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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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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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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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I was so excited when I first heard about the "Explorer Passport" created by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.  I've been visiting Cayman for about 5 years, and was surprised to discover that I'd been to less than half of the places included in the passport. There are some points of interest that I hadn't even heard of which goes to show there is always something new to discover on this island.

The passport is an awesome activity booklet that the National Trust created to promote the cultural, historical and natural wonders of the island. It has 39 points of interest inside and comes with a poster-map and stickers to place on each location as you visit them.

The booklet describes the significance of each attraction and has extra tips for things to do, try or look for at each place. You'll find yourself eager to go to each spot so you can proudly put another sticker on your map. Kids will love the stickers and fun activities, and adults—you will love developing a deep sense of connection to the island as you learn more about what makes it so special; and who are we kidding, you will love the stickers, too!

The fun doesn't stop with the stickers and the map either. There are extra tips in the booklet which are presented as 3 things to check off at every place. The tips give even more reason to visit each attraction and made me want to revisit most of the places I had already been so I could experience something I missed the first time. For instance, one of the points of interest is Boggy Sand Road; the book explains that the street is lined with historic homes and the extra tips ask if you've seen:

  • Gingerbread fretwork (each district was known for its unique style)
  • Zinc roofs and expansive verandas
  • Traditional sand yards trimmed with conch shells

Although I've been to this sweet street before, I didn't know to look for these things that are culturally significant to the island. It made me want to go back and check off each item and read more about the traditional architecture in Cayman. 

The map even includes some culturally important places that few locals know about. While I was taking pictures of Miss Lassie's House, another place in the passport, a jogger approached on what seemed like her daily route. She saw me taking photos of the house and then saw the house. She stopped, pulled out her phone and took a couple of snapshots of the place saying she had never noticed it before. It's amazing what you miss when you're not looking for something.

There's so much joy in the "hunt," and taking your passport along on an island road-trip makes for easy exploring. A lot of the attractions are free and you can drive up to several of them anytime (even on Sundays when many island shops and attractions are closed).

So grab the passport and hit the road for some adventure. I suggest taking the day as it comes. Just pick a place on the map and go! Since some of the attractions are "off the beaten path" you'll discover a lot of things along the way, too. For instance, my husband and I found Dart Park by The National Trust—one of the stops on the map. At Dart Park you'll find super cool trees, an iron-shore full of fossils and little hermit crabs. It wasn't on the map, but we wouldn't have discovered it if we hadn't pulled in to see the Trust. We also happened upon a stretch of highway that followed the southern coastline just past Miss Lassie's House. Somehow in the five years I'd been frequenting Cayman we always bypassed that stretch of coastal highway and it was really pretty. I was so glad we found it.

Some of my favorite spots on the map have been Spotts Beach (for the sea turtles!), Crystal Caves and Heritage Beach. Honestly, I've enjoyed visiting them all, but I don't want to spoil any more of the fun for you.

Pick up your very own "Explorer Passport" at the National Trust and start discovering Cayman like never before. The packet only costs $10 KYD, and you'll have a blast checking off each location. Enjoy, and let us know when you've checked off all 39!

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Cayman is for the KIDS!
I think it’s fair to say that most adults who get even a small glimpse of Cayman’s magnificent views and vast ocean want to immediately book their next vacation here.

The big question: is it a good destination for both the adults AND the kids? You better believe it.

If you need more convincing than just me saying so, (I’m not sure why you would ;)) here are 5 reasons your kids will love vacationing in Cayman just as much as you.

1. Christopher Columbus Condos Kiddie Pool

Let’s start real close to home, shall we? With our zero-entry kiddie pool even your littlest ones can take a safe dip in the water. The small pool is conveniently located between the gazebo and larger pool, not to mention in a prime location right next to the toy chest we like to keep stocked for our pint-sized friends. 

2. Cayman Turtle Centre

If the kids in your family love animals, the Cayman Turtle Centre is a must-visit attraction! This centre is both entertaining as well as informative with the Education Centre teaching about turtles and their history in Grand Cayman. Even better, if you happen to visit during breeding season (May-October) you just might witness a new hatchling coming up through the sand of their incubation boxes!

Of course, the most popular experience for kids at the Turtle Centre is the Touch Tank Wading Pools. In these special pools, your kids can get in the shallow tank with the turtles and briefly pick them up! Talk about a perfect photo opp.

3. Atlantis Submarine Dive

Most activities in Cayman will include water for obvious reasons, and although this example is no exception, you will stay completely dry! Speaking from personal experience, the Atlantis Submarine Dive is a great way to explore all the mystery and beauty that lives underwater. The Atlantis tour is also a great alternative to scuba diving if you have children that are too young or apprehensive. The submarine is pressurized so there is no discomfort and the crew follows a list of safety procedures. Submarine dives are also offered both day and night.

Read more about Atlantis Submarines Tours

4​Stingray City

Don't let the name scare you. These Stingrays are incredibly friendly and love visitors. Especially visitors that bring food! Arguably the most popular attraction on the island, Stingray City is a one-of-a-kind way for you and your kids to get up close with Stingrays in their natural habitat. You can reach down to pet their soft skin as they swim by and feed them. Many catamaran tours visit Stingray City and take your picture with one of the local stingrays!

5. Paddle boarding
Another activity that can be enjoyed on the CCC beachfront is Stand Up paddle boarding, a.k.a SUP. This activity could take a little trial and error for those who struggle with staying balanced, but still provides a ton of fun. Many SUP rentals in Grand Cayman will also deliver the boards to Christopher Columbus and pick them up when you're done. 

If you imagined your kids taking part in any or all of these island activities then your family vacation planning is already halfway complete. Oh, and if you need a place to stay we've got you covered there too! 
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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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Deep in the mangrove forests you will find blissful shade, interesting wildlife and peace for days. My fiancé and I recently took a kayak tour with Sea Elements through the Central Mangrove Wetlands of Cayman, and it's an activity I would highly recommend. Our tour guide Mandy was so awesome and made the trip fascinating and fun.

We started the tour by boarding our kayaks from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club. Mandy gave us a 10 minute tutorial on how to maneuver around before we boarded our little vessels. I'd only kayaked once before and felt totally comfortable once on board. We left the bay, paddled past gorgeous waterfront homes and then crossed the open waters of the sound channel to the main mangrove area. As we passed by the mangroves, I saw iguanas poking their heads out of the trees and sunbathing on the limbs. They looked like kings up there.

kayaking through canal

We learned that there are 3 types of mangrove trees in Cayman. The red, black and white mangroves make up one of the most important ecological elements of Grand Cayman providing an irreplaceable habitat for many species, protecting the mainland from storms, helping provide rainfall to the West End and—my favorite—filtering out the residue from murky waters resulting in the crystal clear waters for which Cayman is known. While on the tour, our guide Mandy, told us how to tell the 3 types of mangroves apart which included scratching the leaves and licking them too!

As we were navigating around the perimeter of the mangrove forest, Mandy found little spots at which we could stop and rest while she taught us fun facts. She plucked flora and fauna from the trees and the water for us to handle and see. The first was an upside down jellyfish also known as Cassiopeia. She told us to look for green bean looking things hanging from the red mangrove and explained that those are actually little mangrove plants that would eventually fall and take root. I was impressed to learn that they could live up to a year floating on water before planting their roots. We also handled a poisonous algae that makes up much of the sand on the beaches here. Luckily the algae isn't poisonous to humans! We laughed when Mandy told us the other "ingredient" that makes up the sand. You'll have to take the tour to find that one out. ;)

collage of mangroves

We wandered around the perimeter for awhile until heading into the mangroves through small creek like channels. We paddled those for some time and then took a turn into a very narrow pathway. With paddles now stowed in the kayak we used our hands to grab branches and pull our way through the coolest tree-webbed passageway. I had no idea we'd be going through them like this and was excited as we slowly made our way through. Everyone was quiet as we soaked in our surroundings deep in the mangroves.

Exiting the passageway we saw a blue heron take flight, and would later see two more. I'd never seen them so close! We pulled over again and Mandy showed us mermaid's cup, a little algae plant with a suction like cup that looks like a wine glass. She stuck it to her nose and then continued to share more.

During one of our "pull-overs" she picked up a squishy little sea creature that didn't look like much more than larvae. However, we learned that this little creature informally called a sea squirt is the only animal in the world that grows a bacteria that's used to treat soft cell cancers. With this, Mandy reminded us with sweet class how important it is to protect the small things!

learning about the mangrove forest

After about 2 hours we found our way back to the dock where we had started. I left with a new respect for the mangroves and my curious soul satisfied. Mandy was truly a pro and had an admirable passion for the the mangroves. Holding a degree in Marine Biology, she was full of knowledge but we especially loved how she communicated in layman's terms.

Next time you are in Cayman, definitely make time for a trip to the Central Mangrove Wetlands. I'd suggest bringing sunscreen, an appetite for learning and a sense of humor if you plan to kayak with a partner! You can learn more about the tour we took on Sea Elements website.


Learn about more exciting things to do in Cayman! 
Our Favorite Activities >>
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