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8 Days in Family Friendly Grand Cayman

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8 Days in Family Friendly Grand Cayman
29May 2013

Day 1: After landing at Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman (GC), your transportation choices are simple: A personal rental car (the rental car agencies are located across the street from the airport terminal; be sure to reserve a car in advance) or taxi. Hotel shuttles aren’t permitted on the island.

You’ll check-in at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort. Located on a narrow but very happening stretch of Seven Mile Beach (SMB), this compact golden-hued resort forms a U-shape around a central courtyard and pond that is home to the resident turtles – a magnet for kids.

If your room isn’t ready yet, head across the street to Marquee Plaza for a meal at Cimboco. Located in a strip mall, Cimboco is a colorful cafe’ serving upscale diner-style food with a Caribbean twist. Well priced, even by Cayman standards, this may end up being one of the least expensive meals you’ll have on the island.

In the evening head over to Camana Bay, a waterfront shopping, dining, living and entertainment district within easy walking distance of The Marriott. There are interactive fountains with multicolored lights for kids to play in and plenty of upscale shopping and interesting dining options for everyone. Climb the mosaic-lined 75-foot observation tower for a bit of exercise and beautiful views.

Day 2: Take a stroll on Seven Mile Beach and see where the journey takes you. Bring your snorkeling gear, sunscreen and beach towels and set out heading north. Since all the beaches in Grand Cayman are public, you can play in the water and on the sand wherever you please. The views are picture-perfect, worthy of a postcard.

When hunger strikes, lunch at the Royal Palms beach club. It’s normally a magnet for cruise ship passengers seeking an inexpensive day on the beach (5 to 10 minutes from the port, entrance fee is $2, beach chair and umbrella rentals $5 each), but if you’re lucky there will be no ships in port and you will have the place nearly to yourselves. Lunch and the service are average but the setting on the patio is priceless.

Head back to the Marriott and meet up with Red Sail Sports for a one-tank reef dive (reserve ahead of time; certified divers only). The dive outfitter will pick you up right in front of the hotel. Otherwise, spend the afternoon hanging out at the pool enjoying the complimentary frozen treats that are served every afternoon.

For dinner that evening, head to Coconut Joe’s Beachouse Bar & Grill. It’s not on the beach – it’s actually across busy West Bay Road from the beach, but it’s right across the street from the Marriott and fares well on TripAdvisor. Great meal, great cocktails and a fun family-friendly atmosphere on a large outdoor deck with a huge screen TV.

Day 3: Check out of the Marriott and make your way up the west side of the island to the Cayman Turtle Centre. If you’ve opted not to rent a car, the public bus system is a safe and inexpensive transportation option. Visit the breeding pond where there is adequate shade to view the giant turtles. Before it gets too hot, head to the Blue Hole Nature Trail where you may see roosters, iguanas and geckos. Timing is everything when planning a visit to the Turtle Centre. Arrive early to beat the cruise ship crowds and the heat. Better yet, pick a day when there are no or few cruise ships in port; this is a popular shore excursion for cruising families. Follow these tips and you will enjoy an uncrowded day. More than your typical passive viewing of wildlife, this encounter puts you in the thick of the action – snorkeling in the saltwater lagoon among the turtles and wading in the turtle touch tanks.

Drive five minutes from the Turtle Centre and pay a brief visit to Hell, a tourist-trap style attraction comprised of Ironshore rock formations, the official Hell post office and a few gift shops. It’s fun to buy postcards from Hell and mail them to family and friends. They’ll bear the official “postmark from Hell” when they arrive on the mainland 5 to 6 business days later.......

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