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The calming sound of steady waves. The refreshing feeling of the ocean breeze. The warm sun reflecting off of the clear blue water. Sitting on the white, sandy beaches of Seven Mile Beach is one of my favorite things to do when I'm on the island—it's so relaxing!

But because I spend most of my time working around the clock, it can be somewhat difficult to switch off. Even when I'm in vacation mode, it's hard for me to stop on a dime because I'm used to going 90 miles per hour.

So, as relaxing as the beach is, I need something to help occupy my mind while I'm taking in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean. Last time I visited Christopher Columbus Condos, I brought along several book options and learned a few things about beach reading that I wanted to share for your next trip to the island.

1. Bring Sunglasses

This may seem obvious, but when you settle into your favorite spot on the beach, spread out your belongings, and open up your book, you'll soon realize that you need some shades.

Even if you're under a cool, shady cabana, the sun will find a way into your eyes—the ocean is known for reflecting that glistening sunshine. After I broke my only pair of sunglasses, my beach reading experience was all but over.

If you're in need of a new pair of sunglasses, I found a good selection at Cost U Less, which is only a few minutes down Esterley Tibbets Highway from the condos. I bought two pairs to be safe and raced back to the beach.

2. Apply Sunscreen, Then Read

If you're under a cabana, the sun may not be an issue, but if you plan on reading on the beach for more than 20 minutes, be sure to apply sunscreen BEFORE you settle in.

There's nothing worse than getting sunscreen all over your book—except maybe a severe sunburn.

3. Bring More Than One Book

When I'm at home, I tend to read for 20-30 minutes a few times per week, so it takes me a long time to finish a book. This is not the case when you’re beach reading!

I flew through my first book and didn't have a backup.

My wife, on the other hand, brought three books along and read over 1,000 pages. Unlike me, she knew what she was doing. But if you do find yourself in need of a good book, the next two tips have you covered.

4. Visit a Local Bookstore

If you came to the island without a book or cruised right through the only book you had on hand, you could always visit a local bookstore. My favorite was the Book Loft at the local Humane Society.

Not only will you find a great selection of used books for your beach reading adventure, but you’ll also be supporting precious animals in need on the island. Buy some great books AND support cute animals? Yes, please!

5. Try Audiobooks Instead

Remember how I raced through my book and didn't have anything left to read? Well, one of my vacation buddies told me to try an Audiobook instead.

My first reaction was, "But I won't be able to hear the ocean."

His response was awesome, "Yeah, but you'll be able to see it instead."

While you're reading your book, you can only see your pages, and you can see those at home, right? You came to an island for the breathtaking views and audiobooks allow you to take it all in while you listen to an excellent book.

Best of all, if you have a problem concentrating on your book when other people are around you, an audiobook will cover up those sounds as well.

Even better than that, if you've never used Audible, you can get a free trial here and download two free audiobooks. If you have a local library, download Overdrive and check out ebooks and audiobooks for free before you leave for vacation.

6. Bring Earbuds or Earplugs

If you're an early riser and get out to the beach early, you're going to find peace and quiet. You'll be able to relax while you listen to the gentle waves and chirping birds.

But as the day moves on, more people will make their way out onto the sand.

Some people can tune out the chit chat of other beach goers, but I'm not one of those people. Luckily I had earbuds, Spotify, and WiFi access courtesy of Christopher Columbus Condos.

7. Waterproof Everything

Whether it's a hardback book, e-reader, or a smartphone, it's always a good idea to waterproof everything that you can.

You never know when you might drop your book or spill your favorite cocktail, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can make DIY book covers or buy waterproof cases for your phone or e-reader on Amazon.

Soak It In and Enjoy!

So, there you have it—a few lessons I learned the hard way. If you're planning to do some serious beach reading on your next trip, following these tips is going to make an amazing experience even better.

Did I miss any tips you've picked up in your travels? Drop them in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.

Enjoy!

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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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If you’re like me, the only drawback to your trip to Grand Cayman is leaving furry family members at home. I’m not ashamed to admit that saying goodbye to my cats is cause for tears and daily requests for photos from the catsitter. Four-legged or not, my pets are important members of my household. If you have a big heart for animals like I do, you can show love to dogs and cats in need on the island through the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

The Cayman Islands Humane Society (CIHS) provides food, shelter, and care to homeless or abused dogs and cats, and also works to pair animals with loving and responsible owners. The shelter has a staff of 11, but can always use a helping hand from volunteers and support from donations. The current facility houses 37 dog kennels and a cat adoption room, which are kept very full due to the large number of animals in need.

How to help if you don’t live on island

  1. Volunteer to be a dog walker when you’re visiting
Dog walkers can come from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays, though it’s best to walk in the early morning when it’s not too hot—paws and hot pavement don't mix. If you’ve got the time, staff will help pair you with a dog who likes to go for longer walks and socialize. Camana Bay and the beach are great places to get in a little exercise with your furry pal for the day!  
    2. Be a patron of the Thrift Shop and Book Loft
Proceeds from these shops support the shelter. Grab some beach reading or a unique souvenir and help feed a dog or cat in the process!
    3. Become an Associated Member for CI $40 a year
Memberships are a great way to not only support the work of CIHS but also keep updated with what’s happening at the shelter. Members receive a monthly newsletter with photos and updates. 
    4. Sponsor a cage for a puppy, kitten, dog, or cat for one year
These sponsorships are a great way to make a direct impact for an animal in need.
    5. Donate funds or supplies to the shelter
Monetary donations of any amount are always greatly appreciated and can be put to immediate use. Other donations such as food, treats, cat litter, etc., are also welcome—but you should give the shelter a call to see what they’re in the most need of before taking a trip to the store.
    6. Adopt a pet
The shelter does offer a service to fly a pet from the island, so if you fall in love with a particular fuzzy fellow you see on Facebook or meet while visiting, it is possible to bring them home. Dogs and cats are duty free when coming into the United States.
    7. Tell your friends! 
If you know any animal lovers who feel like Cayman is a home away from home, encourage them to support the Humane Society’s efforts as well. Share one of CIHS's Facebook posts or create your own. 
     

The Humane Society office is located at 153 North Sound Road in Georgetown near the airport, so it’s only a short ten minute drive from the condos. If you’re looking to brighten a sunny Cayman day even more by taking a dog for a walk or making a donation, get in touch with the Humane Society and volunteer!

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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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