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The Cayman Islands have over a millennium of rich history, but most of the islands' history with humans began less than 400 years ago. In that time, Grand Cayman has gone from a remote island jungle to a busy stop for pirates and other seafarers to a bustling tourist destination.

Today, Grand Cayman is known for beautiful beaches, Caymankindness, and stunning sunsets, but the island is also home to a vibrant and bustling arts scene—the home of which is at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. 

Since 1996, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) has been the cultural hub of the Cayman Islands with a mission to promote the appreciation and practice of the visual arts. For over two decades, NGCI has been following this mission by providing exhibitions featuring art pieces by Caymanian artists from throughout Cayman’s history, representing and serving all three islands.

The National Collection and Other Exhibits

One of the main and semi-permanent exhibitions at NGCI is the National Collection, a collection of pieces that are considered crucial for the preservation of Cayman’s cultural history. The collection features a variety of media that illustrate how artists have captured life in the Cayman Islands over the last four decades. The collection rotates, meaning only 40 percent of it is on display at any given time, so there is something new to see every time you visit.  

 

Every year, NGCI also features 10 temporary exhibits in their main exhibit space on Grand Cayman and other satellite exhibits around the three islands. The Gallery currently features several pieces by iconic local artist Gladwyn “Miss Lassie” Bush and Bendel Hydes, the founder of modern art in Cayman.


A few of the staff’s favorite pieces among the more permanent works include 3 a Lick, No Taws (Ode to Milo Series) created in 1999 by artist Wray Banker, a pop art-inspired piece exploring identity and heritage through a can of Milo; and Amen, 2019, by Randy Chollette, a reimagining of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam through the lens of his Rastafarian faith. 

The Gallery also features a sculpture garden, the labyrinth, and an art studio that serves as the home for education programs.

What the National Gallery Means For Cayman

Since its founding, the National Gallery has been dedicated to serving as a place to discuss art, history, identity, and heritage. It serves as a place where Caymanians young and old, tourists and newcomers, can come to relish in the history of the islands we love so dearly.

“The art that we care for tells an essential story about Cayman, from its very beginnings to its hopes for the future,” says Camille de Marchenna, NGCI arts administrator.

Camille says 2020 will be full of exciting new exhibitions, including "Island of Women" in the first part of the year. This exhibit charts the contribution of women to the development of Cayman. Other exhibits throughout the year will feature a variety of media from photography to ceramics.

Visit NGCI

Whether you're interested in learning more about Cayman's culture, interested in art, or looking for a place to spend a rainy day out, be sure to put the National Gallery on your next vacation to-do list. The main gallery is located on Esterly Tibbetts Highway, just a short drive from Christopher Columbus Condos. You can visit Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free every day. 

For more information about featured exhibits, educational programs, and other gallery events, follow them on Facebook or visit their website.

*We would like to thank the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands for submitting the feature image used in this article. 

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Ahoy mateys!

It’s almost time for one of our favorite events of the year: Pirates Week. This unique, fun-filled festival is coming back to Grand Cayman November 7-11, and we couldn’t be more excited! Get ready to experience a family-friendly tradition full of spectacle, delicious food, and the culture of the Cayman Islands.

What you need to know

Pirates Week is a 42-year tradition of the Cayman Islands that allows visitors to immerse themselves in a little history, a little pageantry, and a whole lot of culture and fun. The highlight of the week is when the pirates invade Pig Sty Bay, riding into George Town harbor on authentic pirate vessels in order to take hostages and cause chaos, all in the spirit of good ol’ piratey fun. The pirates celebrate their invasion with a colorful parade of ships and entertainers and a fireworks display.



Throughout the week, celebrate local Caymanian cuisine with more than 50 vendors serving favorite local dishes like jerk chicken and turtle soup. You can also take some time to peruse the shops of local artisans and collect some “booty” for your friends and family.

Events to attend

Pirates Week Happy Hour and Kick-Off Party, November 7

Start Pirates Week off right with a happy hour and beach bash. Local bands will be playing so you can dance the night away. You can wear your normal beach attire, or if you want to go all out, we're sure a faux parrot on your shoulder or an eye patch wouldn't be discouraged! ;) 

Food Festival, Every day

Starting November 8, enjoy Caymanian favorites at the Pirates Festival Food Festival. Dozens of vendors are ready to serve up the best grub, offering so many options that you (and your kiddos) are sure to find something you'll love.

Pirates Landing and Parade, November 9

The highlight of the week is the Pirates Landing on Pig Sty Bay. Before they land, marvel in street acts, acrobats, and other local performers who are sure to blow you away with their incredible talents. Then witness an event unlike any other as authentic pirate vessels drop local pirate gangs onshore to cause mischief and mayhem aplenty. A battle will ensue and who knows who will claim victory. After they invade, the buccaneers and locals alike will parade through the streets, ready to show off their exquisite floats, costumes, and theatrical performances. You won't want to miss a moment!

Turtle Release, November 10

To further celebrate the wonders Cayman has to offer, the Cayman Turtle Centre will release baby and rehabilitated turtles into the wild with the help of a few locals. This is a rare occasion few will get to witness in their lifetime. Since this program began in 1980, 30,000 turtles have been released. This year is set to be another celebration of one of Cayman's most-loved treasures.

Illumination Night Parade, November 11

Pirate Week ends with a bang with the nighttime spectacular Illumination parade. Dozens of floats decorated in thousands of lights starring acrobats, pirates, and other performers will travel the streets of George Town ready to impress.

Share Your Tips!

We are counting down the days until Pirates Week and hope you'll be with us to celebrate. If you've been to Pirates Week before, tell us all about your experience and leave some tips we may have forgotten in the comments below!

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Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, located on the island’s north side, combines two of our very favorite things about Cayman—incredible natural beauty and rich history! John Lawrus is the General Manager of Botanic Park, and we recently had the honor of taking a tour of this incredible park with him.

John shared with us that Botanic Park, owned jointly by the Cayman Islands Government and The National Trust, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The park was opened by its namesake, Queen Elizabeth herself, in 1994. (John had the honor of meeting the Queen at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show, where the park took home a Silver Medal!) When it first opened, the only completed attraction was the Woodland Trail.  Since then, the park has grown by leaps and bounds, encompassing 65 acres in total and boasting beautiful features like the Floral Colour Garden, the fascinating Heritage Garden, and award-winning orchids, plus it's home to the Blue Iguana Recovery Program through the National Trust. You can even spot some blues roaming throughout the park!

Originally from Canada, John moved to Cayman around 18 years ago to work in Botanic Park. He’s always had a passion for plants since childhood. Though he initially studied finance in school, the pull towards working with nature proved stronger than the pull towards numbers. He went back to school, attending the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, which is one of the most highly regarded educational tracks in the horticulture field. The coursework was intense, and John said that the students even had room inspections! But he knew the program provided unparalleled job opportunities in the field, so it was all worth it. After graduating, John worked at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver before seeing a job opening in Cayman. From there, he's worked his way up from Garden Supervisor to Deputy General Manager to his current position as General Manager today.

John’s passion for preservation and his enthusiasm for the calming power of nature is contagious. As a bit of an “indoor girl” myself, I’m not usually drawn to learning about plant life on my own. But hearing John talk about the origin of certain trees, flowers, and uses for medicinal plants made me realize I've been missing out. I really enjoyed learning about which herbs can be used in teas to help with various ailments. John also told us the story of a particular tree that was knocked over by hurricane winds. The tree was able to withstand the damage and has continued growing, just in a new direction.

My personal favorite part of the park was the Heritage Garden, which pays homage to native plants that have played a huge role in Cayman’s history. (It's also the winner of the Silver Medal from the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show in London!) In addition to highlighting important species like the Silver Thatch Palm, it also includes fruit trees, a medicinal garden, plus an original Caymanian house, owned by the Rankine family circa 1900. John told us that eight members of the Rankine family lived in the cozy iron-wood home—it's a little hard to imagine today! Instead of having a lawn with grass, the home was surrounded by a sand yard, which has been replicated down to the white conch shells lining the pathway to the front door. There’s even a “caboose” kitchen, which is separate from the main house.

Silver Thatch Palm lines the roof of the Heritage House, which is decorated to match how it would have looked in the early 1900s.

As we walked through the park, John shared his favorite aspects of his job—getting to spend time in nature and the ability to provide a beautiful place for others to come and enjoy. He loves being able to work in a place that provides peace and relaxation for others. John says he especially loves the diversity of plant life in the park— beautifully landscaped areas located next to spots with a more “rugged” feel where the plants grow a little more freely.

Enjoy a stroll in the shade on the Woodland Trail. 

John is also incredibly proud of the work being done on the new Children’s Garden within the park. With much-appreciated support from all the Rotary Clubs across the island, construction on phase one began in December 2018, and the Garden Grow Zone was just recently completed. Once it’s finished, the Children's Garden will include awesome features like a sensory garden, splash pad, maze, observation tower, and more. As a father to a young daughter, John said he was very excited to help provide a place where kids can be kids—to play in the dirt, get a little sweaty, and just enjoy spending time outside. He said the design for the park kept children of all personalities in mind—from those who prefer to run around and crawl through tunnels to those who would rather take in their surroundings a little more quietly from a comfy seat. (If you're interested in keeping up with the Children's Park, follow Botanic Park on Facebook for more info!).

When he isn't taking care of the park, John enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He likes to relax by going fishing or spending any time around water (which, as we know, Cayman offers the best of all water-related activities!) He also lives on the north side of the island, and gave us a few hints on the best place to grab a bite in the area—he recommends Over the Edge Cafe and Kurt's Corner in Old Man Bay, which is "the truest pub on the island." He recommends even more highly that you get your lunch to-go and come eat it in the park.

A blue happily takes in some sun.

Next time you're on island, we can't recommend a visit to Botanic Park enough. John even says, it's "the most peaceful place on island," especially to take a walk, and who are we to argue with him? So pack yourself a picnic and come take it all in. And if you see John, be sure to ask him to show you his favorite plant in the park!

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Finding fresh guava, foraging for almonds, swimming with sea turtles, watching locals slap down dominoes, sipping a 7 Mile Wheat beer... the amount of firsts you'll experience on a tour with Joe Tourist is incredible.

If you're looking to see a different side of Cayman, Gilbert Nicoletta with Joe Tourist will plan an unforgettable day just for you. He customizes all of his tours for individual guests, and after experiencing his All Island Tour on our last trip to Cayman, my husband and I are believers. We can't wait to schedule another tour with Gil.

snorkeling and picking guava

The adventure started as soon as he picked us up at Christopher Columbus Condos. He greeted us with fresh yellow sapote from his yard and some herbs to taste. To loosen us up for the day, he took us by the rum distillery for a tasting. I joked that I hadn't had breakfast and needed some sustenance, so Gil took us by a local food truck for some Caribbean meat pies after the distillery.

Drives between stops were fascinating as Gil told us story after story about about the social, economic, and environmental history of the Cayman Islands. Some stories were personal, others general culture, and still others hilarious tall tales. He explained why so many youth go into banking, how locals refer to time as Before-Ivan and After-Ivan, reminisced on raising Pigeons (if you had one with a "top-knot," you were the bomb), and so much more. Learning more about our home-away-from-home deepened the bond I have with this little Caribbean island. It will add to your love for Cayman too.

Jumping off the dock at Spotts Bay, we had the majestic opportunity to swim alongside several sea turtles. In the parking lot, Gil told us how the famous house-shaped graves of Cayman used to have wood pieces in the center with details engraved, but over the years the wood weathered away. He also spotted an almond tree and showed my husband, Brandon, and I how to crack them open. Brandon was a natural at opening them and I got to enjoy the fruits of his labor. ;)

Alongside the road, Gil found fresh guava for us to pick and enjoy as an appetizer before a feast that awaited us at Over the Edge Cafe. We enjoyed turtle and Cayman style bread, mahi mahi, cracked conch, farm to table veggies and more—a taster's platter full of local dishes you can only get on Gil's tours.

With full bellies, we walked into the North Side heritage day to see what was happening. Gil introduced us to local crafters that were plaiting baskets and rope with silver thatch. One of the women working on a basket told us the craft was a tradition handed down from her grandmother to her mother to her. While we were talking, another local approached the crowd, and my eyes widened in delight. It was Shelly Miller. We met at Rum Point a couple of years ago, thus proving Cayman is a small island indeed. It was fun to get to experience that as a visitor.

We continued to Starfish Point to see the sweet 5-pointed creatures and enjoy an amazing sunset. At dusk we drove by Davinoff's Concrete Sculpture Garden and then began to slingshot around the East End.

local tour guide with ccc guest

As the night settled in, Gil rolled his windows down so we could listen to some "old timers" playing dominoes at one of the East End beach shelters. He said if we heard someone slap them down that it basically meant "game over." The weather wasn't prime for the Blow Holes, but we stopped there anyways so Gil could show off the fossils in the iron shore, including one ancient crocodile.

On our way back to the condos, Gil continued to regale us with stories, my favorite being the family tradition of going crabbing after the first spring rain. He said that come May, "everybody's in the bushes" and on the side of the road looking for crabs, dreaming of baked crab-back.

Gil dropped us back off at the condos after a day filled to the brim with unforgettable stories and experiences. If you're interested in a custom island tour with Gil reach out to him on his Joe Tourist Cayman Facebook page. You won't regret it!

You can also read reviews from other adventurers over on the Joe Tourist Outdoor Adventures Trip Advisor page.

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If you’ve ever been to the Cayman Islands National Museum, you have seen the incredible exhibits and experienced the history of Cayman. Meet Brian Watler Jr, the man who is responsible for designing these amazing exhibits.

Brian Watler Jr. was born and raised in Cayman. His family has been living in Cayman for many generations spanning back to his great-great grandparents and beyond. Brian says his favorite thing about the island is the culture. When describing the culture, Brian stated, “We have a way of doing and saying things that is so unique. Every single district has its own ‘accent’; you can tell if someone grew up in North Side or George Town just by their accent. You can even tell if someone’s from Cayman Brac or Grand Cayman by their accent. For such a small island, the culture is extremely unique.” He has been able to turn his passion for the culture into a career working as a PR/Media and Design Specialist for the National Museum.

Brian describes the National Museum as the living connection to Cayman’s past. His view is that the museum allows current and future generations to experience the island’s unique cultural heritage. With a passion for both design and culture, Brian can think of no better fit for a career than the National Museum.

Brian’s journey with the National Museum began in 2015 when he interned for the museum to design their 25th Anniversary logo. They were so pleased with the design that they brought him on board to design the 25th Anniversary exhibition and publication. Since then, Brian has taken on his current role where he works to create press releases, update the museum’s social media and website, and other PR-related activities. However, his favorite part of the job is getting to use his design skills to create a cultural and historical experience for museum visitors. Brian says that while most people with a degree in graphic design get to design flyers and brochures, he gets to design exhibits!

Last year, the museum installed an exhibition titled, “Cayman Airways: Celebrating 50 Years of Our National Airline.” Designing this exhibition was extremely enjoyable for Brian. As a child, he always had dreams of becoming a pilot, and he still owns a collection of airplane models, a few of which are Cayman Airway custom-made models. Most of all, Brian enjoys the interactive nature of this exhibit. “What I really enjoy most about the exhibition is the exterior airplane fuselage—it’s as if you’re boarding the aircraft—then you enter the gallery and see this fascinating display of airplane models ‘flying’ in the case.” This exhibit gives an in-depth look into the history of Cayman aviation from its humble beginnings to now employing over 400 employees.

Not only does Brian design amazing exhibits for the museum, he also teaches Quadrille (Cayman’s traditional dance) to students at Edna M. Moyle Primary School. This is his second group that he has worked with to teach Quadrille. His first group of students won a Gold award at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts in 2012. In his free time, Brian is actively involved in helping out in his community and church. He loves to photograph the island and visit with the elders in his community to hear their stories. Brian’s passion for Cayman culture and his community is obvious. He is even going back to get his Master’s Degree in Marketing: Digital Marketing and Advertising since his work for the museum is so closely related to marketing.

With his passion and knowledge, we had to ask Brian what other activities were a must-do for Cayman visitors. He recommends Pedro St. James Castle, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Cayman Crystal Caves and Cayman Turtle Centre. He believes all of these institutions are vital to understanding Cayman culture.

The next time you are on island, make sure to stop by the National Museum and learn more about the culture of Cayman and see some of Brian’s work!

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Native Cayman dishes are an outstanding combination of island cuisine meets home-style cooking—deliciousness that you have to experience. Admittedly, it took a few trips for us to discover what dishes were unique to the island and where to find them. Once you sample the local food, though, you'll find yourself craving trips to Cayman not only for it's beauty, but also for dishes you can only get on island! Here are a few places you can "taste" Cayman culture for yourself.


  1. Champion House II

If you want to try local cuisine, Champion House II is a must-stop. The down-to-earth feel of the restaurant matches the seriously amazing home-style food. Sample Cayman-style fish, jerk chicken, turtle stew, conch stew, callaloo & ackee. Tip: Try several dishes by hitting up one of the daily buffets or best of all the Sunday brunch!


   

  2. Rankin's Jerk Centre

Grab some of the best jerk chicken on island at Rankin's Jerk Centre. Offering takeout and located in Bodden Town, this is the perfect pit stop for lunch or dinner on your way to or from the East End. It's also crazy affordable. Probably the least we've spent on a meal in Cayman!

     

  3. Boggy Sand Cafe

If you've got your heart set on Turtle Stew, we suggest a quick trip up the road to Boggy Sand Cafe. Just 1 kilometer from the condos and located right before Foster's, it's a convenient trip for which your taste buds will thank you.

     

  4. Vivine's Kitchen

Vivine's Kitchen is an island staple located on the East End. It's off the beaten path and as local as you can get, serving dishes such as salt beef & beans and Cayman-style fish. Enjoy dining in the tiny, unassuming interior or sit at a picnic table outside overlooking the sea. Hop on one of two resident hammocks after you chow down. Tip: It's cash only, so come prepared.

     

  5. Heritage Kitchen

Boasting "All Local Food," Heritage Kitchen is a great place for native seafood dishes and a chill island vibe. The Cayman-Style Grouper is absolutely delicious. So delicious, we went back twice in one trip for it! Also, don't miss the fish tea. (Hint: It's actually soup!) P.S. Heritage Kitchen is also cash only.

     

  6. Da Fish Shack

Da Fish Shack is a bit less "local-kitchen" than the other eateries on this list, but you don't want to miss their breadfruit dishes. Fried breadfruit and breadfruit pudding give yummy homage to the popular Cayman crop that's often compared to a potato in taste and consistency.

     

  7. Over the Edge Cafe

This North side restaurant and bar is ideal if your group is split on trying local fare. Some can indulge in tasty local cuisine like Cayman Style Lobster and a variety of turtle dishes, while others can get their burger and french fry fix. All entrees come with delectable Cayman fried bread (beignet fritters). 

For a huge Cayman feast, sign up for an island tour with Joe Tourist and ask him to take you by Over the Edge for the special Cayman platter you can only get on his tours. You won't regret it.

We hope you enjoy trying local dishes as these restaurants. Have any additional tips? Share them with us in the comments. And if you'd like to learn how to cook like a local check out the Traditional Cooking Classes that the National Trust has been sponsoring each month at the Mission House. The next class is July 6th, and they'll be teaching attendees how to make Custard-Top Cornbread. Yum!

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In the spirit of Easter, we are excited to introduce our guest blogger for this month, Claire Moore, who recently attended Mass at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in West Bay. Claire shares her wonderful experience worshiping while on vacation in Cayman below! 

During my time spent in the Cayman Islands, the experiences that stand out the most were the ones that showed me the true lifestyle of the Caymanians. . . and what better way to experience the local community than to attend a Sunday service at a neighborhood parish? From the exterior, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church seemed to resemble any modernly designed church one would find in middle America; however, once I walked in, I was met with an explosion of color from all around. The beautiful and bright Caribbean sun worked its magic through the stained glass windows, streaming in through both sides of the room. The people standing up front in the choir had bright smiles on their faces, ready to sing their hearts out. Even the congregation all seemed to be dressed in vibrant, island colors—a mix of locals and tourists alike waiting for Mass to begin. Growing up Catholic, I knew what to expect from a typical Sunday church service—the familiar songs, the readings from the Bible, the homily from the priest, and of course, communion. However, this service was already off to a unique and intriguing start.

I remember Father Edwin, the priest residing over the Mass that morning, seemed to have a quiet yet joyful peace about him as he read from the gospel of Mark: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. . . and you must love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” I smiled to myself when I heard those words, since everything about my experience in the Cayman Islands so far had reflected that sentiment. I thought of my first encounter with the lovely Patricia at Christopher Columbus Condos, welcoming us all to the island with her warm hugs and infectious smile. I thought of Scottie, our scuba instructor, who kept us smiling with his knowledge and wonder at the sea creatures below. Before I could drift off too far into my memories, we were all standing up together to say the Our Father and exchange the sign of peace. Once again, the room filled with this palpable spirit of joy as everyone turned around and shook hands with each other, beaming smiles on their faces. I thought to myself how easy it was to already feel like a neighbor in Cayman when everyone is treating you like their own!

The joy continued as the choir soared into a beautiful rendition of the “Lamb of God,” nearly bringing a tear to my eye. In that moment, the passion and love that the choir showed for their faith took my breath away. It helped me to focus and to pray with more authenticity, even if I had been through the motions of this service many times before. I was truly inspired to thank God for such a blessing, experiencing His love on such a beautiful island surrounded by such loving and spirit-filled people.

As communion was wrapping up, I packed up my things, expecting to leave shortly thereafter. However, Father Edwin smiled and asked all the visitors to the parish to stand. As a few people from my pew and I stood up, the choir again burst out into joyous song, singing their “Welcome Song” to us. At this point, I was laughing out loud! The people of Christ the Redeemer parish truly took loving God and loving your neighbor to the next level that morning. I walked into that church feeling like a tourist, just out for another new experience on the island, and I left feeling like a local, a neighbor, a friend. I could not recommend this experience more; not just for deepening your faith, but also for tasting the true Cayman kindness that truly exists everywhere you go on the island.


Father Edwin with Claire and her boyfriend, Devon
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Pizza is one of the ultimate crowd-pleasing meals, and when you’re visiting the island you will be spoiled for choice on where to enjoy your next slice. We busted out our foodie journals and tested several pizza places across the island to bring you these recommendations—it was a difficult job, but someone had to do it! :)

Cimboco

Best Salad to Go Along With Your Pizza

As soon as you walk in the doors of Cimboco, you’ll be warmly welcomed by delicious smells of crust being baked in their brick oven. In addition to crisp, Roman-style crusts, they also boast the best Caesar salad on the island, which is served in a chilled bowl and comes with the perfect crouton to lettuce ratio. Be careful, though—you just might be dreaming of Cimboco's for weeks to come! 

Recommendation: BBQ Jerk Chicken Pizza  

The Brooklyn

Top Post-Shopping Power Up 

A must-visit when you stop by Camana Bay to shop, The Brooklyn has a huge selection of specialty pizzas, like the nacho, the bacon double cheeseburger, the Hawaiian, and the chicken tikka, in addition to your standard build-your-own options. Their trendy decor is certainly Instagram-worthy, plus you can watch your pizza bake right before your eyes in their brick oven. They also have gluten-free crust available upon request.

Recommendation: The Fun Guy (featuring 3 different mushrooms and truffle oil)

Boggy Sand Caribbean Kitchen

Closest Pizza Fix

Located just a couple minutes down the road from CCC, you can get your pizza fix the very quickest at Boggy Sand. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, you’re certain to love their beautiful decor and cheery service in addition to some top-notch ‘za. Served on a pizza board with an olive oil-covered crust, these pizzas are definitely something to write home about.

Recommendation: Margherita (mozzarella and fresh basil)

Casanova Ristorante

Authentic Italian

For a wholly authentic Italian dining experience, enjoy your meal on the waterfront in Georgetown at Casanova. Really do it up and order a glass of wine or some Limoncello to go along with your delicious pizza—you won’t regret it!

Recommendation: Focaccina (Garlic and Rosemary)

Gino’s Pizzeria

Delivery Right To Your Condo

After a long day splashing in the ocean and sightseeing, you might be ready to kick back, relax in your condo, and have the pizza come to you. Gino’s Pizzeria will deliver their signature pizza, pastas, salads, and sandwiches right to your door at CCC in West Bay—all with no delivery fee!

Recommendation: Gino’s Classic (double pepperoni!)

XQ's

Pizza + Live Music

If you’re looking for some quality entertainment while you enjoy your next piping hot slice of pizza, XQ’s is your place! Every Thursday XQ’s is host to live music by Jeff Japal in their piano bar, and they have a huge TV where you can watch live sports or special events like UFC fights. Plus, they also deliver to West Bay. 

Recommendation: The Godfather (sausage, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, onions, smoked gouda, and tomatoes—oh my!)

Alfresco

Pizza Right on Seven Mile Beach

Soak in all the beautiful sights and sounds of Seven Mile Beach at Alfresco’s in West Bay. A quick drive from the condos, Alfresco’s is famous for their outdoor dining and local fare like turtle stew and oxtail, but we’re pretty big fans of their pizzas, too! Build your own pizza by choosing from premium toppings like calamari, Gorgonzola cheese, roasted garlic, and more, or keep it simple with a meat lovers or vegetarian pizza—and whole wheat crust is also available upon request.

Recommendation: Seafood pizza (smoked salmon, shrimp, and lobster)

Hungry Yet?

This just scratches the surface of some of the amazing pizza options you can find in Grand Cayman. Which pizza is your favorite—did we miss your go-to spot? Let us know where we should check out next in the comments below.

**And if you’re feeling like a familiar taste of home or have a picky kiddo with you, American staples like Pizza Hut and Dominos are also available for dine-in and delivery.
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The blue iguana is a beautiful and important animal native to the Cayman Islands. The blue iguanas, or blues, were once faced with extinction, but are now on their way back to a stable, healthy population. We were lucky enough to get some insights into how the blue iguanas are being revitalized from Nick Ebanks. Nick is the Operations Manager of the Blue Iguana Recovery, which is an initiative of The National Trust for the Cayman Islands. The recovery itself is located on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on the north side of the island, about a 45 minute drive from the condos.

The Blue Iguana Recovery Program was founded in 1990 as an effort to save the critically endangered species, whose population was down to only 30. The facility cares for and monitors blue iguanas, aids in the breeding process, strategically releases ready iguanas into the wild, and works with research institutions to help ensure genetic diversity within the wild population. In July 2018, the program hit a huge milestone when the wild population reached 1,000 blues. Though the program has successfully saved the blue iguanas from extinction, the work isn’t over. The ultimate goal is for the blues to be able to naturally breed and support themselves in the wild, thus eliminating the need for the program altogether. Nick says, “If we lose our jobs—perfect. That’s the goal.”


The very photogenic Peter

As Nick showed us around the rescue, I asked him a few questions about himself. Nick is a native Caymanian from West Bay. Though he didn’t always expect to be a conservationist, he’s grown to deeply appreciate and respect all forms of living creatures. After a period of time working with bats, he began volunteering at the iguana rescue around four years ago. After getting plenty of on-the-job experience, he worked all the way up to his operations manager position today. When asked what he likes most about his job, he said he really enjoys spending time outdoors, and working with great, like-minded people who are all very dedicated to taking care of the iguanas. He said conservation is very fulfilling and meaningful work, plus it’s an added bonus to be free from the restrictions that come along with an office job.

As we looked around, one of Nick’s coworkers, warden Alberto, joined us. Alberto showed us the “main attraction” blue iguana, Peter. Peter was born in 2003 to wild parents, but he liked to hang around Botanic Park so much that he basically adopted the staff himself! The program recruited Peter as an educational animal since he is so friendly—he enjoys being picked up by Alberto to be shown to visitors and isn’t bothered at all by attention. As I soon learned, Alberto himself is also a bit of a park star. He has a huge heart for the iguanas and is a beloved tour guide, so I’d highly recommend you request him if you stop by!


Alberto and Nick 

In addition to meeting a few of these sweet iguanas, the best thing about the tour was learning all about the animals from Nick. The iguanas blue color can change due to their environment, the sun, their food, and mood. It’s also a great indicator of overall health, so the staff monitors each iguana's color every day. One of the neatest things I saw while visiting was a small territorial spat between two roaming iguanas, Shreddy and Orro. Nick explained that Orro tread a little too closely on Shreddy’s territory, then pointed out how Orro took up a submissive posture and her color turned more light blue as a show of, “Hey, I know you’re top iguana, it’s all good here.” It was very cool to see up close!

As you might have guessed, Nick’s passion for animals and the Cayman wilderness extends beyond just his day job. At home he is fostering a dog named Vinny. He also tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors, doing everything from climbing, exploring, and observing native birds and insects to getting in a game of ultimate frisbee. “I like to keep it nice and simple—busy and simple,” he says. Once he reaches the goal of the blue iguanas being able to sustain themselves in the wild, he'd like to work with revitalizing native bird populations.


A beautiful blue enjoying basking in the sun in Botanic Park

I highly recommend you come visit the blues yourself the next time you’re on island and say hi to Nick, Alberto, and Peter. You can catch one of two daily tours given, Monday through Saturday, or you can schedule a private tour. Then you should see if you can spot some of the roaming blues in Botanic Park! Check out their website for more information about tour times.

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Ann Stafford loves natural history. Fortunately for us, she also loves sharing facts about natural history with others. We first came across Ann when we discovered her blog CaymAN Nature (she is quick to point out her name in the middle of the two words) while researching for another post of our own. We found her blog to be so full of great information that we wanted to learn more about the author behind all of this first-hand Cayman knowledge!

Growing up in the English countryside, Ann’s parents taught her to identify plants and animals at a young age, and what they didn’t teach her, she learned through countless books. In 1973, Ann and her husband moved to Grand Cayman. She immediately fell in love with the island and began to immerse herself in learning about the native flora and fauna. Around this time, she unfortunately began to witness many native plants being destroyed by invasive species. Ann dedicated herself to conserving the native plant life and educating others on conserving the food chain in Cayman—if the native plants disappear, so will the native animals who depend on them. 

In order to educate others, Ann works to spread and publish her findings. In addition to her blog, Ann gained such an in-depth knowledge of Cayman plants and butterflies that she co-wrote the book Butterflies of the Cayman Islands with visiting entomologist Dr. Richard Robinson Askew. Ann is also a photographer and contributed images to the book Flora of the Cayman Islands. For a time she even lead tours of the island for a groups of journalists for the Department of Tourism.



In addition to butterflies and flora, Ann is especially interested in the early settlement of the Cayman Islands, including survival, livelihood, and exports. One livelihood custom in particular stood out and left her with a desire to learn more. This custom just happens to involve gravestones! On the island, you can find many gravestones shaped like small houses instead of the rounded shape the majority of us are familiar with. These gravestones were built in the 1800s and can be found in a variety of locations including Old Man Bay, North Side, and Bodden Town, to name a few.

On her blog, Ann explains in more detail: 
"The graves were marked, not by mounds of earth and headstones, or great massive tombs, but by houses in miniature, just large enough each to cover one person; mostly about six feet long, two feet broad, and one and a half high, with a sloping roof and full gable end, in which was inserted a small slab containing containing the name of the occupant, his age, and the day on which he entered his narrow home, 'the house appointed for all living.'" 



To learn more about these house-shaped gravestones and the Cayman natives buried there, you can visit the cultural page on Ann's blog.

Today, Ann guides guests around Grand Cayman on Nature and Historic Tours, sharing Cayman's fascinating history with others while she continues to share her countless nature photographs on social media and her blog. If you're looking for a unique tour experience, give Ann a ring next time you're on island! 
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