20 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

11/13/2011

Pirates Week 2011 is Underway

Every November, the Cayman Islands have a celebration that turns the island upside down. It is the annual Pirates Week Festival. When the event kicked off on Thursday night, it was the 34th consecutive year that Grand Cayman celebrated Pirates Week. The event spans 11 fun packed days including music, parades, contests, fireworks and more. With an 11-day celebration, there is something for everyone of all ages. 

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Thursday saw the celebration kick off with a Pre-Pirates Week Happy Hour at Breezes by the Bay, a Miss Festival Queen Costume Contest, and a Pre-Pirates Week Kick off Party at the Wharf with a live band.

Friday included Happy  Hour at the Hard Rock Cafe, a 5K Run starting at Bayshore Mall, a Pirate Costume Contest, Fireworks at Harbour Drive, Pirates Week Song Contest, and a Street Dance and Food Festival on Harbour Drive that started at 9:00 and ran into the wee-hours of the morning.

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Saturday was the day for a 5K sea swim, a float parade, another street dance, and a Teen Disco.

Sunday kicked off with a Lion fish culling competition at the Public Beach, a Children's Fun Fair Day, an underwater treasure hunt in West Bay, a boat cruise, and a turtle release in Safehaven.

Monday is Bodden Town/Savannah Heritage Day. Tuesday is Georgetown Heritage Day. Wednesday is East End Heritage Day and also live music at Hard Rock. Thursday is West Bay Heritage Day. Friday is North Side Heritage Day, near Kaibo. 

Finally Saturday is a culmination of an excellent week with walking on water competition, paddle board race, cardboard boat race, snapper cook-off, trial of the pirates, and an extraordinary fireworks display. Saturday night ends with a Street Dance Finale and another teen disco.

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So whether you've never been to Pirate's Week or been there many times, you can see that there is plenty for everyone to do. It might be too late to get down to Pirates Week 2011, but it's not too late to start planning a trip to the 35th annual Pirates Week in November of 2012.

This blog posting was brought to you by Cayman Condos. For information on any of our blog postings or to inquire about booking a condo, please contact our office at 800-999-1388. Something you love about the blog? Something you hate? Something you want me to wrtie about? Let me know: joe@cicondos.com.

10/23/2011

10 Things I think I know about the Cayman Islands

In the last 31 years I have made countless trips to the Cayman Islands. Whether it is your first trip ever or a return trip for the 50th time, everyone can learn a little from someone else's experiences. During my lifetime, there have been numerous changes on the island. Restaurants have come and gone. Technology has gone from no phones or televisions to wi-fi, iphones, and cable television. But some things have remained consistent over the years. With that being said, here is a list of 10 things I think I know about the Cayman Islands.

10. The waters surrounding the Cayman Islands are clear, warm and lacking big waves/strong currents. This provides the Cayman Islands with a great swimming experience for visitors of all ages.

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9. The sunsets in the Cayman Islands are breathtaking, with no 2 sunsets ever looking alike. This provides a new photo opportunity and memory each and every night.

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8. The restaurants in the Cayman Islands provide the freshest seafood of anywhere in the world, often including fish so fresh it was caught earlier in the day. 

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7. The shopping in downtown Georgetown and newly built Camana Bay offers great deals on jewelry, sunglasses, watches, and more with tax-free and duty-free prices.

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6. The snorkeling in Grand Cayman provides the clearest waters and most colorful corals of anywhere in the world, not to mention the wide array of fish and animals, including Stingray City.

5. The people of the Cayman Islands are among the friendliest around. They are known for telling great stories to complete strangers and always willing to assist with directions or things to do.

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4. The drinks in the Cayman Islands are a great way to cool down  in the middle of the day for some day-time drinking. Try a Cayman Mama, Cayman Lemonade, Mudslide, or a simple Rum Punch.

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3. The beach in the Cayman Islands, known as 7 Mile Beach, is ranked as one of the top beaches world wide. As the name states, it extends for almost 7 miles of pristine beach.

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2. The weather in the Cayman Islands never disappoints. With temperatures consistently in the 80's and 90's, regardless of the time of year, you are almost certain to return home with a nice tan.

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1. The way of life in the Cayman Islands is care-free, which suits a person looking for a relaxing vacation well. As they answer everything in the Cayman Islands, "No Problem Mon."

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This blog posting was brought to you by Cayman Condos. For information on any of our blog postings or to inquire about booking a condo, please contact our office at 800-999-1388. Something you love about the blog? Something you hate? Something you want me to wrtie about? Let me know: joe@cicondos.com.

10/09/2011

Look Out! Where are you driving?

One of the first things people notice when they get off the plane and into a taxi in Grand Cayman is the fact that they drive on the left side of the road. This is due to the Cayman Islands being a British Territory. It can be quite alarming the first time you experience it. Once on a straight away, it doesn't seem too difficult, but look out for that first round about. Some driving and walking tips for the Cayman Islands:

1. When entering a round-about, always yield to the cars already inside the round about.

2. Be alert for drivers that don't understand the round-about

3. Yield to bikers and pedestrians. Caymanians are notorious for just bolting in front of traffic on foot. Bikers are notorious for riding their bikes along the curb, despite the narrow roads. Also, night time drivers must be very alert of bikers and walkers with no lights.

4. When walking on the streets of Cayman, and trying to cross the road, it is imperative that you look the opposite way than you do in America. With cars coming from your right, you must remember this when determining if it is safe to cross.

5. Be alert for crazy drivers. Be alert for speeding cars. Caymanians are notorious for being wild and eratic behind the wheel. Don't learn this after it is too late.

08/07/2011

Dining Option? Local Fish in Condo

While there are many great restaurants in Grand Cayman, some nights it might be more relaxing to just dine in at your condo. A few of the units are equipped with gas grills right on the patio. However, Treasure Island has grills for use by all guests over by the kiddie pool. A great way to sample the local flavor is to head downtown to the local fish market. 

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As you approach downtown Georgetown, you can't miss the big white tents set up on the shore line. Every day has a different variety of fish for you to purchase, including red snapper, wahoo, mahi mahi, or parrot fish, to name a few. 

There are several reasons why this is a great idea. First, the fish is as fresh as you can find on the island because it is literally caught that morning. (Get there before noon so you get the freshest fish). Secondly, it is a cheap alternative to dining out or buying fish in the grocery story. Finally, they clean the fish for you right there  and remove all the bones so you have a tasty boneless filet to take back to your condo.

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There are numerous different ways to prepare the fish. It comes down to personal preference. You can fry it, broil it, grill it, or bake it. No matter what your favorite style is, you can rest assured, it will be the freshest fish you've ever eaten.

*This blog posting is brought to you by Cayman Condos. To request more information regarding our condos, please visit www.cicondos.com or call 800-999-1338.

 

07/03/2011

Cayman Islands Turtle Farm

It is pretty fitting that the turtle is the Cayman Islands logo seen prominently around the island, while the biggest attraction is the turtle farm. When Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands back in 1503, he actually named them Las Tortugas after all the large sea turtles he saw there. When making your next visit to Grand Cayman, make sure you take a visit to West Bay to check out the island's most popular attraction. The turtle farm is a must-see attraction for anyone that has never done it and is especially popular for small children. 

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Some of these amazing green sea turtles weigh over 600 pounds, so it would be pretty cool to see them. However, at the turtle farm you can actually jump in and swim with them. This swimming lagoon is filled with coral, sunken treasures, and even an island with peacocks and iguanas.

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There is also a predator tank, complete with sharks and a barracuda. This is simply a viewing tank, but still a pretty neat experience. 

There are also touch tanks where various sized turtles swim and play, where you are able to touch, hold, and even take amazing photos.

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The turtle farm is complete with a restaurant and souvenir shop for a complete day of fun. It can be a little bit pricy, but is probably worth checking out if you have never been. For more information on how to find the turtle farm or to book a tour, you can visit their website

For all you turtle lovers out there, this is a pretty amazing experience. I highly recommend a visit on your next trip to Cayman.

05/15/2011

Batabano Festival

If you ever make it down to Grand Cayman during early May, you might want to check out the Batabano Festival. In 1983 the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman launched a festival, which is a salute to Cayman's turtling heritage. The word batabano actually refers to the tracks in the sand by sea turtles as they crawl onto the beach to nest. The legend says that finding these tracks is a reason to celebrate. 

This carnival is a celebration unlike any other seen on the island. It includes a wide range of music, dance and pageantry, all while showing off colorful and extravagant costumes.

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While on the island last week, I took in the parade on May 7th. I was blown away by what I saw. People lined the streets for miles from Camana Bay all the way through downtown Georgetown. The parade included hundreds of wild masqueraders dancing for the crowd along West Bay Road. The music was loud! The costumes were scandalous! The actions were not suitable for children. This was a parade unlike any I had ever seen before. 

The parade started promptly at 3:00 PM (ok ok....who are we kidding? This is Cayman time-it was more like 3:09) and included stilt walkers, extravagant costumes, and people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to flaunt their bodies and throw away their worries for an hour. 

CLICK HERE FOR: Batabano Parade Video #1

CLICK HERE FOR: Batabano Parade Video #2

If you happen to be on the island during this festival, I recommend checking out the parade, but you better hide the children. If they want to take part, there is a children's parade one week later to conclude Batabano that would be more suitable for their eyes. 

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).

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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....

01/02/2011

Seven Mile Beach

One of my favorite things to do in Grand Cayman is walk along 7 Mile Beach. Whether going for an early morning run or going for an afternoon walk, the beauty of the beach is evident. Located along the western shore of Grand Cayman, this sandy beach runs for 5.5 miles, despite the world-known name of 7 Mile Beach. Due to it’s pristine beauty, this beach recently received the Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine’s award for “The Caribbean’s Best Beach.”

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The beach begins just north of the capital city of Georgetown, which is the shopping district of Cayman, and extends all the way to the West Bay district, which is the home of the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm. In between you will find miles of beautiful sandy beaches that are open to the public. It is possible to walk the full length of the beach past many hotels, villas, restaurants, and bars.

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A great spot to stop and grab lunch or a drink is The Royal Palms, a great outside beach bar, which is centrally located in the heart of 7 Mile Beach. (The Royal Palms also offers live music at night on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.) There are also several great snorkeling spots along 7 mile beach, thanks to both natural and artificial reefs. Treasure Island Condominiums offers some of the best snorkeling with a natural reef just in front of their $750,000 beach renovation (see photo below). There are several other spots with great snorkeling, including an artificial reef in front of the Marriott and a natural reef in front of the Governor’s residence. Further to the North there is another great snorkel spot just to the north of the Seven Mile Public Beach.

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While the entire beach is public and can be walked on freely, many of the homes and resorts are private property, which means you can’t use their chairs, towels, and pools. However, you are able to use the beach and ocean along the entire beach. In addition, several resorts offer restaurants and beach bars that are open to the public. The Cayman Islands government does allow grilling on the beach, but does not allow loud music or nudity.

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When you visit the Cayman Islands, enjoy the beach to the fullest. Go for a morning jog, walk to a hot snorkel spot, or spend hours floating in the warm Caribbean Sea. The nice thing about the Cayman Islands, compared to somewhere like Hawaii, is the lack of big waves. This calm shore allows for children and even babies to enjoy the water, without fear of big waves. Remember, though, you will want to wear plenty of sunscreen as the sun beats off the white sand and turquoise water to cause intense sun exposure, even on cloudy days. Also, don’t forget to take some cash or a credit card because you never know when you might want to stop for a rum punch. Remember, in Cayman, it’s always 5:00 somewhere!

Wishing everyone a safe, prosperous and Happy 2011!!

 

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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11/14/2010

Treasure Island Beach Restoration Project

When you think of the Cayman Islands, you think of a pristine beach that goes on for miles, hence the name 7 Mile Beach. For owners and guests at the beautiful Treasure Island Condominiums, that hasn’t been the case. Over the years, the great snorkel reef and beautiful coral located in front of Treasure Island have offset a less than desirable beach. However, many guests return from a stay at Treasure Island with rave reviews of their trip, the island, and their condo, but often suggest a nicer beach. Well, the owners have listened and an almost $700,000 beach renovation project was completed last week, with a special ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday to introduce the new and improved beach.

 

When the Treasure Island property was built more than 30 years ago, the developers dug out the iron shore in an attempt to make a swimming area. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, over the years the lack of iron shore has eliminated the natural protection against beach erosion. The 2 groynes made out of large rocks contained an opening to the sea in the middle (see picture), which allowed for the large waves to hit the beach and pull the sand out to sea. Year by year, the condo owners have tried to replace the lost sand, but this was becoming too costly.

Cove without overlap

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*It's clear the groynes had deteriorated over the years.

For 30 years I’ve been traveling to Treasure Island and have often wondered why the beach was so much nicer at other properties. Many of our guests have had the same thought. Owners have been throwing around the idea of trying to fix the beach and doing something different with the groynes for almost 20 years. So this decision to make the financial commitment to providing guests with a beach that visitors of the Cayman Islands deserve, makes this 2010 beach restoration project a landmark year for the Treasure Island Complex and Cayman Condos as a whole.

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*Notice the rocky beach to the left. With the completion of the project, this will no longer exist as it will be a sandy beach with a beautiful swimming cove.

 

In the summer of 2009, they began the initial stages of the project when they called on Dr. Sorenson, a renowned beach restoration project consultant in the Caribbean. After his research and guidance, a permit was applied for from the Department of Environment. This project was looked on very favorably by the DOE because of the extensive shoreline erosion. In May of this year, a permit was issued. The plan was to re-create the groynes with rocks that were to be shaped in local quarries. However, this time the groynes would overlap in the middle, preventing large waves from coming into the newly created swimming cove. While they will overlap, they will not actually connect in the middle, which allows access from the swimming cove to the snorkel reef (see picture).

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They began the shaping of the large rocks in May and moved onto the Treasure Island property in August. After the shaping of the rocks and creation of the groynes was complete, the final step was to add 1000 cubic yards of fresh new sand to the beach. By coupling this beautiful new beach with the snorkeling reef directly in front of the property, Treasure Island has now become one of the most desirable beach properties on beautiful Seven Mile Beach.

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With the extensive research that went into this project, it is expected to last for many years. So whenever you return to the Cayman Islands, this new sandy beach will be in tact for you and your family to enjoy. It is something we can all look forward to on our next visit to Cayman. After all, this is the Cayman Islands. No shirt. No Shoes. No Problem. And now, No Rocks on your beach at Treasure Island!