Destination: Grand Cayman Island
Date: November 2009
The easiest vacation to go on with kids will always be a beach location! I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Between the minimal packing of bathing suits and coverups, to the minimal planning of activities its basically a guaranteed “Just show up and you’ll have a fun vacation” destination.
A few years ago we decided to spice things up, and instead of heading to the coast of the US, we took a quick flight down to Grand Cayman Island to celebrate Thanksgiving “island style”. The kids were in seventh heaven. We stayed at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort which is located on the world famous Seven-Mile Beach. The best part about our stay was that we upgraded to a Euro-Package which then made our stay “all-inclusive”. Why is that important? It isn’t necessarily depending on your dining preferences, but being on a resort that we knew we weren’t going to leave very often, made dining with our six kiddos especially easy.
Our kids loved having the option to order food while playing in the sand and having it delivered to their sand castle. As a mom I enjoyed this too! It meant we didn’t need to shower all the kids and change them into nicer clothes to go to a restaurant nearby. It was effortless, and easy, and exactly what I wanted for this beach vacation. It also gave the kids the ability to order drinks, speciality or just water, and I was able to stay building the sand castle without having to get up and find a vendor. (Ok, lets be real, I was mostly reading my book nearby) In any case the staff became my kids best friends and they felt comfortable asking for french fries, to Shirley Temples.
We had a fun opportunity to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal right on the beach! Our food was served buffet style and with a few tiki torches, and even a fire juggler it was a Thanksgiving they will never forget. Even a wonderful girl from the beach front restaurant asked to hold Bella who was almost three at the time so she could entertain her during our meal. It was a fabulous way to celebrate.
The very best activity in Grand Cayman is swimming with dolphins over at Dolphin Discovery. Or visiting Sting Ray Island with the same company. We booked this awesome excursion straight on the website and enjoyed both of these fun experiences the same day. It would even be possible to do this if you were just stopping off a cruise ship for the day.
Our day started by visiting Sting Ray Island. We drove over to Dolphin Discovery and boarded a boat that would take us out to the open sea to a sand shelf where hundreds of stingrays gather. The sand shelf was the key to having a great adventure. We stepped off our boat and we were only in about three feet of water, way out from shore! We were given snorkel equipment to use and we snorkeled with these huge creatures. They are so used to humans that they swam right up to us and would brush against the side of our legs as we stood in the water.
Some of our kids loved this and others were less than thrilled. We had two kiddos that refused to swim with them so they either had to be held or stayed on the boat. Overall it is one of the best excursions we have ever done on vacation.
The next part of our day was back at the dolphin exhibit. I can’t imagine having such access to dolphins anywhere in the US. Here we were able to swim with these majestic creatures and even play with them like they do at Sea World! We had our pictures taken kissing the dolphins, shaking hands, doing a dorsal tow, and a foot push just like the marine biologists at Sea World. This was the kids favorite!
There was a minimum age requirement of 8-years-old to actually swim with the dolphins but there is a less invasive program that is available for smaller children. Our three oldest had a chance to swim with the dolphins and I don’t think it is something they will ever forget. However, start saving your pennies now! This little excursion is one of the most expensive we have ever done with our kids. Because of the accessibility it give to the patron they do attach a hefty price tag.
We saved a little money by purchasing the picture DVD, that includes all of the pictures of all the guests in your tour group, and shared that cost with a family we met at our hotel that just happened to be on our tour that day.
The rest of our time in the Caymans was spent on the beach front. Colton and Bailey went parasailing, we snorkeled the great reef just out front our hotel, and even went to church again while we were on island. It was so much fun. My only complaints of Grand Cayman are the 1)mosquitos and 2) the salty almost acidic water levels around the island. I can’t speak for the entire island because I hear the mosquitos are worse in some parts than others, and huge efforts have been made since the 1980’s to reduce the mosquito population. However, it seems once the sun goes down the mosquitos come out so bring your bug spray! As for the salty water make sure to bring goggles for yourself and the kids. I was surprised at how my eyeballs felt like they were being melted like molten lava while I swam. The good thing is these are the only two complaints I have. Besides these two small nuisances it is a great place to visit with the whole family!!
Safe and Happy Travels!!!