A week ago, we were enjoying the sun and sand in the Cayman Islands. We planned the trip in late January after realizing we had more than enough Marriott points to cover 5 days there and the flights were actually pretty cheap. They weren’t direct — we had a quick layover in Charlotte but the times were great.
Sometimes Caribbean flight times are a bit whacky getting you there later in the day and having you head home early in the morning which really cuts into your vacation. And on that note — we had originally planned for Aruba or Curacao but the flight times were not wonderful. We landed on Grand Cayman and I’m so glad we did!
We were not oblivious to the Coronavirus — I’ve been more than aware since January as I work with folks in Asia and some of them are just now beginning to return to their offices. However, it was not like it is today when we boarded our plan last week. If it was, we would have canceled our trip. And the thought did cross our mind last week — but instead we took our Clorox wipes, our hand sanitizer, and some medications in case we came down with flu like symptoms. Grand Cayman had no cases when we were there and their airport was very clean and had hand sanitizer on the walls readily available.
But back to the trip… we went Friday thru Tuesday, optimizing our time by using the weekend. We arrived at 2 PM and got bumped to the front of the line in customs thanks to having a toddler. We were on the beach by 3 PM with drinks in our hands. Including the strawberry daiquiri L tried to order from the flight attendant on the plane (LOL). He got a lot of laughs from that one — and at the end of the flight, he got told by at least 5 people that he was an excellent traveler. We definitely left that flight feeling like we had a parenting win!
Our hotel, the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach House was AMAZING. It had an incredible garden area with water and palm trees, but also all of these great places for lounging. If you stayed still long enough, you’d see lizards come out.
It was beach front and oh man, the beach was GORGEOUS! The water was that perfect shade of dreamy turquoise. There were rows of beach chairs and Landon claimed 3 for us each morning on the end so L could dig in the sand while we read and relaxed. It was my definition of perfection.
They also had water sports such as jet skis, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc. I went snorkeling once but it was kind of windy so the water was a little murky after not too long — though I was still able to see a few fish.
There were multiple restaurants on site. The beach bar had fantastic food — my favorites were the coconut shrimp and quesadilla. No pics because I devoured them each time. We had dinner by the beach at the Veranda restaurant one night — possibly my favorite — and then at Anchor & Den another night. We did entrees at Veranda and split shared plates at Anchor & Den.
The rest of the trip, we walked around town for our meals. There were plenty of restaurants nearby — Coconut Joe’s, Peppers, and Craft Food & Beverage. The jerk chicken was definitely the highlight for me. For L, they had your standard “kids” options and he was happy with spaghetti or hamburgers.
We traded off nap time so we could each get some solo time at the beach or pool or just exploring. We do this at home on the weekends, too — a 2 hour block can be rather refreshing and thankfully our kid still likes his naps. I took my time at the beach. Landon took his to explore the town and try some local beers. We also alternated time in the mornings before/after breakfast to workout. Since Landon is the early bird of our family, he would get up and have coffee and explore the grounds/beach while L and I were still snoozing.
Being Elite members, we had $15 vouchers each for breakfast each morning (L was free). We did the buffet and it was perfect. I loved the egg, potato, rum cake French toast and fruit options. Landon (as always) was more adventurous and tried the specialty items. L went for cheerios, fruit and pancakes. It was the perfect way to start our day! On our last day, I did go for the a la carte juice option and chose the “refresher” red apple, pineapple and watermelon juice. I only go to drink half of it as my mini-me slurped up the rest of it claiming it gave him energy.
Our room had a pull-out sofa which was perfect for L to sleep on. He’s been in his big boy bed since turning 3 so it was about the same size. We still struggle a bit with being stuck inside so early once he goes to bed but we were able to read or watch shows most nights. One night we made the mistake of giving him gelato after dinner and he didn’t go to bed until 9:30 (I think). I finally told him goodnight and I rolled over to go to sleep myself. Luckily he slept until almost 8:30 the next morning. Our balcony overlooked the garden area which was great.
We spent one day going to the the Cayman Turtle Center. It was really special. L was mostly melting down while we were there which I partially curbed by getting him a sno-cone but all he wanted to do was play in the sand and it wasn’t really that kind of place. Landon and I were mesmerized by the massive sea turtles. It was incredible to watch them swimming around, coming up for air and learning about the conservation efforts. There was also a crocodile there, “Smiley”, but he was the least interesting to us.
Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy while we were there (this has been the story of our recent trips to the Bahamas and Costa Rica, too!) so all of the excursions we wanted to do to Stingray City and Starfish Point were canceled. I was disappointed because I’d really talked it up to L and he was excited for the boat ride but I felt better after chatting with the concierge and her telling me how rough it had been for other people with littles and that they hadn’t even been able to get off the boat the day before because the water was so rough. I was glad we weren’t even given the option. Of course, on the day we were leaving, it was clear skies and smooth waters but we didn’t have enough time for an excursion.
We took one last splash in the pool before leaving. I loved that it overlooked the ocean — the best of both worlds. L said it was shaped like a turtle.
Out of all the islands we’ve been to, I reallllly loved Grand Cayman. Aruba will always have a special place in my heart, and is still probably my #1, but Grand Cayman comes in a close second. It was a beautiful island where we felt safe and welcome. The food was a bit pricey (but perhaps we were just spoiled/surprised after our all-inclusive Costa Rica trip last year??). I am already dreaming of when we can return!