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3 posts from April 2011

04/24/2011

Barefoot Man

One of Grand Cayman's most notable people is known simply as "Barefoot". George Nowak and his band have been performing at various island sites for 25 years. Amazingly, he arrived on the island in 1971, when he showed up with his guitar and one bag. He was once quoted as saying, "Anywhere there's a coconut tree and sunshine, that's where you'll find me." He was coined the nickname Barefoot Man by the locals because he performed with no shoes on. Interestingly enough, that name has helped his popularity tremendously, as he noted, "Can you imagine anyone on the island saying, "Let's go see George Nowak?" 

The Barefoot Man performance features a reggae band that is based on comedic satires often about current events, including songs such as "Tiger in the Woods" and "OK OJ-Where Did You Leave Your DNA". The island sound of his music makes his songs very popular for tourists trying to get a flavor for the island culture. Some of his more popular songs are "You Jamacian Me Crazy", "Time Flies When You're Having Rum", "Son of a Beach", and "Hot, Hot, Hot.". The music often is provocative, funny, and always entertaining. 

Barefoot Man

You can find the Barefoot man on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Reef Resort on the East End. It's about a 40 minute drive from Seven Mile Beach so you would need a rental car to see him, but if you are looking for some evening entertainment, it would be a great way to spend a night. For samples of his music, you can find 83 songs by searching the itunes library or you can find several videos by searching "Barefoot Man" on YouTube. To find out more information about one of Grand Cayman's finest, visit his website:

Barefoot Man Website


04/17/2011

Cayman Islands Currency

Often in the Cayman Islands, first time visitors leave a restaurant or store thinking, "Did I just get ripped off?" Most likely, you did not get ripped off, but haven't quite figured out the Cayman Islands currency conversion rates. Caymanians are very honest people by nature so they are not inclined to intentionally trick tourists into paying more than they should. This quick history and summary of the Caymanian dollar should help you understand  the conversion rate so you don't have to worry on your trip.

The Cayman dollar is the 9th highest-valued currency unit in the world and the highest-valued dollar unit. It is denoted as CI$ to separate itself from other countries that use dollars as their currency. Surprisingly, the dollar was not introduced to the Cayman Islands until 1972, which is a relatively short time ago. At this time it replaced the Jamaican dollar and by 1974 the Cayman Islands dollar equalled 1.2 U.S. Dollars, and it has remained that way ever since. Much like the U.S. money system, Caymanian currency consists of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. The paper money system consists of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100. All paper money denotes an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The only way to distinguish the amounts are by color and the dollar amount printed in the corner (see image).

Cayman currency

The biggest thing to keep in mind when shopping or dining in Cayman is that everything is listed in CI$, which means you need to do the conversion to US Dollars in your head to keep track of how much you are spending. For example, if you go to the grocery store and you get $80 worth of food, that is in CI$, which means you will owe the clerk 80 CI$ or $100.00 U.S. This concept frustrates many visitors because they feel like they are getting ripped off. The same goes for dining out. If you have a meal that costs 130 CI$, it actually costs $161.15 U.S. Basically the best way to keep it straight is to always remember that $1.00 U.S. equals 0.80 CI$. 

Paying in Cayman is very visitor-friendly. They allow you to pay in CI, US, or with any major credit card. However, if paying in cash, they will always give you Caymanian change regardless of what type of money you give them. Keep this in mind when paying with U.S. money. For example, if you purchase a rum punch on the beach for 5.00 CI$, it is really $6.20 US. If you were to pay for that rum punch with a $10.00 U.S. bill, it's the equivalent of giving them 8.07 CI$. So they will give you back 3.07 CI$ as your change. It is a confusing concept at first, especially if you have never dealt with exchange rates before. As I said before, Caymanians are honest by nature and are not going to attempt to scam a tourist, but it is smart to be aware of this so you can do the quick math in your head and call them out if you think they've made a mistake. This link below has a quick convertor from US to CI or CI to US, which can be useful to get a feel for the conversion rate.

Quick Conversion

When traveling to Cayman, cash is typically needed for taxis, but for the most part every other purchase can be put on all major U.S. credit cards and there are also ATMs available throughout the island. Hopefully now you are ready for a great trip to the Cayman Islands with this quick money lesson. From the famous lyrics of The Barefoot Man, "Cent....5 cent.....10 cent....dollar." Who is the Barefoot Man? Sounds like a great blog post for next Sunday. Until then....

04/03/2011

Lazy Days are the Best Days

When visiting the Cayman Islands for the first time, it is not uncommon to cram so many things into a short trip that you forget to relax. While a snorkel trip to stingray city is a must and there are several other planned events that you can try, limit the amount of "planning" when you are there and simply relax and enjoy the surroundings. If you are there for 6 days, I would not recommend trying to squeeze in swimming with the dolphins, visiting the turtle farm, shopping downtown, a fishing trip, and a trip to rum point. Save some of them for your next visit. If you attempt to do all those things on a short trip, you will wonder where the trip went when it is time to head back home. I'd like to show you an example of one of my favorite days in the Cayman Islands.

6:36 AM: The sun rises and the waves crash into the shore waking me up without any alarm clock needed. Big decision--roll over and stay in bed or get up and start my day?

6:50 AM: I chose to get up. Next big decision of the day, walk over to the gym and get a workout in or go for a morning jog along the beach?

7:10 AM: I chose to jog along the beach. Wearing nothing but my swimsuit and a baseball cap, I begin my jog down 7 mile beach. The intensity of the sun is not too hot yet, but it still gets you sweating faster than a normal workout would. I jog for a few miles and jump into the ocean to cool off before beginning my jog back. A quick dip in the pool to rinse off the salt water and it's time for breakfast. Next big decision of the day, breakfast in the condo? Or walk across the street to Coconut Joe's?

8:45 AM: Mom made pancakes so there was no way I was turning that down. However, Coconut Joe's is within walking distance and does have a great breakfast menu. After scarfing down a quick breakfast in the condo, it's time to lather up in sunscreen and grab a book. James Patterson or Harlan Coben? Tough decisions in the Cayman Islands.

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9:16 AM: I head out to the beach and grab a lawn chair, face the sun, and begin reading. Life doesn't get much better. After reading for awhile and a few dips in the pool to cool down, I start getting hungry again. I never wear a watch in Cayman because there are no schedules, but my stomach tells me it must be approaching lunchtime. Eat at the Billy Bones Pool Bar? Grab a sandwich in the condo? 

12:03 PM: Lunch at Billy Bones it is. After I swim up to the barstool and decide to get a chicken quesadilla, she asks me if I'd like something to drink. Another tough decision. I think about ordering water or lemonade, but then someone sitting next to me says, "it's 5:00 somewhere." I settle for a mango daiquiri. (yes girly drink, I know). 

12:56 PM: Re-apply sunscreen and back to my book. Then someone asks me if I want to go snorkeling in front of the condos. Someone else says they are going for a walk down the beach. Geez, decisions!! Since I already went for a jog in the morning, I choose to snorkel.

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1:45 PM: After grabbing my mask, snorkel, and fins, we go out to the sandy beach to get ready to head out to the reef. We see many a barracuda, flounder, sea turtle, lobsters and many other small fish. After snorkeling, it's time to go back to the pool and rinse off. It's approaching Happy Hour. Next big decision, a beer or rum punch?

4:17 PM: 2 for 1 rum punch at Billy Bone's makes that decision an easy one. After enjoying a couple rum punches, it's time for Happy Hour on the porch of our condo. With cheese, crackers, and vegetables already cut up, the next decision of the day becomes, red wine or white wine?

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5:32 PM: I go with a nice glass of Pinot Gris. The sunset is gorgeous without a cloud in the sky creating many great photo opportunities. As the sun hits the horizon someone says, where do you want to go for dinner? Wow. The decisions in Grand Cayman never end.

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