6 posts categorized "Stingrays"

02/03/2013

The ABCs of Grand Cayman

I did a similar posting a couple years ago, but I thought it was time to refresh my list! Enjoy!

A: Atlantis-Take an under-water tour on the Atlantis Submarine. To spice it up a little bit, try the night trip.

B: Billy Bones-Visit the swim-up pool bar at Sunset Cove. With barside seating (out of the water) and barstool seating (in the water), they have all your favorite island drinks and a delicious food menu.

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C: Camana Bay-Spanning 500 acres from Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound, there is something for everyone in this new village. Check out the shops, restaurants, movie theater and more.

D: Dog House-A popular destination for those die-hard sports fans wondering how they are going to see their favorite NFL team play on Sunday. This sports bar has all the games. Located in Red Bay, just East of downtown George Town.

E: East End: If you have a car, take a drive to the East End. It will give you a great view of the non-touristy part of Grand Cayman. You'll see a lot of locals, homes, schools and more as you make the scenic drive along the coast. On the way home, stop at the Lighthouse Restaurant for a great lunch.

F: Fidel Murphy's: This Irish Pub is located right next door to Sunset Cove and provides great food and drinks for a reasonable price.

G: George Town: Head to the heart of downtown Grand Cayman for some duty-free shopping. However, check out the cruise ship schedule and try to time your visit downtown on a day with no cruise ships.

H: Happy Hour: Enjoy Happy Hour on the patio of your condo with your favorite beverage (wine for me) and snacks as you watch the beautiful Cayman sunset.

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I: Island Time: Rembmer that everyone in Grand Cayman operates on "Island Time". 9:00 means 9:20. There is no such thing as a quick meal. And sometimes you'll go to a shop in the middle of the day and there will be a sign that says "Be Back Soon" on the door. Don't worry about it. No problem, mon. You're on vacation.

J: Jolly Roger: Enjoy a sunset cruise on an old pirate ship, with all you can drink rum punch. Warning: These pirates go light on the juice.

K: Karma: Cayman's new sushi bar offers a great dining experience, complete with their specialty dessert-liquid nitrogen ice cream, prepared at your table from scratch.

L: Lazy: It's OK to be lazy in Cayman. It's your time to relax. Read a book. Lay in the sun. Cool down in the pool or ocean. Repeat.

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M: Morgan's Harbour. Visit West Bay and make a stop at Morgan's Harbour for a great dining experience at Calypso Grill with waterfront seating.

N: Nature: Enjoy all the beutiful things nature has to offer on one island. Flowers. Palm trees. Plants. Animals. Fish. Sunsets. Moonlight. 

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O: Ocean Swimming Cove: The newly created cove at Sunset Cove allows for swimming in the ocean perfect for kids as the cove keeps the water warm and protects against the big waves. Grab a drink and a raft and spend a few hours in the cove.

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P: Positano: Casanova's is the Island's best restaurant and my favorite dish is the Spaghettini Positano. The atmosphere, wait staff, wine and food are second to none at this island treasure. Stop in and visit Tony, Gianni, Antonio and the rest of the guys for a night you won't soon forget.

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Q: Quick: The vacation to Grand Cayman always goes too quick. Enjoy every moment because it truly is paradise.

R: Rum Point--Home of the Original Mudslide, Rum Point is a must-visit. If you can find a boat or jet ski tour to take you there, that is best because you don't have to worry about driving home after your Mudslides.

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S: Stingray City--One of the more unique places in the world, Stingray City offers the opportunity to swim with, pet, and feed these amazing animals. You might even score with a stingray back massage. 

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T: Turtle Farm--The Cayman Island's Turtle Farm is a great spot for children to visit where then can pet, hold, and learn all about turtles.

U: UV Rays--No matter how much sun you are used to or how much you tanned before you visited, lots of sunscreen is going to be needed. The Cayman Islands are located on the equator and combined with the reflection of the sun off the pool and ocean, the perfect receipe for sunburn.

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V: Video Camera: Take a video camera because there are sure to be moments you will want to remember forever.

W: Watersports--Take a walk down 7 Mile Beach and visit any of the Watersports stands. Jetski. Parasail. Kayak. Banana Boat Rides. They have it all for you or your family to enjoy.

X: XoXo: Weddings. Honeymoons. Anniversaries. There is no more romantic place than Grand Cayman in the world.

Y: Year-round: Grand Cayman is a year-round destination. There is never a bad time to visit Cayman. Whether in the hot summer months, or the warm winter months, the Cayman Islands are always comfortable and the water is always warm.

Z: Zoo: The Grand Cayman waters offer your very own under-water zoo full of animals and fish.

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

 

 

12/27/2012

Stingray City: As told by a Stingray.......

The following post is told by a stingray that resides at Stingray City in the North Sound of Grand Cayman. 

Hey humans! I am the longest living stingray in the North Sound. My name is Frank. That's right. Frank the stingray. Pretty clever, huh? I'm here to tell you how Stingray City was created and what we think of it. I hope you enjoy my story and maybe someday you'll even come visit us. I mean..I won't be around much longer, but the rest of my friends and family will be.

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We make our home in the North Sound of Grand Cayman, in the Caribbean Sea between West Bay and Rum Point. The shallow waters just south of the long reef are where we spend most of our time. It's kind of funny how we came to make this our home. 

A few decades ago, we noticed fishermen would return from their fishing trips in the deep sea and park their boats right in the same area to clean all the fish. It became very easy for us to eat because this occurred daily. The fishermen had to make a living so they'd fish every morning. We began to recognize the sound of the motors and knew the fish guts were coming. You wouldn't believe how delicious the scraps of fish that you guys throw away are. What a waste! Oh well, your misfortune is our survival. 

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Snorkel tours used to come by this area because of the beautiful reef and coral gardens nearby. Ironically, they used to blow a horn to notify their guests to get back on the boat when they spotted one of us. Now they market us and make money off us. Do we get a cut of that cash? Nope. All we get is an occasional squid fed to us. Sometimes it sucks to be a stingray!

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Once the locals realized we are completely  harmless, they began swimming with us, petting us, feeding us, and we kind of loved the attention. It has been going on this way for over 20 years. A marriage made in stingray heaven. 

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Every day. 365 days a year. Like clockwork. From about 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM, we have constant activity. Boats and boats full of people come to visit. It's funny because we are so excited to see you people, but we often hear screams, tears, and terror. I guess we take some time to warm up to. 

The waters are only waist deep so you don't even need a mask and snorkel if you don't want to. Oh and please, whatever you do, don't wear your big fins, or whatever you call them. It never fails that you step on us and those fins hurt! We pose for photos all day long. We give back massages. In exchange, you feed us squid and fish guts. It's a win-win for all of us. 

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I know our name scares some of you, but just beause we are called stingrays, it doesn't mean we sting. We don't really have a stinger, but rather a barb on our back. We never actively attack humans, but please don't step on the barb because that's our defense mechanism. 

There are dozens of boat tours that you can book to come visit us when you come to Grand Cayman. We look forward to meeting all of you and always welcome return visitors. After all, Stingray City is probably the coolest thing in Grand Cayman, so don't miss out!

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Well, that's all the time I have for blogging today. I hear the boat engines approaching, and I'm getting hungry. Until next time.............signing off.

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.

 

03/11/2012

North Sound Wave Runner Tours

    There is no better place for relaxation than Cayman, but if you’re looking for a little adventure, there is plenty of that available as well.  Taking a wave runner tour is one of the most exciting and liberating ways to explore the North Sound.  Fat Fish Adventures offers a fun and thorough tour with an excellent mix of riding the waves, and seeing the various sights that make the North Sound in Grand Cayman so special.
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    Fat Fish does a fantastic tour from start to finish.  They will pick you up right at your condo and take you to the jet-ski launch.  While they offer the option to ride double or triple, I recommend getting your own wave runner.  This allows you to go as fast (or as slow) as you want and makes it easier to ride the waves when it gets bumpy.  Fat Fish provides you with life jackets, snorkel gear, and an excellent and knowledgeable guide, Richard.  After a quick run through of the rules and regulations, you are off – full speed - trying to keep up with your energetic guide. 
    First stop on the tour is Starfish Beach.  The deserted shores are beautiful, and the knee-deep water attracts plenty of starfish.  Be sure to bring your camera – Richard creates some excellent photo-ops of you holding the starfish. 
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    After leaving the beach, it is a quick trip to Stingray City Sandbar.  The smaller group of a jet-ski tour gives you plenty of one-on-one time with your guide to learn about these amazing creatures.  You have the opportunity to hold them, feed them, and give Stingray kisses for good luck.  Once everyone has had their stingray fun, you will head off to a coral reef for some snorkeling.
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    One of the best parts of this snorkel experience is having Richard right there in the water with you.  He points out things you may never see on your own, and as an experienced lobster catcher, he often grabs one for you to see up close.  At this reef, you may also see barracuda, nurse sharks, and eels, along with all sorts of colorful and interesting fish. 
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    At this point, you will have worked up quite an appetite which is perfect since the last stop is at Rum Point for lunch – and of course their famous mudslides.  Rum Point has some of the best food on the island, and after a long morning of North Sound adventures, you will be ready for it! 
    After lunch, it’s time to head in.  It’s a long trip back, but those of you looking for some adventure will love hitting the waves and attempting to keep up with Richard, who is always full speed ahead.  I recommend wearing sunglasses (with a strap) because you will get splashed, and be prepared for a bumpy - but extremely enjoyable - ride. 
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    The Fat Fish wave runner tour is one of the best tours I have done in Cayman, and quite possibly one of the easiest ways to see many North Sound attractions in a short amount of time.  They pack a lot into the trip but it’s a fun day out on the water that I would recommend to anyone. 
 
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.
 

09/17/2011

Cayman Islands from A to Z

For a little fun this week, I decided to go a different route. Enjoy!

A: Appleton Rum--The local rum is much cheaper than the imported rums such as Captain Morgan. By the end of your trip you won't even know the difference.

B: Beach--7 Mile Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Whether you are walking, jogging, swimming, snorkeling, wading, or relaxing, 7 Mile Beach is for people of all ages.

C: Casanova's By The Sea--There isn't a better restaurant on the entire island than Casanova's. This authentic Italian restaurant overlooks the ocean and the service is what sets this restaurant apart from any other restaurant in the world.

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D: Diving--Cayman has been known to have some of the best diving in the world. If you have never gotten certified, there are half-day certification classes offered at several places on the island. 

E: Eel--A morray eel is among the many exciting sea creatures you can see on a snorkel trip to the North Sound, including lobsters, sea turtles, nurse sharks, and barracuda to name a few.

F: Food--The Cayman Islands offer some of the best seafood in the world. It is always caught fresh and every restaurant has their own unique preparation, including the always popular "Cayman Style."

G: Georgetown--Downtown Georgetown offers the island's best shopping. From jewelry, sunglasses, watches to souveniers and t-shirts, you will find it all in Georgetown. You'll even be able to find discounts and deals due to everything being duty free and tax free.

H: Hell--Yes there is a city on Grand Cayman called Hell. You can visit for photos, and even have a postcard sent back home from the "Hell" Post Office with an official postage stamp. 

I: Iguanas--Don't be frightened by the large iguanas that sometimes hang around the pool area. They are very friendly and offer great photo opportunities.

J: Jolly Roger: This sunset cruise on an old pirate ship offers a great opportunity to sip on some rum punch while watching the sun hit the horizon. They also offer a day time lunch cruise, geared towards children, complete with walking the plank, like the old pirates.

K: Kirk's--This supermarket is centrally located near 7 Mile Beach for you to stock up on groceries for your stay.

L: Lobster Pot--Another popular Cayman Restuarant that over looks the ocean and offers some of the best lobster dishes you will ever find.

M: Moon--When the full moon reflects off the ocean at night, there isn't a more romantic moment.

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N: North Sound--This is the area between the two points of the North side of the island, where all the snorkel trips visit. The snorkel reef at the North Sound is second to none with the beautiful corrals and colorful fish.

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O: Ocean--The Cayman Islands waters offer great clarity for snorkeling and optimum temperatures for swimming or wading all day. They also are safe for children because the Cayman Islands have no current or high waves.

P: People--Caymanians are some of the friendliest people in all the world. They are always willing to help and are quite entertaining to talk to with all their stories. You will also see Jamaicans on the island who make their way over from the nearby island.

Q: Quiet--Grand Cayman is not a place to go if you are looking for a lot of noise and night life. It is a very quiet, relaxing island, whicn is perfect for a vacation. 

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R: Rum Point--Home of the Original Mudslide, Rum Point is a must-visit place. It's a good 45 minute drive from Georgetown, but offers an opportunity to see the native land and you are rewarded with a mudslide when you get there. This quiet beach offers a nice swimming area as well.

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S: Stingray City--One of the more unique places in the world, Stingray City offers the opportunity to swim with, pet, and feed these amazing animals. If you have the right captain, you might even be able to get a stingray back massage. 

T: Turtle Farm--The Cayman Island's Turtle Farm is a great spot for children to visit where then can pet, hold, and learn all about turtles.

U: UV Rays--No matter how much sun you are used to or how much you tanned before you visited, lots of sunscreen is going to be needed. The Cayman Islands are located on the equator and combined with the reflection of the sun off the pool and ocean, the perfect receipe for sunburn.

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V: Vacation--There is no better vacation spot in my mind than Grand Cayman. It combines sunshine, water, drinks, great food, relaxation, and beautiful sunsets all into one amazing visit.

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W: Watersports--Take a walk down 7 Mile Beach and visit any of the Watersports stands. Jetski. Parasail. Kayak. Banana Boat Rides. They have it all for you or your family to enjoy.

X: XoXo: Weddings. Honeymoons. Anniversaries. There is no more romantic place than Grand Cayman in the world.

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Y: Year-round: Grand Cayman is a year-round destination. There is never a bad time to visit Cayman. Whether in the hot summer months, or the warm winter months, the Cayman Islands are always comfortable and the water is always warm.

Z: Zoo: The Grand Cayman waters offer your very own under-water zoo full of animals and fish.

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So there you have it--a quick A to Z guide of the Cayman Islands. Enjoy your next visit!

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.

 

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.

 

11/28/2010

Snorkel and Stingray City Trip

No matter whom I take to the Cayman Islands, the day trip on the Sea Fire always becomes the highlight of their trip. It never fails to be an exciting snorkel and Stingray City trip to the North Sound with Captain Gleason Ebanks and first-mate Kerry Ebanks. We often use the term “old man at the sea” to describe Gleason, but when you have been taking the same boat out for snorkel trips since 1956, it’s definitely accurate. Both Gleason and Kerry have seen it all and offer great knowledge and expertise pertaining to marine life, weather, and Grand Cayman in general. Although each trip is a little bit different, I want to take you on a typical trip on the Sea Fire. 

 7:32 AM: Alarm goes off. (Deep sigh) You wonder why you had that extra rum punch the night before and drank that rum liquor shot after dinner.

 7:42 AM: Alarm goes off again. You wonder why you scheduled a stupid boat trip while you are on vacation and why it has to be so early in the morning.

 7:45 AM: Throw together a bag for the trip including a hat, sunglasses, lots of sunscreen, and an iPod. Also throw together some food for the trip, including chips, peanuts, and cookies. Most importantly, pack the drinks for the trip, including lots of water, wine, beer, and of course rum.

 8:30 AM: Get picked up in a van by Kirk Ebanks. He helps load up all snorkel gear, towels, food, and drinks in his 15-passenger van. It is a quick 10-minute drive from Treasure Island to Safe Haven where the Sea Fire is docked.

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***Notice the changes in the Sea Fire over the years.

 8:45 AM: Greeted at the Sea Fire by Gleason and Kerry. Start to load everything onto the boat and again wonder why you had that extra drink the night before. This is when I apply lots of sunscreen. You will get a lot of sun, even on cloudy days. Head to the 2nd level of the Sea Fire to enjoy the 45 minute boat ride out to the North Sound where the first stop is Stingray City.

 9:30 AM: As we anchor, the stingrays already begin to flock towards the boat.

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Once we are all settled in, Gleason reminds us that we do not need to wear fins at Stingray City as it is a sand bar that is no more than 4 feet deep. We still take our mask and snorkel so we can see these amazing creatures as they swim all around us. Kerry accompanies us in the water so he can hold the stingrays allowing us to hold, pet, feed and take photos with the stingrays.

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He even has them trained to give back massages and it feels pretty amazing. The texture of stingrays is really indescribable until you do it.

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While, this is the highlight of the day now, it didn’t always used to be that way. As little as 25 years ago, when we were snorkeling off the Sea Fire, Gleason would blow a horn warning us that a Stingray had been spotted and everyone should return to the boat immediately. Over the years, they have been tamed and now actually enjoy the attention and love to play with people, especially when you feed them a little squid. 

10:30: After several good photos with the stingrays, it is time to dive for conch shells. These large shells contain an animal inside them called conch. They are attached to their shell, but can be detached with a screwdriver. They are then marinated in a picka-pepper sauce for a nice pre-lunch appetizer with Saltine crackers. Conch are only permitted from November 1-April 30 as the Cayman Islands Department of Environment attempts to protect them from extinction.

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10:45: Head to the beautiful snorkel reef where we see many colorful fish, nurse sharks, sea turtles, lobsters, and of course gorgeous coral. While we are out snorkeling, Gleason and Kerry are preparing an amazing lunch.

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11:30: Head to the coral garden to eat lunch. Lunch is served here, including fresh mahi-mahi, rice, Cayman-style potato salad, banana plantain, and a nice slice of watermelon for desert. After eating the best meal of the week, it is time to break out a glass of wine.

 12:02: Time for the first jump from the 3rd level of the boat into the Caribbean Sea that waits about 15 feet below. It really is thrilling to jump into the Sea from the boat.

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The coral gardens are another great snorkel opportunity to see several neat fish and even a moray eel.

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1:00: It is time to open up the “O-Bar”, which is a term we have given the floating life ring (see video below). We spend the rest of the afternoon floating in the warm water, soaking in the sun, and sipping on our favorite drink. 

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 2:30 (or whenever Gleason wakes up from his nap and tells us it’s time to go): Board the boat again and maybe make a few last jumps from the 3rd level. Then head to the seating area upstairs where we turn on some music and finish off the wine and rum.

 3:15: Arrive back at the dock at Safe Haven where Kirk is awaiting us. Say our good –byes. Take a few last minute photos. Load the van and head back to Treasure Island. Next stop? The Swim-up-bar for a rum punch or mudslide!!! The fun never ends in the Cayman Islands.

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