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  • Writer's pictureAubrianna

When I first arrived in Grand Cayman I didn't think much of the island. There are no mountains, rivers, jungles, or waterfalls and upon first impression I just thought it was a big resort island. However, over the past 2+ years of living here, I have come to discover a more natural and wild side to Cayman that I was not expecting and would like to share with you some of my favourite places and activities on the island that are anything but tourist traps.

1. Stingray City

Stingray City Sandbar

Probably the first thing everyone does when they come to Grand Cayman, and me being no exception, is go to Stingray City. You will see advertisements everywhere about tours to Stingray City Sandbar or, even better the original site in 12ft of water that you can scuba or freedive at. But being a popular activity for both tourists and locals alike you have to plan your visit wisely if you're like me and wish to avoid the crowds. Planning tip #1: check Port Authority's cruise ship schedule for a day where there are no ships in to cut down the crowd, especially if you want to go to the sandbar. Tip #2: make friends with a local, you're likely to meet someone that has a boat or has a friend with a boat that's going around the North Sound on a Sunday- go with them! Haven't met anyone with a boat? No worries, you can always rent a small boat or jet ski and go on your own if group tours aren't your thing. Tip #3: bring squid, because lets face it- these girls are only after one thing.

2. Starfish Point

So you've got a boat for the day and checked out Stingray City but the stingrays have given you too many "hickies" and you're ready to go. What next? Head to the calm shores of nearby Starfish Point to visit a more docile creature. You can pull your boat or jet ski up close enough to the beach and drop anchor to swim in and visit them. Best time of day to go is morning to about 1pm when they're sunning themselves close to shore. Just be sure to NOT take them out of the water for any amount of time- and don't be shy to inform anyone that does't realise that these are live creatures that don't breathe air.

3. Spotts Public Beach

Spotts is by far my favourite snorkelling spot in Grand Cayman. This is where all the Green Turtles come in to relax and safely feed behind the southern shore's barrier reef. If you were thinking of going to the Turtle Farm go here instead- this is free and the Turtles are in their wild and natural state which is a far superior encounter. You can also see things like Squid, Scorpion Fish, Flounder, and even Seahorses if you're lucky. Not only is the snorkelling amazing but so is the beach. There are picnic tables if you're spending some time there, palm trees for shade, and in the afternoon there is usually a guy selling fresh coconuts near the parking lot access.

4. Colliers Beach

oud of sand and then very calmly approach to let them get comfortable with you. Another perk to this beach are the covered cabanas with benches and public showers.

A bit off the beaten path, on the east end of Grand Cayman, is my next favourite snorkelling spot- Colliers Beach. A quite beach with a long dock, public cabanas with benches, and outdoor showers. More importantly though is the marine life. If you are fit and up for a bit of a swim head out towards the barrier reef (being cautious of currents) to check out abundant fish, massive coral heads, Eels, Lobster, Crabs, and Eagle Rays. If you have your sights set on finding an Eagle Ray my tip is to look instead for a cloud of sand, once you see that calmly approach and let the Eagle Ray get used to your presence before getting too close.

5. Pedro's Castle Natural Pool

This site can be hit or miss as it is apparently fed both by the rain and tides. That being said, it's an easy hike if you have to proper shoes on so it's not too terribly disappointing if you get there and its all dried up. While the natural pool is not a tourist attraction with signs pointing you to a well tread path, Pedro's Castle is so you can easily google maps it and use their parking lot. Once parked you will have to employ your sense of adventure to walk down the road around Pedro's Castle and find a tiny foot path that dead ends into a fence and some iron shore, from there it's a 5 minute walk on jagged rocks to get to the pool.

Stay tuned for more sites to come...

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  • Writer's pictureAubrianna

Updated: Jan 30, 2018

Living on an island has its challenges and travel can be a big one, lucky for me I just found the perfect escape from Cayman- even if it is another island.

With every break I get from work there is always the struggle to decide where to go and how long I'm willing to travel to get there. From my home airport in Grand Cayman it used to be only Jamacia, Cuba, or some random city in the US, usually intended as a layover, that had direct flights. Anywhere else and I'm looking at spending at least 12 hours traveling and even up to 48 so, you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear there was a new flight out of town.

With no plans and only a week left until my next break I figured now would be the perfect time to finally check out Roatan on Cayman Airways new, direct flight. Somehow, using only my cellphone for research and booking, I managed to stumble upon the perfect guest house with an onsite dive shop in the ideal #backpacker and #solotraveler town of West End.

When I arrived at Hotel Chilles and Native Sons Dive Shop in Roatan I knew this was my kind of place and officially my new last minute getaway spot. The vibe- relaxed and tranquil with hammocks everywhere, a small book store and cafe up front, and cabins set back in a lush garden. The dive shop was right in front of it all and boat just across the street on the beach. Everything I need all in arms reach, I won't carry on any further because if the secret gets out I'll be back at square one.

Let's talk Diving

Okay, so before heading to Roatan I had heard some very mixed reviews on the quaity of diving. I'm not here to preach that everything with the ocean is doing fine (there was a bit more trash in the water than back home and some noticeable but recovering coral bleaching) but I honestly think the diving in Roatan is lush and marine life diverse. Some things that stand out in my mind were the massive schools of Blue Tang feeding on the reef, cool swim throughs, killer tall Pillar Coral, and an abundance of Lobster (peep my album on Roatan to see for yourself). We even came across a pod of Rough-Toothed Dolphins on our way out to a dive site that played in the water with us for a good 15 minutes before swimming off.

Wild Dolphins surrounded our boat as I hurried to get my camera ready and mask on to join them for a swim.

Almost better than the wild Dolphins had to be the Waihuka Shark Dive. Being so close to those big girls is a humbling experience and the small amount of fish brought along to get them close is nowhere near enough to change their normal feeding and hunting habits. The best part- you can swim around with them about halfway through the dive if the currents aren't too strong. I was obviously inching forward from the group and prepared to launch as soon as the divemaster gave the signal. While this may have been the priciest dive I did in Roatan ($95 plus tip and taxi) it was absolutely worth it and I would do it again.

With that said, #Roatan I'll be seeing you again very soon. Until then..✌️

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