60 Second Geography – Grand Cayman
Once you leave George Town, Grand Cayman’s natural wonders come alive. Head west to hike the Mastic Trail, a 200-year old footpath flanked by Cedar, Mahogany, and Black Mangrove trees, as well as the eponymous Mastic.
The West Bay section of the island features the famed turtle farm, where thousands of Green Sea Turtles are raised each year for both food and for release into the wild. This is also the home of the kitschy town of Hell — a bleak natural limestone formation with a nearby gift shop and (of course) a post office that sells postcards that can be sent home from-Hell.
On the North Side resides the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park, a series of lush tropical gardens full of herbs and orchids, not to mention a fascinating butterfly garden and an iguana habitat. But, perhaps the most famous attraction in Grand Cayman is not on land at all. A few miles off shore in the North Sound, lies Stingray City, a series of shallow sandbars flush with friendly southern stingrays just begging for handouts from the tourists who flock to the site.
Hit the Beach! Whether it’s relaxing in the sun or snorkeling in the reef just off shore at the Sunrise Villa, enjoy the year-round tropical breezes on Grand Cayman’s beaches.
The World-Famous Stingray City: Top of every visitor’s list is an excursion to Stingray City, an extraordinary 12-foot dive site and adjacent sandbar. In as little as two to six feet of water, everyone-with or without snorkel gear-can feed and touch the friendly Southern Atlantic stingrays.
Spend a Lazy Afternoon at Rum Point: Hop in your rental car and head to Rum Point on Grand Cayman’s quiet North Side, a favorite destination for both residents and visitors. Experience island atmosphere the way it used to be in a scenic spot known for its clear, calm waters and tall pines. Sink into a hammock with a book, swim, snorkel, or try a glass-bottom boat trip. The Wreck Bar, a Rum Point landmark, serves lunch and frosty drinks at picnic tables on the beach.
Boatswain’s Beach: Boatswain’s Beach is the name of the new 30-acre marine theme park that is the expansion of the Cayman Turtle Farm. When Christopher Columbus first discovered the islands in 1503, he named them “Las Tortugas,” meaning The Turtles. According to legend, there were so many turtles that the islands looked like they were covered with rocks. Located in Grand Cayman, the Turtle Farm has been in operation since 1968 and has since been dedicated to educating the public on the benefits of a proactive conservation program for sea turtles.
Indulge in Cayman Cuisine: It would be difficult to spend time in Cayman without being offered conch fritters, a local Stingray beer, or Cayman’s own Heavy Cake. But don’t miss the island specialties that will make your visit unique; for a snack that is not to be missed, stop in at any of the Tortuga Rum Company stores for a Tortuga Rum Cake. Compare the spicy taste of Cayman Brac’s McCoy’s BBQ to the unique flavor of Bussy’s Jerk Chicken on Little Cayman.
Discover the Cayman Story: The National Trust for the Cayman Islands office, located in George Town, offers visitors extensive information on the islands’ history, environment, national symbols and culture. Tours are also available for guests to uncover the Cayman of yesteryear – by learning about wattle and daub, a method of construction used to build homes; discovering historical sites such as the Bodden Town Guard House, Old Savannah Schoolhouse and Watlers Cemetery; environmental treasures such as the Mastic Trail; and resources such as the Trust’s Herbarium and Insectarium.
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60 Second Geography – Grand Cayman