Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 75
May 15, 1997

Last updated 13 May 97 1800ET

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My  wife  and  I returned a couple of weeks ago from a 9 day vacation 
in  Bonaire and Curacao. Since I made extensive use of this forum (as 
well  as  the  Scuba  Forum)  when planning our trip, I am taking the 
time to "give back" some information of possible use to others. 


We  spent  6  nights on Bonaire. For reasons I will not go into, half 
the  stay was at the "exclusive" Harbour Village resort and the other 
half was at Sand Dollar Condominiums. 

Harbor  Village  is  a  traditional  resort with absolutely beautiful 
grounds.  This  is  quite  a task in Bonaire, which doesn't naturally 
support  much  more  than  cactus  and  scrub.  The  rooms  are "very 
expensive,"  especially  for  Bonaire,  with the smallest rooms going 
for  $275/night,  including  a  nice buffet breakfast. The rooms were 
attractive,  but  short  on  drawer  space and low on water pressure. 
There  is  a  very  attractive  beach  (man-made), sunfish and lasers 
available  at no charge (if you dare sail one in the constant 20 - 30 
mph  wind), and a dive operation which I didn't use. Most people here 
are  not divers (unlike most other places on Bonaire). Our week there 
were  only  39  people in the entire resort. (There are a total of 72 
rooms.) Apparently it is always dead. It was so dead it was weird. 

Sand  Dollar is a large complex of condos in a "W" shape, on sparsely 
landscaped  but pleasant enough grounds. The rooms are HUGE. We had a 
studio,  which  was  at  least  twice  the size of the Harbor Village 
room.  Included  was a full kitchen, complete with dishes, glassware, 
dishwasher,  full refrigerator., TV and VCR, etc. We didn't cook, but 
the  refrigerator  was  really appreciated. Our particular unit had a 
screened  porch. Daily maid service is included. Sand Dollar revolves 
around  its  dive  operation,  which  was  very  well  run,  and  its 
restaurant  -  the  Green Parrot. The staff was extremely helpful and 
accommodating  (we  needed help because ALM - the major air carrier - 
went  on  strike  right  after  we  arrived  and  we  had a hard time 
arranging  a  way  to  get  to  Curacao  for  the  second part of our 
vacation.)  I  can  readily recommend Sand Dollar, both for the rooms 
and the services. 

In  addition to frequenting the local KFC, a pizza stand (once each), 
and  Subway (twice) we ate out a few times during our stay. We ate at 
Richard's,  which  was  mentioned often on-line and had a pretty good 
meal  in a really nice water-view location. Service was good, but the 
view  was  the  star  of the meal. The best meal we had on the island 
was  at  the  Rendezvous.  The  food was imaginative and the portions 
were  really  huge.  I have a big appetite and this was the only meal 
that  I  really  had  to struggle to finish. Of course, we ate at the 
Green  Parrot  (at  Sand Dollar), which does have really good burgers 
and  good  service,  but  I  thought  it  was  a  little  overpriced, 
especially  on  some  items.  A  really  small side salad was $4, for 
example.  Finally,  I  am a dedicated fan of Chinese food, and didn't 
really  want  to  go  9  days without, so we also had a meal at China 
Garden,  which many have said is the best such restaurant on Bonaire. 
Suffice  it  to  say  this  was perhaps the worst Chinese meal I have 
ever had. Go to the Rendezvous or the Green Parrot again instead. 

As  for  the  diving, well it really is superb. The variety of animal 
life  is  stunning,  and  while  the  visibility is diminished by the 
plankton   (to   perhaps  70')  it  also  results  in  a  great  fish 
population.  My  wife doesn't dive but found the snorkeling terrific, 
especially  at  Playa  Funchi.  I  won't dwell on the details, but my 
favorite  dive  site  was Leonora's off of Klein Bonaire. One unusual 
aspect  of  the  dives  was the amount of freedom you had. Instead of 
everyone  going  together  like  a  "cattle drive," they gave you the 
ground  rules  and  then you and your buddy could basically go off at 
your own pace and profile. 

Bonaire  is  not much to look at above ground. Except for the park at 
the  north  end  of the island, which we enjoyed, it's not worth much 
film.  The  salt  ponds  and Pink Beach in the south are worth a look 
while  you  are this far from home. Until we got to Curacao, however, 
we  didn't really appreciate how much we enjoyed the relaxed pace and 
style  of Bonaire. I think you could go out anywhere on the island in 
shorts  (for  dinner)  and  no  matter where we got lost (it's pretty 
easy  to screw up going through Kralendijk because of all the one-way 
streets)  everyone was really helpful. Both times I needed gas at the 
self-serve  Lisa Gas, someone pumped it for me. Also, when we asked a 
customer  there  about  how  to  get  to KFC, he put air in one of my 
tires  -  which  was low (Budget Rental car) - and then had us follow 
him  there.  Also,  we  never  felt  uneasy about personal safety the 
whole time we were there. I was sorry to leave. 


We  intended  to spend 2-3/4 days in Curacao before we returned home, 
but  we  had  so  much  trouble  getting  onto  a flight (with ALM on 
strike)  that  we  lost the 3/4 day in extra airport time, so we only 
had  two  full  days and one evening. We stayed at the Princess Beach 
Hotel,  which  is a Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza hotel. It is very large, 
but  otherwise I can't really fault it, although it doesn't have much 
personality.  Our  room  was really large and functional with a great 
balcony,  but  it  looked  out in the wrong direction. We were in the 
Ambassador  building,  which  is  close  to  the  Peter Hughes diving 
operation,  which  I  used  for  a two tank dive the morning after we 

My  brief  experience  there  was similar to what I saw in Bonaire. I 
particularly  liked  Black  Rock,  which  was similar to Leonora's in 
Bonaire  in  terms  of  fish and corral diversity. The dive operation 
was  very  well  run, but used the cattle drive approach. As a result 
we  turned  around  much sooner than I would have liked and therefore 
spent  too  much  of  the  dive  at  30  feet  near  the  boat before 
surfacing. Otherwise I had no complaints. 

The  hotel  is  a  few  hundred  yards  from the Seaquarium (which we 
didn't  really  have  time  to  see) and a steak restaurant that many 
people  recommended. However, when we checked into the hotel we asked 
about  it  and  were  told  not to walk it at night because there had 
been  "incidents."  Although  it was pretty close, we decided to take 
the  advice  and  ate across the street at Villa Elizabeth, a seafood 
restaurant  which  also came highly recommended. To make a long story 
shorter,  we  had  an absolutely fabulous meal there for $100 for two 
with  a couple of glasses of wine each. Everything about the meal was 
first  rate  and  the  food  was  really  special.  This  was without 
question the high point of our time on Curacao. 

We  later  got to the steak restaurant near the Seaquarium and it was 
really  tragic.  Second  rate  beef,  not cooked as we requested, and 
with  a  wait staff that was more interested in talking to each other 
than  serving us. Really bad! We also ate at the Indonesian Rystaffel 
restaurant  and  had  the  traditional meal. It was okay, but I guess 
Rystaffel  is  not by favorite cuisine. Still if you have never tried 

Downtown  (Punda)  is  filthy  during the day. It is fun to watch the 
floating  bridge open for a tanker, but that's about all there is. We 
had  a  car for one day, but couldn't really find much to do with it, 
other  than  get  to  restaurants  without  fear.  We spent the final 
afternoon  at Mambo Beach, next to the hotel; it was crowded but fun, 
especially  toward the end of the day when the bands start playing at 
the bar. It's interesting. 

As  you can tell, with the noteworthy exception of Villa Elizabeth (a 
solid  "10"),  we  were not much impressed with Curacao. If we had it 
to do over again, we would have stayed on Bonaire. Live and learn. 

I hope these thoughts prove useful to someone out there. 


We  spent a week on Tortola the last part of Feb. and had a marvelous 
time.  We  flew in to St. Thomas and then took the ferry over to West 
End  from Charlotte Amalie. After clearing customs, we took a taxi to 
Fort   Recovery   which   was   just   about   5  minutes  away.  The 
accommodations  were first rate - simply charming. Along with another 
couple,  we  stayed  in  a  2  bedroom,  2 bath beach house which was 
located  on  a  small  sandy  beach  looking  over  Sir Francis Drake 
Channel  towards St. John. We had daily maid service & also breakfast 
of  fresh  baked  goods, juice and coffee. The owner (Anita MacShane) 
and  the manager (Pamelah Jacobson) were warm and amiable hosts going 
out of their way to make a stay pleasant

After  settling  in, they called us a cab driver (Beulah) who took us 
into  Sopher's Hole for dinner at Pussers. The island barbecue really 
got us in the Carib. mode along with ample rum punches. 

The  following  day  we  rented  a car for the week and drove over to 
Cane  Garden  Bay.  While  laying  on  the  beach, we sort of went to 
church  as you could hear the local minister preaching across the way 
to  his  parishioners.  The  water  at Cane Garden was somewhat green 
(algae)  and  the  only  place  on  the  island it wasn't clear blue. 
However  the  beach  was lovely & almost deserted. That same evening, 
we  were  served dinner in our villa compliments of our host and chef 
Brian  which  was romantic and quite delicious. The blackened snapper 
was  superb  as  well as the pork chops and shrimp jumbalya served to 
the others. 

We  also were treated to a snorkel trip (included in the price of the 
room)  to  Norman  Island  (snorkeled in caves) via the Fort Recovery 
power  boat.  The  crossing  was  a  bit  rough due to the seas being 
choppy.  Our  captain  then  ferried us to the William B. Thornton (a 
sailing  ship  turned  into  a restaurant) which was a treat also. It 
was  even  more  memorable  when  we were told that Teddy Kennedy had 
eaten  there  the  day  before.  Then  on  to  more snorkeling at the 
Indians.  Brian  (the  captain) was very informative and made the day 

Other  restaurants  we  went to during the week were Spaghetti Junct. 
(in  roadtown  & the best Italian I ever had), Bomba's Shack (all you 
can  eat on a plate for $6 and don't pass up Bomba's Punch - just one 
and  no  more), Pusser's Pub in Roadtown (on Thursday nights the beer 
is  5 cents a glass - for a quarter you can barely make it home), The 
Sugar  Mill  (restaurant  owned by a couple who write for Bon Appetit 
Magazine  - suberb and desserts to die for), and a Spanish restaurant 
in  Roadtown  that  I  have  forgotten  the  name  of  which was also 
extremely nice. 

We  liked  all  of  the  beaches  even  though some were hard to find 
because  per  usual nothing is marked. Elizabeth Beach was beautiful, 
wide  and  almost  deserted  and  one of my favorites. But then again 
Smuggler's  Beach  is also quiet and beautiful. Long Beach is long of 
course,  however  the water is rougher here but still a great spot to 
just  lie  in  the  sun  and  look over towards Jost Van Dyke. By all 
means  do go to the Top of the Mountain to Sky World and look out and 
around to all of the surrounding islands - quite a view.

Also  every  day  a ferry is available to take you to the surrounding 
islands  and  we  did  take  it  to  Virgin Gorda to visit the Baths. 
Speedy's  Ferry  has  a  deal where you get your ferry trip plus taxi 
trip  to  the Bath's and back and also lunch at the Bath and Turtle - 
I  think  it  was around $20 per person which was a real bargain. The 
Baths  were quite crowded the day we were there due to several cruise 
ships  being  in port. Having been there once before I took the other 
path  to  another  beach which also was inundated with lots of French 
folks. However we were able to find a small cave all to ourselves. 

At  the  entrance to the Baths is a rustic looking bar called The Mad 
Dog  where  we stopped for the best pina colada I have ever had. Much 
to  our surprise, the English gentleman at the bar was the owner & he 
was  quite  entertaining  -  ended  up buying one of his t-shirts - a 
must stop spot. 

Having  been  to many of the Carib. islands over the past 10 years, I 
must  say  that  Tortola  is in the top 3 favorites of mine. We had a 
super  time  and  will  definitely  go  back  &  that will be to Fort 


Ours  was  a  family  vacation. We had three young children (ages 12, 
10, 5) that we wanted to show a good time to, as well as ourselves.

The Airport

We  flew direct to Cancun from Minneapolis on Northwest Airlines. The 
fare  was  great,  service was great, left on time, arrived early. On 
arrival  at the airport we gathered up our bags and headed out. First 
stop  is to present your declaration forms. Have your Passports and / 
or  Birth Certificates ready. After you are processed, they will hand 
you  a  tourist card for each person. Put them in with your Passports 
/  Birth  Certificates because you will need to present them when you 
check  in  for  departure  after  your  vacation.  Next stop, customs 

At  the  customs  checkpoint, you press a button when you go through. 
This  randomly  gives  a green or red light. Get a green and you keep 
going.  Get  a  red  and  they  search your bags. We got the green so 
pressed  on.  I had read about this in information from the forum, so 
I  knew  what  was  going  on.  After  that,  you are free to arrange 
transportation to the hotel. 

As  you  walk  along, you will be greeted by some very friendly folks 
with  **BIG** smiles. Could be your magnetic personality, or could be 
they  want  to  sell  you something. In our case it was the latter. A 
friendly wave and a smile is the password to keep on going. 

Airport to Hotel

I  failed  to  break the code on finding a cheap way from the airport 
to  the  hotel for my family. You arrange transportation at a counter 
inside  ... then they give you a ticket, you go outside and find your 
wheels. Two ways to go that I discovered.

1. Suburban with other folks ($8 per person)

2. Taxi (fixed fee)

For  my family of 5, that meant $40 to get to the hotel in one of the 
suburbans  ...  yipes! I was able to go by taxi though for $27. Still 
not  great.  Taxis  are  much cheaper to go to the airport from hotel 
strip  --  $13.  If  you  figure  out  how  to  get to the hotel more 
reasonably, please let me know. 

BTW... $10 means 10 dollars U.S.
 n$10 means 10 pesos (or new pesos)

The Map (You won't find this in Fodors)

Here's my poor (very poor) etch-a-sketch map of the Cancun layout:

*******************                                   ----------------
...................*                                Isla     De  Mujeres
....................*                                 ----(Island)----
.......DownTown......*       Gulf of
.......Cancun.........*      Mexico
...................... **  (Calm Water)
........................ ****************  Point Cancun
...................................... *
........                      ...H.....*
........                      ...O.....*
........                      ...T.....*-Beach Palace
........                      ...E.....*       (bad beach)        Caribbean
........                      ...L.....*                             Sea
........          The         .........*-Cancun  Palace     (Wave Action)
........          Bay         ...S.....*  (Great  Beach)    (Sandy Bottom)
........                      ...T.....*
........                      ...R.....*-Sun Palace
........                      ...I.....* (Great Beach)
........                      ...P.....*
........                      .........*
........                      ...........*-Club  Med      <--  Good Snorkeling
........                      ..........**** Point Nizuc
........                      ..........*
..........................  ...............*
..........................  ...............*
..........................  ...............*-Moon Palace



We  stayed  at  the  Cancun  Palace, a 5 star hotel just about in the 
middle  of  hotel  strip,  and  we were on an ALL INCLUSIVE plan. The 
hotel  was  very  nice.  The  grounds  are  beautiful  with  3  pools 
including  a shallow children's pool, great beach (and that's *not* a 
given  since  the  hurricane  wiped  some of the beaches at different 
hotels),  outside  dining  areas, inside informal dining, water bars, 
heath   club,  massage,  on-sight  Aqua-World  events,  entertainment 
daily,  pool  tables,  ping pong, lounge bar, tennis, and best of all 
for  the  kids  ... a great separate miniature golf course attraction 
out  front.  I  bet  I  played  20 games of golf with my boys (it was 
included in the all-inclusive package). 

The  Cancun Palace is one of the "Palace" hotels in Cancun. Currently 
there  are 4 total. The great part of this is that if you are staying 
at  any Palace resort, you may use the facilities at any other Palace 
resort.  You  just check in at the front desk, then they give you the 
run  of  the  place. This ended up being a much bigger benefit than I 
thought it would.

Just  about  every  report  I  read  from  the  forum  said that they 
recommended  NOT using an all inclusive plan because of the abundance 
of  great  dining  to  be  found in Cancun. I'm very glad that we did 
though.  With  kids, I feel that this is the way to go. First of all, 
it  saved  a  bunch  of money. In addition, we didn't have to get the 
kids  ready  to  go  out every night, and every meal. We ate when and 
what we wanted, and the food ranged from great, to good. 

In  our  hotel  there  were  a  bunch of different places to eat. The 
"normal"  spot  was  a  buffet which was generally very good. You can 
have  just about anything you want for every meal. Eating at the same 
spot  is  boring  though,  and fortunately there were many choices on 
the   all-inclusive   plan.  There  is  a  really  good  "reservation 
required"  Mexican  restaurant in the Cancun Palace, Los Golondorinas 
(or  something similar). We dressed up and ate there the first night. 
Other  Palace  hotels have different setups including a fancy Italian 
place,   a  steak  restaurant  etc.  Under  the  All-Inclusive  plan, 
everything  is  included  (maybe  that's  where it gets the name?) no 
matter what Palace hotel you go to.

One  caution  on  the Cancun Palace ... we were there at the start of 
spring  break  and  this is a *major* favorite hotel for the wild and 
crazy  set.  We  enjoyed  the ruckus, but I'd stay away if the spring 
breakers  would get on your nerves. The Sun Palace or Moon Palace are 
calmer family places. (yawn) 

There  was  lots  going  on  at  and around the hotel. If you want to 
spend  some  bucks, there are pampered tours that will take you to do 
and  see  just  about  everything.  Parasailing  and  waverunners are 
available  right  on  the beach. The first day we were there however, 
we  saw  a  rope  break  that  was  towing  a  husband  and wife in a 
parachute.  They came down pretty fast and drifted over and hit a new 
hotel  under  construction.  There  were steel bars jutting up and he 
got  one in his side. She lost some toes, and sustained leg injuries. 
Needless to say we did not try the parasailing. 

Some  things were a come-on. My 12 year old boy was excited about the 
"free"  scuba  lessons  in the pool. Turned out that aqua-world gives 
you  about  5  minutes free. If you want to continue the lesson, it's 
mucho dinero.

The Buses

It's  easy  to  go  anywhere  on the hotel strip, and downtown on the 
buses.  The bus stops are clearly marked, but they will stop anywhere 
if  you  wave  (as  long  as  it is a safe spot). Cost is 3 pesos per 
person,  and  they  will  give  change if you need it. Children 5 and 
under  are  free. You can't get to the Moon Palace on the bus though, 
because it is way south and secluded.


Cab  fares  are reasonable. Most hotels have the fares posted outside 
for  all  destinations,  so  you  don't have to guess. About 40 pesos 
anywhere on the strip.

DownTown Cancun - (Want to take a tour of some condos senior?)

Downtown  is  the  place  to shop. Just jump on the bus pointed north 
and  get  off  when you run out of big hotels. Bargaining is fun, and 
can  be  done  with a smile between all. The best prices seem to come 
out just as you start to walk away. 

You  will  be  constantly bugged by guys trying to get you to go on a 
time-share  tour  though.  A  polite  no  thanks  will  get you by. I 
already  knew about the time-share deal from the forum ... guess what 
though ... we went on one! It all started with the dolphins. 

My  wife saw the "swim with the dolphins" poster and made the mistake 
of  commenting on how much fun that would be. Hoooo Boy, that was all 
that  Manuel  needed  to  hear.  He darned near promised that Flipper 
himself  would  go  home with us to Minnesota if we would just take a 
time-share  tour  and  presentation. As it turned out, our time-share 
tour  was  one  of the most enjoyable afternoons we had ... weird huh 
... more on that in a sec ...

Here's the deal we made with Manuel:

 We would get the following for $40 total for my family of 5:

1. Dolphin Express tour to Isla Mujeres 
2.  Snorkeling  at  Garafon  Park  on  the island including Park Fees 
Snorkeling Equipment for the family 
3.  A  boat  stop  at the dolphins My kids would get to swim with the 
dolphins  GUARANTEED  for  an  extra  $20  per  child. This was great 
because  I had heard that you needed a reservation days in advance to 
do this. 
4. Lunch buffet on the island 
5.  Boat  stop  at  the  city part of the island for sight-seeing and 
6.  A  fun  boat  ride  around  the  bay on the way to the time-share 
7. Sightseeing on the boat of the movie star homes...

In return, we would take the time-share tour, and he would get paid.

The  boat  tour  to Isla De Mujeres would have cost us about $130 for 
the  family  on  our  own, and we wanted to go to the island, and the 
kids  wanted  to  boat around the bay. So we did it. Manuel was lying 
of  course,  but  we  still had a really great time. Manuel handed us 
over to Senior Fernando for our tour. 

Mr.  Fernando  was  an  older  gentleman who is really a professional 
magician,  and  entertains  at  various clubs in the evenings. In the 
day,  he  gives  condo  tours.  What  a genuinely nice person ... and 
incredibly  interesting  to  talk  to.  We had a fantastic lunch with 
him,  toured some condos on the bay side, then had some drinks at the 
bay  waiting  for  our  boat.  Mr. Fernando entertained us with magic 
tricks,  and even taught my boys a few card tricks. He then got us on 
the  bow  of  the  boat where we took an enjoyable ride to the Sunset 

Took  our  tour  there  (and  actually  enjoyed it), then went to the 
boiler  room for the high pressure sales pitch. It never came though. 
We  received  a  low  key  presentation  from  a very nice gentleman, 
followed  immediately  by my "We'll think it over ... now where do we 
get  those  dolphin  tickets". We took our dolphin boat trip the next 
day.  As it turned out, the boys didn't get to swim with the dolphins 
(needed  reservations don't ya know), but we did get to see the show, 
and it was great. 

Didn't  go  to  Garafon  Park  ("Oh  no senior, we take you somewhere 
mucho  better!")  but  did  snorkel  on the outside reef. The snorkel 
gear  was not included, so I had to rent it. So, Manuel was about 70% 
honest.   Still,   our  tour  with  Senior  Fernando  was  incredibly 
enjoyable,  and  we had a fun day on the dolphin express boat ... did 
the Macarana and all that. 

The  snorkeling  was a bust though. I had a 5 year old boy, and since 
they  dump  you  off  in  about 15-20 meters of water, I spent all my 
time  keeping  close tabs on my youngster. I think if we had actually 
been  taken  to  Garafon  Park  as  promised, it would have been fun. 
Thanks  to  some  forum  information  though, we found a great family 
snorkeling spot near point Nizuc on a different day.

 Snorkeling, Kids, Point Nizuc, Club Med

After  our  snorkeling  disappointment  at Isla Mujeres, I dug out my 
forum  notes  and  found  that some folks had recommended the area in 
front  of  Club Med for snorkeling. This info was RIGHT ON THE MONEY. 
Point  Nizuc is on the southern end of hotel strip, and is where Club 
Med  is  located.  The  Club Med folks are a little snooty, but as it 
turns  out  ...  the  beaches  are  all  public.  You just can't walk 
through  any  Club  Med  property  to get to the beach. Since we were 
staying  at  the  Cancun  Palace,  we  took  the  bus down to the Sun 
Palace,  very  close  to  Club  Med.  I'm  told that you can also get 
access to the beach at the Regina Westin no problem. 

Once  you  are on the beach, you just walk south to where you see the 
rock  point  sticking  out.  It  was  about a 15 minute walk down the 
beach  from  the  Sun  Palace.  Right at the rocks and the beach is a 
series  of steps. Just go up the steps, and then across the rocks and 
you'll  find  a  calm protected, shallow reef bay that is perfect for 
kids  to  snorkel  in.  Some  of  the  Club Med attendants may try to 
convince  you  that you can't go there, but they know that you really 
can.  Just  smile  at  them,  point  at  the  beach, and say "Public, 
Gracias"  in  a  way  that leaves no doubt that you know the beach is 

An  outer reef protects this little area from wave action. Young kids 
can  stand in waist deep water and "snorkel" if they want. Older ones 
(like  me),  can  head  out in calm waters, beautiful coral, colorful 
fish,  etc.  This was fantastic! Ashore, my boys were fascinated with 
the Iguanas that inhabit the rock area. 

After  spending  several hours here, we walked back to the Sun Palace 
where  our  Palace  All-Inclusive wrist bands got us a great lunch by 
the  pool,  and  a  couple  of  Pina Colatas in the Jaccuzzi with the 
waterfall.  I  have  to  say  that I really enjoyed having the run of 
several hotels in different locations. 

Our Overall Impression of Cancun

Don't  go  looking  for  calm,  laid  back  Mexico  here.  It is very 
enjoyable,  and  lots  of fun, but this is Spanish-speaking Las Vegas 
on  the beach. You have complete control though. Do nothing but relax 
by  the  pool  and  gaze at the aqua-blue ocean, or party it up until 
you  collapse. For kids, it was a perfect mix of things they've never 
done, and just plain fun.

The People

Genuinely  nice  and friendly. If you know any Spanish (I do), try to 
use  it.  Your  effort  will  be sincerely appreciated. I was able to 
find  out  all  kinds  of  things by speaking Spanish that I wouldn't 
have  known  otherwise.  They  just don't expect a Minnesotan to know 
any Spanish.

Exchange Rate

The hotel rate was 7.5 new pesos per U.S. dollar.
Downtown banks went as high as 7.9.


At  the  recommendation of someone else on the forum, I took a wad of 
1  dollar  bills  for  tips. This was very handy to have. Most of our 
other  funds were in $20 travelers checks. I recommend that you stick 
with  $20's  in  your  travelers  checks.  Bigger  ones  may give you 
trouble  with  some  of  the  vendors  downtown.  We  had no problems 
anywhere using $20 travelers checks.


No  matter how cloudy it is, you're going to sunburn. In our case, we 
were  whale-white  Minnesotans,  and  we almost blew it the first day 
with  our kids. Even though we used SPF 45 block, we didn't put it on 
enough  after  the  kids went in the water. Don't believe the bottle. 
It's  not  waterproof. You gotta put more on every time they get wet. 
Use  lots  of sun block and wear hats. A bad sunburn in the first two 
days  will  absolutely  ruin  your  vacation.  Our  boys got a little 
burned  the  first  day,  and we were being careful. Judicious use of 
hats and sunscreen prevented further problems.


The  water  on  Cancun  is fine. I really think you can eat and drink 
with  impunity  in Cancun. After our trip to Isla Mujeres though, two 
of  my  boys  got  bad  stomach  cramps.  We had come prepared with a 
medicine  kit  though,  and  were  able  to  take  care  of it pretty 
quickly.  If  you can, try to get an advance prescription for bactrim 
from  your  doctor.  Be careful about fruits and vegetables and water 
away  from  Cancun.  I  checked  with  the  hotel,  and  a doctor was 
available  24  hours  a  day if we needed one. There is a hospital in 
downtown Cancun.


I  don't  know how prevalent they are, but my oldest boy discovered a 
rather  large  scorpion  in  our  room one night. I killed it, and we 
never  saw  another one, but it changed the way we walked around that 
place at night. I'd check your shoes before putting them on. 

Things to Take (Here's my list of stuff and memory joggers:)

 Hotel confirmation
 Airline Tickets
 Cancun Books and Maps
 Birth Certificates or Passports for everyone
 List of Phone Numbers
 Your Hotel
 Your Home Doctors
 Your Travel Agent
 Your Airline

 Cash (Including a bunch of 1 dollar bills)
 Travelers Checks

Other Stuff
 sun tan lotion
 Sun Block
 reading books
 Some Bottled Drinking Water
 some big beach towels
 extra camera battery
 plastic waterproof seal bags
 A large Waterproof bag for wet/moist things when coming home
 sun glasses


 Pepto Bismo Tablets
 Amonium AD
 Bactrim prescription
 aspirin / motrin
 Children's Tylenol
 ace bandage
+ Sunburn Treatment Salve


(Ed Note: this file is Copyrighted by Geoff Mathews and is from The Caribbean Travel Forum of CompuServe on-line service. )

Grand  Cayman,  Cayman  Brac  &  Little  Cayman  comprise  The Cayman 
Islands. A British Crown Colony.

LOCATION.  The  three  islands  are located in the Western Caribbean, 
480  miles  and  about eighty jet flying minutes south of Miami. They 
were  discovered  by  Columbus  in  1503  and  originally called "Las 
Tortugas"  after  the  turtles  that  abounded.  By 1530 the name had 
changed to 'Caymanus" and from this "The Cayman Islands" 


Combined  population  of  the three islands is about 31,900 descended 
from  the  first British, Irish, Scottish and African settlers. About 
50%  are  of  mixed  origin  but  you  will  find no racial bias. The 
capital George Town is located in Grand Cayman.


The  average  temperature  year-round  is  79F.  Most of the rainfall 
occurs  between  May  and  October, usually raining for brief periods 
only. The sea temperature is constantly around 81F. 


Eastern Standard Time all year-round.


The  Cayman  Dollar  fixed at US$1.00 = CI$0.80 cents is the official 
currency  but  the US$ is accepted everywhere. Major Credit Cards are 
widely  accepted.  Banking hours are 9 am-3 pm (Monday to Thursday) 9 
am-4.30 pm on Fridays. ATM's are available at several major Banks. 


US  citizens  -  A  return  (round-trip)  ticket,  passport  or voter 
registration  card with photo ID. Non-US citizens - Return ticket and 
passport. Some nationalities may require a visa. 


Spearguns  are  illegal.  Littering is prohibited (CI$500 fine). VERY 
strict  laws  against  the use, possession, or importation of illegal 
substances  or  controlled  drugs  including  marijuana  (ganga), for 
which   large  fines  and  prison  terms  are  awarded.  No  selling, 
soliciting or time-share hawking on the beach or in public places. 


Ties  not  required,  even in the most up-market restaurants. Jackets 
are  usually  worn. Cayman law prohibits any form of nudity including 
topless  sun-bathing. Shirt, dresses or beach cover-ups required when 
you leave the beach and go to public places outside the resort. 


Administratively,  the  islands  were  associated  with Jamaica under 
British  crown  rule  until  1971.  At  that time, Jamaica decided to 
become  independent  but the Cayman Islands, which had been very much 
the  junior  partner  in  the  alliance,  seized  the  opportunity of 
cutting  the  links  with Jamaica. Cayman decided to remain a British 
Crown  Colony  with an elected Government and an Administrator taking 
the title of Governor. 

For  Cayman  it  was  a  wise  decision.  Since inception, the Cayman 
Government  has been both stable and successful. It has developed the 
infrastructure,   education  and  health  services  and  particularly 
encouraged  the growth of finance and tourism to enhance the tax-free 
economy.  Communications,  services and roads (drive on the left) are 

They  now  have  the  highest  standard  of  living  and  the highest 
educational  standards  coupled  with  the  lowest  crime rate in the 
Caribbean.  This  favorable  mix  has created remarkably friendly and 
successful  people  - they are truly delightful. There is very little 
un-employment.  Government  policy  is  that  all  employment must be 
offered  to  Caymanians  first. Jobs not taken up or where specialist 
skills  or  experience  is  required  are filled by ex-pats -- mostly 
American, Canadian, British, Irish or other European. 

Unlike   some  other  islands,  there  is  no  begging,  higgling  or 
aggressive  canvassing. It is prohibited by law and actively policed! 
The  locals  are very polite - will even let you in to a busy traffic 
stream!  By American or British standards the local lifestyle is laid 
back  and unhurried. They are probably more religious than most. Nude 
or  topless bathing is not allowed and there are no gambling casinos. 
There  is  very little prejudice - no one cares two hoots what colour 
or  religion  you  are. You can walk the beach or the street - day or 
night  without fear. You will probably be safer than you are at home! 

Boat  building  and  rope making were local industries but these have 
declined.  There has been some agricultural development but most food 
and other requirements are imported. 

The  cost of living is about 20% higher than in the United States but 
on a par with the UK and much of Europe. 

Foreigners  are  permitted  to  buy  and  own  land and property. The 
entire  islands  have been surveyed and divided into registered plots 
so  title  is  easily  established.  There is no form of property tax 
other than a one-time- only initial 7.5% stamp duty. 


All  three  islands  have  main  electricity,  but with voids in some 
isolated  places.  Some  water  is  collected  in  cisterns  but  the 
majority  is  made by desalination. It is sweet and safe to drink. In 
some  areas electrical, telephone and cable services have been buried 
with  no  overhead  power cables. The telephone service is efficient, 
mobile and Internet connection is available. 

Many  local  businesses now have internet E-Mail addresses. There are 
more  fax  machines  on the island (per capita) than anywhere else in 
the  world.  A  local  TV  station  and  two radio stations broadcast 
throughout  the  islands.  World-  wide  reception  is  available  by 
satellite  and  cable.  The  'Cyanamid Compass' is the National Daily 
Newspaper  and other US and UK newspapers are available. Domestic gas 
is available bottled or bulk. 

There  is  no  house-to-house post (mail) delivery. Residents collect 
post  from  post  offices  and  post  boxes  in George Town and other 
locations  throughout  the  islands.  At  this  writing  (April  '97) 
residences  do  not  have  house  numbers although plans are afoot to 
number  or  name  all  properties  to assist medical, fire and police 


Cruise  ships  regularly  call at Grand Cayman. There is no permanent 
docking  facility.  Passengers  are  tendered  to shore. Two shipping 
Companies  regularly  serve  the island (with goods, not passengers), 
from  Miami,  Tampa,  Jamaica,  UK  and  elsewhere.  Cayman  Airways, 
American  Airlines,  British Airways and Northwest Airlines serve the 
islands   internationally   and   Island  Air  operates  inter-island 


Water   Sports*   -  Diving,  snorkeling  and  all  water  and  beach 
activities  are  the  main  attraction  in the islands. Cayman has no 
rivers  and  no  industrial  pollution  so  the  turquoise waters are 
crystal  clear,  calm and protected. Underwater visibility can exceed 
200  ft!  There  is  an extraordinary abundance of marine life. Seven 
Mile  Beach (actually 5.5 miles but who's counting) is the best beach 
in the Caribbean and seventh best in the world.

There  are  dive sites, shallow dives, wall dives and wreck dives all 
round  the  islands,  many of them on the Northern part of Seven Mile 
Beach.  The  Cayman  Wall  is  famous among scuba divers and Stingray 
City  where  you swim with more than 30 giant stingrays has locations 
for  snorkellers (you can stand on the bottom) or the best 12 ft dive 
in  the world. For additional information request the 1997 Dive Guide 
from  your  nearest  Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. (Telephone 
numbers at the end of this report.) 

Fishing*  -  Offshore  fishing  for  Marlin,  Dolphin (not Flipper!), 
Tuna,  &  Wahoo  etc.  Shore Fishing for Barracuda, Bonefish, Pompano 
and  Tarpon.  Reef  Fishing  for  Grouper, Jack Crevalle and Snapper. 
Charter  boats  and  guides  are  widely  available.  June is million 
dollar  month - one of the world's premier deep sea fishing contests. 
The  Cayman  Islands  Fishing Guide is available from the Departments 
of Tourism. 

Water  Toys*  -  Sailboats - jetskiing - parasailing windsurfing etc. 
are available at all the major hotels. 

Atlantis  Submarines*  -  day  and  night  dives  to 150 ft below the 
surface or RSL to 800 ft. 

Shopping*  -  George  Town is a paradise for shoppers and a duty free 
port.   Everything   from   fashion  wear*  to  cosmetics,  jewellery 
(including   'pieces  of  eight'  and  gold  coins  found  in  wrecks 
surrounding   Cayman)   and   photographic  equipment.  Probably  the 
cheapest place in the world to buy a Rolex Watch. 

The Turtle Farm* - The only Turtle Farm in the world.

Golf* - two courses Britannia and Safehaven.

Tennis* - All over.

Flora  and Fauna* - The Botanic Park is the place for Caymanian flora 
and  fauna  and  the National Trust planned walks on the Mastic Trail 
on the Northside are for those who care about the environment. 

Hell*  - a small village with a post office where you can send a card 
from Hell! 

Getting  Around*  -  Cars, boats, bicycle, scooters and horses can be 
hired  for  sightseeing.  Rum Point Ferry is available for connection 
from the Hyatt dock to Rum Point & Cayman Kai.

Local  Air  To Other Islands* - Island Air will fly you to the sister 
islands  of  Cayman  Brac  and  Little  Cayman. Cayman Brac has a new 
attraction  for  divers  -  a 330 ft Russian frigate sunk 100 ft from 
the  shore  on  a  sloping  site  from 30 to 80 ft down. The Brac (so 
called  for  a  140  ft  bluff at one end full of mysterious caves is 
ideal  for  a  quieter  holiday  for  those  who enjoy bird-watching, 
caving,  cycling or hiking. Little Cayman is pure paradise. Less than 
50 inhabitants - your very own 'Treasure Island'. 

Entertainment*  -  on the Brac and Little Cayman is limited. In Grand 
Cayman  the  centre  of  the action is Seven Mile Beach where various 
live  musical  groups  perform  in  the  hotels for dancing under the 
stars.  There  are night- clubs, a cinema and a theatre. Umpteen bars 
and a British pub or three. 


Over  150  in  Grand  Cayman  ranging  from  fast-food to world class 
establishments  with  superb  locations.  Prices  vary throughout the 
range.  Top  class  restaurants  are  expensive but because there are 
very  few  all-inclusive  hotels,  prices generally are competitive - 
designed  to  attract  in the first place and ensure repeat business. 
Among  the  top  group  are Chef Tell's Grand Old House, Hemmingways, 
The  Wharf,  Ottmars and the Lighthouse. Middle range restaurants are 
Cafe  Tortuga*,  The Edge, The Britannia, Captain Morgans Steakhouse, 
D.J's  Cafe, The Blue Parrot and the Cracked Conch by the Sea. Budget 
restaurants  are  Wholesome Bakery, Island Taste and any of the pubs. 
Best  value Breakfast in Cayman - all you can eat at the Holiday Inn. 
Best  Brunch,  with  Champagne,  on  Sundays  at  the  Garden  Loggia 
Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. 


All  Hotels,  Condos,  Villas  and  Guest  House/Bed & Breakfasts are 
listed  together  with  Watersport,  Diving/Snorkelling  and  Fishing 
operators  with  current rates in the 1997 Rates & Facts Guide to the 
Cayman  Islands  which  is available from your nearest Cayman Islands 
Department  of  Tourism.  (Telephone  numbers  below)  together  with 
details of package tour operators.

All-inclusive  arrangements are available on Little Cayman and at one 
or  two  of the smaller hotels on Grand Cayman. Generally Cayman does 
not  favour all-inclusives and most accommodations will encourage you 
to  sample local restaurants & attractions away from the hotel. It is 
perfectly safe to do so. 

Your favourite Travel Agent will have current details.

Cayman Department of Tourism Telephone Numbers.
USA/Chicago - 847-678-6446 Fax 847-678-6675.
Houston - 713-461-1317 Fax 713-461-7409
Los Angeles - 213-738-1968 Fax 213-738-1829
Miami - 305-2662300 Fax 305-267-2932
New York - 212-682-5582 Fax 212-9865123
Canada/Toronto 416-485-1550 Fax 416-485-7578
United Kingdom/London 0171-491-7771 Fax 0171-409-7773
Germany/Austria/Switzerland Frankfurt 069-60-320-94 Fax 069-62-92-64
Italy/Milan 02-4801-2068 Fax 02-4635-32
Spain/Barcelona 93-414-0210 Fax 93-201-8657
Japan/Tokyo 03-3546-1754 Fax 03-3545-8756
In the UK & Europe 0171-491-7771. 

Details correct as of April, 1997.


We  are  back, physically only, I am still 40 ft under Eden Rock. The 
last  8  days  in Grand Cayman were great. This was the first time it 
was  very  choppy  all  week (3-5 ft swells every day) it was kind of 
scary  seeing  5-10 ft of beach disappear off our hotel on seven mile 
beach. Still it was warm and shore diving was good. 

NEW  STUFF  -  Tech Divers, the new dive shop under the cracked conch 
next  to  turtle farm. Good bunch and the entry to the sea there gave 
us  two  great  dives. To the right there was a mini wall and later a 
deeper  wall  (65-75  ft)  nice easy dive and as I mentioned with the 
chop shore dives saved us. 

BATABANOO  festival seemed a bit more laid back this year. The parade 
with  bands  and  dancers and costumes was nice, but the festival and 
bands  later  were  not  the crazy jump up time we saw in years past, 
although i was told the street dance the night before was kickin. 

Barefoot  Man  only  works  Wed  through Fri. now guess the thrill is 
gone, we saw him one night and he still is fun. 

There  is  a  new  market,  Republix,  on seven mile beach just after 
Cemetery  Rock.  It was great seeing as traffic into town seems to be 
getting  heavier.  ATM and full groceries are available there.(and by 
the  way the only liquor store open until 10 pm is just down the road 
from  there,  next right bout 1/2 mile in) Speaking of Cemetery Rock, 
it wasn't snorkable with the chop, too shallow i guess. 

We  visited Rum Point, drove out one day, very expensive, $22 for two 
frozen  drinks  and a beer, $45 jet ski 1/2 hr. Skip it. We did enjoy 
very  much late lunch at the Point (the light house restaurant at the 

All  in  all  it  was  great,  the seas made it seem like a different 
island, but I can't wait till next year.... 


My  wife  and  I  just returned from two weeks in the Cayman Islands, 
our  first  time  there.  I  found  so  much good information in this 
Forum's  Messages and Library files before we went that I thought the 
least  I  could  do  is  to  contribute  a  file  recounting  our own 
experiences.  This is our snapshot of the Caymans, filtered through a 
lens  of what we like and what we've seen elsewhere. Your mileage may 


Expensive,  as  everyone  has  said  -  that's  not  news.  There are 
discounts  and  Happy  Hours  and  the  like  (such as Big Daddy's on 
Fridays),  so  ask  around. SCUBA divemasters, in particular, have of 
necessity  mastered  the  art of living cheaply in one of the world's 
most  expensive  resorts.  Don't expect to find bargains on things to 
take  home,  except  perhaps  perfume  and  the  like. Avoid shopping 
downtown  -  even  the  airport  shops  are  cheaper!  There are more 
jewelry stores than gas stations, and they're hungry. 

Good  news,  though:  no  sales  tax  or  VAT! U.S. $1.00 equals $.80 
Cayman,  or  $1.00 Cayman = U.S. $1.25. It's an artifact of the times 
when  the British Pound was fixed at U.S. $2.50; the Caymans, part of 
the  British  West  Indies, simply split that ratio for their Dollar. 
Be  sure  you  know  in  which Dollar a price is posted! Many tourist 
shops  and  resorts  post prices in U.S. Dollars, but most others are 
in Cayman Dollars. Unless you see a sign, assume Cayman Dollars. 


Mostly  friendly!  Little  of the racial tension or bias seen in some 
other  islands.  There's  hardly  any crime. A vaguely British air of 
casual propriety rules. 


Flat,  and  not  very  scenic  onshore.  The  view offshore, however, 
combines  breathtaking hues of turquoise and lavender water fading to 
midnight  blue.  Pockets  of  sandy beach ring the island between the 
predominant  rocky  ironshore,  a  form of ancient coral that can cut 
bare  feet  to  ribbons.  A  barrier  reef rings the islands, from 50 
yards to a half-mile or more offshore. 


The last two weeks of March ran 80-84 degrees F during the day and 5-
10  degrees  cooler  at night. Humidity was almost always higher than 
that  (my  wife,  Trish,  adapted  immediately;  I took 3-4 showers a 
day!)  The  water temp. paralleled the air, typically 84 degrees F at 
the surface cooling to 78 degrees about 100 feet down. 


A  15%  gratuity  is  added  onto almost all hotel, restaurant, bar & 
service  bills. Even so, charge slips often have the standard row for 
"Gratuity" - watch that you don't pay it twice! 

Drive  on  the  left, the left, the left. Cars may be left- OR right-
hand  drive. Note: Passing is tough in a left- hand-drive car! Rental 
cars  tend  to  the  microscopic: Suzuki Alto, Opel Swing. Two of the 
former can pass in a single lane of traffic, they're that small! 

And  prices  are  typically $40+/day for these - yikes!!! Try Coconut 
Car  Rental  or  other  off-brands  for better prices. Your Gold Card 
rental  car  insurance may not be valid here - check before you leave 


We spent 11 days here, staying at the Magnificent Dive Dump (809/949-
3787)  just  past  the Turtle Farm. Jeff & Caryn Thurner run this set 
of  five  one- bedroom condos near their home, all on twelve acres of 
oceanfront.  Each  condo  has a full bath, a King or two Double beds, 
kitchenette,  a/c, TV, clock-radio, telephone, ceiling fan, skylight, 
small  covered patio and a full-on view of the ocean. A few hammocks, 
but  little  shade. Friendly hosts, plenty of stories, and occasional 
bonfires!  Air  tanks  available  at cost ($3) and loaner weights are 
free. It's a great spot for shore dives with more nearby. 

The  Dive  Dump  offers simple, basic, perhaps spartan accommodations 
in  a  natural setting, miles past the nightlife of Seven Mile Beach. 
A  little  ragged,  but  nothing some paint and TLC wouldn't fix. Our 
unit  wasn't  very  clean  when  we arrived, but a word the first day 
fixed  that  and  it  was  fine  the  rest  of our stay. Be prepared, 
though,  for  cockroaches  the  size of your thumb wherever you stay. 
This is the tropics, and they grow `em big here. 

Our  unit,  number  5,  was  on the East end with extra windows (love 
that  breeze),  privacy  and a view toward the beach 50 yards further 
along  the  shore.  It  ran $120/night per room (not per person) high 
season  (less  if  you  work  for  an  airline), with no 15% gratuity 
unlike  every  other  place  we  checked.  Sunset  House is almost as 
cheap,  and has a pool and bar, but is noisier (their air compressor) 
and  more  crowded.  We initially wished we'd gone there, but came to 
be glad we opted for the Dump. 

It's  funky,  but it became home! When you need a day lounging around 
a  pool, just take your beach towel to the Holiday Inn or the Hyatt - 
the  Dive  Dump  has  colors that match theirs and you'll blend. ("Oh 
yeah,  you  blend.")  One  day  a  conch fisherman ran low on gas and 
beached  his  boat  nearby,  walked up and sold us a couple of shells 
for  $6 each. We then traded Duke a few drinks for a conch appetizer! 
He  cleaned  two big conch steaks, then cut them into thin slices and 
marinated  them  in  lime  juice,  pepper sauce and onion for a half- 
hour.  Mmmmm,  delicious. I hope he's remembered to come back for his 

SCUBA Diving:

At  Jeff's  suggestion, I went with Aquanauts out of Morgan's Harbor, 
just  a  few miles from the Dive Dump. They're a relaxed bunch with a 
rattle-trap  boat named "Grumpy", but fun to dive with. On a two-tank 
boat  dive most outfits will have you stay with the divemaster(s) the 
first  dive,  then  on the second dive you're on your own. It's quite 
casual  -  show your C-card, sign a waiver, and you're off. Liability 
laws  must  be  much  simpler  in  the Caymans; they're not nearly as 
nervous and mother-hennish as dive outfits in Hawaii. 


Not  much worth mentioning - we were both disappointed. We tried just 
off  the  Dive  Dump,  Cemetery  Beach,  Governor's House, Eden Rock, 
Smith's  Cove  (a  nice spot regardless, with shade trees), Morritt's 
Tortuga  Club and Rum Point. We found little to compare with St. John 
or  north Maui (our other favorites) except for the reef north of Rum 
Point:  swim  North from the dock for a half-mile to the barrier reef 
and  you  can  find healthy coral and plenty of fish. En route to the 
reef watch for conch inching along the sandy bottom 15-20 feet down -
  dive  down and pick them up to see the gorgeous reddish-pink inside 
the  shell!  Just  be  sure  to  set  them  back down - it's a Marine 

Stingray City:

Yes,  worth a trip. The stingrays do swim right around your legs, and 
feel  like sandy Jello! We actually enjoyed the other two stops more: 
one  on  the  barrier  reef  and  one  in  the sound, both with great 
snorkeling.  Avoid  Stingray City Charters, though - a bad boat and a 
bad  attitude.  Others  have  enjoyed them, but our Three Hour Cruise 
wasn't one to recommend. 


I  don't know what the `N' stands for. It's like SCUBA except there's 
no  b.c.  vest, and the tank follows on the surface in a little raft, 
tethered  to  your  regulator by a 30' hose. SNUBA is a great way for 
snorkelers  to  get  a  feel  for  SCUBA,  without  the  pressure  or 
training.  It's  new to the Caymans, having migrated from Hawaii, and 
is  currently  offered  only  at  Calico  Jack's  shop  just north of 
downtown.  The  "dive"  runs from the beach next to the shop out to a 
flattened wreck just offshore. 

Rum Point:

We  spent  a  day here, and nearly went back for a second. A gorgeous 
spot,  sand and beach under the palm trees with plenty of lounges and 
chairs  and  hammocks. Good food and drinks and a beautiful view over 
the  sound. Even the ferry ride was fun. Enter and park two driveways 
north of the Hyatt, just north of the miniature golf course. 


The  Wharf:  Great  ambiance,  good  food,  make reservations. Tarpon 
feeding  at 9 PM (or whenever kids start throwing food in the water!) 
The  Lighthouse:  This is a ways East. Mixed reviews on food (I loved 
the Chicken Olivia, but the carrot cake was wooden.) 

Lantana:  We  only  had  dessert,  but  it was superb - they had FOUR 
kinds of Creme Brulee! My kind of Heaven.

Benjamin's  Roof: Excellent food. Look for 10% off dinner discount in 
local coupon books. 

Champion  House:  We  tried  the  breakfast  buffet  for native fare. 
Steamed okra? Boiled bananas? Luckily the sauces were wonderful. 

Cracked  Conch:  One hit (catch of the day, Island Style - baked with 
onions  and green & red peppers) and one we sent back (4 little over-
cooked  shrimp over Alfredo pasta.) Nice ambiance, though, and just a 
few  doors down from the Dive Dump. This is a great place to come out 
of  the  water  on a long along- shore dive from the Dump. Especially 
at night! 

Hyatt's  Garden  Loggia,  breakfast only: To our surprise, reasonably 
priced  (for  the  Caymans)  and  very  good!  A very creditable Eggs 

Hyatt's  Hemingway's:  Our best Pina Colada, ever. The food was okay, 
the  service,  though.  With almost one waitperson per guest, I still 
had  to  walk over and grab one so we could order. And we never dealt 
with any of them more than once! Very disorganized. Sit at the bar.

Calico  Jack's:  A  nice bar & cafe in a great location - all outside 
on the water, just north of downtown.


After  eleven  days  on  Grand Cayman we flew to Little Cayman Island 
for  our  last  three  days.  We  wish we'd reversed the proportions! 
Little  Cayman  is  also  flat,  and  at  least as expensive, but the 
diving and snorkeling are world-class! 

We  stayed at the Southern Cross Club (800/899-2582 or 809/948-1099), 
an  old  fishing  club  turned  resort: eight rooms in four duplexes, 
each  nicely furnished and clean, facing the water over a wide beach. 
It  offers  lots  of  palms  for  shade, hammocks, privacy, kayaksCari
borrow  and  explore  nearby  uninhabited Owens Island, a small pool, 
bar  and dining room. There's a dock for the dedicated resort fishing 
and  dive  boats. No "electronics" of any sort in the rooms. Food was 
good  to  occasionally  great  (their  chef was on holiday.) Cost ran 
$230/day,  plus  meals  at  $50/day/person.  Very friendly staff. The 
only  negative  was the tap water, which had a strong sulfurous smell 
when we were there. 

There  are at least a half-dozen options for accommodations on Little 
Cayman,  but only one grocery store. Those resorts that include meals 
(such  as the SCC and Pirate's Point) will usually take non-guests if 
there's  space,  and  if you make reservations. You shouldn't need to 
rent  a  car,  as  your hosts should be willing to drop you somewhere 
for  a  day  for  a  fee.  We spent one afternoon at Point of Sand, a 
great   beach  on  the  Eastern  tip  of  Little  Cayman.  Only  fair 
snorkeling  and  little  shade,  though,  so you may want to focus on 
Bloody  Bay  and  Jackson's Bay. Both are just a couple of miles from 
most resorts - a fair walk or an easy bike ride. 

SCUBA Diving:

Outta  this  world.  Practically  every  dive  (I  did four here) was 
better  than any of my previous dives. Grottoes, caves, and of course 
The  Wall.  Jackson's  Bay Wall and Bloody Bay Wall are side by side; 
Jackson's  offers  more  caves  and  fissures  opening onto the wall, 
while  Bloody Bay is simply stark: from a flat coral bottom in twelve 
to  fifteen feet of water, the wall drops to 4000 feet as if cut by a 
knife. Turquoise blue to inky black in the width of a hand. 

With  visibility  approaching  100  feet,  it's  an  amazing place to 
snorkel  or  to  dive.  Very healthy corals, sponges, and fish of all 
kinds.  Turtles  were abundant, and we came up from one dive amidst a 
drift  of  brown  thimble jellies. This dive spot is rated number one 
in  the  Caribbean  by  Jacques  Cousteau,  and  justly  so. Women be 
warned:  Terry,  one  of  the SCC divemasters, is a character. If you 
don't  like  underwater  dancing, just poke him with an urchin. He'll 
get the message. 

If  you request it, the SCC dive boat can make the run to the Russian 
destroyer  just  sunk  off Cayman Brac (as an artificial reef) for an 
extra  $15.  It's  only 30 minutes further than the dive sites on the 
North side of Little Cayman. 

Note:  Local  word  has  it  that  a resort will open on the beach at 
Bloody  Bay  within  the next two years. From there a 50-yard surface 
swim will put you over the wall! No boat needed.

Will  we  go  back?  Probably not - there are so many more islands we 
haven't  seen.  If we did, we'd surely skip Grand Cayman and focus on 
Little  Cayman.  We  hope  this  has been of some help - have a great 


We  (4 adults) spent a week in Curacao, returning 3/8. Some comments, 
notes for future travelers: 

Curacao  is  a  larger  Bonaire;  same  desert  type surroundings and 
cactus,  but  more  green tree vegetation in most areas. Definitely a 
good  island  for  history buffs-landhuis (loosely-plantation) houses 
restored,  very  obvious, impressive, Capital city great area-similar 
to  Charlotte  Amalie  in STT, but cleaner...same number of tee shirt 
sales,  though. Significant Dutch influence, since Cur is part of the 
Netherlands  Antilles.  I  was  surprised at large number of European 
tourists-we  (US)  were  outnumbered  by  about  90%.  Not a problem, 
though-everyone was very nice. 

We  stayed  at  Kadushi  Cliffs  condo in Westpunt. Very secluded top 
notch  facility.  Friendly,  courteous.  Isolated, though-not much in 
Westpunt, 1 hour drive to "town". 

Snorkeled  mostly.  Tried  Playa  Kalki  (good), Playa Marta ay Coral 
Cliff  Resort  (good  to very good), Playa Lagun (good to very good), 
Knip  Bay  (very  good),  and BEST EVER at Cas Abao. Have to pay NA$5 
(US$3)to  get to beach, but good facilities including shade and above 
average  beach  restaurant,  great  beach,  and the best living coral 
that  I've ever seen along the eastern cliff edge. Fish of all types, 
coral  of  all  colors,  morays,  drums, and on and on. We went there 
several times. 

Restaurants   we   tried-Jaanchies  (Westpunt)-good  iguana/goat/fish 
sampler  plate,  interesting waiter (Jaanchie); Playa Forti-good food 
but  not  very  clean;Cliff  House (@ Resort-OK;Oasis-very good local 
food, open Fri/Sat only, unorganized. 

Rented  car from Budget-US$500 for 8 days...Toyota Camry. We WOULD go 
back-great  island. Bonaire was slightly more convenient, Curacao has 
more to offer. Tossup. 


Getting There:

After  getting  up  at  3:00AM,  we  left Cleveland on a cold, snowy, 
blustery  morning.  The  plane had to be de-iced twice! What a change 
from  the  weather that was to come later in the day. Every flight we 
had  was  delayed  at  least  two  hours:  out of Cleveland, changing 
planes  in  Atlanta,  and  changing planes again in Miami to the BWIA 
flight.  After  a  brief stop in Antigua, we finally arrived at Point 
Salines  airport in St. Georges, Grenada at about 9:15PM, about three 
hours  later  than scheduled. We cleared customs with no problems and 
got a taxi outside for $5 per person. 

This  was  my  first  experience with driving on the left side of the 
road,  and  it  was  unique  to  see  cows  and  goats roaming on the 
roadside.   We   were   quite  relieved  to  finally  arrive  at  our 
destination,  the  Flamboyant  Hotel, in time to enjoy a drink at the 
bar  before  they  closed  at  10:00PM. We were also relieved that we 
brought  only  carry-on bags with us as the climb up to the room on a 
steep  hillside  was  tiring, but definitely worth the view! Our only 
regret:  we  arrived  too  late  to enjoy a dinner of Grenada cuisine 
which we had hoped to sample.

Sunday - Grenada:

After  an  enjoyable  breakfast  of  fresh  fruit  and  banana  bread 
(surrounded  by  birds)  and  enjoying  a  great  view of St. Georges 
harbor,  we  spent a beautiful morning at the beach. Flamboyant Hotel 
is  located  at the far south end of Grand Anse beach, so the view is 
great.  Very  few  beach vendors were out because of it being Sunday, 
but  I  did  manage to buy three spice necklaces from one guy for $17 
(didn't  know any better, so I don't know if that was a good price or 
not!)  Our  hotel room was very spacious with a kitchenette and a big 
shower  (the  last  big, HOT shower we would enjoy for the week! Tee-
hee!)  We recommend the Flamboyant as the WJ price is not bad and the 
people  are very friendly and laid-back. Everyone speaks English with 
a  delightful Caribbean accent. We also got a quick lesson in "how to 
slow  down"  as it took forever to check out, although the desk clerk 
was very nice.

Took  a  $10  taxi  (again $5 per person) to the dock and dropped our 
bags  at  the  ship.  Our  FIRST  view of the Yankee Clipper, and she 
looked  great!  We  had  the cab take us over to the Nutmeg as we had 
heard  that  was  the  place  to meet other WJammers before boarding; 
however,  since  it  was  only  1:30PM,  (the Nutmeg was still closed 
until  2:00PM)  we strolled around the Caranage. (Be advised: NOTHING 
is  open  on  Sunday  in downtown St. George's, so we advise going to 
Nutmeg  no  earlier  than  2:00PM.) As soon as the taxi dropped us in 
front  of Nutmeg, a guy approached us saying he "worked part-time for 
WJ"  (yeah,  right!) and wanted to give us a walking tour towards the 
old  fort. We were suspicious, so we declined and went the other way. 
This  guy  continued to follow close behind us; although never really 
a  problem, he was just sort of a nuisance. He finally left us and we 
saw  him  use  the  same approach with others. Finally, Nutmeg opened 
and  we enjoyed a late lunch of flying fish and positively lethal rum 
punches! Oh yes!...we met a few of our fellow shipmates there, too!

  At  5:00PM,  all of us headed for the. First Mate, Glenn, met us at 
the  end  of  the ramp and Capt. John greeted us as we boarded. After 
setting   up   our   on-board-charge-account  with  purser,  Kim  and 
purchasing  our  first set of "doubloons" for the bar, we checked out 
our  cabin.  We  had  a Captains cabin on the main deck forward which 
was   slightly  bigger  than  a  regular  cabin,  but  certainly  not 
spacious.  It  would  suit our needs just fine though! The a/c worked 
fine,  had a larger lower bed and upper bunk, small refrigerator, and 
a  shower  that stayed on without having to push the button! The head 
is  an  all-in-one  that  includes  a  small  corner  sink, john, and 
shower.  After a buffet dinner topside, there was a 3-piece Caribbean 
band  for  music and dancing into the evening. It was a great feeling 
to  finally  be  aboard the ship which we had looked forward to for a 
long time!

Monday - Grenada & Sailing:

Open  seating breakfast was from 7:30 to 8:30AM with Western omelets, 
hash  browns,  and cereal. Since it was ST. Patrick's Day, several of 
our  shipmates  were showing up with green shamrock stickers stuck on 
various  places!  After  breakfast  was a mandatory safety drill with 
life  jackets  on  the  top  deck  followed by our first "Story Time" 
where  Capt.  John  discussed  safety  aboard  ship,  "decks  can get 
slippery",  "no sitting on the rail", and a stern warning against any 
illegal  drugs  on  board!  Purser-Kim  talked  of  the various tours 
available  in Grenada that morning, and we opted for the island tour. 
Got  the  launch back to shore and hopped in a van with about 8 other 
shipmates.  Monday  was a busy day in the downtown harbor area, so we 
headed  through  the  traffic  out to Amba Kaila Spice Shop, Annadale 
Falls,  and  Grand  Etang  Nat'l Park. Judy, part of a teachers group 
from  Colorado,  was our "interpreter" relaying to those of us in the 
back  what  the driver was saying up front. Good job, Judy! This tour 
was fun, but not enough time to see the park at Grand Etang.

After  the  launch  ride  back  to the ship, had a great buffet lunch 
with  fresh  snapper!  Then  we helped raise the sails to the tune of 
Amazing  Grace!  What  a feeling!....we were finally jammin'! Several 
of  us  felt  pretty bad for one of our shipmates, John from Ireland, 
whose  luggage  never  showed  up  (until  almost the last day of the 
cruise!)  and  his wallet blew off the back deck shortly after we set 
sail  that  first day. In a typical WJ fashion, he didn't seem overly 
upset  about  it and took it all in stride; we also got quite used to 
him showing up in the same clothes every day!

The first day sailing was ever-SO relaxing. We headed north for a 14-
hour  sail  to  Bequia.  Saw  a  school  of about 30 dolphins off the 
starboard  side. Grabbed a deckpad and laid back, staring up into the 
sails  and  blue  sky while listening to some of my favorite music by 
Enya  (Good  taste,  WJ!!)  Swizzle  time  about  4:30PM  and a great 
sunset!  Dinner  was  lamb or flank steak. That first long sail "got" 
to  several people as they complained of feeling sea-sick. I was just 
plain  tired  (probably  from  the  effects of the Bonine I had taken 
earlier),  so  I  left  dinner  early and slept in the cabin until my 
husband,  Rick,  returned  to the cabin after midnight. It was lovely 
to  be  "rocked" to sleep while sailing. A few shipmates slept out on 
the top deck despite a light rain during the night.

Tuesday - Bequia:

The  harbor  at Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth on the island of Bequia 
is  beautiful!  Not  a  very  populated  island  of only about 10,000 
people,  but  a lot of private yachts anchored there. After breakfast 
of  pancakes  &  sausage  or  cereal,  Purser-Kim told us the various 
tours  available  during  "Story Time": island tour, Moon Rock, or an 
all-day  sail to Mustique where the "rich & famous" live. We chose to 
just take the launch to the town dock and roam the town for a bit.

Port  Elizabeth  is  a  very  pretty  little  town and, as usual, the 
natives  were  very "laid back" but also quite friendly. A young teen 
with  a  warm smile played "Auld Lang Syne" for me on the small steel 
drum  he  had  for  sale  at  one of the shops. Bequia was one of the 
first  (and  last!) "shopping" islands (the rest of the islands would 
be  virtually unpopulated), so we naturally bought a few T-shirts and 
then  took  the  launch back to the ship. At this time, since most of 
our  shipmates  were  still  gone  elsewhere,  we  had  the  top deck 
virtually  to ourselves, so we spent the time taking lots of pictures 
and  even relaxing in the "widows net" on the front of the ship!. Try 
it!.....You'll like it!

Buffet   lunch  topside  consisted  of  crab  salad  (great!),  curry 
chicken,  shell  mac'n'cheese,  and wonderful chocolate chip cookies. 
During  the  afternoon,  the  launches ran every 1/2 hour to Princess 
Margaret  Beach.  Here  was our first snorkeling of the trip...on the 
north  end  of  the beach. The snorkeling here was only fair, but got 
much  better  later  in the trip. At Bequia and all the islands later 
in  the  week,  the  ship  takes the bar to the beach. So we used our 
doubloons  at  the  beach bar and strolled the beach down to the cave 
walk  at  the  south end. A great place to take pictures! Launch back 
to ship at 4:30PM.

Capt.  John  told  us  early in the trip that Caribbean time is "ish" 
time,  meaning  nothing is precisely exact. That was fine with us! So 
at  5:30ish,  we  were  treated to crab races on the top deck with 12 
hermit  crabs.  Don't miss this! A lot of fun and a raucous time with 
a few bets (no luck - we lost!)

Dinner  aboard  was either Garlic Shrimp or Duck a' la orange, but we 
chose  to eat ashore at the Gingerbread. Wonderful candlelight dinner 
with  a  Caribbean  quintet  playing and singing while we ate. A real 
treat!  Some  of  the crew and other shipmates were headed to a "Jump 
Up"  later  that  evening at one of the bars, but we were pooped from 
"too  much  fun", so we caught the launch back to the ship, ready for 
bed.  Some  shipmates  (who  were  mostly hung over the next morning) 
told us they had a great time at the "Jump Up". Sorry we missed it!

Wednesday - Tobago Cays and Palm Island:

YC  set  sail  at  5:30AM.  Bloody  Marys  and almond croissants were 
available  early. I stuck with just coffee as the seas were bothering 
me  this  morning (i.e. brief bout of seasickness off the back deck). 
This  morning  was  a  "sailing class" with First Mate, Glenn, on the 
top  deck  discussing navigation, charting, etc. Very interesting and 
I  learned  some  things!  Since  a  large cruise ship appeared to be 
anchored  at Mayreau, Capt. John headed us for Tobago Cays which is a 
"desert-type island that normally gets very little rain."

After  Story  Time,  the launches took us to the beach where a few T-
shirt  vendors  strung  their  wares.  Several of us took the skinny, 
sandy  footpath  to  the  far side of the island. The snorkeling here 
was  ABSOLUTELY  FABULOUS!  -  a  large  reef,  lots  of brain coral, 
numerous  schools of fish, yellow needlefish, etc. Lunch on the beach 
consisted  of sub-sandwiches (delicious!) and macaroni salad. Just as 
we  were  eating,  a  rain shower blew in, so we hauled all our stuff 
back  to  the other side of the island. Even huddling under the trees 
in  the  rain,  we  still  had fun! We debated whether to stay on the 
island,  but  finally  were convinced to take the last launch back to 
the  ship  where the crew was busy wiping down the whole deck. By the 
time  everyone  was  back on ship, the rain had stopped. Everyone was 
still  smiling  even  though we were totally soaked and it would take 
days  for  everything  to  dry out. Hopefully, Capt. John didn't mind 
too  much  that  we  all  made  the ship look sort of like a "Chinese 
junk" with wet towels and clothes strung everywhere to dry out!

Time  to  set sail for a lovely afternoon cruise to Palm Island. Very 
calm  waters  now. Saw a Seabourne ship anchored off of Mayreau. Palm 
Island  is a private island owned by John Caldwell and his family; he 
and  WJ  have had a close relationship for over 30 years. Tonight was 
a  beach  BBQ with chicken and ribs, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy 
it  much as a young steward from the ship managed to dump a blueberry 
dessert  all  over  my T-shirt and shorts. So I took the first launch 
back  to  the  ship  to  change  clothes and soak my clothes. After a 
short  nap,  we  took  the  launch  back  to  the  beach to meet John 
Caldwell  and  had  him  sign  his  book  "Desperate Voyage" which we 
bought for $20.

Thursday - Palm Island and Mayreau:

Slept  in  till 8:15AM as it was a rather cloudy morning, even though 
some  shipmates had taken the 7:00AM "walk/jog/run" around Highway 90 
on  Palm  Island.  Breakfast  was a buffet of West Indies food. After 
Story  Time  at  8:45,  the  launches  again headed for the beach. We 
opted  to  just  relax and read aboard ship, just what we needed this 
vacation  for! After a 12:30ish buffet lunch topside, we set sail for 
Mayreau.  Enjoyed  some  great  snorkeling off the rocks on a reef at 
Mayreau;  also a nice sandy beach where the sand was tan (not white!) 
Most  shipmates we talked to agreed we would have preferred more time 
at Mayreau and less at Palm Island.

Back  on  board  for  snacks and rum swizzles (I think Rick had a few 
too  many!)  Tonight  was  the  B,L,T, &P party (with prizes for best 
costume!)  so many came to the buffet dinner (beef, pork, and ham) in 
their  costumes;  some  as  Black-eyed  Peas,  a  lion,  togas, bed & 
pillow,  but we really thought the best one was the girl dressed as a 
giant  tampon.  (And  if you see Glenn, the first mate, ask him about 
his  "unique"  toga!)  After dancing away the night topside under the 
stars  and a bright moonlit night, some hardy souls (translate: Rick, 
First  Mate-Glenn,  and a few other guys) closed the saloon late into 
the  night  with a round of joke-telling. Strokie, the chef, had some 
great ones!

Friday - Carriacou:

Left  anchor early. Breakfast was eggs, bacon, hash browns, and tasty 
sugar  doughnuts!  A  beautiful  sail  this  morning with bright blue 
skies,  calm  waters,  and my favorite Enya music once again. Dropped 
anchor  at Hillsborough, Carriacou, and after Story Time the launches 
again  left  for  shore  to the town. Irishman John's luggage finally 
arrived  this  morning!  We  toured  the other cabins below deck with 
shipmates  Jackie & Bob so we could compare them to ours; not a whole 
lot  of difference, although ours was slightly bigger and a whole lot 
more  convenient  being on the main deck in case you needed something 
at  the  last  minute.  Jackie  &  Bob  had 3rd-Mate-Julian chart our 
course  on  a  map  of  the  Grenadines  they had purchased - a great 
souvenir! Lunch was buffet again - fried chicken and French fries.

After  a short time motoring to the other side of the island, we took 
the  launches to Clipper Beach. Only two other people were there, and 
we  must  have scared them away after our launches arrived, so we had 
the  whole  beach  entirely  to ourselves from the Yankee Clipper! We 
were  warned  to  be  careful  and  avoid sitting under the manganeel 
trees  which  are poisonous. Some of our very favorite snorkeling was 
here  at  Carriacou.  We  were  among  the  first  into the water and 
delighted  in  being  completely  surrounded  by  a  HUGE  school  of 
thousands  of  fish! The weather was absolutely beautiful, and it was 
here  that  we  had  the  most  beach time (about 3 1/2 hours) of any 
island.  A great and beautiful place! We felt like we were "marooned" 
on our very own tropical isle!

Back  on  board  ship  by 5:00PM. This was a melancholy moment as the 
last  raising  of  the  sails  and hearing Amazing Grace for the last 
time.  What a gorgeous sail into the sunset off the starboard side as 
we  headed  south  again for Grenada! Tonight was the Captains dinner 
(e.g.  clean  T-shirt)  with  two seatings. Choices were either prime 
rib  or  Wahoo  fish;  we chose the fish, which was just great! Chief 
Steward,  Kenny,  treated  us to a Caesar salad preparation, and then 
we  all headed topside for bananas flambeau on the top deck. This was 
the  night for LOTS of pictures in the saloon area with our shipmates 
and  new-found friends. But not too late of a night since over 1/2 of 
us had to catch the early BWIA flight out the next morning.

Saturday - Heading Home:

After  an  early  4:15AM  "knock-up"  (translate: wake-up "call"), we 
hurried  through  a  quick buffet breakfast to catch the taxis on the 
dock  by 5:30AM. All or luggage was placed into the back of a pick-up 
truck,  and  those  of  us  in the front taxi-van endured a careening 
adventure  to  the airport following the pick-up about 1-foot off his 
bumper.  For  a  slow Caribbean island as is Grenada, why this driver 
had  to drive like a New York cabby is beyond me! In any case, it was 
sad  to  have  to leave the YC and we found ourselves very envious of 
those  that  had  arranged to stay another week (two shipmates stayed 
aboard  for another week on YC, another left for the next week aboard 
Flying  Cloud,  and several others were staying for a few days at the 
Flamboyant Hotel.) We'll know better next time!!

Our Critique:

Did  we  enjoy  the  Yankee Clipper? ABSOLUTELY!! Will we be back for 
another  WJ  cruise?  WITHOUT  A  DOUBT!!  What sold us on the Yankee 
Clipper  was the great sailing she did and the fabulous snorkeling at 
obscure  out-of-the  beaten-path islands! The weather cooperated most 
of  the  time in being quite warm and sunny, despite the brief shower 
at  Tobago  Cays  and a few drizzles at night for those attempting to 
sleep  on the top deck (something we had hoped to try but never did!) 
The  food  aboard  ship  was  fine, not gourmet and not dramatic, but 
good  and  certainly  plenty  of  it!  The  accommodations  took some 
getting  used  to,  but  you learn to live "within your means" (small 
cabin)  and  actually  learned to NOT worry about not having a key to 
lock  the  cab
of  NOT  having  to dress up, forget about doing hair and make-up for 
an  entire week (nobody cares what you look like!), and NOT having to 
wear shoes! 

If  we  have  any negative comment at all, it's that we feel we spent 
too  much  time  at  Palm  Island  and  didn't do justice to Mayreau. 
However,  the  ship  is beautiful with all that wood, and Capt. John, 
First  Mate  Glenn,  Julian,  Kim,  and  the rest of the crew are all 
professional and very friendly!

A  word  to  the wise: 1) Remember to pack light! We had been warned, 
but  we  still packed too much even though we had only one carry-on a 
piece.  2)  You  are  very  near the equator in this region, so bring 
lots of sun block and/or be sure to have a good base tan.

We are VERY MUCH looking forward to our next Windjammer cruise!!!

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