12 posts categorized "History"

07/31/2016

The History and Evolution of the Cayman Islands

When I began going to the Cayman Islands more than 35 years ago, it wasn’t quite what it is today. Sure it had beautiful blue sky, turquoise ocean, and pristine sand.

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None of that has changed. However, the island has changed a lot. 35 years ago, you could walk miles down 7 mile beach before you saw another person. If you wanted meat? You brought your own. If you wanted to make a phone call? You searched high and dry for a pay phone. If you wanted to watch TV? Yeah, right. Needless to say, things have changed. 

Believe it or not, Christopher Columbus founded Grand Cayman back in 1503 during a voyage to the "new world." Due to the abundant amount of sea turtles, he coined the term Las Tortugas for the name of the islands. The turtle remains a face of the island to this day.

Despite Columbus’ findings, the Islands remained uninhabited until the 17th century. The first people to settle on the island were pirates, shipwrecked sailors, and slaves. Finally, in the 1730’s, Great Britain took control of the Cayman Islands. The first census taken in 1802 showed a population of 933 people on Grand Cayman, 545 of which were slaves. 

This British colony is located about 400 miles south of Miami, 180 miles south of Cuba, and 195 miles northwest of Jamaica.

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Due to its close proximity to the islands, Jamaica became a key country to the Cayman Islands’ development. Initially, the Cayman Islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica. However, they became an independent colony in 1959 and are now a self-governing British territory. Several Jamaicans make the Cayman Islands their home today.

Cayman has become a very wealthy island that continues to advance and become more modernized. It has been amazing to see the transformation in the last 35 years from a very uninhabited island with little development to the island we know today. Now the island is equipped with several supermarkets, cell phones, cable TV, fitness centers and even wi-fi internet connections. As people continue to visit this beautiful island, they will continue to see changes, but perhaps none as drastic as the island has seen in the past 35 years. 

08/04/2013

The History and Evolution of Grand Cayman

When I began going to the Cayman Islands 30 years ago, it wasn’t quite what it is today. Sure it had beautiful blue sky, turquoise ocean, and pristine sand. 

None of that has changed. However, the island has changed a lot. 30 years ago, you could walk miles down 7 mile beach before you saw another person.

Beach pic

If you wanted meat? You brought your own. If you wanted to make a phone call? You searched high and dry for a pay phone. If you wanted to watch TV? Yeah, right. Needless to say, things have changed. 

Believe it or not, Christopher Columbus founded Grand Cayman back in 1503 during a voyage to the "new world." Due to the abundant amount of sea turtles, he coined the term Las Tortugas for the name of the islands. The turtle remains a face of the island to this day.

Despite Columbus’ findings, the Islands remained uninhabited until the 17th century. The first people to settle on the island were pirates, shipwrecked sailors, and slaves. Finally, in the 1730’s, Great Britain took control of the Cayman Islands. The first census taken in 1802 showed a population of 933 people on Grand Cayman, 545 of which were slaves. 

This British colony is located about 400 miles south of Miami, 180 miles south of Cuba, and 195 miles northwest of Jamaica.

Due to its close proximity to the islands, Jamaica became a key country to the Cayman Islands’ development. Initially, the Cayman Islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica. However, they became an independent colony in 1959 and are now a self-governing British territory. Several Jamaicans make the Cayman Islands their home today.

Cayman has become a very wealthy island that continues to advance and become more modernized. It has been amazing to see the transformation in the last 30 years from a very uninhabited island with little development to the island we know today. Now the island is equipped with several supermarkets, cell phones, cable TV, fitness centers and even wi-fi internet connections. As people continue to visit this beautiful island, they will continue to see changes, but perhaps none as drastic as the island has seen in the past 30 years. 

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 write about? Let me know: joe@cicondos.com.

11/06/2011

Halloween: Cayman Style

Ever wonder if the Cayman Islands celebrate Halloween? That question can be answered with a resounding YES! Treasure Island's Monster Bash Halloween Party is a celebration unlike any other. Thousands of people gathered together last Saturday night for a Halloween celebration complete with drinks, music, dancing, and oh yes...costumes. 

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Starting at 7:00, Treasure Island's lobby is the only place to be for the biggest Halloween costume party on the island. With several prize packs sponsored by Tortuga Rum and free flights on Cayman Airways presented to the best male and female costumes, this party has it all.

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The event is sponsored by Grand Cayman's flagship radio station, Z99, which provides the music for the night. There are even drink specials, such as 2-for-1 Jager shots. If you happen to be on the island over Halloween, I highly recommend checking out the lobby of Treasure Island for the biggest, baddest, Halloween bash around. 

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However, the party didn't stop there. Friday night there was another great party at Karma, a recently opened sushi restaurant and bar, located in West Shore Plaza. This event was also complete with a costume contest, DJ, and dancing on the bar floor.

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Finally, on Monday (the actually date of Halloween), there was another party at Elements, a night club located near Foster's on Seven Mile Beach. So clearly, the spooks, ghosts, and goblins that are prevelant in the United States are just as common in Grand Cayman. The island is full of Halloween tricks and plenty of treats so don't hesitate to book a fun trip next year over the Halloween holiday. 

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.

10/30/2011

So where exactly is Grand Cayman?

Amazingly, Grand Cayman is only 22 miles long and 7 miles wide (at the widest point), which makes it seem like you are isolated in a small speck of tropical paradise.

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However, people rarely take the time before visiting to look and see where they are actually going to be. Have you ever been relaxing in the ocean in the Cayman Islands and said, "Wow! I'm so comfortable, I'm going to just float to Cuba?" If you were to float uninterrupted from Grand Cayman, where exactly WOULD you end up? Would it be Cuba? Well that depends on which side of the island you are floating. Let's take a look!!

Caribbean map

  •  If you are floating along Seven Mile Beach in front of your condo and floated directly West, the first land you would hit, if you floated in a straight line for 378 miles, is somewhere between Cozumel, Mexico and Belize.
  • If you are floating in the North Sound or at Rum Point, and floated directly North, you would run directly into Cuba after floating for 150 miles.

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  • If you are floating on the East End, and floated directly East, you'd be headed straight towards Haiti, which is 578 miles away.
  • Finally, if you are floating on the South Side of the island near Boddentown or Breakers, and floated directly South, the first land you would hit would be Panama in Central America, which is 724 miles away.

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While I wouldn't recommend trying to float the hundreds of miles of Caribbean Seat that separate the Cayman Islands from these various locations, it gives you some perspective of just where exactly you are when you are relaxing in paradise.

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.

06/26/2011

No Shirt. No Shoes. No Problem.

When trying to get away for a vacation, there is no better spot than Grand Cayman. The Cayman Islands have a very laid back personality that meshes well with a vacationer trying to get away from the stresses of every day work. When visiting the Cayman Islands, I don't even bring a watch because time really doesn't matter. A common slogan at many places in Cayman is "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem." This plays into the laid back feeling of the island. 

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Often times when you ask a local for help or order food at a restaurant, the response you get is "no problem, Mon!" Meetings, reservations, and even store hours are approximate times, but it is very standard to be 15, 20, even 45 minutes late because you are on "Cayman Time."

The island has a very laid back philosophy and personality, which allows travelers to completely unwind and relax. The feeling is contagious as soon as you walk off the plane, you can sense that your vacation is going to be full of stress-free relaxation. 

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A common song that is played in the Cayman Islands is the famous Bob Marley song that goes like this, "Don't worry...About a thing...Cuz every little thing...is gonna be alright." These lyrics are so accurate when describing the Cayman Islands. 

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If you are looking for a place where you can unwind, relax, and enjoy your vacation--there is no better place to visit than Grand 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).

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....

01/23/2011

What exactly is Marinated Conch?

For years, people in the Cayman Islands have been eating marinated conch. You see it on virtually every menu as an appetizer. But what exactly is this sea creature? How is it prepared? Where do you find it? 

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The Queen Conch is a large marine-living mollusk. It is a soft-body animal with a hard shell as protection. They achieve full size at about 3-5 years old, with a maximum size being about 12 inches long. They live in the sandy region near reef habitats. They start in shallow water, but then move to deeper water until it is time to lay eggs at what time they return to shallow water. They are able to move around by use of their foot, which ends in a pointed shape. This allows them to move in a leaping motion along the sea floor.

How does this relate to your trip to the Cayman Islands? When you head out on a snorkel trip, they almost all involve a stop to dive for conch. These beautiful shells are often hard to find because the bright pink side is face down and the top is often the same color as the sand and covered in algae. Once your group finds about 5 of them, the captain begins the process of marinating them for a tasty appetizer. Yes--I said marinating. Not cooking. Did I forget to mention that marinated conch is not cooked. It is perfectly healthy to eat the firm conch meat raw.

Click here for great video: Captain Gleason cleans conch meat

At this point, the captain takes a screw driver to disconnect the conch from its' shell. After disconnecting it, then it slides right out of the shell and is ready to be cleaned. (see video above). The best piece of meat to eat is the firm white meat that gets sliced into fine pieces and marinated. They say the conch is marinated in a "secret-recipe", but it seems to be a little lime juice and pick-a-peppa sauce. It is served with saltines for a real Caribbean Treat.

The only thing to keep in mind is that there is now a conch season because it is on the endangered species list. They are only able to catch and serve conch from November 1st to April 30th. So if you want to experience the marinated conch experience when you are on your snorkel trip, make sure you go down during the right time of year. It is truly a delicacy that everyone should try.

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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