We were supposed to be in the Keys, but Hurricane Irma had other plans. All Bill wanted for his 40th was to go scuba diving somewhere warm and new. So, we scrambled and searched the map for options. Thanks to a wonderfully affordable points deal from American Airlines, we landed on Grand Cayman. And, it exceeded all of our expectations.
A friend of mine who vacations in the Cayman Islands regularly turned us onto Cayman Villas
, which rents condos and homes all over the island. For our first trip, we wanted to be on Seven Mile Beach to be close to dive destinations and restaurants. We landed on a one bedroom at a condo called "White Sands" and it was wonderful. Only a few units meant there were only a few people and we practically had Seven Mile Beach to ourselves! There were hammocks and lounge chairs to use, along with a full kitchen (which saved us a ton of money and allowed us to eat healthier.)
|Working from White Sands|
Our first excursion was to Pappagallo
, a wonderful local Italian restaurant with beautiful views and fantastic service. Our reservation was at 7:00pm and the restaurant doesn't get busy until later, so we sat outside and had cocktails while watching the sunset.
|The sunset view from Pappagallo|
I'm not sure how I didn't get a photo, but in the entryway, there's the most charming parrot named Humphrey Bogart who talks to you. Normally, I would think this is weird and loud and annoying, but Bogey was... cute and he had good pick up lines, so I was smitten. Also, you can't hear him in the dining room, so don't worry if you don't like birds.
We kicked things off with the tuna tartare, which was one of the daily specials, and a bottle of rosé.
|Tuna Tartare at Pappagallo|
For my meal, I had the Bolognese. All of their pastas and seafood looked fantastic. I would definitely recommend making this a spot for a special celebration. At the close of the meal, we were too full for dessert, but they still brought out a candle and some cookies to celebrate Bill's milestone birthday.
|Bolognese Pasta at Pappagallo|
The next day, Bill had his first dive and I laid out on the boat and read my book. It was pretty fantastic to immerse ourselves on the island.
The guy sitting next to me on the plane there told me about this great dive bar on the water called My Bar at Sunset House
that was staffed by Indians and had an awesome (formerly secret) Indian menu. I was intrigued and it was nearby, so off we went. Like almost everything on Grand Cayman, we were treated to stunning views and friendly service.
|Pina Coladas at My Bar at Sunset House|
|Fish Curry at My Bar at Sunset House|
also has a full 'American' menu with things like burgers, wings and mozzarella sticks... but for my money, when you've got a talented kitchen full of Indian talent, you go Indian. And, my fish curry paired surprisingly well with a frozen pina colada.
One of our favorite drives was driving all the way around the island to Rum Pointe Club
. It takes a good 30-45 minutes, so make sure you have time and a designated driver. But, if you decide to go, you'll be rewarded with amazing views along the way and a lovely bar and restaurant along with beach front tables, lounges and hammocks. Or, like us, you can bring your own pizza float
. There's great snorkelling right off of Rum Pointe, so make sure you bring snorkel gear. You can also catch trips with Red Sail Sports from Rum Pointe.)
|Sipping Pina Coladas on the Pizza Float off Rum Pointe|
Speaking of Red Sail Sports
, they were awesome. We went scuba and snorkeling with them twice. And, they took us out to the must do Stingray City
. Stingray City blew me away. These gorgeous beings that I've avoided stepping on my whole life (Florida kids, amirite?) were docile and just allowed you to hang out and hold them. I wouldn't try that anywhere, but apparently decades of human contact and feeding have made this spot one of the few in the world where you can kiss a ray.
|Me at Stingray City|
Grand Cayman is wonderful and, unlike many Caribbean islands, there is a lot of great food. But, you still have to dig a bit to have a more local experience. I would highly recommend visiting Heritage Kitchen
and getting the Cayman grouper or fried chicken. Just look for this little house right across from the beach. And, don't forget to also get a fresh mango or other juice drink!
is only open Wednesday through Sunday, so plan accordingly. If you're there on Sunday, they do barbecue from 11-6pm.
|Cayman Grouper at Heritage Kitchen|
What else? There was so much more great food to try. A few more of our faves are below, but we'll have to go back because the to do list is long (and Eric Ripert's Blue is under renovation.)
Restaurants We Loved
Places I Didn't Make It To But Want to Next Trip
|Me, post swimming at Stingray City|
So, the only question is... when are we going back?
Activities aside the food looks so good. I hope it tasted as good as it looks.
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meet and greet at Gatwick
Thanks for the guide. The destinations seem incredible.
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