Carribean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
January 1, 1995
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1/ CTR CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY
On the 28th of December 1989, I uploaded the first edition of the CTR to Compuserve with six pages of what now would be considered rather unsophisticated Caribbean information. The first issue began with the following paragraph:
"For some time I've been monitoring travel developments in the Caribbean region through a variety of mediums including print, short-wave monitoring and of coarse electronic bulletin boards and data base services. Since I've been collecting data, I thought it might be useful to share it with others. So I'm initiating this on-line travel roundup which I intend to upload around the first of each month."
The CTR has been uploaded each month September to April and during the summer on time for five years. This January 1995 edition begins the sixth year of publication. Expansion has been enormous. What began with the hope of providing 6 pages an issue of Caribbean travel information, has exploded into 65 pages for the full text edition of this 51st output.
The CTR is strictly non-commercial. No one makes any money on its production and all the contributors have provided their material without compensation. Once again thanks to all those who made the CTR a success over the years.
Paul Graveline Editor
2/ PRESS RELEASES
Antigua and Brabuda Eliminate Marriage Wait
Recognizing the increasing numbers of couples that opt for a romantic wedding on the beach rather than a more traditional ceremony, the government of Antigua and Brabuda has just made it easier to get married in the two island nation. Effective immediately, there is no waiting time and couples can tie the knot immediately. Previously, either the bride or the groom had to be in the county for a minimum of three business days prior to applying for a marriage license.
Now a couple need only appear at the Ministry of Justice in the capital of St. John's to complete and sign a necessary declaration before a Marriage Coordinator and pay an $150 license fee. The Coordinator will arrange for a Marriage Officer to perform a civil ceremony at any of Antigua's hotels or another venue selected by the couple. The Ministry is Open Monday through Friday.
Previously the marriage license fee was payable in Antigua postage stamps, now U.S. currency is accepted. Additionally, $100 is payable to the Marriage Officer
Antigua and Barbuda Calendar 1995
1/7-8 --- Open Class Windsurfing "Great Board Race"
1/8-2/4 -- Harmony Hall Artist Exposition featuring Bruce Smith and Judith King
2/5-3/4 --Harmony Hall Artist Exposition featuring William Wood
2/19-22 -- Cricket Red Stripe Tournament
3/5-4/1 -- Harmony Hall Artist Exposition featuring John Willard and Gilly Huntington Rainey
4/8-13 -- Cricket W.I Vs Australia
4/17 ---- Easter Monday Holiday
4/30-5/6 28th Antigua Sailing Week
5/1 ------ Labor Day - public holiday
5/14-21 Curtain Bluff Hotel Pro Am Tennis
6/3-4 -----Sport Fishing Tournament
6/5 ---- Whit Monday - public holiday
6/ TBA Caribana Carnival
7/ TBA Sunfish Sailing Regatta
7/3 ----- Caricom Day - public Holiday
7/22-23 Open Class Windsurfing
7/29-8/8 Antigua carnival
8/7-8 ---- Carnival - Public Holiday
10/26-29 6th Jazz Festival
10/27-29 Open Bridge Tournament
11/1 ----- Independence celebrations
11/ TBA Winter Fishing Festival
12/1-9 --- 38th Nicholson's Boat Show
12/25-26 Christmas / Boxing Day Public Holidays
Antigua: Blue Waters Beach Hotel
The Blue Waters Beach Hotel in Antigua is kicking off the 94-95 winter high season with refurbished guest rooms and an new , European trained operations management team.
All 67 Guest Rooms and villas at the Resort have a new look, including newly designed fabrics and bedclothes, drapes and towels that reflect the colors of the Caribbean. Local artwork and other appointments also decorate the rooms to similar effect.
The new management team includes Martin Lawton, General Manager; and George Courgnaud, food and beverage manger.
"These two professionals bring a new level of fine cuisine, top notch service and attention to detail to our resort's old world tradition, which has helped us build a dedicated clientele of well traveled international visitors," said Kenneth Woodhouse, managing director at Blue Waters.
Among the changes already instituted is an extensive a la carte menu, an extensive wine list offers varietals from all over the world. Those gusts who have chose the modified American plan will receive a $40 credit for each evening meal.
Music and dancing will be offered each evening in a rotating variety of formats, including calypso, jazz and steel band. There will also be exhibitions by local; artists and fashion shows. Rates are $3250 for a standard double ad $300 for a beach double.
Aruba: Immigration Changes from Orrin Edwards
Our regular contributor Orrin Edwards forwarded an article from the Aruban newspaper "The News" of 12/2/94 which headlines an artricle states that " the government of Aruba, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the government of the United States today signed a formal treaty providing for all people transiting out of Aruba tot he United Stares to complete customs procedures which still in Aruba."
Prime Minster Eman is quoted as saying," With the completion of this historic treaty which allows people entering the U.S. from Aruba to complete all customs procedures while still on our island, we anticipate a further boom in our growing tourist industry."
So it would seem that the long customs hassle at Miami or New York is over for people visiting Aruba. Thanks to Orrin for passing along this information.
Changing Planes: Airline Developments
There have been a number of developments in the airline situation in the Caribbean. Lloyd Devigne ( see St. Barths below) reports that on 12/9 Air St. Barths stop operation. At press time there was no notice that operations had begun. In late December it was announced that BWIA was being privatized by the government of Trinidad and Tobago. This is supposed to take place on 1/1/95. Finally, an new airline called Carib Express is supposed to be starting in February. It is partially owned by British Airways and may be in response to the complains that a number of eastern Caribbean islands had to the service provided by Antigua based LIAT. So if you are planning to travel on any of these carriers, you might double check your reservations with your travel agent.
Grenadines: Tamarind Beach Resort
Tamarind Beach Hotel and Yacht Resort is on schedule for the 1/15/93 opening which will introduce a European style resort to the Canouan Island in the Grenadines.
"Canouan is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean", said Mario de Genova, chairman of the board of the Canouan Resorts Development Ltd. " the combination of our beautiful setting and our European operations sand food and beverage staff will make a stay at Tamarind Beach a truly memorable experience."
With a total of three square miles, Canouan Island is one of the larger of the 32 islands that comprise St. Vincent and the Grenadine. Canouan is set about half way down the island group which drapes like a watch chain between St. Vincent and Grenada.
The resort is located on a sweep of reef protected beach that has the effect of creating a giant, salt water swimming pool. The water will be the focus of activities at the resort. Sailing, windsurfing and snorkeling will be included in the room rare. Rates for winter 1995, 15 Jan. thorough 15 Apr. 1995 are $200 for single, #250 for double. 15 Apr.- 15 Dec. $150 single and $200 double. All rates are full American plan ( breakfast, lunch and dinner).
The resort facilities include 4 buildings. The main building houses the restaurant. lounges and other public areas, as well as the administrative offices. The other three buildings contain the 48 guest rooms and one suite, all of which overlook the sea, and include verandahs with lounge chairs and table.
Guest rooms feature an island decor with rattan furniture and ceiling fans.
Each includes a minibar. The suite is composed of a bedroom, kitchenette and siting room, with telephone and cable TV.
Guest will have a choice of dining rooms and lounges. For elegant dining with a view of the sea, the Restaurant Palapa will feature Caribbean cuisine with such specialties as grillafes of fish, as well as European specialties prepared by a French chef. The Tropical Terrace and Terrace bar located in the open area on the beach will be for more causal breakfast, lunch and dinners or a cool drink in a cozy setting. The Pirate Cove will provide an al fresco setting to enjoy an afternoon tea, or tropical drinks day or night. Live music will be a feature at the Pirate Cove on a regular basis. Le Drug Store and Ice Cream Parlor will offer an assortment of tropical and Italian ices.
Intentional themed dinner will be a weekly occurrence, featuring Italian, French and Oriental menus on a rotating basis. Barbecues will also be a regular feature.
The resort will have a boat for day trips to some of the other islands in the Grenadines, such as Bequia and Tobago Cays. The hotel is located on a protected anchorage that attracts sailing yachts which ply the water around St. Vincent and the Grenadines. With the opening of the resort, its Yacht club facilities are expects to attract even greater number of sailors.
The resort will also seek to attract honeymooners and even those couples who would like to be married there. Full wedding programs will be available, proving everything from marriage ceremony to honeymoons.
"Tamarind Beach is ideal fir a young couple looking for sun, sand, sea and assortment of water oriented activities, or a mature couple who just wants to relax -- or visa versa," di Genova said. "It's also for those with a sense of discovery, since we expect it to be the next "discovery island" in a chain that has already given the traveler, Petit St. Vincent and Bequia."
Canouan is accessible via regularly scheduled flights to and from St. Vincent on Air Mustique and S.V.G. Air. There are also charter flights from major international airports in the region.
Contact Canouan Resorts Ltd, 800-961-5006.
3/ CAYMAN GUIDE BY KURT BARBAGALLO
So your thinking about a trip to Grand Cayman, but you need to know some valuable information before you decide. Perhaps you have already decided and now you're just looking for some information on the different hotels and condos, rental cars/scooters, beaches, dive and snorkel locations, restaurants, nightlife, tourist locations, shopping districts, and other valuable information that you need to know. I have been going to Cayman at least twice a year for the past four years. I have developed many friendships with the Caymanians who depend on our tourist dollars, so that is why I am writing this guide. I will attempt to do so by breaking Cayman down into the categories listed above, that way, if you are interested in only one aspect you can skip until you see the bold print on the subject that interests you. I hope that the information provided here will help you plan a great trip. If you still need more information when you are through with this, feel free to send me your questions or call the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism at 809-949-0623.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION :
There are some things that you need to know upon arriving on Grand Cayman. The first and most important starts before you arrive. DO NOT bring any drugs with you or get involved in a situation that involves drugs on the island. Cayman has very tough laws on drugs and they will not hesitate to lock you up if you are caught in possession. If your looking for someplace to party using drugs, you picked the wrong island. DO make sure you drive on the left hand side of the road. This is a British island, so think left, especially if your on a scooter or you'll end up a hood ornament. DO save at least 10.00 U.S. per person for a departure tax. DO make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen/suntan lotion and some type of moisturizing cream. DO NOT stay in the sun from 12 to 1 as the sun will fry you, take a break for lunch during this time. DO bring at least one of the following as proof of U.S. citizenship : a passport, a birth certificate, or voter registration card.
People - The Caymanians are very good people. They tend to be very polite and courteous unlike other islands where the natives make you feel like you don't belong there. There are very little race problems on the island as the races have integrated quite a bit. The most common names on the island are Ebanks and Bodden. Remember that this island is very slow paced compared to our country. Caymanians tend to do things at a steady but slow pace so get used to it quickly, especially if your ordering from one of their "fast food" restaurants.
Climate - The average temperature on the island is 80 F in the winter and a slight bit hotter in the summer. The water temperature ranges from 78 to 82 degrees. There is not much rain and when there is it is usually over within a couple of hours. The difference between summer and winter here is a couple of degrees and a lot less wind that makes the summer feel a lot hotter. There are not many hurricanes that hit Cayman because it is protected by Jamaica.
Currency - The local currency is the Cayman dollar, however the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere. It is best to exchange your money if you are going to be there for more than a couple of days. The exchange rate is $1.00 U.S. = $0.80 C.I or $1.00 C.I. = $1.25 U.S.. This is a fixed rate so it does not vary although you may get a better rate at some banks and a worse rate if you wait to exchange it back at the airport. The coins are of the same denominations as in the U.S. but the paper money is different. Instead of a $20 bill, Cayman has a $25 bill. Be careful, the money looks like play money, don't spend it as such.
HOTELS - The first and most important aspect of a vacation is figuring out where you are going to stay. Cayman is very diverse when it comes to prices.
You can plan a vacation out of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or a very affordable but enjoyable vacation. The hotels and condos listed below are ordered cheapest to most expensive.
Cayman Islander Motel - 800-962-2028 The motif here is cheap. If you are looking for a no frills vacation, this is the place, the rooms are small but air conditioned. In season, rates are approx. $75 to $100 U.S. (all prices will be in U.S. dollars). It's located about a quarter of the way up seven mile beach. The motel is on the east side of the road and therefore does not have a beach, however, it does have a pool. Bob Soto's dive shop has a location on the premises so you may book all your snorkeling/diving expeditions through them.
It also has two bars that will be discussed later under NIGHTLIFE.
Sleep Inn - 809-949-9111 If you have ever been to a Sleep Inn or Comfort Inn in the states, it is the same, cheap but nice. The price range is approx. the same as the Cayman Islander. It has a very nice pool and outside bar that sometimes has steel drum bands playing. Again, this one does not have its own beach. It
is at the southern most tip of seven mile beach and is within walking distance to Georgetown and Treasure Island (Nightlife).
Holiday Inn - 800-421-9999 At this hotel, prices range widely; they are oceanfront and have a spectacular beach. If you are not concerned with having a view of the ocean from your room, the price will be cheaper. There are two bars located on the premises, Ten Sails Pub and an outdoor bar right on the beach.
It also serves food during the day. There is a nice pool here that has an island in the center. They have many beach chairs so you may lounge about in comfort on the beach. They also have a dive shop and watersports rentals on the premises, including parasailing and jet ski rentals. There is a lot of nightlife here as well.
Treasure Island - 800-874-0027 T.I. is now under new management and they have done wonders with the place. T.I. was on the verge of bankruptcy for a while but things should now pick up for them. Prices are again varying. This hotel has everything though, scooter rentals, dive shop, watersports rentals and one of the best nightclubs on the island. The pools here are also spectacular with many waterfalls and a swim up bar. The lobby is open air and has a small bar that sometimes has a steel drum band. The one drawback to T.I. is its beach.
The beach here is awful; there is a lot of coral and the water can sometimes be rough which is not so for most of seven mile beach, however, there is some good snorkeling about a 100 yds. out.
Morritt's Tortuga Club - 809-947-7669 To be completely honest with you, I do not know a lot about this one. It is located on the east end of the island, which is close to nothing. I have been out there once or twice and I can say that the hotel looks nice and has a nice beach. Since it is located on the east end, it also has some beautiful sunrises. I believe from its location on a point that you might be able to see the sunset from here as well. It is meant to be an all inclusive hotel with watersports rentals, dive boats, etc.. If your looking for a place to get away from everything this is most definitely the place.
Hyatt - 809-949-1234 Prepare to whip out your wallet for this one. It is definitely beautiful, but also expensive. The Hyatt is located on the east side of west bay road but does have a restaurant and beach on the other side. The beach is small and crowded in season. The hotel itself has condos as well. If you saw "The Firm", this is where the cast stayed. The pool is very nice and has a swim up bar. There is a car rental and scooter rental place on the premises as well as a dive, watersports rental shop(Read Sail). Be prepared to pay more though. It also has one of only two golf courses on the island. Although I have not spent much time here, I can tell you from what I have heard that it is fabulous.
Others : There are some hotels that I do not know enough about but I have heard good things about each of them. Sunset House(dive hotel) 809-949-7111, Radisson, Clarion
There are a million condos on the island to chose from. I am only going to recommend the two that I have stayed in. The advantage to renting a condo is that there are not as many people on your stretch of beach, you can save money by cooking your own food, and it feels a little more like a home than a hotel. Again, from least expensive to most.
Grapetree Cocoplum - 809-949-5640 My family has owned a condo here for many years and is very nice. Prices start at around $200 a night for a single and work their way up from there. It is a small condo at the southern end of seven mile beach. Most of the units are two bedroom one bath and have a very large balcony. There is a small pool and beach chairs to lounge in. The beach is not good compared to those further up seven mile, however, there is some good snorkeling around this area. There is a sunken ship (Gamma) that is located just offshore and makes a great picture as well a good snorkel location. It is within walking distance of T.I. and Georgetown.
Colonial Club - 809-947-4660 Colonial Club is located 3/4 of the way up seven mile beach. The accommodations are excellent. The units are three bedroom, three bath and have a large screened in porch. The prices begin at approx. $400 a night and work up depending on how many people you have staying with you. All condos have an oceanfront view and have a wet bar. Colonial club is right next to Hyatt's beach so it is easy to participate in watersports or book a dive. Again this is Red Sail so be willing to pay more. It is also within walking distance of Holiday Inn and West Shore Shopping center and a grocery store. The pool here is very nice but seldom used. The mangers here are also very quick in fixing any problems which is a rarity among Caymanians. On the whole, most take their time. I would highly recommend Colonial Club, especially if you are traveling with four or five others.
Others : I have heard good things about the following but have never been there or seen the accommodations. Plantation Village, Cayman Kai(North Side of island), The Great House.
Cayman Villas - 800-235-5888 This is not a specific condo or hotel; it is a booking agency for those of you who are more interested in renting a house or a condo. They have over 100 listings from moderate to luxury. All serviced by a maid so you may want to give them a call if this interests you.
CAR/SCOOTER RENTALS :
There are a lot of places in which to rent cars and scooters and it really depends on what you want so I'm not going to go into much detail. The only thing I will say is that Soto Scooters Ltd. has a coupon for 10% off in the local magazines, coupon books, etc.. Most scooter rentals are Honda Elites and cost approx. $25 C.I. a day. So without further ado, here are some agencies on the island.
Soto Scooters Ltd. - 809-947-4652 It's located in Coconut Place just a few minutes walk north from Hyatt.
Cayman Cycle Rental - 809-947-4021 Cayman Cycle has three locations; Hyatt, T.I., Coconut Place
CAR RENTALS :
Budget Rent-A-Car - 809-949-5605 Located at the airport and at Treasure Island Hotel.
Hertz - 800-CAR-RENT Located on the airport.
National - 809-949-4790 Located on the airport.
Coconut Car Rentals - 809-949-7703 Located on the airport and in Coconut Place. Economy Car Rental - 809-949-9550 Located across from the airport.
Just Jeeps - 809-949-7263 Located near the movie theater about 1/2 way up seven mile beach.
One thing to remember is that all beaches are public. There is no such thing as a private beach, however, you should not take that to mean that you can enter the beach anywhere you so choose as some are located on the other side of private property. There are signs all around the island showing beach access.
In addition, beach chairs that are left on the beach are not to be used unless you are a guest at that particular location. With that said, the best beaches are as follows :
Moorings, public beach - This is a beautiful stretch of white sand beach and is usually uncrowded. There are pavilions that you can claim for the day if you get there first. The water is clear as it is everywhere on the island. There is not much snorkeling here. One basic rule of thumb is - if it's a good beach it is usually bad snorkeling. That is not to say you won't see any fish, you just won't see a lot and you'll see very little coral.
Holiday Inn - Yes, even if your not staying there you can use their beach, just don't use their chairs. It is a nice beach, the reason it is one of my favorites is the bar and food pavilion. You can get a drink and eat some lunch right on the beach. Again, not much in the way of snorkeling.
Cayman Kai - This is on the north side of the island and is a nice trip if you're staying in the seven mile beach area. The reason this beach is so nice is because there are not to many people around. Not many people like to travel this far when you are surrounded by beaches, however, if isolation is your thing, this is a nice place for you.
Rum Point - Don't hold me to this one, last time I was down, Feb. 94, I heard that they were building condos here. Rum Point is located near Cayman Kai so it is a hike, however, the beaches are very nice and there are some lobster, conch and starfish that can be seen here. There is also a bar on another beach close by. It has hammocks out and is great for lounging the day away.
The following snorkel sites are my personal favorites from the best down. I will try to describe the location and what you can expect to see as well as I possibly can. As long as you know the name of the place it will be easy to ask for directions. For those of you who don't snorkel often, there are a few things you need to know. First, never touch anything. Any time you touch a
piece of coral it dies. So the more people touch, the less there is to see in the future. The other reason not to touch anything is because of safety reasons. Some things are poisonous, such as scorpionfish that incidentally look like an interesting rock, so you may go to pick it up and find yourself in the hospital. If you don't own snorkel equipment, you can rent it at any dive shop. When snorkeling in water less than 10 ft., make sure you bring an underwater camera. There are throwaways such as the Funsaver 35 that take great pictures.
Stingray City - This is essential to see. It is a great snorkeling trip but it is even better as a dive, so if you have a choice do the dive. Stingray City is located in the North Sound and is only accessible by boat. When you go you will see 20 to 30 large Southern Stingrays that are tame. You can feed them out of your hand and they act as if they are puppies. Remember not to where any gloves as this damages the Stingray's skin. When you pet them you will notice that the top side is very rough and the bottom side is very soft to the touch. Be wary of the barb in the tail as this is their stinger. Remember that these animals are tame and will not hurt you unless you do something stupid. There is also a large Green Moray eel that lives in the reef nearby, just follow the lead diver over. Remember not to feed him, let the professional do that. You can plan this trip through any dive shop.
Eden Rock/Devil's Grotto - This is another must see. It is located on the southern tip of the island just below Georgetown and is accessible from Parrott's Landing, Eden Rock and another dive center whose name I cannot remember at this time. Again this is much better a dive than a snorkel. Eden Rock is located in approx. 40 ft. of water and has some of the most spectacular reef on the island. Just swim out from any one of the dive shops and enjoy. If you are feeling adventurous you can also venture out a bit farther from Parrot's landing (about 250yds.) and see one of the walls.
Cemetery Rock - Cemetery is located approx. 3/4 of the way up seven mile beach. There is a cemetery on the west side of the road and a parking lot on the right side. Just follow the beach access signs and you'll be there. The reef itself is located about 100 yds. offshore and is marked with a buoy. The water ranges from 10 to 15 feet in depth. There are many reefs in this area so don't get to caught up in the one that is marked. Search around for yourself. Make sure you bring an underwater camera as there are many very friendly fish that will pose for you including a couple of very large French Angel Fish.
Smith's Cove - Smith's Cove is located approx. 5 min. south of Georgetown. It is very small so if you are not looking you may drive right past it. The cove is very small and does not have much of a beach. However, it does have a lot of coral outcropping and a swim through tunnel when the water is not rough.
Smith's tends to get cloudy often so make sure you go on a day when there isn't much wind and no storms have blown through in the past day or so. There are some Barracuda around here so keep your eye out. As long as you don't corner them or where any bright jewelry you don't have much to worry about.
Treasure Island/Plantation Village - There is a nice reef located about 150 yds. offshore. There are many fish and reef, however, this one has much damaged coral due to the large number of people who are careless and touch the coral. There are some lobster and Scorpionfish who hang out here. By the way, Scorpionfish look like rocks and are poisonous, another good reason not to touch anything.
Governor's House - There is a coral garden located about 100 yds. offshore here. Just ask one of the Caymanian's where the Governor's house is and they will tell you. It's about a 15 min. walk from Hyatt beach and about 5 min. from Holiday Inn. There are buoys in the water that designate the area in front of the house as a public swimming area, I guess they don't want the Governor to get run over by any boats while in the water. When you find that, just swim out from there. This is Lobster heaven; we saw three the last time we were down. Make sure you look in all the nooks because that is where they hide.
South Sound - This is a place we have been going to for years, I don't know what the true name of the place is but it is located on the south side of the island about 15 min. by car from Georgetown. There is a restaurant/bar on the ocean side and that is your landmark. There is a small beach right past it. The beach is bad, entering the ocean you will notice that they are rocks your standing on and not sand. However, this seems to be the clearest location on the island when there is a storm or strong winds. The water is only 2 to 3 feet deep and you can see a variety of fish, an occasional Spotted stingray and Lobster. This place is not known about by many. I have never gone there and seen others snorkeling or on the beach.
DIVE LOCATIONS :
Believe it or not, I've been going to Cayman for four years and I am still not certified. Therefore, I have only been diving on a few occasions with a Resort certification. For those of you who are interested in diving and have never done so, you can take a course that will allow you to dive on the island down to 40 ft. The cheapest location to take the resort course is Eden Rock. The people there are great, all Aussie and Brits. They have a great sense of humor and keep you laughing until you get in the water. If you are going to take the resort course, ask for Trevor; he is a great guy and fabulous instructor.
As I have said, I keep taking the Resort course repeatedly, therefore I have only had the opportunity to dive in two locations. I'll give a brief description of those two, however, for those of you who are certified, Cayman has a million dive destinations including some of the best wall dives anywhere, so I've heard. Some of the larger Cayman dive centers are :
Now as for the places I have been.
Eden Rock/Devil's Grotto - I've gone diving here several times. My advice to anyone who dives here is to pay the extra money and get an instructor who knows the area. There are so many caves and if you don't have a plan, you're going to miss them. The coral here is fabulous. There are an abundance of fish that are very friendly and expect a handout. There are also some large lobster and a school of HUGE tarpon that hang out here. The caves are very exciting to travel through, some of which are dark and require a light. This is a shore dive so for those of you with your own equipment it is free.
Stingray City - This must be done as a dive. I have snorkeled here and dove. It is a much different feeling being on the bottom surrounded by rays than being on top looking down. It's only 12ft. of water and you're going to want to sit on the bottom so if you have your own weights load yourself down; there is no reason to be equal buoyant. The rays are tame and the dive operation that you go with will supply you with fish/squid to feed the rays. Be careful with it as there are many yellowtails waiting to steal your food. Bring a camera to this one, a Funsaver 35 will do fine. The pictures you'll get will be amazing and your friends back home won't believe it.
If you are in search of great food, Cayman has a lot to offer. The dress at most locations is casual, nice shorts top will do the trick. Again, I will list some of my personal favorites from best down and give you some food you might like to try there. The prices range from inexpensive to outrageous, but if you have the money to spend you'll enjoy them.
The Wharf - 949-2231 The Wharf is located on the southern end of seven mile beach. You should plan reservations for sunset as it is outside on the beach. The food here is fabulous, but the prices are expensive. Plan to drop some money if you have dinner here. However, as you can see by where it is ranked, it is most definitely worth it.
The Crow's Nest - 949-9366 The Crow's Nest is located on the south side of the island aprox. 15 min. from Georgetown. It is an outside restaurant but because of its location on the south side, you won't get to watch the sunset, so plan accordingly. The food is very good and the prices are reasonable. They have a fabulous Conch Chowder here. Be forewarned, it is spicy.
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Almond Tree - 949-2893 Almond tree is located near Georgetown just a few minutes south of the Wharf. The building itself has a thatched roof, however I have not eaten inside. There is a large patio out back that is closed in with trees and bushes. The food is good and very moderately priced. My wife particularly likes the Lobster they served here. Be on the lookout for their chalkboard out front as it frequently has very good all u can eat specials.
Plan reservations for after sunset.
The Lobster Pot - 92736 This is a nice cozy restaurant located on the top floor in Georgetown. The food is good and the prices are reasonable. They make a very delightful Turtle Steak here. Make sure you specify that you want to sit on the balcony. This way you can look out over Hog Sty Bay.
Hemmingway's - 949-1234 Hemmingway's is located right across the street from the Hyatt and is on the beach. It is outdoors but sunsets may be hard to see depending on where you are seated. The food is once again very good, the prices are on the expensive side. Try the Peppercorn soup; it is very good as are the crabcakes.
West Bay Polo Club - 949-9891 It's your last night on the island and you just want some good old fashioned American bar food. This is the place. It has several T.V. screens and is labeled a sports bar. The prices are cheap and the food is good. Most of what they have are hamburgers and the like.
Cayman also now has many American Fast food and pizza chains on the island. You will not feel homesick if your looking for Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy's, Dominoes, and Burger King.
I read many articles pertaining to Cayman and they all say that Cayman does not have much of a nightlife; this is simply not true. The truth of it is that Cayman has a lot of nightlife; you just have to know where to go. The problem is that where to go constantly changes. You may go down one month and find everyone at a particular spot on say Wednesday and go down the next month, same spot, same day of the week, and it will be empty. My advice to you is ask one of the younger (20 to 30) Caymanians what is going on that night. Don't ask for the week, take it one night at a time. I will list most of the bars and clubs and give you a couple of ideas as to what is hot. I almost forgot, don't ask someone at the hotel you are staying at. Their duty is to keep you there. Ask someone while you are shopping or renting a car/scooter; they will give you a more accurate description. And now for some of the different bars/clubs.
Cotton Club - The Cotton Club is a very small bar located in the Cayman
Islander Motel. It is dominated mostly by locals. The decor is that of an old blues club but the music is usually calypso, reggae, or soca. They have a live band and D.J.'s so keep an eye out for when they are there. The head bartender is named Ernest. He is a huge man so you will know him when you see him. Ernest makes the best Rum Punch on the island by far. So if you're not into the scene at least stop by for a Rum Punch, you won't be disappointed. Make sure you ask Ernest to make it as the other bartenders frequently screw it up. Tell him Kurt and Michelle said hello and remember to sip that punch because there really is alcohol in it whether you believe it or not.
T.I. and Silvers - T.I. has several bars, the best being Silvers. But first I'll talk about their lobby bar. They frequently have a steel drum band playing in the lobby at night. The bar has about four stools but there are tables as well. If you're not into the club scene and are just looking for a relaxing time, this is a great place. It is also good as a warm-up as most of the clubs don't start filling until 10 or 11. Silvers is a nightclub and is very loud, so don't go in here and expect to have a conversation. This is a place to enjoy the music and dance. A local reggae/soca band, CMX 5, plays here every Monday night and usually draws a big crowd. Don't worry if no one is there during the first set, people usually arrive after the band takes their first break. All of the other nights they have another band playing. They import their talent from the states or Jamaica so I can't tell you what to expect. I can tell you that the people they get are usually very good and range from reggae to blues.
Rumheads -Rumheads has basically turned into the local peoples hangout. In particular, young Caymanians. Remember the drinking age on Cayman is 16 so you can expect to see a lot of young people out. The bar itself has a nightclub side and a sports side although they are not separated by any walls. The music is very similar to that you would hear in bars in the states. They have alternative music night as well.
Holiday Inn - Holiday Inn has two bars. The first is The Ten Sails Pub or Coconuts as it is referred to when it has a comedian scheduled. The comedians are from the states and usually are very good. I believe the cover is $8 CI. Make sure you make reservations early in the day as it fills quickly. When Ten Sails is not posing as a comedy club it holds laser Kareoke. You can go up on stage and make a fool out of yourself or just watch others do so. The island is strange in that there is a large County and Western following among the Caymanians. Many Caymanians go here to show off their talent so be ready to hear C and W. The other bar is located outside. If you saw "The Firm" this is where the woman tried to seduce Tom Cruise. The local entertainment is The Barefoot Man and he has a contract with Holiday Inn until the day he dies so he will be there for a while. He performs every night but one or two and on those nights his band performs without him. His music is Calypso, Reggae, Soca, and County and Western. He somehow manages to combine them all and it seems to work out. And yes, he is always barefooted.
Island Rock - When I first started visiting Cayman, this was the place to go.
As of the last year or so, this was the last place you wanted to go. I have heard from friends that it is beginning to pick up again and they have a Country Western night, so ask if you're interested. I have not been there in over two years so I have no idea what it is like now.
Lone Star Bar and Grill - Lone Star is very interesting, it is touted as a Texas style sports bar, whatever that is. There are T-shirts hanging on the ceiling from colleges across the country. If you bring one they don't have, maybe you can sign it and hang it up. This place is known as the home of the shot. They have a menu of 101 shots, so if you are there to really party this is your place. It is usually very crowded early in the evening until 9 or so when the clubs take over. Lone Star always seems to have a large number of beautiful women; I don't know why, but be warned single men, there are a lot more men here than women.
Santiago's - Located right next to Lone Star. I've never been in here however it does have some good pizza and beer specials. For all you conservative republicans out there (yuck), they have a Rush Limbaugh hour from 5 till 7 so you don't have to miss out while your on vacation.
TOURIST LOCATIONS :
The places that are listed below are a number of the local tourist locations, some of which are traps and not worth the time or money of visiting. Cayman does have a number of places that are good however, so plan to take a morning or afternoon trip to visit some of them.
Turtle Farm - The Turtle Farm is just north of seven mile beach and is what I would describe as required in the tourist handbook. It costs approx. $4 CI to get in and it's worth about $3 CI. Not a bad ratio for tourist locales. The turtle farm is the only one of its kind throughout the world. Although an endangered species in America, the turtle here has been commercialized such as the cow in the U.S.. Most of the turtles they raise are grown to be eaten in the local restaurants on Cayman, although it may seem cruel I must say that turtle steak is very good. They tag and release a few hundred every year so they are doing something to replenish the waters. A couple of years ago a big storm overran the Turtle farm and released a thousand or so young turtles, many of which can be seen while snorkeling or diving now. The best part about the Turtle Farm is that you can pick up selected turtles; it makes a good picture. Try not to buy anything at the gift shop as it is priced for tourists. Visit a jewelry store or other gift shop for that. In addition, do not buy any turtle products as it is illegal to bring them into the U.S. and there are heavy fines for violators.
Hell - Hell is the name of a town on Cayman. It is named for an inland outcropping of ironshore that looks like what you would picture hell to be. Hell consists of a gift shop, post office and the landscape. It is free to enter Hell, actually you look over it from a boardwalk type pier. It isn't really anything special to see, however, this is another one of those required to do. It is located a bit north of the Turtle Farm so you can easily see both in the same morning/afternoon. The best feature to Hell is that you can pick up a postcard, write a little message to your mom, dad, friends and write something like "You always told me I was a little devil" or something similar and have it postmarked directly from Hell. Your time spent in Hell should total about 15 min. to 30 min. depending on how many postcards you write.
Pirates Cave - Whatever you do, do not go here. This is plain and simply a trap. There is not much to see and they charge you money for it. There are a few caves which where said to once house pirates. Today, Pirates Cave would be considered an insult to a five year olds intelligence. Going into the cave there is a wooden sign that states "Pirate Cave", from there they have a rubber leg with pirate type pants wedged into a rock, and a little further they have a stockade that you can see at any colonial history type village back home in the states. They do have many trees and shrubs, some of which dead, and a Cayman parrot, and lizard that are all clearly labeled as you walk down the boardwalk to get to the cave. However, the whole scene reminds me more of a salvage yard than a sight to see. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. If you still decide you want to go, it is located out by Bodden Town. Enjoy the trip.
Pedro's Castle - This is in the same direction as Pirate's cave and at this moment a waste of time as well. Pedro's is the oldest known building on Cayman. It was build to serve as a place to protect the island from pirates and foreign enemies. A couple of years before I started going down, it was a bar and was known for its Pina' Coloda. Since then much of it has burned and the rest is falling down. The Cayman Historical society has named Pedro's as a historical landmark and are planing to rebuild it. However, I heard this two years ago and all they have done since then is put a fence around it, so it could be a while before it is fixed again.
Cayman Island National Museum - This place is located in Georgetown right across from Hog Sty Bay and is worth the admission fee if you enjoy historical topics. It has a lot of tools and such used by Caymanians in previous times. I would not bring kids here unless they are interested in history or have to write a report because they are skipping school at the time. There is not much fancy in here, no interactive type things so kids can get pretty bored.
However, the Cayman Island Museum will give you an accurate description of the history involved if you are prepared to read the plaques.
Treasure Museum -To be honest, I have not been inside this one yet. It has been open for about 2 years or so but I stopped being a tourist a year before that so I have not checked it out. I hear that is very interesting and people have enjoyed their visit there. This one your just going to have to decide if you want to see on your own. If you do go there, please drop me line to tell me what you thought.
Blow Holes - Blow Holes should be accurately names Blow Hole. There is only one but it is quite interesting to watch for a little while. Blow Holes is located out toward the east end of the island. For those of you who may not know what a blow hole is, it is a hole in the coral or ironshore that is formed by water continuously crashing underneath and forcing its way upward. This particular blow hole squirts water 10 to 20 feet in the air depending on how rough the water is. Make sure you wear sneakers as you must walk over ironshore to get there. Shoes or Docksiders may not give you enough support.
SHOPPING DISTRICTS :
There are a few places to shop on the island, the first of which is the city of Georgetown. Georgetown is a city of banks and gift shops. There are many duty free shops on the island where you can pick up jewelry, china, alcohol, cigarettes, and other gifts. There are duty free shops in the airport so you can wait until you leave to pick up some items. Alcohol here is incredibly cheap. U.S. customs will allow 1 liter per person, however, because of some technicality, most people take 2 liters per person. I have never seen anyone stopped coming in so I wouldn't worry about it much. There are many shopping centers along seven mile beach that will do just fine for shopping. Try to avoid gift shops in hotels as you will pay more for the same items there than out somewhere else. A couple of the shopping centers are Seven Mile Shops and West Shore Shops. Just a note for any cigar smokers out there, Cayman does not have an embargo against Cuba so there are many places that sell Cuban cigars.
Be prepared to pay though.
I certainly hope that this information has helped you plan your trip. If you still have questions, write me and I'll try to answer, or call Cayman Islands Department of Tourism at 809-949-0623.
4/ JOURNEYS FOR JANUARY 1995
Aruba by Martin Doctrow
I just got back from two great weeks at La Cabanna. Weather was great, staff was great and trip was relaxing. Now for the real news.
La Cabanna is replacing sofas in the studios with sofa beds to make rooms good for up to 4 (or good for singles).New govt. seem to be working on getting the minor annoyances fixed. The new traffic flow at airport gets you out quickly. Go to far left line in immigration it will be the shortest. Airways has cars for $167 if you mention ad from Air Aruba magazine.
As far as restaurants go we found several new places (for us) that are at both ends of the cost spectrum. L'Scala at the Sonesta offered excellent foods with service not found at many other places on the island. Prices are $50 to $75 per couple without wine. Try sharing a dessert. Another up scale choice is Valentino's. Great service, all individually prepared food and priced just a little above an average meal.
For a good meal at rock bottom prices try the restaurant at Adventure Golf. They offer very good pasta dishes at low prices (7.95-8.95). Portions are larger than most people can eat. They will pack to go if you want to have rest for lunch next day. They also have a children's menu at lower prices. They serve your meal in an 11 inch skillet in which it was cooked. No fancy but good food at prices found nowhere else in Aruba.
Aruba By George Glasemann
Well another trip and another typical Aruba vacation. I guess we'll just have to find another island where it might rain or something.
We met our same old group at the Radisson. And after a great deal of thinking and pondering we have all decided that a change in our PR must take place. The hotels have been actually crowded since October. So we now will bad mouth Aruba to get the tourists to go someplace else.
(Getting back to reality) a lot of things are happening on and in Aruba.
The new airport traffic pattern makes get to and leaving much easier. The DePalm busses now are on the side where the rental cars were. The rental cars are in a field behind the rental car offices. The new taxiway will be (HAH) finished in 1995. That will allow for more air traffic (another downer).
In addition the government has just signed an agreement with the US to clear American citizens through customs at the Aruba airport. Tha