Discovering Beachside Bliss on Grand Cayman
For me, family beach time fun is like real estate — it boils down to location, location, location. And on a recent excursion to Grand Cayman, we hit the jackpot, discovering blissful paradise along world-famous Seven Mile Beach.
Sunning, swimming, snorkeling and scuba were the primary reasons we chose this tropical oasis and, literally, on every single front, it did not disappoint. The comfortable 80-degree temperature in the springtime was a huge plus as well.
Crescent-shaped Seven Mile Beach is a picture postcard perfect location for all ages. Among the Caribbean beach resort communities, this particular spot remains one of the least populated, which adds to its tranquil appeal. Fine powder, white sand beachescoupled with temperate aquamarine waters are home to coral reefs, abundant with colorful tropical fish, creating the perfect setting for ultimate aquatic and splendor.
Vacationing with two other families and blending a total of eight boys ranging in age from 11 to18, we stayed happily entertained from sunrise to sunset, choosing the four-star, award-winning Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa as our base. Relaxation around the largest resort pool on the island, a swim-up bar shaded by leafy palms and casuarina trees, tasty dining and drink options at the al fresco grill (serving fish tacos) and bar (with happy hour specials) and in-room comfort with Westin’s famous Heavenly beds and marble baths, rounded out the experience and made it an amazing overall value — high on quality and convenience, yet not so crazy on price (like the nearby Ritz Carlton). Keep in mind, no matter the case, the Cayman dollar is valued higher than US currency, worth only 80 cents to the Cayman dollar, so buyers beware!
For most of our water activities, we used Red Sail Sports, a beachfront cabana located on the property. Diving lessons and expeditions, snorkeling and sunset tours along with jet-ski, paddleboard and sea kayak rentals were reasonably priced and readily accessible.
When on land, lounge chairs and umbrellas were plentiful if we started early, and private cabanas (for rent) made for a pleasant gathering spot for adults and kids alike. Drink and food service was available when we wanted extra pampering. But, for the most part, the small indoor cafe serving coffee, soda and light snacks to go was a staple choice for daytime noshing, helping to keep costs for hungry boys in relative check.
For a simple change of atmosphere, we dined across the street from the Westin at a small restaurant called Eats, which served up dynamite, American diner-style breakfasts. And, a tad down the road, we frequented the Sunshine Grill, a poolside, mostly open-air, casual eatery, serving up scrumptious Caribbean fare in a colorful tropical setting.
For those rare moments when we were not beach bound, we would hang out in the bright and airy common space inside the Westin – lazing about on “Caribbean bungalow chic style” couches in gentle hues of white, cream and blue. The common lounge houses a small bar and wifi is complimentary (unlike the in-room charges), so we could check messages from time to time. The business center offers two computers for guests’ use.
“Everything at the Westin was super easy and convenient. It was also super safe, putting my mind at ease when the boys wanted to go off on their own for breakfast or lunch, to swim, to pick up a game of beachside volleyball, etc.,” Tulsa mom, Sara Fox, expressed when reflecting on her family vacation experience. The resort is intimate, with only 343 rooms and suites, allowing for quick access to everything on site and to make those necessary trips to and from your room.
Our stay away from the realities of modern civilization for a while ended all too soon. The week went quickly but the memories remain and the interest in returning to this idyllic island is quite high for the allure of this beach is second to none.
There are some “must see and do” off-property adventures worth the splurge for while staying at Grand Cayman’s Westin along Seven Mile Beach.
Swimming with stingrays was a phenomenal way to elicit lasting grins and giggles. Grand Cayman is the only place worldwide where swimming with stingrays is easily and safely accessible. Taking a guided boat tour out to the sandbar, we plopped into the shallow waters where Southern stingrays swim about, allowing for human interaction within their natural habitat. They are smooth and silky and quite friendly as they frolic about. They even ate out of our hands! See www.stingraycitytrips.com for tour information.
For an extra quiet day, we took a cruise to Rum Point, a peninsula located on the less-traveled North side. Here, we unwound, swinging in hammocks under the shade trees, snorkeling off of the point, and enjoying frozen fruity rum drinks, jerk chicken and conch critters.
Swimming with the Horses
Riding along the beach and swimming with the horses was one of the most unique experiences ever. Spirit of the West, a beach trail ride outfitter, guided our private group of three, taking us on a remote seaside path along a nature preserve, where we eventually tied up the horses, took their saddles off and rode bare back into the sea for an exciting equine swim. For more details, see www.seahorses.ky/contactus.html.