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Central George Town is home to an abundance of fun shops, delicious restaurants, and breathtaking ocean views, but did you know George Town is also home to some unique and interesting historic sites? Next time you’re in town on a mission to shop ‘til you drop, take some time to see these amazing historic places!

Mr. Arthur’s Home and Print Shop

At 186 North Church Street, you’ll find a small home and print shop that now operates as a general store. This small, white shiplap shop could be missed if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The shop offers a glimpse at Grand Cayman’s historical architecture and is the perfect place to stop if you need some snacks and drinks while walking through town.

Built in the late 1800s, the store was originally Mr. Arthur’s Home and Print Shop, owned by Arthur Bodden and his family. Known for his spotless white shirt, cap and pipe, Arthur was the first wireless operator and weather specialist on Grand Cayman. The print shop across from his home operated for more than 50 years printing Cayman Islands Government stationary.


Fort George

If you've ever noticed the wooden hut on a tall pole in George Town, you might have wondered where it came from. It’s a unique sight to see while strolling the shops on Harbour Drive, but this small site has a lot of tales to tell.

The hut is actually what remains of Fort George. Fort George was built sometime around the 1790s as a means to protect the island. It’s not clear whether Fort George ever successfully warded off an attack, but it was manned by local militias for many years. Eventually, the site was mostly abandoned and the sand-bottomed fort became a play area for children at the neighboring school. During World War II, a lookout hut was added to a silk cotton tree and was used by watchmen to monitor for German U-boats that commonly patrolled the Caribbean. It was abandoned after the war.

When a developer began to demolish the dilapidated Fort George in 1972, locals dedicated to protecting Grand Cayman’s history protested by standing in front of the remaining structure and eventually saved it.

Now a National Trust protected site, a replica of the lookout house was constructed using pieces of the original that had crumbled over years with no upkeep; it is now one of the more prominent features of a stroll through town, and one passersby ask many questions about.

When you visit, you’ll want to check out the three-panel mural painted by local artist John Broad that depicts three events that represent the strong history of both Fort George and Grand Cayman: an attack by Spanish marauders, a U-boat bombing, and an Easter Regatta.



George Town Step Well

Perhaps one of the easiest sites to miss and most unique in downtown George Town is the George Town Step Well.

When you’re picking out a souvenir cap at Outlet Embroidery Shop in Bayshore Mall, make sure you look at your feet. Viewable through a pane of glass, the George Town Step Well is believed to be one of four freshwater wells recorded in Grand Cayman in the 1700s. The well likely served as the main water source for residents of Hog Sty Bay and ships that docked at the port. The well was discovered by developers in 2003 and was excavated by local archeologists who found remnants of 18th-century pottery, glass, and other treasures. You can even see some of these artifacts outside the shop. The Grand Cayman Water Authority also found the water at the bottom of the well was perfectly good to drink today!


Take a Walk Through Time

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and cultural background of Grand Cayman, these unique sites are must-sees, even if they’re hard to spot at first. Next time you’re wandering through George Town, make sure you take some time to take a trip back in time at these amazing sites.

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We can all agree that Cayman is a beautiful island with so much history and such amazing sights and wildlife. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands was established to make sure none of that is lost. Founded in 1987, its mission is, "To preserve natural environments and places of historic significance for present and future generations of the Cayman Islands." We are so glad that they have upheld these values for over 30 years and continue their mission through education, conservation programs, and hosting events across the island.

Nadia Hardie is the Executive Director of the National Trust. We had the opportunity to sit down with Nadia to learn more about the amazing work of the National Trust. (And you can check out more about her personal story here!)

The National Trust is a non-profit organization comprised of over 800 members. Its members have access to all Trust activities, discounts at National Trust properties in many different countries, and other amazing perks and benefits. We were surprised at how affordable membership to the Trust is—it would be well worth the investment for both Cayman visitors and residents. We could write a whole book about the different programs and benefits provided by the National Trust, but we will highlight just a few here.

Animal Conservation Programs

In our conversation with Nadia, we learned that there are many programs that work to protect wildlife across Cayman. The Trust now maintains over 3,000 acres of protected areas to ensure that these plants and animals have an environment in which they can thrive.

It is obvious that she is passionate about the Trust’s mission. She was excited to tell us about some of the animals that the Trust works to protect. The Trust has identified certain animals that require more than just maintaining their natural environment. For animals like the Blue Iguana and several species of bats, the Trust engages in conservation programs.

The Resurgence of the Blue Iguana

Nadia explained to us the work that the Trust is doing on behalf of the Blue Iguanas (blues), a species endemic to Cayman. In the 1980s, Blue Iguanas were on the verge of extinction and had all but disappeared from the island. Nadia informed us that at one point, there were as few as 30 blues in existence. This sparked the National Trust to establish the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. (You can read our interview with Nick Ebanks, Operations Manager of the Recovery program, here.)

The program was founded in 1990 and has made significant progress towards the preservation of Blue Iguanas. As of 2018, there were 1,000 blues in the wild population! Not only does the Trust assist with the breeding process and reintroducing the animals into the wild, it also works with researchers to monitor the population. It is the hope of the Trust that one day this program will not be necessary and Blue Iguanas will be able to breed and support themselves.

Protecting the Bats

Bats are also protected in Cayman since they serve many crucial functions on island. There is a lot of misinformation about bats and, as a result, they have been killed and their habitats have been destroyed. The National Trust recognizes the importance of these creatures and helps to maintain the population. Nadia even told us about a “Bats and Bonfires” event where they have a bonfire, fire dancers, food, and presentations on bat conservation.

Along with providing education about bats, the Trust also puts up bat houses across the island and does bat removals from households (as long as it isn’t pup season). Nadia stated that during pup season (June-October), they are unable to do any removals because it would put young bats at risk of abandonment by their parents. Who knew there was so much to know about bats?

Fun with Cultural Education

We were excited to find out about the different types of National Trust events that are great for families and people of all ages. Some of these events include Breakfast with Iguanas, Bats and Bonfires, craft workshops, family fun days, and various wildlife and historical tours. They also host a “Little Explorers” morning every Wednesday morning with art projects and fun activities for the kids! The Trust does an amazing job of providing cultural education in a fun and engaging environment.

One of our favorite initiatives by the Trust is the Explorer Passport to Grand Cayman, which helps visitors and residents discover some amazing sites across the island. The Explorer Passport comes with a map, stickers, and pages with fun facts and information on different locations on island. This is a great opportunity to learn about Cayman culture and have fun while doing it. The Explorer Passports are available at the Nature Store in Dart Family Park for only $10! We are so excited about this that we even wrote a whole blog post about it!

Get Involved

Looking for ways to give back while in Cayman? The National Trust has many different volunteer opportunities for both residents and visitors of Cayman. If you and your family would want to coordinate a volunteer opportunity to give back, the Trust has plenty of opportunities for you to lend a hand—Nadia and the Trust would be excited to have you!

If you would like to coordinate a volunteer opportunity for your group or family, you can contact her at director@nationaltrust.org.ky or the Community Development Manager, Karie Bounds at community@nationaltrust.org.ky.

Membership to the Trust comes with many local perks and even offers discounts and admission into National Trust properties in participating countries across the World. The membership fees allow the Trust to manage and maintain nine different environmental reserves. The Trust also offers corporate sponsorships and partnerships to aid in cultural, educational, conservation and environmental initiatives.

For more information on programs, membership and upcoming events, visit the National Trust for the Cayman Islands website.

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If you’re looking to keep up your workout routine while in Cayman, want to jumpstart a relaxation habit you can take back home with you, or just want to try something new, there are a few fantastic yoga studios on island I would highly recommend. Bliss Living Yoga and Cayman Yoga Club offer a variety of classes seven days a week. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or have never downward dogged in your life, there’s a class that will be fun, relaxing, and challenging for you.

Plan Your Class

You should look at the class descriptions on the studios' websites to see which type of class interests you the most. There are plenty of offerings each day of the week for all levels of yoga skill. The two studios are located between West Bay Road and Esterly Tibbets Highway, near Camana Bay, which is around a ten-minute drive from Christopher Columbus.

Both studios allow drop-in classes, so there's no need to call ahead—just arrive around fifteen minutes before class time so you can sign in at the front desk and get situated. If you don’t want to worry about packing a mat, you can borrow one for the class. A mat is complimentary for your first class, but you can also borrow one for a small fee for successive classes.

A single class is around $24 USD, but if you think you’ll come multiple times, a class pack might be a better deal. They’ll ask for just a few pieces of information and then you’ll be ready to get your yoga on.

What Should You Bring?

Wear comfy clothes you can freely move around in—t-shirts, tank tops, athletic or yoga pants are all great choices. Yoga is much easier to do barefoot, but you can wear socks if you would be more comfortable. You should also bring along a bottle of water, which you can bring into the studio with you, and a mat and towel if you want to bring your own. The studio will provide blocks, straps, blankets, bolsters, and other props you might need.

What To Expect

After you sign in, you’ll remove your shoes and store your belongings in cubbies—the yoga studio itself is a phone-free zone. Once you find a spot for your mat, you can start stretching or kick back and relax until class starts. Each class is lead by a trained instructor who will talk you through each pose as well as demonstrate proper technique.

I attended classes on two ends of the spectrum, one Flow class at Bliss Yoga Studio and one Power Vinyasa class at Cayman Yoga Club.

Flow

If you’re looking for a way to relax your muscles after a long flight, find some quiet time amid a busy itinerary, or just take your time with a workout, this is a great choice. The flow class is an hour long and focuses a lot on your breath, stretching and holding poses, and the meditative aspects of yoga. It’s accessible to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Many of the poses in this class were seated, and several props were used, which helped everyone modify poses to suit their flexibility.

My class was an early afternoon session with Janelle. She had a fantastically soothing demeanor and helped me relax my sore, plane-ride-agitated shoulders. I’d highly recommend this class to anyone, but especially for any first timers—you’ll get a good idea of what yoga is all about without getting into many difficult poses.

Power Vinyasa

Power Vinyasa is a rigorous class that focuses on working your whole body and the breath as you move from pose to pose. This hour-long course is designed to make you sweat and really challenge yourself. All skill levels are welcome and anyone can get a workout from this class, but I would recommend that you are already comfortable with flowing between poses (e.g., downward dog into the Warrior series) before attending this class.

Photo courtesy of Cayman Yoga Club

I attended a later evening class with Janine, who included some much-appreciated motivational wisdom within her instruction. She was also incredibly gracious and gave me some tips on improving a pose I struggle quite a bit with. If you're nervous about taking a class, don't worry, your instructor is happy to help and guide you—it's what they're there for! 

Get Started!

Don’t let vacation throw off your fitness resolutions this year. Stop in for a yoga class next time you’re on island, relax, and take that Cayman vibe back home with you! And don't forget you can also visit a traditional gym or take a bike ride around the island for other great ways to keep active while on the island. 

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It’s no surprise that Grand Cayman offers many water-based sporting activities for anyone looking to have an ocean adventure. However, for repeat guest Susan Corbitt and her husband, paddle boarding is so much more than a sport. It has served as a source of tranquility, and it can for you, too. (Several rental companies will even deliver paddle boards to Christopher Columbus Condos for your ultimate convenience.)

We chatted with Susan about her experience paddle boarding during her last visit to CCC and exactly what makes it so special. Keep reading to learn more.

Question: What were your expectations of paddle boarding before you ever stepped foot on a board?

Susan Corbitt: Just to have fun! I also wanted to go out farther in the ocean than I could just by swimming.

Q: How long did it take to get used to the paddle board/to stand up?

SC: Not long at all. I was standing up within the first 5 minutes. (See our tips for first-timers at the end of this post if you're not as lucky as Susan—we don't all get up on the first try. 😉)

Q: What kind of sights did you see while out on the water?

SC: We got to swim with a school of fish like we were a part of them. We also saw coral, and a tiny shark!

Q: What is the best difference between traveling in a boat versus a paddle board?

SC: You are more like a part of the water, closer to and in it. The water would splash in my face and I loved that!

Q: What makes paddleboarding such a unique experience for you?

SC:The tranquility of it, it’s such a peaceful and relaxing experience. Paddleboarding gives me a calm and ability to appreciate all of God’s creation.On the last day we had our boards, we went out into the water right before sunset and it was perfect.

Q: Do you have any tips for others who want to try paddleboarding?

SC: Do it! Don't be afraid to stand up. Be aware that the further you are from shore the waters become rougher.

Other tips for beginners:

1. Be sure to check the weather and wind conditions.
2. Make sure the board's fin is deep enough underwater that it doesn't touch the ground once you put your weight on it. 
3. Stand with your feet, hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and back straight.
4. Keep your eyes on the horizon for best stability.
5. Keep your paddle in a vertical orientation, using your core muscles to propel yourself, not just your arms. For a more detailed explanation of paddling technique, check out this helpful video

Susan's paddle boards were rented and delivered to Christopher Columbus Condos from Paradise Paddle. Each rental includes a paddle board, paddle, leash, life vest and a crash-course lesson (if you want one), making it an excellent option for a first-timer. Paradise Paddle offers a variety of other items like kayaks and snorkel gear, as well, if you want to go all out on your next ocean adventure!

Did we miss any must-know tips for beginning paddleboarders? Let us know your paddleboarding secrets in the comments below! 
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Countdown to Cayman

One of our very favorite comments to see guests post on social media, is “30 more days” or insert just about any number in the quotes! (Meaning 30 or however many more days until you and your family or friends get to join us at Christopher Columbus Condos.)

We love these comments because we know it means you're so excited that you're literally counting down the days. And we don’t blame you. Grand Cayman is the best place in the entire world. Although, we may be just a little biased. ;)

So, whether you are about to make your first trip to visit us or you are coming back for the 5th time, we thought it would be nice to share a few creative ways to countdown to Cayman and build on the excitement.

Craft time!


  1. Make a Dry Erase Sign

Print out a sign with any words you want and put in a glass frame! Grab a dry erase marker and update the number everyday.

Download our PDF here


   
spotify island playlist
  2. Create Your Own Pineapple Countdown

A tropical twist on a classic construction paper craft. You'll need scissors, a pencil, tape and of course, construction paper. Take off a ring each day, and when it's gone it's time to go to the beach!

Get Instructions


     

  3. Eat One Treat a Day

This idea is both delicious and helpful for kids to see how much time has passed and how much is left before your big trip! Fill up a jar with whichever candy or snack you choose. With each day that passes by eat one piece of the snack inside until the day you leave for your Cayman Vacation!

Download the Printable

     

  4. Download a Countdown App on Your Phone

There are a ton of options for both Android and iPhone users to download an app and carry their countdown to Cayman reminder with them wherever they go! We like the Dreamdays (iPhone app & Android app) because you can customize your event background with your own photos. (You can also use backgrounds provided with the app for 99¢.)

If you use any of the ideas above or if you've done something else to countdown to Cayman we would love to see it! Use the hashtag #loveccc and #countdowntocayman and we may feature your post on the Christopher Columbus Condos social media pages!

Hopefully these tips add extra excitement before your trip, and if you don't already have a trip planned get to planning over on our Availability and Rates page!

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When I arrived for a tour of the Crystal Caves, I expected to just learn about things like stalagmites and stalactites. But thanks to tour guide Donovan Ebanks, I came back from the excursion with a new appreciation for the history, flora, and ecology of Grand Cayman.

As he drove the tour group down a winding road, Donovan told us that the caves are located 62 feet above sea level, which is the highest point on Grand Cayman. There are over one hundred caves across seventy-five acres, three of which were open to the public at the time we visited with more openings to come in the future. 

Donovan grew up around three miles from the Crystal Caves on his grandfather’s fifty-acre farm. He eventually made a move to the United States, where he worked as a bartender in San Diego for around twenty-five years. He ended up back home on Grand Cayman when a San Diego connection recruited him to come work as a tour guide for Crystal Caves. As a child, Donovan explored the caves with his friends, so it felt like there wasn't anyone better to show us around. 

Along the pathway, Donovan stopped to point out the red birch tree. He called it the living fence post, but also the Tourist Tree. “Why do we call it the Tourist Tree? Cuz it’s red and peelin’.” He knocked away a few peels of bark and waited for our laughter.

That wasn’t the only funny joke Donovan had up his sleeve, however, and he would frequently make a joke, wait a beat, and then exclaim, “Just kidding guys!” Donovan was great with the kids on the tour, making sure to explain certain facts just to them so they didn’t feel left out.

Once inside the first of three caves, Donovan explained how he and his friends would come explore the caves. Before the caves were cleared out for visitors to enjoy, they were filled with rocks and red sand, which meant no clear walkways or paths. Donovan said he’d crawl through the caves on his hands and knees, playing with his friends and gaining them all amateur-spelunker status. He was sure to warn us that the red sand is impossible to get out of clothing, so we should be careful. While he didn’t mention getting in trouble as a kid for coming home covered in stains, I did wonder how his grandfather must have felt about it!

Outside each cave and along the walkways, Donovan would stop to point out specific trees and plants and their many uses. “Take a look,” he’d say and would let us gather around. He explained that the green papaya is the best world’s meat tenderizer. Amazingly, the fruit off soursop trees can be made into a tea that helps fight high blood pressure and even has  properties that can prevent cancer. The ironwood tree provides wood as sturdy as the name suggests—Donovan’s grandfather’s house was framed with ironwood and withstood many hurricane seasons in Grand Cayman.

Donovan also explained how the bounty of the land provided the island with economic opportunities in early settlement days. Leaves from the Silver Thatch Palm were weaved into ropes and hats that were sold to traders, as well as used for roof thatching at home. The Silver Thatch Palm is indigenous to the Cayman Islands and is not only the national tree but also makes an appearance on the country’s flag.

Inside the caves, Donovan showed us some of the more noteworthy formations and shared the fun names the staff and other tourists had come up with, including the cathedral room, the Statue of Liberty, and the dragon. There was even a formation that looked like a head and was wearing a pair of sunglasses. "These caves are very much alive," he told us, explaining that the water droplets that sprinkled us in the head meant the stalactites were growing, albeit very slowly. "If you get hit with a water droplet, it's seven years good luck!" By the time we were through, I'd saved up enough good luck to last me several decades. 

While the Crystal Caves were beautiful, I was most interested in Donovan’s knowledge of the island. His stories brought a new appreciation for the Cayman people, their resourcefulness, and the landscape of the island itself. I wasn't the only one—at the end of the tour, another guest from New Jersey turned to me and said, “I think what Donovan had to say about all the plants was the best part.”

Check out the Crystal Caves for yourself, and if you see Donovan, be sure to ask him about his dance moves. :)

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Cayman Girls Trip

Sometimes a girls trip is just what I need to relax, make a few wonderful memories, and eat delicious food with my favorite ladies.

What better destination to do all of these things than Grand Cayman? Once we had the destination and our group finalized, we also had to plan for travel and arrival times. With 9 women arriving on 3 separate flights on the same day, this step was an absolute necessity! 

After everyone made it to the island safely, we headed to Christopher Columbus where our refrigerator was already stocked with all of our special food needs to get us through the week, thanks to Kayann Stephens of My Kayman Concierge.

Later that night, our first dinner of the week was delivered to our condo by Angelo Guizio, owner of Edoardo’s Italian Restaurant – mouth watering dishes, no prep and easy clean-up!

When day two came, we were ready to soak up some sun and feel the sand between our toes! All it took was a few steps out of our room onto CCC's private beach.  

After a full day lounging on Seven Mile Beach we were ready for dinner. Tonight's stop was Calypso Grill  in West Bay. Thanks to Marcos Ebanks and his big taxi/van for nine (almost like it was made for us), there were no parking hassles at one of the most popular restaurants on the island! After a week of delicious eating, the ladies declared Calypso Grill to be the favorite!

On day three it was time for some serious shopping! The group headed to Georgetown to hit the jewelry stores. Kirk Freeport even brought out the champagne when they saw the sales adding up! Thanks Raj and Susan. The shopping wasn’t over without a stop at Camana Bay with lunch at The Brooklyn, and a look at the island from the sixth floor observatory Tower. The beautiful underwater mosaic mural wall makes for the perfect photo background. It is a truly beautiful work of art – not to be missed. Our dinner that night at Morgans, on the water at The Cayman Islands Yacht Club, was a perfect way to end the day.

Day four was our day on and in the water, boating to Stingray City, snorkeling the coral reef, lunch at Kaibo, and a stop at Starfish Point. Kayann, our concierge, came through once again. She set us up with Captain Chris Bailey of Cayman Adventure Tours, and sent us off from the Yacht Club with a platter of fresh fruit and warm wishes for a great adventure. Captain Chris took amazing professional photos of each of us with the stingrays, and got even the most fearful comfortable enough to kiss the rays!

After an amazing day on the water, dinner was a joint effort by all back at the condo, with each of us ready to relax for the evening. This girls trip turned high school slumber party on more than one night. What better way to enjoy the company of good friends, than sitting around in our PJs, sharing stories, and drinking wine? (Well, maybe that wasn’t part of high school!)

A long standing tradition at Christopher Columbus is the beach barbecue by Chef John. The chef, now in his 80s, with help from his many family members, serves a meal of chicken, ribs, salads, rice and beans and homemade pies that would be the envy of every backyard (in this case, beachside) cook! With a picture perfect sunset photo, Lisa, our office manager, was on hand to record our last night together before four of the girls headed home the next day.

Managing our five, but missing the four who went home, we journeyed to the South Sound for another shopping/browsing stop at Pure Art. This place is a must – a bit of old Cayman with a quirky and totally charming collection of everything from fine art to fun jewelry, beach signs, and accessories for the island home. After Pure Art, the serious shoppers were still in shopping mode, so we made a stop at the tee shirt shop, Sun Dog, and the Kennedy Gallery to view more fine art. 

During this trip, we had our share of delicious island cuisine accompanied by a myriad of tropical cocktails and plenty of wine, although the best part was making memories with friends. Kayann, our concierge, came through one last time after learning our interest of the benefits of coconut water, stopped by the condo with coconuts. They were peeled and ready for a straw, one for each of us. We found they tasted best when a splash of rum was poured into each – do the health benefits still prevail? We like to think so!

The best part of our girls trip was being together in a beautiful setting, laughing, sharing life stories, making new ones, and strengthening friendships. The trip was such a success, we are planning to return in two years to celebrate some milestone birthdays. And what better place to do it than this island paradise!

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One of the things I love most about vacationing on Grand Cayman is that I get to intentionally leave the stresses of life far behind me, even if it’s only for a week or so. It’s an opportunity to decompress, let go, and fully detach from my daily routine back home. I certainly do my fair share of snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and other fun activities on the island, but what I really look forward to are the soothing sounds of the rhythmic ocean tide on 7 mile beach, or a breath-taking West Bay sunset from a condo at Christopher Columbus Condos. I have discovered that it’s the simple experiences like these that are healing for the mind, body, and soul.

In addition to feeding my senses with the natural beauty of the island, I also make a point during each visit to treat myself to a full body massage at one of the many excellent spa options that GC has to offer. There are many that suggest there is scientific evidence for the healing benefits of massage therapy. I’m not sure if that is true, but I can tell you anecdotally that it definitely works for me.

Up until my recent visit to Grand Cayman, I would typically choose a “deep tissue” treatment over the traditional “Swedish” style massage. However on our last trip to Cayman, I was introduced to my first authentic “Thai massage” at Touch of Thai Day Spa and Salon.

Thai massage, or “Thai yoga massage” is a very ancient form of therapy that was originally practiced over 2,500 years ago. Unlike many other treatments, Thai massage requires you to be fully dressed (in very loose clothing that resemble pajamas) and uses no oils. Instead the practitioner uses intense acupressure, assisted yoga poses, and deep stretching to release the body’s tension and achieve maximum relaxation.

At first (and in full disclosure), I found the acupressure to be a bit excruciating, as the practitioner used her elbows, knees and thumbs to pinpoint specific areas of my body. I began to question my judgement and wonder what I had gotten myself into. But as she started combining the acupressure with coordinated stretching positions, my muscles seemed to more fully cooperate, the pain progressively subsided, and I could literally feel the tension leaving my body. For the next 45 minutes, I was able to get into a deep and relaxed state that can only be achieved with a well orchestrated massage. Upon completion, I was offered some fresh herbal tea and allowed to sit and reflect comfortably in a quiet room until I was ready to leave. Overall, I felt a tremendous sense of well-being and clarity, and my body felt fully rejuvenated.

Although this was my first Thai massage, I knew at that moment that it would not be my last. It certainly was not the experience I was anticipating, but the end result was better than any imagined. What I typically tell others is “If you can make it past the first 10 minutes, you are guaranteed one of the greatest relaxation experiences of your life.”

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I’m going to dive ;) into my first submarine experience with a lot of honesty and a little bit of a backstory.

During my first trip to the Cayman Islands in the fall of 2015, one of the main activities I looked forward to the most was scuba diving. I imagined the experience would be once in a lifetime and anticipated seeing what the world looks like underwater and the creatures that call the sea home. It wasn’t until this trip that I had the opportunity to make my scuba diving wish a reality. After making arrangements with a local diving company, our instructor for the day picked my group up from the condos and took us to a beautiful location (right in the middle of Cracked Conch and Macabuca restaurant’s) we would dive from.

Over the course of the next hour, I could feel an irrational anxiety building up within me as the very educated and kind instructor explained to my group various hand signals and breathing techniques we would rely on while underwater. I’m not quite sure what came over me since I do not usually chicken out of participating in activities, although I somewhat chalk it up to the day before when I went swimming in choppy water. Let’s just say I struggled a bit, and had a few traumatic flashbacks to when I was four years old and thought I was drowning at my local swimming pool…I’m not exactly a fish. Anyway, I made the decision to stay on dry land while the others in my group continued on with the diving excursion (which they of course said was absolutely amazing).

Although I felt I made the right decision for myself, I still had the longing to go deep underwater and experience the sights and sea life found there. Once we returned to our condo, I started wondering if there was a way to satisfy both my desire to go underwater and be in a comfortable more familiar environment. I mean, I can’t be the only person frightened by the idea of scuba diving, right? I began researching online and that’s when I found the perfect solution. A submarine tour! I chose to book the day dive with Atlantis Submarine tours in George Town. As explained by their website “the submarines are specifically designed for underwater sightseeing excursions”, while the cabin is air conditioned and maintains sea pressure level, which means no effect on the ears.

When the day of my tour came I checked in at the front desk, (they require guests to arrive 15 minutes prior to tour start time) received my boarding pass and waited for my group’s turn. The tour guide Richard, introduced himself, announced our departure, and we boarded our awaiting sub-shuttle to take us to the submarine. While riding the shuttle Richard explained to us a few basic safety procedures boasting over 70,000 dives with no need to use the emergency safety gear! I felt as though I was in good hands.

Next up, we arrived at the submarine anchored to a small tug boat at the Jackson Point dive site. Once in the submarine we were introduced to Captain Rodney who has 28 years of diving experience under his belt, as well as our Co-captain Delroy. Before we began our dive underwater Captain Rodney went through several safety and security checkpoints with the crew members staying above water to make sure the sub was in prime working condition. During this process everyone on board was also informed that Captain Rodney would be in constant communication with the crew above throughout the entire dive. 

Since I was by myself for this particular tour, I chose to sit near the front of the submarine and make friends with Richard and Captain Rodney. They were both incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They also took the time to answer my questions and point out a specific fish or other marine life swimming by the submarine to ensure the passengers wouldn't miss a moment! At one point we even saw an eel which Richard said was very rare during the daytime since they like to hide in the dark! 

We descended for awhile finally reaching our maximum depth of 102 ft. although the particular submarine we were in can go as far down as 150 ft. Before I knew it, we were back up to the surface boarding the sub-shuttle back to land, but not before getting our certificates stating that we completed the dive. I enjoyed this special little touch, and I'm sure the kiddos would love receiving these even more!

I had an enjoyable experience with Atlantis submarines, and since no two dives are the same I would go back under in a heartbeat!

Read reviews for Atlantis Submarines on Trip Advisor

Atlantis also provides a night dive for a chance to see the creatures that only come out at night. (Wednesday nights only.)

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I've heard that you can save quite a bit of money when booking your flights and car rental together for Cayman, so I decided to look into it. My research showed that sometimes you can get a great deal and sometimes you can actually end up paying more! So how do you know when you're getting a deal and when you're not? We've laid out tips for the top 3 travel booking websites below.

Orbitz, Travelocity & Expedia

From my research I found total savings around $200, but I also found that you can pay up to $200 more for a car rental if you choose a car that doesn't note a savings. You will find slight variations in savings offered, but all three websites work exactly the same, so the tips below apply to all three.

  • I never found significant savings on flights-maybe a few cents here or there, but from my research all of the savings was found on the car rentals. 
  • Once you get to the Car selection if there are any savings available there will be a green check mark with a message that reads "Save up to $___ when you book your Flight + Car together."
  • However, make sure that the car you Select has an actual savings because they show you all cars not just ones with savings. If there is a savings, the original price will be marked out and your savings will be noted in green text right above the Select button for that car.
  • By default your car selections are organized by Price, but if you want to see Package Savings first you can click to sort by that option.
  • Finally, when you are finalizing your booking you should see a line item for "Savings for booking together" in your fee summary. If you don't see this line item, then you are most likely not saving anything and quite possibly paying more.

If you have a choice in airlines and/or departure airports check out package deals with all departure options. I found the car rental savings vary depending on which airline you use and where you're coming from. Flights with Cayman Airways had some really awesome car rental deals.

I couldn't figure out their exact algorithms as results changed slightly depending on so many variables, but hopefully the tips above will prevent you from over-paying on "package deals". The good news is that either way, you will still end up chilling out with us on Seven Mile Beach where all your worries can fade away.

Also, read why we recommend renting a car. 
ADVICE FOR RENTING A CAR IN CAYMAN >>
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