Yay! Today is the day for my FULL recap form the trip. Travel Tuesday's are becoming a favorite post during the week. With a ton of travel booked this year, I'm sure it won't disappoint. This is going to be a lot so bear with me. Going to break it down day by day and then talk about our resort next week!
When we were planning our trip back in September we found that the cheapest day to get out of the city was the one day everyone wanted to be in the city: New Years Eve. We didn't mind flying on the holiday because we knew it'd be pretty hassle free and we left early enough to "celebrate" (we'll get to that later).
Thankfully our favorite airline, JetBlue, had non-stop flights to Grand Cayman so getting out there was a breeze! I love living in New York because it's a hub for JetBlue and they have so many great direct flights to warm getaways. So we hopped on a 6am flight and were off.
I'm a sucker for inflight movies and opted to watch The Equalizer. It was just an okay movie, but I appreciate it because next thing I knew, we were on the island! We walked off the plane and onto the runway to wonderfully warm temperatures (it's 85 and sunny everyday there) and then waited on a 30 minute customs line. Then we picked up our rental car and were off!
One thing to note about the island is the fact that most everything is on the west side. That's where all the hotels are, where the cruise ships dock and where it's the most "touristy." Well, all except two hotels on the east end. When we were booking our trip, most of the hotels were booked due to the holiday but (blessing in disguise) the Reef Resort (where we stayed) had availability and was very affordable.
(the view from the bed in our room)
I'll get into the resort more next week but let me just say it was awesome to get away. It was also really smart of Andrew to push me into the idea of renting a car (I was against it -- I mean, where did we need to go?). Since we were far away from everything, we drove to dinner, drove to different beaches but most of all we really were able to explore all the island had to offer. I 100% believe that renting the car made our trip 100 times better!
They also drive on the opposite side so it was fun to be a part of that experience (and I'm glad I wasn't driving!).
So back to the trip, we went straight from the airport to the hotel to the beach (duh), and soaked up all we had left of the sun. It was really windy on the east end but totally okay because without it I would have been sweatin'!
My dress for dinner
After the beach, we relaxed some and went to the buffet the hotel was having for dinner. The food was okay that night, nothing picture worthy. But what was cool was we were actually on the beach for the meal. They gave us all party hats and noise makers to celebrate with but after we finished our second helping of dinner and dessert (#beachbod) we were exhausted! I mean, we had been up all day! We went back to the room, Andrew watched some football and I fell asleep. We both did wake up at midnight to catch the fireworks from our balcony, but then fell right back to sleep!
New Years day we just hung around the hotel. After dinner the night before we ran into this couple that was staying at the resort next to us and mentioned (casually of course) that they had an infinity pool. And I was like, "What the whaaa I've never been in one!" So of course Andrew and I had to go check it out. It was pretty cool let me tell you. I'm never a big fan of hanging in a pool when you're right next to the ocean, but for an hour that day it's what I did. And I don't regret a second! They also had a little swim up bar soooo ... that was cool!
Then we made our way back to our side of the resort to soak up some rays. I put on lots of sunscreen (remember this post?) and spent my time between the water and the lounge chairs.
What was also fun (depending on how you look at it) was the Subway in the hotel. Super random, but surprisingly convenient when you're a drive away from any food. We went up there for lunch (carefully not pictured below) and ate our subs on the beach (don't judge me!).
After some more hours of relaxing, we showered up and drove over to The Sunset House for dinner on the west side of the island. We of course, as the name implies, also caught the sunset. Dinner was good, the sunset was better and the company was pretty great. It was a nice way to end the day!
When we were walking into dinner we saw a wonderfully decorated house across the street. We're talking LOTS of Christmas decor. When we were walking back to the car, the lights were on and the music was playing! It must be some thing on GC to do this because there were a ton of people walking around on the lawn of this house. I was convinced that you had to pay to walk around (so American of me to assume) because there was a police officer out front by the gate. The people who owned this home just decorated for the holiday and wanted to spread the Christmas cheer with anyone who wanted to stop by. It was hilariously overwhelming to walk around but it was a really cool experience. I'm all for bringing the tradition to the U.S.
So we drove back to the hotel thinking that was so cool and we'll never see it again. Then we passed this
house mansion (I want):
And two others! It was crazy to see the island light up at night (literally). We stopped at the one above as well and walked around. We had to giggle at some of the decor though, but it was really great. I will tell you that once you've seen one, you've seen them all!
Fri-YAY amirite? This was probably my favorite day of the trip. Before we actually made it to Grand Cayman, I told Andrew that we have to swim with stingrays. I had gotten so many recommendations to do so and I couldn't think of another time I'd have the opportunity to do so! We set up the tour through the hotel and they recommended we take the early "sunrise tour" to beat the masses that come in on the cruises. So we woke up around 5 am and were off on the boat an hour later.
Excuse me for yelling but, GETTING UP EARLY IS 110% WORTH IT. I couldn't imagine having a better tour. There were maybe 10 of us total on the boat, we were able to catch the sunrise and we had uninterrupted time with the stingrays.
Did I mention the sunrise?!
I wanted to create a whole separate post about this stingray trip because I took SO. MANY. PHOTOS. But alas, I will pick my favorites and share them here. I wasn't sure what I was expecting going on this tour but we literally boated out to the middle of the ocean and our guide was like "jump out." Loll what?? I jumped in ready to start treading water and found myself pleasantly surprised when the water only came up to my waist.
Now, I grew up a swimmer and I really love the water. What I don't love is not being able to see through it (like a dark ocean or a lake). That's when it freaks me out. I always tell people my ideal ocean is clear with only sand on the bottom (nothing fuzzy). Where we were with the stingrays was my ideal ocean. It was clearer than the sky and had zero things in the water (except the stingrays of course).
When I first got in the water, I was terrified of the stingrays. I would acciendatly bump into them, get in their way and kick some while snorkeling around and I thought I was going to die each time. Then I was able to get used to them, understand that they are extremely friendly and like to play! I mean I even had one SWIM OVER ME (#nbd) you can see it in the video at the 1:26 mark.
Andrew and I were the last ones on the boat and truly didn't want to leave! We were so thankful we did the early tour because after talking to our guide, he said there can be up to 1,800 people a time with the stingrays and I can't even imagine that many people!
As part of the tour, we went snorkeling after the stingray excursion. With a little mishap along the way we didn't do much snorkeling but all was okay. I was able to snap these photos to show you how amazing the reef was. (I also snapped a hilarous photo of Andrew snorkeling with the "doggy paddle" technique, but I'll save that for another day). Look at how clear this water is!
Also snapped this. You'll notice why I chopped out my face for the instagram picture. A little less than beautiful but a whole lot of LOL.
Can you believe after all this it's only 9am?! When we get back to shore, Andrew and I make our way over to Rum Point. This ended up being my favorite beach we went to. The water, just like earlier was crystal clear. At Rum Point there was food, drinks, wi-fi, water sports, the whole nine yards. We spent most of our day here.
While lounging around I noticed the water sports activities offered and was highly intrigued. I was all about the paddle boarding (since I've never done it and all) and tried so hard to convince Andrew to join me. He said no because it looked too hard (#dumb). The board said $40 for an hour so I took my money and went up with Andrew. The worker asked if I wanted half or an hour and told me half was (big surprise here) was only $20. So I looked at Andrew and told him I had $20 with his name on it and he was convinced. Away we went.
IT WAS SO FUN. I was a natural (that's what the instructor said) and flew off away from Andrew. It was easier than you think and this water was so blue and clear. Everything was perfect. Only struggle? Turning that bad boy around. LOL trying to watch me to that. Pretty sure it took me 20 minutes to turn. But we got back safe and sound and it was totally worth it. Plus, look at those houses, the beach and this water! Ah-mazing!
Only downside of Rum Point was the popularity of it. Tons of kids and families and people everywhere. It was the place to be and after a while, Andrew and I had enough and headed to Starfish point. We were pretty exhausted from the full day so we didn't stay long. Really just long enough to take these pictures.
Back to the hotel we went to rest, shower and catch up on doing nothing haha. Then it was off to dinner at Tukka. When I say I had dinner on the beach at Tukka, I really mean on the water and by on the water I mean as close as you can get without actually getting wet. (Although there was one time where the wave was big and it sprinkled my face). I liked the food but the service was lacking. I think the location almost made up for it.
WHEW! Who is glad Friday is over? Man oh man that was a long day! I told Andrew since it was our last full day I wanted to take advantage of it and wake up with the sun and jam pack the rest of the day. And so we did.
We drove all over the west side of the island, up and down seven mile beach. Even stopped along the way to snap some photos.
One of my favorite spots was Smith Barcadere Beach (and not just because my future house was across the street):
But because the beach was tucked away off the street and quiet. A little dangerous with the crashing waves against the rock, but riding the overpowering waves was fun (as long as you don't land on a mysterious rock coming down). We didn't stay too long. Our tummies were growling.
Lunch time rolled around and we found ourself down the street in Paradise (the name of the restaurant). The food was some of the best I had on the trip! And the view wasn't all that bad either... right?
After lunch we went back to Starfish Point because we didn't really spend too much time there the day before and I wanted a spot that was more quiet. What was cool about this place is that when you pull in, it seems like you've come to a dead end with a small opening. You drive through, past a ton of trees and find a random spot to park next to the water. Then you walk through what seems like (from far away) a no trespassing sign. But it's really a "we're not liable if you get hurt here" kind of deal. Then you walk through a ton of greenery along a dirt path to any spot along the beach. We found our spot and posted up.
As the ADD child I am, I asked to bury Andrew (who had never been buried before-- whaaaa) and he hesitantly said yes. My 6-year-old self was thrilled at the idea. I had a little help from my new friend at the beach and we managed to bury him completely. Woot woot!
As the sun went down, we headed back to the resort. I was exhausted! We opted for dinner at the hotel which turned out to be much better than the buffet we had on our first night. I got the prime rib and it was a great hoo-rah for our last supper.
Below was our view for dinner and also the place where we ate dinner the first night near the water.
Sunday was our relax, pack and get ready to go home day :( We just hung around the hotel, I filmed a video (coming soon) and hung around enjoying our last hours. The rest is pretty boring. We hung out in a small airport with 500 of my closest friends for three hours, didn't eat until we got to Philly (at 6pm-- you know, after the hour-and-a-half customs line) had to hang in the Philly airport (ick) then flew home to New York on a smaller-than-life plane that dropped us off outside in the rain. Drove in a HORRIBLE smelling car (honestly windows were rolled down-- it was cold and rainy, but thats how bad this stench was) full of the drivers B.O. and then made it home to only sleep for a couple hours and return to work the next day. Can you tell I was bitter coming home? Hahah
But whew! That was a long one. If you've made it to here, congratulations. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this recap. I plan on doing more in the future like this so please let me know what you liked/didn't like and what you want to see more/less of next time!
For the record all underwater photos/photos taken in the water were on this waterproof camera here (borrowed from my dad)!