Spring Into Summer on the Cayman Islands
by Debra Rose
If you have a go-to Caribbean destination during the off-season, your trip was likely put on hold following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in September. With the exception of a handful of islands, many were not livable for residents let alone ready for visitors. There is still time before the frenzy of summer to take a quick trip to one of the few untouched destinations, for a little sun and much needed warmth after a long winter.
Aruba, Jamaica, (are you singing the song already)? along with St. Lucia (shout out to Manny), The Bahamas and The Cayman Islands are the top five islands that were spared by Irma. Incredible destinations to begin with, these islands offer the opportunity to visit a new place you may have easily overlooked, taking you out of your comfort zone.
The Cayman Islands, our top pick, is a British Overseas Territory less than four hours away on Jet Blue, dropping you right into the pristine island of Grand Cayman. Tom Cruise and the movie The Firm may have put the island on the map, but we love the low-key luxury and blazing sunsets the island is known for.
Seven Mile Beach, the most popular on the island, was sighted by Christopher Columbus and inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, due to its dazzling beauty. With crystal clear water, its not a surprise that scuba diving originated here in 1957, and since it is a coral island, not volcanic, the island is like a massive sandbar. We found snorkeling to be just as rewarding in the waters of Stringray City where you can swim with friendly Stringrays, as well as diving and hunting for lobsters under rocks in the shallow waters around the island. There are Crystal Caves to explore, where you can check out the stalactites and stalagmites, underground lake and even bats, and little coves to swim with the starfish and sea turtles the Caymans are famous for.
The most stunning resort on the island is the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, which is as glamorous and breathtaking as it sounds. Guests are warmly welcomed with champagne upon arrival, and the hotel is home to two of the best restaurants on the island, Ave and Avecita. Few islands in the Caribbean are celebrated for their fine dining, and these two restaurants can elevate Grand Cayman into that small circle.
Ave is Cayman Caribbean vibrancy meets Mediterranean simplicity, while Avecita hosts a nightly tasting menu from a French staffed kitchen, with tapas-style dishes and an exceptional wine list. These dining experiences along with the hotel and beaches are worth making the trip to The Caymans, even for a long weekend. Many of the islands impacted by Irma are rebuilding quickly, eager to welcome you back by next winter. In the meantime try something new, something stunning, something out of the comfort zone. You might just catch a spiny Caribbean Lobster or find buried treasure beneath the sea in the meantime.