As we officially wrapped up the holiday season with our trip to the States, my brother's visit, and our sisters' visit, we had one more pre-busy season holiday to look forward to: National Heroes Day in the Cayman Islands. We had our eye on this particular three-day weekend ever since returning from our Eurotrip, realizing that sometimes, a vacation that's about relaxation-and relaxation only-is a mighty good thing. Fortunately, ten of our friends agreed with us, and before we knew it, WH had booked a house that could accommodate a dozen.
Here are my notes from the weekend.
I personally was shocked to find out that there are multiple flights each day from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman. Who knew there was enough demand for such a small place? Service is provided by Cayman Airways Express in a plane so small that you're practically in the cockpit with the pilot. I love flying, so I enjoyed every minute of this short, intimate flight experience.
What to Pack
We knew that our Little Cayman getaway would revolve around beach activities, so packing little more than light clothing and our dive gear seemed like the best thing to do. However, we also knew that the island is very small with limited resources. Referring to the shop that contains all the food items as a "grocery store" would be a stretch. Essentials can be found in Little Cayman, but we all decided to bring a lot of our own food along in coolers. To keep our baggage under the weight limit, everyone volunteered to bring enough food to feed the group one entire meal - that way we weren't all packing for three full dinners. (Word to the wise, however: Butter is one of the few prohibited cooler items. Mine got confiscated.) Our strategy worked well, in that everyone had plenty to eat.
|J&S' cheesy nachos started our weekend out right on burrito night.|
I think it went over pretty darn well.
|The boys have such aggressive expressions, but how else can you attack |
a bowl full of meat, spaghetti, and CHEESE?
As I mentioned, WH booked a house with plenty of room for twelve - Casa Cassiopeia along Little Cayman's southern shore.
|Don't you just love those plantation-style double doors? (At least, that's what we called them.)|
Although the house reportedly came with WiFi, none of us could cajole it into working. Although I was disappointed to not be able to blog on my weekend, I think all of us were content to be "off the grid" (aka off Facebook) for a couple days.
One of my favorite features of Casa Cassiopeia was the secluded location. With no houses or neighbors in sight, it was absolutely peaceful all the time. And with no detracting lights around, the night sky yielded the most spectacular display I've ever seen.
|Specs: 70mm focal length, f/2.8, SS 25s, ISO 1600. Used a beach chair instead of a tripod.|
As a group, we rented one SUV, which seemed to work alright, as the island is small enough to make multiple trips not too burdensome. One day, NS and I took the car for a little "road trip" around to the eastern end of the island. Although Little Cayman is only about ten miles long, houses and people are so sparse that by the time we reached "East End", we were pleased to see a little rest stop.
|The honor system rules in Little Cayman|
While driving along, we spotted a couple Rock Iguanas, which are different from the green iguanas that I've posted about in Grand Cayman.
|These guys are more grey, look like they're covered in armor, and have black feet.|
The best part of our excursion was our stop at Point of Sand - a beach and dock near the eastern tip of the island. The snorkeling is supposed to be amazing here, but I stuck to photography, capturing some of the prettiest island sights I've ever seen.
|The many layers of blue in this photo render me speechless every time.|
On our way back to the house, we made a quick stop at Little Cayman's kitesurfing resort. What a peaceful place to kite - gorgeous views and almost no one around!
|"Serene, chilled, easy living." That about sums it up.|
I can't write about Little Cayman without giving a proper diving review. I realize that I am spoiled rotten, learning to dive in Grand Cayman, where the waters are warm and calm, the sea life is abundant, and the dive sites are many. But nothing prepared me for the incredible dive conditions that we found in Little Cayman. We only did two shores dives along Bloody Bay Wall, but both times were spectacular. I stole a couple of DB's underwater photos to give you a flavor:
Sea turtles - what the Cayman Islands are known for.
Eagle rays - much harder to find than the Southern Stingrays.
Great shot of a grouper - very friendly fish (who probably want food, like the lionfish that some divers hunt.)
SM petting a grouper! This was my favorite diving experience - petting a fish who thought it was a dog.
Don't be alarmed by the photo below, even though in real life my heart was racing - that's a black-tipped reef shark. We saw five sharks over the course of two drives. WOW.
My word of advice: If you're visiting the Cayman Islands to dive, and you have the ability to get to Little Cayman for a day or two, you absolutely must do it. Don't just take my word for it; check out the ratings from Frommer's, Scubadive.com, and Dive Training magazine.
Back at the Ranch
Even for those who didn't leave our casa, there were plenty of fun, relaxing things to occupy the time.
The long dining room table (which fit all twelve of us around it) was primarily used as a game table, nearly 24 hours a day.
Many brought books to read and absolutely devoured them over the course of the weekend.
For those who couldn't sit still that long (you know who I mean), activities included kayaking, biking, football, coconut bocce, and even some beach yoga.
photo credit: KK
|I don't even know if this is a real yoga pose, but it felt great, and the photo sure makes me laugh.|
And if nothing else, the book club crew was ready to pick up where it left off.
So that concludes one of the most relaxing getaways of my life. I used to think it sounded so silly when people said that going to Little Cayman was great for "getting away from it all." Getting away from what all? I'd think. And really, there's not much in Grand Cayman that I'm trying to escape. But there's nothing like a change of scenery and a concerted effort to completely slow down that will rejuvenate and refresh an accountant right before our hectic time of year. I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to do so.
And I'm also thankful for this amazing group of people that kept me laughing the entire time.
|Same time, same place next year? Please?|
I hope this post motivates someone to book a trip to Little Cayman, but if further prompting is required, check out KK's blog post and gorgeous photos, which I'm pretty sure will seal the deal. It's now become one of my favorite places on earth.