Beautiful places to visit in Cayman
Little islands they may be, but the Cayman Islands are full of bounties and attractions that interest every tourist. Located in the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, they are made up of three main islands. The largest and most developed of which is the Grand Cayman.
A popular tourist destination is the Seven Mile Beach. It is a beautiful stretch of white sand that curls around the West of the island. The water is ideal for swimming and snorkelling because the water is calm and clear. It is the most populated beach resort, but despite the numerous tourists who enjoy soaking up the sun, it is large enough to accommodate everybody who visits here. From the name itself, it is a seven mile beach ready to embrace thousands of tourists.
The Stingray City and Sand Bar is another beach attraction in the Cayman Islands. It is a snorkeling site located in the North Sound. It is promoted as a mandatory must see for water sport enthusiasts. The clear shallow waters are commonly occupied by friendly stingray. Boat tours take snorkelers and divers to swim with and feed the stingrays with bits of squid. The most amazing thing is that these stingrays allow swimmers and divers to actually touch them.
The Cayman Islands is also famous because of its Turtle Farm. This is suitable for tourists who are fond of turtles or even those who just appreciate wildlife. According to legend, there were so many turtles that the islands looked like they were covered with rocks. It is home to 16, 000 turtles ranging in size from six ounces to 600 pound each. The farms main priority is to maintain an ideal breeding environment. It promotes the preservation of turtles that come to the Cayman Islands.
Another place to see that is popular amongst tourist is Pedro St. James Castle. It is the islands oldest surviving building. The house is touted as the islands birthplace of democracy. It is quarried from native stone and coral stone. It has been restored as a historic site. It has pineapples, bananas and other provision surrounding the castle. The adjacent acres are covered with luxuriant tropical plants, palm lined walkways and a splendid manicured great lawn giving a fantastic view over the Caribbean.
The Cayman Islands are mainly famous for their beaches and sea life, however The Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park is one exception. For botanists or those wanting a peaceful walk, then this Park is the answer. It is a well-marked mile-long trail winds through lush, easy terrain, featuring almost 300 native species. It has the variety of rose, hibiscus and orchids. These appear most beautiful during late May and early June. The blue iguana, bird life that includes parrots, herons, coots and the rare West Indian Whistling are among the main attractions in the park.
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park (you'll see it called a Botanic Park and Botanic Gardens in different places so I'm also using the terms interchangeably) is a tranquil oasis in the center of the island about 30 minutes drive east from George Town just off the Frank Sound Road. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands manages the gardens on behalf of the Cayman people and they do a fine job. The gardens are open from 9 am to 6:30 pm daily (April to September) and 9 am to 5:30 pm daily (October to March) and the entrance fee is US$10 per adult, US$5 for children over 5 and free for toddlers (2009 prices).
The Park covers around 60 acres of managed and fairly natural countryside. It's a good walk in the hot sun so be prepared. We weren't. I forgot my sunglasses and ended the day with fried eyes -- but still didn't want to leave! The good news, for those no longer able to manage difficult ground, is that all the Park's walks are on well maintained level paths.
The Park has a number of distinct features; a genuine Cayman settler's house (the Rankine House), a trail through Cayman's natural bush (Woodland Trail), a Blue Iguana breeding centre, a flower garden (Floral Colour Garden), and a lake and wetlands. The Rankine House and Heritage Garden are part of the managed side of the park. It's a traditional Cayman settler's home surrounded by an also traditional 'sand garden' with the path lined by Conch shells. The simplicity of the home is a nostalgic reminder of where we all were not so long ago. Sometimes, the Twenty-First Century can look pretty cold for all its many attractions.
The Floral Colour Garden (Grand Cayman follows British spelling so I'm using that for local place names) is enjoyed through an easy walking trail among brilliantly colored trees and shrubs arranged so that one side of the garden is red and the other side is blue. Between these two extremes, the plants shift on the color spectrum from red to pinks and purples to blue. Butterflies, large and small, flit between the plants adding their own vibrant colors to the mix. The Floral Gardens boast a Tea Room but don't assume that means you can get tea. In the hot sun, a drink would be welcome but the teahouse is an ornamental feature of the park, providing welcome shade but no tea.
Running through the Floral Colour Garden is the Lake and Wetlands with its collection of water plants and water birds. The path beside the lake becomes a picnic area and, of course, where there's food, you'll find animals waiting to scoop up the crumbs or, if they're the bolder sort, beg for more than crumbs. We found two motionless Blue Iguanas, so still we thought they were statues at first -- then they scurried over to see what we'd brought to eat! Their approach was so quick, we took fright and quickly retreated back the way we'd come. That may sound wussy to you, sitting at your monitor reading this, but adult iguanas are big - really big. At around 5 feet (1.6m) in length, 25 lbs (11Kg) in weight and naturally armed with sharp teeth and claws, they are a fearsome sight. I could see me losing more than just a toe, if they weren't friendly. Fortunately they were, but it's still best not to feed them.
After a much needed stop for refreshments at the Visitor Centre, head out along the Woodland Trail. It's a relaxing stroll, about 30 minutes, with the trees providing shade for much of the walk and with benches for regular rests. Along the Trail is the Grand Cayman blue iguana breeding Centre, with its pens for the growing iguanas, and a number of pools with Green Turtles. One pool is called Crocodile Hole but, sadly or maybe thankfully, there are no longer any crocodiles, or Caymans, on Grand Cayman. The Trail is also a popular spot for growing blue iguanas (the ones old enough to be let out without parental supervision, I guess) who like the sun and shade mix too.
The trees and wetlands are well signed to help visitors understand what they're seeing. Meandering from sign to sign, working on your tan and learning something new while you do it makes for a pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon of your vacation.. Sometimes life really is a 'rose garden' without the thorns.