Paul and Brenda's Excellent Grand Cayman Vacation - March 2011

Brenda and I just came back from one of our best vacations on Grand Cayman. Normally we select an all inclusive resort but this time we booked the Marriott Resort with Air Canada Vacations for eight nights.

First we'd like to thank Steven and Jen from Scuba 2000 for all their suggestions on places to eat and dive shops to use. We didn't get to all of them but the ones we got to were great!

The first joy was flying direct from Toronto to George Town without having to go through any US territories and thus US Immigration in Toronto. Real time saver. Only 3.5 hours from Toronto to George Town.

The Cayman Islands are friendly and safe. We walked, took taxi's (expense) and used their excellent bus service (cheap) and completely felt safe and welcome the whole time.

The Marriott Resort is on Seven Mile Beach. We stayed there mainly because I know the quality of Marriott.

7 Mile also has great snorkeling right off the beach.

As the Concierge quoted 7-Mile"Its our Miami beach". Yes, very packed in but surprisingly not over crowded. Lots of good eats within waking distance including Chicken-Chicken and the Triple Crown Pub. A bit of a longer walk to the Lone Star but worth it for the smoked steak.

Try the Caybrew ; a decent lager

P.S. We did not pay the extra $3K for an ocean front view and opted for a side view of the Comfort Inn next door.
We got adventurous and dove Lighthouse Point from Divetech for our first dive. This is a shore dive rather than going from a boat and the first time Brenda and I had dove by ourselves.

On the left is a picture of the dock we had to jump from in (12 foot). The picture shows calm waters. We however had 2 foot swells to jump into.  The fun part was climbing back up on the ladder on the left side of the dock you can't see. We had to take off our fins before the ladder and let the current bring us in, and out, and in, and out until we could grab the ladder without being crushed. Fun. After we came out, the surge was breaking over the dock. Good learning experience. Also good test of our of our compass abilities once we were underwater and several hundred yards from the shore.

On the plus side, we saw a great wall at about 40 feet. Lots of beautiful coral and sponges.

Then Brenda's fin came off and we both ran into coral as I tried to help her and we sunk to 58 feet.

We also learned an important lesson in taxis. Cost of the taxi round trip CI$40 ; cost of dive CI$30. Next time, we rent a car.

(This is not one of my pictures.)
Brenda and I made two dives on the Kittwake Wreck.  This was just sunk in January in 2011. It is upright now, but with a list. They expect it too fall over during the first good storm so we wanted to make sure we explored it while it was upright with sections below 40 feet. I don't mind diving deeper than 40' but I still use up too much air so it shortens the dive. I get about 30 minutes on a tank at the moment.

Brenda floating along side the ship

Brenda doing her best Kate Winslet impersonation. Can't you just hear Celion Dion.

You can just make Brenda out behind the bubbles. She's inside one of the decompression chambers on this submarine  rescue ship.

Looking from the stern forward. Smoke stack is in the upper middle.

Brenda again

Fire Hose (?)

Because it's a new wreck, not too many animals have made it home yet. However, we were told a large grouper has claimed ownership of the lower decks.

Brenda swimming astern.

In the wheel house. Brenda at the wheel. Fortunately it was already sunk before she got there ;-)

My turn. That purple line is not my leash but the cord to secure my camera so I don't loose it.
We also dove Aquarium North (Aquarium South was taken out by the hurricane of 2004). Some wonderful aquatic life.

And yes, I should look up the names of the fish in the following pictures but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Brenda exploring

These are little sand worms that duck back unto their holes as you swim over them
7 Mile Beach faces west so we had some incredible sunsets from the hotel beach

(Cost me a fortune to get those ships to sail past like that at the right time :-)

This is the dive master placing a stingray sombrero on one of the dives luring it with squid in his fist..
The buckets around his waist are full of pieces of squid.
A highlight of the trip had to be the dive on Stingray City. Best 10' dive in the world.

We were fortunate because they had been canceling these dives earlier in the week because of the rough seas in the North Sound created by the high winds. Fortunately they calmed down by our visit on Thursday.

I wasn't able to really get any good shots of Brenda. Even though she was weighted down with extra weights, she was off balance (like a weeble) and had to hang onto my tank to keep herself steady.

These rays are harmless plus have no teeth. Just plates to grind up their food.

They have to be careful about how much squid each dive boat gives out. They figure they are about 20 pounds overweight at the moment.

Brenda petting a stingray on it's underside which felt like velvet.

Paul with a ray flying by

Brenda petting the top of a ray which is very rough

Brenda 'flying' a ray. She had squid in her fist which the ray could smell so looked for it using their smell senses on their underside. As you moved your hand around, the ray would follow it.
On our last night on Grand Cayman, we took a catamaran sail (well, the outboards were running the whole time) across North Sounds to Rum Point. So named because the rum barrels from ships use to wash up there.

Last sunset over Grand Cayman

Delicious last dinner at Rum Point.

And yes, this is the only picture of the two of us from the whole trip.

Stay tuned ; Brenda and I are already planning our next trip back.