Grand Cayman // Grand Cayman Islands

DSC_0419Last November, we went on a family cruise aboard the Carnival Magic. It was a fantastic week away as a family. All you can eat food, unlimited shows, fun activities and sunshine! It's a pretty good way to spend a week. One of my favorite parts of the cruise, though, and the appeal in any cruise to me, is the fact that you can travel to multiple countries in just a few days. We sailed out of Galveston and made our way across the Gulf of Mexico where we stopped in Montego Bay, Cozumel, where we went to Passion Island, and to Grand Cayman, the largest island of The Grand Cayman Islands.DSC_0422
Grand Cayman was an interesting place, in my opinion. Any non-U.S. country that's filtrated with American stores, banks and American things, is an interesting place to me. Not because I think it's good (I'd much prefer a local, authentic to that region, culture!) but because it's an interesting dynamic, to be out of the U.S. but in a place that feels so much like the U.S. and caters largely to Americans. The Island is only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide at the widest point. The capital of The Grand Caymans, Georgetown (where we docked) is a world famous center for off-shore banking.
When you make port, dock, and step on-to land, you're greeted with several blocks of shops. Jewelry stores are what frequent most of the store fronts, all with signs advertising free jewels. While you do get free jewels (I know this because my brother insisted on going to each shop. 'What?! Free!!' ) they're tiny and value-less. They're really just for getting the suckers through the door and falling in love with a new pair of discount diamond earrings. 
Once you make your way past all of the store fronts, you start getting a better glimpse of what life on the Island looks like. It looks a lot like it does anywhere in the U.S. Grocery stores, tanning salons, nail salons, restaurants, clothing shops, and banks upon banks. 43 of the 50 largest banks in the world are present in Grand Cayman. While hosting all of those normalicies of home at the prices of home, the Grand Cayman is also home to a sand bar of sting rays, has great snorkeling and is a gorgeous island. 
This is where Zachary set up camp, waiting for everyone to finish shopping and collecting free jewels. DSC_0439DSC_0445
I saw a sign for a local market and knew I had to go! I wanted to move past the store fronts fast and make my way to something local & cultural. Ha. Little did I know the highly advertised "market" only hosted around 3 little tables with all of the same souvieners and trinkets as the shops off the pier.DSC_0451
We DID see some chickens walking around, which is fun and seemingly very native. After our market disappointement, Zachary and I found a man advertising rides and asked him to take us to the famous Seven Mile Beach. Our driver was a local! He was born and raised on Grand Cayman. For just a few bucks, he drove us the 15 minutes to Seven Mile Beach and dropped us off. DSC_0454
We were surprised to find a crowded beach with very little sand to snag. DSC_0457
We decided to grab a table at a beach side restaurant and get a bite to eat and a beer.DSC_0460
While eating dinner, another chicken came up and stole a quesadilla from the girl's plate next to us! haha. He was quite eager to snag any food he could so we made sure to keep careful watch of our plates. DSC_0468
Since there wasn't much to see at Seven Mile Beach, we decided to just head back to the pier to meet up with the rest of our family. DSC_0473DSC_0474DSC_0475DSC_0476We managed to find the "Coconut Man," another Grand Cayman native, selling fresh coconuts and sugar cane. Zachary loves sugar cane so we made sure to snag a bit before we headed back to the boat.
To get back onto the ship at Grand Cayman, we had to take a ferry out to where the boat was anchored. I enjoyed the views of the beautiful water and the huge ship. DSC_0481DSC_0486DSC_0487DSC_0488
Once on board, we met up with everyone else and heard everyone's stories from the day. My parents and grandparents went on a tour of Grand Cayman which stopped at the Cayman Turtle Farm, Hell, the Governor's House and Seven Mile Beach.  
DSC_0490 One of the weirdest tourist stops in Grand Cayman is an area with unique limestone structures that have given the spot the infamous name, Hell. You can even send a postcard from Hell at Hell's post office. 
Though the place is called "Hell" they try to add a little redemption to the place with some of their signs. 
The next stop on their Grand Cayman sights tour was the Cayman Turtle Farm, a green sea turtle conservation center. Later we found out that it's actually a Green Sea Turtle farm for breeding, raising and selling turtles for meat, while also being a research center. Booooo Cayman Turtle Farm. While the Turtle Farm claims to have released 31,000 turtles into the wild since it was established in 1968, the farm is still under scrutiny for animal welfare.
While the attractions on Cayman Island aren't the greatest, the island itself was beautiful and the people were friendly. While I don't think we will ever be returning, we are thankful for the opportunity to have a peek at this little island.
What about you? Have you been to the Caymans? What did you think?!
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