On an island that’s only 22 miles long, and completely surrounded by water on all sides, there are clearly going to be plenty of beaches. But they all have their quirks, and some are better than others as I have already discovered.
Seven Mile Beach is the most well known and most popular beach on Grand Cayman. And with good reason: it’s huge (it didn’t get the name Seven Mile for nothing!), the sand is practically pure white and the water is that shade of turquoise that you thought only existed in photoshopped travel magazines. No matter the time of day it seems there will always be people on this beautiful beach – particularly around sunset as this place offers one of the best direct views on the island. One of my favourite things to do since I’ve arrived here is to sit in the shallows and watch as the sky turns from blue to orange, and the water turns a stunning shade of lilac. I’m yet to see a phenomenon called the “green light” though, which apparently happens a split second before the sun finally disappears on the horizon. I don’t mind carrying on trying though.
Another pretty and touristy spot is Rum Point, on the North Side of the island. As the name would suggest, this is a great spot to grab a rum cocktail or two, and they make them strong here! No British measures, more a European-package-holiday style technique where they fill the glass halfway with rum and other spirits, then spritz a little mixer in at the end! One or two are enough for me these days (hangovers in the heat are unbearable) but I do recommend the Mudslides – though not if you’re driving! I’ve loved my visits so far to this beach. I mean seriously, what better way to spend your Sunday than laying back in a hammock with a cocktail and a book, dozing in the shade of a palm tree? Again it can get quite busy though as it’s a big tourist hot spot, so it’s best to visit after the cruise ships have disappeared for the day (post 3.30pm according to more seasoned locals).
For a more private spot, I thought I’d give West Bay a try. West Bay is North West of the island, and is apparently where most of the local Caymanians live. It’s also where tourist spots like the Turtle Farm and Dolphin Safari are based, so I figured I still wouldn’t be able to find a quiet beach. I was wrong! West Bay Public Beach was stunning – an extension of Seven Mile Beach but far enough North to be removed from the tourists and bustling hotels. I ventured out for a little paddle – only watched by a couple of gulls and some local divers. Peaceful bliss! I couldn’t stay as I had to get home for a Skype date but have earmarked it as a beach to head back for some secluded R&R on a less busy day.
My favourite beach so far by far has to be Spotts Beach. I came here late on a Sunday afternoon in my second week on the island, after receiving a tip that the snorkelling sights were brilliant. The beach itself was very small, with a short pier and some stubby palm trees, so although there were probably only about 15 people in the area it felt quite busy. Undettered, I set up my snorkel for its first outing (having bought it for the princely sum of CI$48 the day before – nothing is cheap on this island!). I swam around for a while and spotted several schools of non-descript grey fish, a couple of small yellow things with grey stripes and some tiny flitty purple fish. The waves were getting quite strong so, disappointed I started to head back to shore. When what should catch my eye but a TURTLE! Yes – an enormous sea turtle grazing on the sea grass on the ocean floor, casually coming up for air every few minutes. I was amazed and followed it for a good 45 mins, watching it gracefully glide through the green waters. By this point the waves were getting dangerously large so I got myself back to the beach and headed home, though happier at the thought than I had been before.
There are still many beaches on the island for me to explore, including the Smugglers Cove, Governor’s Beach and East End, so watch this space for more updates!