman Islands are a British colony, they observe Boxing Day as well. When Boxing Day falls on a weekend, then the next Monday becomes Boxing Day. Originally the name Boxing Day was given because it was a day where the Christmas Box was a wooden or clay container where people placed gifts and on December 26th, the boxes were opened up and the contents were given to the poor. The original concept of Boxing Day was to share gifts with the less fortunate.

For example, a box would be placed in every church on Christmas Day allowing worshipers to place gifts for the poor. The gifts remained in the box until December 26th, at which point they were opened. Today, in some countries they treat Boxing Day as another opportunity for bargain shopping, much like the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. However, the Cayman Islands remain mostly shut down on December 26th, leaving gas stations and restaurants as your only options for food items, while waiting for the grocery stores to open up again on the 27th.

So next time you travel to the Cayman Islands around the holidays, remember that most grocery stores are closed on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December. Couple this with the facts that grocery stores are always closed on Sundays and you could be looking at several days without being able to buy groceries, especially if you were to arrive on Saturday, December 22nd for example. This is a helpful tip to keep in mind when planning a trip to Grand Cayman.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and is looking forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011.

 

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12/19/2010

Photography Opportunities Endless in Grand Cayman

When you leave for a trip to the Cayman Islands, there is one thing you don't want to forget, your camera! It doesn't matter if you are a photography pro or have never taken a picture before in your life. There are many memorable moments in Grand Cayman that you will want to capture on film. Every trip to Grand Cayman I come home with about 500 pictures--oh the joys of digital cameras. So what are the best photo opportunities in Grand Cayman? I'm here to tell you.

5. 7 Mile Beach: The pictures you can take up and down the beautiful and sandy 7 mile beach are incredible. The waves, lighting, and colors are never the same. There are portions of the beach that are very quiet (by our White Sands property) which makes for uninhabited pictures of a deserted  beach with no tourists in the shots. 

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4. Nature and Wildlife: Keep the camera handy at all times because you never know when you might come across an iguana, crab, exotic bird, or beautiful palm tree. While walking over to the swimming pool, it's not uncommon to come across a friendly iguana. While sleeping, it's not uncommon to hear a crab scratching against the wall outside. Have the camera ready for these moments because you'll want to have these pictures when you return home.

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3. Underwater: If you are fortunate to have an underwater camera, make sure to bring it. However, even if you don't, I highly suggest purchasing a disposable underwater camera. Even though the quality of pictures won't be nearly as high, you won't want to miss some of the things you will see while snorkeling. On any given snorkel trip you may see a sea turtle, nurse shark, moray eel, beautiful schools of fish, colorful coral, lobster, starfish, and more. The camera makes it great for when you get back and tell people that you saw a huge barracuda and they say "yea right." You can whip out the visual proof and that's a pretty cool feeling. 
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2. Stingray City: When you make the trip to Stingray City, your camera is a must. Whether you take pictures from the boat, or take a waterproof camera into the water, you won't want to miss the photo opportunities that exist while playing with these amazing creatures. The captain will allow for great photos while holding, petting, or feeding a stingray. It's also pretty cool to take a picture from the boat as the dozens of stingray flock to the boat as it anchors. They know they are about to get fed!
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1. Sunsets: It doesn't matter if there are clouds or not, every sunset deserves attention. The colors, clouds, and sunset are never the same. This is the number one photo opportunity in Grand Cayman. These pictures make great holiday cards, framed photos for your home, or great screen savers on your computer. If you get a perfect sunset with no clouds in front of the horizon, you might even be lucky enough to see the "infamous" green flash.
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So next time you head down to Grand Cayman, make sure to pack your camera and then click, click, click during your trip for some memorable, framable moments. If you come home with any pictures you'd like to share, please e-mail them to us at joe@cicondos.com and we will post them. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday week, wherever you may be.

 

12/12/2010

How to Pack for a trip to Grand Cayman

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There is not an easier destination to pack for than Grand Cayman. People often wonder what they need to bring, but it really is quite simple. First of all, the island is extremely laid back. There are no dress codes requiring long pants at restaurants. Beach attire, with cover-up or t-shirt, is acceptable at most stores. Sandals or flip-flops are appropriate everywhere.

It's to the point now where I am able to pack everything into a carry-on every time I go down. This blog will give you a quick checklist of things to make sure you have before you head to the airport.

  • Passport. The Cayman Islands are a British Colony and not part of the United States. You must have a passport to leave and enter the country.
  • Swimsuit. In all honesty, you could probably survive with the clothes you wore on the airplane and a swimsuit for a few days. If you check a bag, always throw a swimsuit and cover-up in your carry-on. At least then you can lay by the pool, in case you have to wait for lost bags. 
  • Dress shorts. A few pairs to wear to dinner. (Men)
  • Collared shirts. A few to wear to dinner. (Men)
  • Sun dresses. A few to wear to dinner. (Women)
  • T-Shirts and cover-ups
  • Sandals or flip-flops to wear to dinner or to the store
  • Workout attire. If you plan on working out, pack a pair of tennis shoes as there are several options to workout near the various condo complexes.
  • Ipod and reading material for relaxing on the beach or by the pool
  • Sunscreen!!! Whatever SPF you think you should wear, add about 15 to it. If you typically wear 15, take 30. The sun is intense, even on the cloudy days.
  • Sunglasses. If you forget these, you'll want to make a trip to one of the many sunglass shops in downtown Georgetown, where you can buy a nice duty free pair of your favorite brand.
  • Camera. There are numerous photo opportunities in Cayman, including sunsets, under water, and beach photos. Make sure you don't forget the charger!!
  • Money. There are ATMs on the island, and virtually everywhere accepts credit cards, so you don't need to bring a ton of cash. Bring enough cash for taxis and anywhere else you would rather use cash than a charge card. Don't forget the US Dollar is only worth 80 cents in Cayman. You are able to use US money at stores, but change is always given in Cayman money. For example, don't pay for a $5.00 purchase with $100 US bill or you will end up with a lot of Cayman change.
  • Snorkel gear. If you plan to do a lot of snorkeling you could bring your own, but it is included in any of the boat snorkel trips.
  • No Need for Beach Towels. All Cayman Condos properties are equipped with towels and hair dryers so save the room in your bag and take advantage of these amenities. (No electrical converters are required in the Cayman Islands for items such as hair dryers, as outlets are the same as the U.S.)
  • Cell phones. Unless you need it for work, leave the cell phones turned off after you land in Grand Cayman. Most carriers have extremely high rates for internet charges, text messaging, and talking. Be sure to check with your provider before going on vacation. No matter who your provider is, make certain your data roaming is turned off or you could be looking at thousands of dollars worth of charges. Most places have wi-fi on the island, which allows you to do the same things on your phone that data roaming would allow. If you want to call back to the states, phone cards can be purchased on the island. It is safer to purchase after you get to Cayman as some of them purchased in the United States don't work. Cayman Condos has prepaid phones available to rent, which is the cheapest way to call home frequently, while controlling what you are spending on phone calls. However, smart phones or lap tops with Wi-Fi capabilities are the best way to stay in touch with people back home.
  • Laptop. Many units have free wi-fi. Inquire about this before leaving for Cayman. There are also internet towers available for rent for the units that do not have internet yet. Having a laptop can be the cheapest and easiest way to keep in touch with people back in the states, via e-mail, facebook, or skype.

Once you've completed this check-list, print off your boarding pass and go to bed. When you wake up you'll be heading to paradise and you can rest easy that you didn't forget anything.

12/05/2010

Fishing in the Cayman Islands

For those of you that love to fish, the Cayman Islands offer some great fishing opportunities. The fishing in Cayman can be thrilling for both beginners and advanced fishermen. Much like people think of baseball as “America’s Pastime”, Caymanians think of fishing as their most popular sport. As a visitor to the island, you will have many different options for your special fishing experience. While every fishing charter company is slightly different, they all accomplish the same thing. The most popular fishing spots are in the North Sound off of Grand Cayman. There are two different types of fishing trips you can experience, reef fishing and deep sea fishing.

The only type of fishing I have ever done is reef fishing, simply because I don’t have the patience for deep-sea fishing. The nice thing about fishing along the reef is there are plenty of fish, which leads to a lot of action on the boat. There are many different types of fish you can catch in the shallow waters inside the reef. Some of these fish commonly include triggerfish, grunt fish, puffer fish, and red snapper. Reef fishing can be more exciting than deep sea fishing because fish are a lot more plentiful and you are certain to catch some fish. It is pretty neat to watch the locals use their extensive experience to outwit the fish.

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Trigger Fish

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Red Snapper

Another type of fishing is deep sea fishing, which is going “outside” the reef barrier and into the sea, where it drops from 10-20 feet to thousands of feet very quickly. Once outside the reef, it is not uncommon to catch wahoo, marlin, mahi mahi, and tuna. However, due to the depths of the water out here, it is a little more hit and miss. You could spend the entire day fishing and only catch a couple fish. However, catching a huge tuna could be pretty thrilling. It really is just a matter of preference.

Keep in mind that every time out could produce a different type of thrill. For example, while reef fishing one time, we were able to catch a 4 foot barracuda, which was quite the thrill. Most of the fish are good eating fish, including the barracuda. (An interesting note about the barracuda: In order to test if it is edible or poisonous, you place a chunk of it on the ground, if ants flock to it and eat it, it’s perfectly edible, if ants stay away from it, then you better stay away from it too.)

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Barracuda being reeled in

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Teeth of the barracuda

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That is some good eating fish

The best part about the boat charters is they will clean up the fish into nice boneless filets for you to take back to your condo to fry, bake, or grill your very own ‘catch of the day”.

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I’m not much of a fisherman back in the United States, but once in awhile I like to head out to the North Sound and see what we can catch. Nothing beats fishing in the hot sun of the Cayman Islands.