For starters, the beach is stunning.
Published on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 16:01
Written by Suburban TravelingMom
Grand Cayman Island’s legendary Seven Mile Beach lives up to the hype -- endless stretches of clean sand, shades of calm, light blue water, and a few harmless fish and pretty shells near the shore line.
Kids can play happily here for DAYS. I’ve heard parts of the beach are crowded and touristy, but it wasn’t that way during the last week of March at the family-friendly Westin Causarina Resort & Spa's beach.
It was festive, but not in a noisy, wild spring break way -- with plenty of (free) beach chairs available even at peak hours, a huge swimming pool, and no cruise ships alongside us.
So if you just took your family to Grand Cayman Island for the beach, and nothing else, you would have an exceptional vacation.
But we found so many other awesome, unique and family-friendly things to do on the island that I highly recommend. Including:
Cayman Turtle Farm Get there early to beat the crowds, and you and the kids can hold newborn turtles, feed giant ones, and stand in a tank with young turtles (and pick them up). Bring your video camera, because the turtles sometimes flap their arms and give you repeated slaps on the hand. It makes everyone laugh (and the turtle-holder wince).
You can learn about the turtles from a tour guide and/or a museum, that explains how this government-run facility breeds and protects the animals.
The farm also has a fairly shallow, great-for-kids snorkeling lagoon with bathtub-like calm water where you can see fish, coral and (of course) turtles.
My kids, who are 6 and 8, can’t handle open-ocean snorkeling yet, but they were able to snorkel here. This lagoon was absolutely perfect for them. Life vests are required, and you enter the water at a walk-in beach. There are lots of little coves to stop and stand up, so you could clear water out of your mask or take a break. All the way at the end, you can swim up to a glass tank of sharks.
My family and I loved, loved, loved the Cayman Turtle Farm. We even bought a Christmas ornament in the gift shop, so we’d always remember the great morning we had here.
Star Fish Point
You won’t find this in a guidebook, or even on the map. But if you can get here (see my video and blog
for details), you’ll find live starfish right off the shore in calf-deep water. We all waded through the area and screamed to each other when we spotted one. So cool!Stingray Alley
It’s very touristy, but worth joining the crowds to see all of the enormous stingrays cruising around this sand bar. I’d recommend this trip for kids ages 10 and up, because even though it’s shallow, there are a lot of people and the water and waves can be choppy. Red Sail Sports
has an enjoyable and well-run ½ day catamaran ride out to Stingray Alley and one other snorkeling spot.
Stingray Alley is a sandbar where fisherman would clean their fish, attracting enormous stingrays (and, now, dozens of tourist boats).
The water was pretty rough when we went, making it hard for even my husband and I to swim/stand. My 6- and 8-year-olds ended up back on the boat after a few minutes (the guides were wonderful with the kids, I should note). But we got to touch and pose for a photo with a massive stingray (the guides catch and hold them). Rum Point Beach for Kids and Adults
A rental car and a 45-minute drive to the opposite side of the island will bring you to the quiet, upscale area consisting mostly of rented condos and homes. There’s not much up here, except for this great beach for kids and beautiful sunsets.
The area along the shoreline is covered in trees, so it’s shady. Which is nice. The water’s also pretty shallow, so you can walk pretty far out and still stand. My kids brought in their snorkeling masks and saw a stingray and lots of other colorful fish along the pier.
Behind the small, curved beach are picnic tables, a beach bar, a souvenir shop and an upscale restaurant.
We stayed to watch the sun set behind the sparkling water and sailboats, and talked about how we definitely want to come back to Grand Cayman one day.
Portions of this trip were sponsored by the Cayman Island Department of Tourism, but the opinions expressed are strictly my own.