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Twenty years ago, Aaron Hunt wouldn’t have seen himself where he is now. Today he serves as an unlikely hero to some of the Cayman Islands’ most vulnerable animal species: coral. With a love of the sea and a lifetime of lessons under his belt, he is the founder of Eco Divers, a not-for-profit dive shop with a mission to reinvigorate the coral population.

We were recently able to sit down and chat with Aaron about his life and how he and Eco Divers are paving a new way for coral sustainability. 

Color Me Coral

Aaron grew up and spent much of his life in Sacramento, California, thousands of miles from any type of coral reef. He served in the Army from 1993 to 2001 as an M1A1 tank commander. After retiring from the military life, he studied computers in college, and eventually became a computer specialist and network systems administrator for a series of small businesses around the Sacramento area.

It was during this time that Aaron developed a fascination for coral—some might even call it an obsession. He built his own 500-gallon coral propagation system in his home. He lived with a beautiful, albeit small, coral reef in his living room, but he wanted to get even closer to the animals he had grown to love so much. The best way to do that? Scuba diving.

In 2006, Aaron took up scuba diving and began working as a part-time divemaster helping instructors teach classes at a local Sports Chalet, which is a sporting goods store found only in parts of the Western United States that went out of business a few years ago. (I took dive lessons at a Sports Chalet in Las Vegas when I was a kid.) Aaron watched the students he taught travel to exotic places for dive trips, and he wanted to do the same.

If you couldn’t tell already, Aaron isn’t the kind of guy to go halfway on anything. When he loves something—like the military, computers, or coral—he goes all in. His work with scuba wasn’t going to be any different. Not only did he want to travel to exotic places, he wanted to move to an exotic place, dive for a living, and work with coral.

“So I read every one of our travel guides,” Aaron said. “I knew I wanted to stay in the Caribbean, but one book seemed different than the others. It spoke of friendly people and quality of life, rich history of scuba, and a prosperous community.”

Where was this amazing place? You guessed it: Grand Cayman.

The Eco Divers Story

In 2009, Aaron made his move to Grand Cayman and began his new life. He became a dive instructor, able to teach classes on his own, and trained as a captain, all while remembering his love for coral.

In 2014, Aaron founded Eco Divers. Not your typical dive exploration group, Eco Divers is focused on “diving with a mission” to help the coral reefs around Grand Cayman.

Coral reefs are believed to be some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and the reefs around the Cayman Islands are no different. Coral reefs are home to hundreds of species of coral and other animals and are vulnerable to disease, bleaching, increases in ocean temperatures, and other threats. As a result, reefs in the Caribbean are suffering and a significant number of them are dying or already dead.

This is where the Eco Divers Reef Foundation team comes in. Over the past few years, they have been building spawning structures around Grand Cayman that help grow new coral species. These corals are then transplanted to existing reefs where they thrive and help redevelop the ecosystem.

The best part is: they’ve seen success—90 percent of their coral are surviving.

“In two years, we have seen an increase in coral abundance from three to seven every half kilometer to finding two hundred to two hundred and fifty,” Aaron said.

Get Involved

Anyone interested in helping the Eco Divers mission can do so when they visit Grand Cayman. They offer opportunities for individuals to see the coral spawn structures no matter what level of diver you are.

Beginners can participate in the Discovery Coral Diving program, a short lecture, and class that leads groups straight to one of the nursery sites. For more experienced divers, PADI offers a Coral Reef Renewal Distinctive Specialty course that is offered through Eco Divers. This enrolls divers in their volunteer effort and opens up new experiences for those wanting to help sustainable coral restoration.

If diving isn’t your thing, Eco Divers hosts fundraising events on a regular basis including pub quiz events.

Serving Others

Aaron Hunt has used his unique skills as a former soldier and network administrator to create a successful coral management foundation in Grand Cayman. In addition to helping the reefs, he is using his skills to give back to the community in other ways. Eco Divers is an active member of the Inspire Cayman project with a mission to help young Caymanians become leaders in Cayman’s dive industry.

“My experiences in the military, explaining computers to frustrated customers, growing and managing corals, and then working as an instructor have all formed into this unexpected, timely series of skills,” Aaron said. “I am truly blessed to live today with my lifetime of experiences. Instead, I get to apply all of these seemingly unconnected skills together and use them to return vitality to coral populations.”

If you’re interested in going on an Eco Divers dive exploration, visit their website, www.caymanecodivers.com or give them a call at 345-938-4904.

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The holidays are a big deal on the Cayman Islands full of Christmas bus tours, big family gatherings, delicious meals, and a lot of fun. Caymanians spend months preparing for Christmas (and sometimes even months preparing dishes for the big day—Christmas Cake we’re looking at you). It’s truly a magical time of year, but if you aren’t able to celebrate in Grand Cayman, don’t worry—we’ve gathered up some traditional Caymanian recipes that will give you a little taste of Cayman while at home.

Main Course

Cayman Style Beef

One of the best ways to bring Cayman to your Christmas dinner is with Cayman Style Beef. This tradition holds a special place in Cayman culture, reminding us of a time beef and other foods weren’t easily accessible on island. Each family had their own recipe, adding different ingredients that fit their tastes. Even today, the beef takes all day to cook.

Making Cayman Style Beef takes patience, so if you’re up for the challenge, follow this recipe and don’t be afraid to add your own ingredients too!

Cayman Fish Rundown

Traditionally, Caymanians had little choice but to get most of their food from the sea. A popular dish was fish rundown. Rundown, a thick stew or sauce, has been popular on the island for a very long time but is most commonly referred to in tradition as Fish Stew or Fish Dinner. This simple yet hearty meal could be made in large batches and, again, could have a variety of ingredients based on available fish and preferred spices. Typically, the meal includes the gravy or sauce, fish, and starchy dumplings.

If you’re wanting to celebrate the holidays with a truly beachy flavor, try Fish Rundown for your Caymanian Christmas meal.

Photo of Fish Rundown courtesy of National Trust.

Photo of Fish Rundown courtesy of National Trust. 

Sides

Rice and Peas

Don’t let the name scare you away. Caymanian “rice and peas” are actually just a special twist on black beans and rice. Made with coconut milk, this side dish has a taste of the Caribbean you won’t find in other versions of rice and beans. It makes the perfect side for your holiday supper.

Cayman Style Potato Salad

Just like in the states, potato salad is a staple at Cayman events. Potato salad is served at Easter, casual weekend get-togethers, and, of course, Christmas. Cayman potato salad is similar to potato salad made in the states, but a distinct difference on the ingredient list are beets which add unique flavor and color.


Dessert

Macaroni Pudding

I know what you’re thinking: “macaroni for dessert?” It sounds crazy, but Macaroni Pudding is one of Cayman’s most popular desserts. Much like bread pudding, this pudding meal combines a delicious combination of sweet spices, raisins, and, yes, elbow macaroni. Trust us when we say it tastes great!

Christmas Cake

Christmas cake reportedly originated in England and eventually made its way to the Cayman Islands where it has remained a popular holiday staple. Comparable to a fruit cake, this dessert includes a variety of fruits, spices, and, of course, rum. Christmas cake can take anywhere from 48 hours to a year to prepare and is very customizable. Every family has a different way of making their Christmas Cake and the tradition is taken seriously. We found this basic recipe for you to follow and modify as you wish.

Photo courtesy of National Trust.

If you're interested in learning more about Caymanian style cooking, check out one of the National Trust's Traditional Cooking classes next time you're on island.

Caymanians love the holidays, and love sharing these traditions with others. By incorporating some of these traditional dishes into your holiday celebration, you can have a little bit of the islands in your own home.

If this taste of Cayman wanting more, then call Lisa or Josephine in our office at 345-945-4354 to book your stay with us in Cayman or you can book right now online.


Thank you to the National Trust for allowing us to use their photos in this article. If you're interested in learning more about the National Trust and their Traditional Cooking Classes, visit their website.

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You know what’s awesome about Cayman? It's even beautiful when it rains. Most of the time, our rain comes and goes in quick spurts (lasting no more than an hour), but every once in a while, we get a day when the sun doesn’t seem to want to shine. For those days we’ve made a list of things you can do and ways you can enjoy a day in Cayman rain or shine!

Visit the Cinema at Camana Bay.

On a rainy day, there is nothing better than sitting in a dark theater eating a big tub of popcorn. As the only movie theater in Grand Cayman, a trip to the Camana Bay Cinema is a unique experience that features all the latest films, a packed concession menu, and comfortable seating. The state-of-the-art theater offers a cozy place to relax with the family out of the rain.

After the film, take a stroll through Camana Bay. Though the area is mostly outdoors, there are plenty of local shops to duck into such as 3 Girls and A Kiln, Forever Summer, and West Indies Wine Company. Stop by Books & Books to pick up some new reading material or board game for a night in at your condo. There are also plenty of restaurants to stop by for a snack or a full meal.



Experience the National Gallery

Stay dry and view some beautiful pieces of art at the National Gallery. This cultural hub features artists from all over the world, showcasing some truly stunning examples of visual art. From traditional Cayman artwork to internationally recognized masterpieces, the National Gallery is sure to amaze. You can easily spend a couple of hours moving from exhibit to exhibit, taking a moment to appreciate each brushstroke and sketched line. You can also check their calendar to see what fun events they have coming up for your family to enjoy.

Tour the Distillery

Have you ever wanted to see how your favorite spirits were made? At the Cayman Spirits Company Distillery Tour, you can! The 30-minute tour of the 5,000 square foot facility will give you a taste of how some of Grand Cayman’s favorite rums and vodkas are produced. The best part is you get to taste all of the results at the end of the tour. If you find one you like, you can bring it home for a nice drink on the beach later.

Have a Night In

The best part about staying at Christopher Columbus Condos (besides the views, of course!) is the fact that every unit has a fully stocked kitchen, television, and comfortable furniture making it the perfect place for a relaxing night in. Many of the condos come with fun board games you can enjoy. Head down to Foster’s to pick up the ingredients for a delicious home-cooked meal or order delivery pizza from Gino’s and then gather round for a movie. There’s no better way to spend an evening.

Pamper Yourself

Just because it’s dreary outside, doesn’t mean you have to be, too. Rainy days are the perfect days to focus on relaxing and getting in some self-care. Consider getting a massage, visiting a salon for a full mani-pedi, or get stretching at one of Grand Cayman’s yoga studios. If you’d rather stay in your condo, consider a homemade face mask you can make with simple kitchen ingredients like sugar, coffee, and honey. Let the face mask do its job while you kick back with a book and a cup of tea.

Try Some Place New

With so many restaurants to choose from on Grand Cayman, there’s bound to be one you haven’t tried yet. Here are some of our places to add to your list:

  • Yoshi: One of the only places to get authentic Japanese cuisine on Grand Cayman, you can’t miss Yoshi if you enjoy sushi, hibachi, or other Japanese favorites.
  • Boggy Sand Caribbean Kitchen: Located a short drive from Christopher Columbus Condos, Boggy Sand is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Their diverse menu offers a variety of American favorites, comfort foods, and Cayman dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for fish, pizza, a burger or a salad, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste buds. They even have vegetarian options!
  • Every Bloomin’ Thing: If you’ve never attended a traditional afternoon tea service, this could be your chance. The EBT Tea Room features an assortment of teas, sandwiches, and homemade pastries and scones making it the perfect place for lunch. Despite being the spot for a traditional tea, EBT prides itself on being a casual dining experience anyone can enjoy.
A delicious plate at Yoshi.

Go to the Beach Anyways

We aren’t here to tell you how to live your life, so if you’re feeling the beach, go for it! Hey, you’ll already be wet so what’s a little rain anyway? As any mom would tell you, just make sure swimming conditions are safe and no lightning is present.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

There’s no need to put your vacation on hold because of a little rain. Grand Cayman offers so many activities for visitors it would be impossible not to find something to keep you having fun while staying dry. Just remember to take a look outside after the rain has passed to see if you can spot a rainbow. It makes for the perfect photo. 😉

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Last year, Christopher Columbus Condos was excited to become the first development on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lighting. Today, we are delighted to announce that thanks to this update, 142 baby sea turtles hatched on our beach earlier this week.

A few weeks ago, the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (DOE) began monitoring a nest that was found next to one of our beach huts. They determined that because of our turtle-friendly lighting, the eggs would not have to be moved to another location. On November 12, the eggs hatched and the tiny turtles made their way to the sea with a little help from the DOE and cheers from onlooking CCC guests.

CCC’s turtle-friendly lighting was installed as part of a partnership with the DOE in an effort to help preserve the sea turtle community. This was the first nest on our beach since the lighting was installed, and we hope for many more in the coming years.


*Photo courtesy of property manager Lisa!

What is turtle-friendly lighting?

Turtle nesting season occurs yearly between May and September, and hatchlings appear between July and November. Momma turtles come up onto the beach to lay their eggs, and then after 50–60 days, the hatchlings emerge and begin their journey back to the ocean.

When baby turtles hatch, they use the light of the moon to help navigate them to the ocean. Bright, blue-spectrum lighting on buildings can mimic the lighting of the moon, disorienting the hatchlings and leading them into dangerous places like further up the beach, nearby properties, or even roads. LED lights sit more on the orange end of the light spectrum, which doesn’t bother or confuse turtle hatchlings.

Due to the endangered status of green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles, the DOE is working on an official policy that would require new developments on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lights. These regulations would be based on similar ones enacted along the Florida coastline, which have been incredibly successful and world-renowned in helping preserve the turtle population.


Attractive and environmentally friendly

In addition to helping out our turtle friends, LED lighting is more energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing. The warm lighting creates a cozy, modern atmosphere outside the condos and around the pool. Enjoy watching the stars without distracting bright lights, and don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see your way back inside after taking in every second of gorgeous Cayman sunsets on the beach.

Owner Keith Holloway who oversaw the lighting installation last year says, Christopher Columbus is “invested in keeping the property current and modern for the enjoyment of our guests.” New lighting is one of many improvements that have been made in recent years, including in-unit wi-fi, enlarged laundry facilities, a roomy oceanside gazebo, and more.

*Photo courtesy of condo owner Marsha O'Daniel. This was taken in 2014 when the DOE came to CCC's section of the beach to assist some turtle hatchlings and allowed lucky viewers a chance to see the baby turtles up close.


Heads up for turtle nests

We would like to thank the DOE for monitoring the nest on our beach and for all the continued work they do preserving the sea turtle population in Grand Cayman. Guests can do their part in helping turtles as well. If you notice any turtle tracks on our segment on the beach, let a CCC staff member know or call the DOE directly as soon as possible. The DOE will properly secure and tag the nest so the hatchlings can have the best possible chances at survival. Remember, disturbing a turtle nest is against Cayman Islands’ law so if you see anyone harming a turtle or a nest, you should notify CCC staff or the Cayman police.

Since the DOE began monitoring nests on Seven Mile Beach in 1998, nest numbers have increased from just 30 a year to over 300. We hope that our new turtle-friendly lighting can help foster a comfortable and safe environment for many more nests to come!

This post was originally published on May 31, 2018 and updated November 14, 2019 to share great results from the original lighting project.


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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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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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Nadia Hardie is a natural leader, and I don't just say that because she is the leader of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. She is indeed the Executive Director, but when I first met her last fall at the National Trust, I was enamored by both her professionalism and charismatic personality. Nadia is definitely the kind of person I'd want to follow! 

She's a self proclaimed "Cayman Coconut," with a fascinating cultural background like so many others in Cayman. Although a world traveler practically from birth, Cayman has earned the beloved title of "home" for Nadia. She was born in Trinidad to a Welsh father and Austrian mother. She spent a brief time in the Bahamas as a baby, but lived most of her first eleven years in Switzerland. Then the family returned to the Caribbean, making Cayman their home in 1985—wow, can you imagine a lifetime of travel in just your first decade of life? And that was just the start for Nadia. After her family moved to Cayman she was back and forth between the Caribbean and London, where she attended boarding school and university.

Nadia remembers her summer holidays in Cayman with fondness. She grew up in a Cayman of about 20,000 people, where everyone knew everyone and it was safe to hitch a ride home from anyone driving by. She spent her summers walking from her house on South Church Street to the Holiday Inn on Seven Mile Beach. Without smartphones and social media to plan meetups, the beach at the Holiday Inn served as the local meetup and place socialize. "You knew if you went there everybody would be there."

After university Nadia spent a little over a decade working in London, and of course visiting her family in Cayman when she could. She felt a special yearning to return home to be with her family, so she took some time to backpack around the world and then settled back at home in Cayman in 2002. 

Nadia has a wide range of experience working in both of the major industries in Cayman: tourism and finance. She spent 10 years working in sales at different hotels across the island and another 6 years working for businesses like Deloitte in financial services. When asked about her current role at the National Trust, she says it's a dream come true. She gets to use the skills she's acquired in business over the years to help protect historic and environmental places of significance in the Cayman Islands. Taking care of her homeland is a mission that is near and dear to her heart. It's easy to see how much she loves this place when you talk to her about the work of the Trust.

In Nadia's own words, "Cayman is a lovely place to grow up," and now she and her husband, Damon, have the gift of raising their two girls, Sasha and Mia, here. Damon, originally from New Zealand, came to Georgetown to visit a friend and celebrate the new millennium in December of 1999 and never went back home. He got a job offer and phoned home that he was staying in the Caribbean. Shortly after, he and Nadia met and the rest is history.

When she's not working to protect Cayman, Nadia loves spending time with her family. They're an active family that love boating and the sports life. Nadia herself was a huge football (soccer) player and a "massive field hockey person." Now she laughs that her sport is driving her kids around from sport to sport. One daughter is a squash champion and the other is an excellent football player. "I encourage them to be as active as possible," Nadia adds. The family loves taking holiday vacations to New Zealand during their winter to ski and to the North Carolina mountains for a different landscape experience. She adds, "When we live here why would we go on a summer holiday? We have the best beaches right here."

We talk some more and Nadia tells me all about the work of The National Trust (perhaps enough for an entire blog post—hint hint—one that might be coming soon to a blog near you soon). ;) She also tells me about her furry love, Maisy, a Shih Tzu who's like her 3rd child and an absolute sweetheart. She starts to recommend local restaurants I should try: Vivine's on the East End, Singh's Roti in Georgetown, Champion House II (where you might meet Shelly), Vivo for the vegan hearted, and Alfresco's to dine on the beach. She leaves me with a book recommendation as well, for Don't Stop the Carnival. She says it's a hilarious comedy about escaping a mid-life crisis in the Caribbean. Maybe just the book to read next time you're on the beach! (Catch these tips to make that reading experience even better.)

Stay tuned for more from Nadia and The National Trust for the Cayman Islands as we share a post about all the great work the Trust is doing next month.
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One of the best questions you get to ask while visiting Cayman is “where are we going to eat next?” Boggy Sand Cafe is a Caribbean-inspired restaurant, located in the Jacques Scott Market Place, just 1 km from Christopher Columbus and next to the West Bay Foster’s Food Fair. In addition to knock-your-socks off food, the best part of my Boggy Sand experience was getting to meet Farah.

Upon first arriving at Boggy Sand Cafe, we were greeted with a huge smile by Farah, who would be our server. She seated us among an array of cheerful purple and green flower arrangements and joked we could take photos for the restaurant’s TripAdvisor page. Her warmth and humor were magnetic, and before long we were chatting.

Farah is from Jamaica originally, and she came to Cayman in the 1990s to work. When it comes to the island, she “loves everything about it,” from the peaceful atmosphere to all the friendly people, locals and tourists alike. "It's a very nice place to work." Farah has been at Boggy Sand as a food and beverage server since the restaurant opened, around one year ago. She said she’s big fan of the restaurant’s Caribbean menu and it’s bright and modern decor. In her down time, you can find Farah at the gym, where she likes to keep fit and active by doing little bit of everything—weightlifting, cardio, you name it.

While we waited for our food, I noticed that Farah checked on the other guests often, happily making conversation and asking questions with her dynamite smile. Since she seemed to enjoy the aspects of her job so much, I asked her what drew her to serving. “I have a passion for food and service. I love it, so I’m doing it!” she said with a laugh. Making people feel at home and comfortable is one of her great joys, and she loves to be around lots of people. Plus getting to meet so many new and different people at the restaurant is a big perk.

When it comes to the menu at Boggy Sand, you will be spoiled for choice. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as daily specials featuring extra Caribbean flair. Farah said her personal favorite dish is the jerk chicken, which she says is little spicy, but not overwhelming. Jerk chicken made its way to Cayman from Jamaica, so it also serves as a reminder of her home. 

If you’re looking to really shake up your next meal, Farah recommends the turtle stew, an authentic Cayman dish, adding “you have to be adventurous!” when you’re choosing your vacation eats. My personal recommendation is to start off with some spinach dip, which is served with fantastically seasoned sweet potato chips, and then check out their pizza menu. I had the margherita and I still dream of it now that I’m home—there's no skimping on basil at Boggy Sand!

Farah made us feel so welcome and taken care of during our visit that we didn't want to leave! Though Caymankindess radiates from all around the island, Farah's warmth and cheer was above and beyond. Next time you visit CCC, take the short trip down the road to Boggy Sands for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—or maybe even all three! Be sure to say hello to Farah and ask for her menu recommendations for the day.

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This post was written with traditional honeymooners in mind, but we'd like to think that we all need a little "honeymooning" in our life. Yea, we just made that a verb! So whether you're planning your first vacation as a married couple, you've been married 25 years or you're enjoying the single life this post has a little something for anyone looking to enjoy the romance that is life. Now let's set the stage!

It’s just the two of you now, ready to start your life of new adventures together and the first adventure is a big one. That’s right, the honeymoon. Before you get in the car and drive or board an airplane, you have to decide where your honeymoon destination will be.

You could choose big city, small country or even Disney, but we sincerely believe your best option is grand beach. Specifically, Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island.

With stunning beachfront views, crystal clear water and some of the best scuba diving spots in the world, Grand Cayman is the perfect backdrop for a romantic and adventurous honeymoon.

The Cozy Stay

Christopher Columbus Condos on Seven Mile Beach has 30 intimate units to choose from including 16 Ocean View and 4 Ocean View Penthouse units. Each unit includes a fully equipped kitchen for those who like to stay in and cook (for those who prefer to go out to eat, keep reading) and an open concept living room. The entire property also offers free WiFi and provides beach towels so you don’t have to worry about packing your own. To make your stay even homier our beloved Christopher Columbus staff is on site Monday-Saturday to accommodate all of your needs including daily housekeeping services.

With only 30 units the property is quiet, peaceful, and there's plenty of room on our large beach.

Speaking of beaches...

The Private Beach

One of our favorite spots to hang out on the entire property is of course our beach backyard! While on the beach you and your new spouse can relax under one of our 13 thatched huts and read a book, take a nap or:

  • Go snorkeling
  • Swim in the pool or ocean
  • Stand Up Paddleboard
  • Swing under a hut
  • Play bocce ball and so much more

The Food

Food is a basic necessity for survival. Amazing food is found in Cayman. In addition to traditional Caymanian cuisine, restaurants on the island offer Caribbean, European, Farm-to-Table and Mexican to name a few varieties. Check out this list of some of our favorite lunch spots to get your culinary adventure started.

The Memories to Make

After hearing about our private beach we wouldn’t judge you one bit if you and your new spouse relaxed on the beach or poolside everyday of your stay. However, if you do feel like seeing more of what our beautiful island has to offer we have a few suggestions for where to begin.

The Photo Opps

Honeymooning at Christopher Columbus is sure to leave you and your special someone with some amazing memories that you will cherish forever. If you’re wondering how it can get any better let’s talk about photo opportunities and the FOMO your family and friends are sure to have after seeing all your pictures.

Lover’s Wall

Lover’s Wall is a brick wall located along the East End on Sea View Road on the way to the Blowholes. It's red heart sign is the perfect spot for newlyweds to snap a keeper to frame later.

Sunsets

Picking a favorite Cayman sunset is just as wrong as picking a favorite child. The good news for honeymooners like yourselves, is a gorgeous sunset fills the sky every night creating a breathtaking backdrop for honeymoon photos. The unique lighting can also create a romantic silhouette shot.

CaymanKind

Finally, something we are 100% certain no other honeymoon destination will have. The kind, warm and inviting charisma from Cayman residents. They are delighted to share their love of the island and you'll be delighted you chose to honeymoon in Cayman.

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Have you ever been on a vacation or taken part in an activity where you can pinpoint a specific person who was vital in making the experience a memory you will cherish forever? For myself and many others visiting Stingray City for the first time, Luana Soro is that person. 

I met up with Luana at the Cayman Island Yacht Club in West Bay where a big white catamaran named Allura was waiting for its first tour group of the day. This particular morning, the group included 33 cruise ship passengers making their stop in Grand Cayman.

Although her official job is a photographer for Happy Snaps photography, a company that she co-owns with a friend from high school and two other Caymanian partners, Luana started the trip off in the role of a tour guide.

As she welcomed everyone on the boat, she quickly revealed her personality, making the experience enjoyable before a single stingray was spotted (“Sir, I love your purse.”).

Once everyone was settled in, Luana went over the basic ground rules of the boat and introduced us to the rest of the crew - Captain Glen and Captain Kirk (yes, really) - and informed everyone that she would give us further instructions once we got closer to the sandbar.

As we cruised to our destination, Luana shared that she used to be in dental work and began taking underwater pictures for fun while diving in Vancouver, where the water is equally clear but a lot colder than Cayman! After what she calls a "quarter life crisis," Luana moved to the Cayman Islands, switched career paths, and after a short 3 weeks on the island, she met her husband, "Australian Andrew!"

When our catamaran was almost to the sandbar, Luana began to explain to various small groups on board what to expect when we arrived at Stingray City and more importantly, what to expect from the stingrays themselves. Maybe somewhat surprisingly, this explanation was another example of how Luana made the experience exciting and memorable. As she was talking, you could tell how passionate she was about the animals we were about to see, affectionately referring to her stingray Dottie, who she has been holding for 9 years. You can tell the difference from one stingray to another by their markings. Dottie, as you probably already guessed, has dots on her back. 

Finally, we arrived at Stingray City where a few other charter boats and their passengers were in the water. I sat back for a bit, observing Luana take pictures while Captain Glen prepped Dottie for the perfect photo opportunity. It was during this time that I noticed something I consider a testament to Luana. As passengers from other boats were screaming and squealing in fearful reaction to these unknown animals surrounding them, there was not one single person from my group that yelled or seemed scared. In fact, myself and the other 34 passengers were completely calm compared to the other groups. 

Why? Because during the 45 minute ride to Stingray City, Luana shared sentiments like this: "They decide to come here, they come to see us and then they go home. They choose to come back and choose to trust you." If they want to be there and like being around people, then that means these stingrays will be friendly towards humans! 

After everyone had a turn, we loaded back up on the boat and Luana pulled up the pictures she took on her computer for people to look through and pick their favorites for purchase.
  
From her warm, welcoming personality to her love to be in the water and surrounded by the creatures that live there, Luana is truly Caymankind.

Check out these amazing shots she captured of myself and a friend during our trip: 








More fun facts about Luana:

  • She was born and raised in Sardinia, Italy and speaks Italian
  • She took pictures at Stingray City all the way up to the 8 1/2 month mark of her pregnancy! 
  • One of her favorites memories is of a 82 and 91 year old couple celebrating their wedding anniversary on the island and having the time of their life at Stingray City with 3 generations of their family! 
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