Many watersports operators run sailing trips out to.. _ Stingray City (see page 175). One of the largest is Е^Я Red Sail Sports Grand Cayman (s 877-RED-SAIL, 345-945-5965, web www. redsail. com), located at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Casuarina, and Marriott. Along with a full menu of water toys, from Hobies to water skis to banana boats, Red Sail Sports also operates three catamarans, including the Spirit of Ppalu. This 65-foot catamaran was originally built as a racer; it now cuts a sleek path through the waters of the North Sound, sailing to Stingray City and also offering sunset cruises and dinner sails. The catamaran has a glass bottom for a sneak peak at what lies below. They also have four dive boats. We journeyed aboard the Spirit of Ppalu and enjoyed a quiet sail through the channels that lead out into the North Sound. In spite of choppy conditions that day, we had a smooth sail and would recommend the catamarans for anyone who is prone to seasickness; the twin hulls make for a smoother ride.
Windsurfing is enjoyed along Seven Mile Beach, although real aficionados venture to more challenging waters elsewhere on the island, primarily on the East End. If you do windsurf at Seven Mile Beach, be on the constant lookout for swimmers and snorkelers (while snorkeling, we once had
a near miss as one windsurfer skimmed by way too close). Prices average about $20 per hour for windsurfing and equipment.
Located on Governors Creek just off the North Sound, the Cayman Islands Yacht Club (PO Box 30985, SMB, Grand Cayman, BWI, s 345-945-4322, fax 345-4432, e-mail ciyc@ candw. ky), has full facilities for travelers arriving by yacht. The 152-slip operation offers berths, fuel, electricity, and water hook-ups for craft up to 70 feet.
Sea kayaks are a fun and fairly easy way to enjoy the water. Rent a kayak for an hour or two and paddle your way along the coastline, enjoying the casua – rina-dotted strip of sand and a view of the accommodations that cling to this precious real estate. One – and two-person sea kayaks are available for rent from vendors for US$15-20 per hour.
Slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and take off on a walking tour of George Town. A brochure, titled A Historical Walking Tour, Central George Town, which is produced by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, covers a self-guided walking tour of about two hours in length; copies are available from the National Trust office, at the tourism office, and at the National Museum, for $1.
GEORGE TOWN WALKING TOUR
The tour begins at the cruise ship landing and includes the site of Fort George, built around 1790 to defend the island from Spanish invasions. The fort site is located at the intersection of Harbour Drive and Fort Street.
Nearby, the Seamen’s Memorial remembers 153 Caymanians lost at sea. Across the street, the Elmslie Memorial Church was built by shipwright Captain Rayal Bodden using shipbuilding techniques; inside, the ceiling resembles a schooner’s hull. The adjacent cemetery has grave markers that resemble houses, a typical style seen in the island’s cemeteries.
Other stops on the walking tour include the Legislative Assembly Building, the post office, and
walk-bys of traditional houses with Caymanian raked sand gardens.
Cayman Airways (s 800-422-9626 or 345-949-8200; www. caymanairways. com) has a flight from Grand Cayman five times per week; arrival is in the evening. Fares average about $154 round-trip.
Gerrard Smith Airport is an official port of entry for private planes. For information on bringing your plane to the Cayman Islands (including how to get an overflight permit from the Cuban government), contact the Airport Officer, PO Box 58, West End, Cayman Brac, British West Indies, s 345948-1222, fax 345-948-1583.
Upon arrival at Gerrard Smith Airport, continue through the airport past the baggage claim and outside to the pick-up area. Several rental-car offices
are located just across the parking lot; you’ll also find taxi service here most of the time.
Rental companies include: T & D Avis, s 800-2280668 or 345-948-2847; Brac-Hertz Rent-a-Car, s 345-948-1515, www. bracrentals. com; B&S Motor Ventures, s 345-948-1646; and Four D’s Car Rental, s 345-948-1599. Rental prices range from US$40- $45 for a Jeep and about US$30 for a compact car.
With the low crime rate on Cayman Brac, sightseeing on foot is fun and safe. You will find, however, that the distance between communities is too far for casual walkers. Remember to look right when crossing the street.
Cayman Brac makes a great destination for cycles and scooters because of its light traffic and primarily flat road grade. Check with B&S Motor Ventures, s 345-948-1646, www. bandsmv. com, for rentals of scooters and bicycles. The company will provide free pickup islandwide.
Free guided nature tours are available with local resident T. J. Sevik. T. J., a young man with an extensive knowledge of the island’s flora and fauna as well as its history, can tailor a tour to your specifications. For arrangements contact Kenny Ryan or Mrs. Wanda Tatum, s 345-948-2651, fax 345-948-2506.
You may also arrange a private, half-day tour for about US$30 from one of these taxi services.
D&M Taxi-N-Tours, Spot Bay, s 345-948-2307. Customized tours around the island, including trips to the bluff and the lighthouse, are available through this company.
Elo’s Tours and Taxi Service, The Bight, s 345-948-0220. This company offers guided tours around the island including the caves. Trips to the lighthouse cost extra.
Hill’s Taxi, Spot Bay, s 345-948-0540. These tours cover the caves, lighthouse, museum, and more.
Maple Edwards Taxi, Spot Bay, s 345-948-0395. These tours include the museum, bluff, caves, and more.
Lobster Pot, North Church Street, s 345-949-2736, $$$. This second-floor restaurant, built with a view of the George Town Harbour, serves seafood accompanied by an extensive wine list. Lobster and surf and turf are favorites, as well as grilled salmon filet, mango chicken, Cayman turtle steak, seafood curry, and cracked conch. Save this one for a special night out; prices are high, even by Cayman standards. A children’s menu is available here; if you bring the kids, don’t miss tarpon feeding time between 6:30 and 6:45. The restaurant is open for lunch on weekdays only and dinner nightly. Reservations are recommended.
Smuggler’s Cove Caribbean Cafe and Grill, North Church Street, s 345-949-6003, $$$. This oceanfront restaurant is open for dinner only. A favorite with couples, the waterfront location offers both indoor and outside dining. Seafood dishes are king here, including coconut shrimp, red snapper, lobster ravioli, grilled lobster, and baked Chilean salmon with crab. Daily specials include seasonal seafood as well as game, lamb, and veal dishes. Reservations are recommended.
The Wharf, West Bay Road, s 345-949-2231, $$$. Just past George Town at the start of the beach, The Wharf is a favorite with couples. This seaside restaurant and bar is open for lunch on weekdays December through April and dinner nightly, featuring continental and Caribbean cuisine. Located right on the water’s edge, the open-air bar offers an uninterrupted view of the setting sun. A school of huge tarpon gathers below the deck, waiting for scheduled handouts. Live music is offered most evenings. Reservations are recommended here. Open for dinner nightly, this restaurant also offers a children’s menu.
If you like country music, you can do a little boot scootin’ at Country and Western Restaurant (Red Bay Road just past Lion’s Centre, s 345-945-4079). Dancing is on weekends only.
Atlantis offers a night dive; it’s a wonderful chance to look at the vivid colors that are only seen during the night hours. s 800-887-8571 or visit www. atlantisadventures. com.
Sunset sails are a good way to end the day and are offered by several operators. They’re especially popular with couples. Jolly Roger, s 345-945-7245, e-mail jolroger@candw. ky. The Jolly Roger, an authentic replica of a 17th-century galleon, offers sunset cruises several nights per week. The boat leaves at dusk and sails for 2% hours. The sunset cocktail cruise includes a snack as well as a complimentary open bar with beer and mixed drinks. On nights when there is no sunset cruise, the Jolly Roger offers a dinner cruise, which starts with rum punch and features a Cayman-style dinner (your choice of fish or beef); there’s also an open bar with beer and mixed drinks. Tours depart from The Jewelry Factory, across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe in George Town Harbour.
Nightclubs & Sports Bars
Durty Reid’s Palace, Red Bay Plaza, s 345-947-1860. This sports bar says it has “warm beer, lousy food, and surly help.” Have some jerk chicken or pork and judge for yourself!
If you would like to obtain permanent resident status, you may do so after a six-month stay. With that status, however, you’ll be expected to invest in property to the tune of US$180,000 or more – and one look through the real estate listings will tell you that you will be lucky to find anything for $180,000! You will also need approval to obtain employment. If you are of independent means and don’t require employment, you’ll pay a one-time fee of CI$15,000 to be granted permanent residency. The best source of information on obtaining permanent residency is a booklet published by the Cayman Islands Government Information Services, titled Acquisition of Permanent Residential Status in the Cayman Islands. You can obtain a copy by calling the
Government Information Services office at s 345-949-8092 or fax 345-949-5936.
When it comes time to shop for Cayman real estate, take a deep breath (or maybe take a good drink of Caymanian rum; you’ll need it). Prices are incredibly steep by any standards. Million-dollar condominiums are routine; empty lots can easily run half a million dollars.
You will find numerous real estate agents on the islands (especially Grand Cayman) and many properties for sale.
REAL ESTATE BROKERS
Crighton Properties……………… s 345-949-5250
Coldwell Banker……………………. s 345-945-4411
ERA…………………………………………………………… s 345-945-7955
www. eracayman .com
RE/MAX……………………………………………………. s 345-949-9742
www. remax. ky Tranquil Realty Sister Islands
Cayman Brac…………………………………………….. s 345-948-1577
Little Cayman…………………………………………… s 345-948-1077
If you are bringing pets with you to the Cayman Islands, you’ll need an import permit or a valid animal passport issued by the Department of Agriculture. To obtain a form for the import permit, contact the Department of Agriculture, Plant Quarantine/Veterinary Service Units, Box 459GT, Grand Cayman or call s 345-945-2267 or 949-4932, fax 345-947-1476. You’ll need to submit the forms with a fee of US$61. You’ll also need an official health certificate issued by an accredited veterinary inspector in your country. Start the paperwork well before your travel dates.
When you move to the Cayman Islands, you are allowed to bring personal and household goods duty free. Don’t rush out and buy all new appliances to ship to the islands, however; the goods must have been in use for six months. Special rules apply to the importation of a car.
To simplify the customs process, many new residents hire a customs broker to get through the paperwork. A few brokers are listed below.
Brac Business Brokers and Agents. s 345-9481438
Cayman Islands Customs Agency. . s 345-9492350
Emery Worldwide………………………………………. s 345-949-5989
IMP Agency……………………………………………….. s 345-949-0066
Miracle Brokers International. s 345-949-5989 Sta-Mar Enterprises s 345-949-2399
Ahh, now we come down to one of the real beauties of the Cayman Islands: taxation, or, rather, lack thereof. There are no direct taxes in the Cayman Islands, period. That means no income tax, no gift tax, no corporate tax, no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax.
That makes these islands extremely attractive. While there are no taxes, however, you will find a few miscellaneous charges including a stamp duty on real estate. You’ll pay a stamp duty of 7.5% (higher in some areas) on the value of the real estate at the time of the sale and a fee of 1% on mortgages under CI$300,000 and 1.5% on mortgages greater than CI$300,000. You’ll also pay an annual fee for garbage collection (CI$50 per year for houses, CI$150 for condos).
The government does collect much of its money on duties. Some food items, such as cheese, fish, rice, water, and others, are not dutiable but most goods do carry both the cost of duty and of importation. Look for higher grocery prices on just about all items.
The only parasailing in the Cayman Islands is offered along Seven Mile Beach. Soaring high above the waves can be thrilling. Prices for parasailing average about $45.
Abank’s Watersports & Tours, Ltd. . s 345-9451444
Aqua Delights………………………………….. s 345-945-4786
Kirk Sea Tours and Watersports… s 345-9497278
Parasailing Professionals………. s 345-916-2953
Red Sail Sports…………………….. s 345-949-8745
Honey Suckle Trail Beach Rides (s 345-947-7324 or 916-5420), offers rides for both experienced and
new riders with special attention given to children. Both western and English saddles are available, as are a variety of horses from thoroughbred to quarter horse. Guided trail rides and sunset rides are popular.
Experienced and new riders can enjoy beach rides with Pampered Ponies (s 345-945-2262 or 916-2540, fax 345949-8813, www. ponies. ky). The operator offers early morning as well as romantic sunset beach rides. Moonlight excursions are especially popular, and private trips are also available.
Horseback in Paradise with Nicki, (s 345-916-3530 or 945-5839) offers guided 90-minute trips along quiet trails, in groups of no more than four. No children under 12 are accepted; transportation to the departure site is included.
Although George Town may be the capital city, it is by no means just a business center: here it’s just as appropriate to don a mask and tank as a three piece suit. The waters off George Town are protected as a marine park and boast numerous dive sites. For a complete list of dive operators on Grand Cayman, see Where Are the Adventures?, page 89.
Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto: Eden Rock Dive Shop on South Church Road is the entry point for one of George Town’s most popular dive sites. Eden Rock and the Devil’s Grotto, located about 150 yards from the shore, are shallow dives but unique. Both are labyrinths of grottos running out from the shore. Eden Rock is popular not only with divers but also with snorkelers who enjoy the easy entrance and a view of the tunnels and often large tarpon. Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto have a depth of 30-50 feet.
Parrot’s Reef: Parrot’s Reef and, beyond that, Sunset Reef, are dive sites filled with marine life. They are just yards from shore. Parrot’s Reef has a depth of 30-60 feet.
The Wreck of the Balboa: The hurricane of 1932 accounted for the wreck of this freighter, which today lies 25 to 40 feet below the surface. Some of the ship remains intact, but other parts were blown away to clear the traffic channel. This is a popular night dive because of the depth (and because this site sits right in the George Town Harbour waterway, which is busy during the day). Rich with marine life from corals to sponges to brilliant parrotfish, this is one of Grand Cayman’s top dive sites.
Soto’s Reef: This reef lies just offshore from the Lobster Pot (see Where to Eat, page 160). Ranging in depth from five to 35 feet, the reef is dotted with coral formations.
The Black Forest: Beautiful black coral and waving gorgonians make this site indeed seem like the Black Forest. Located at 60 to 100 feet, this wall dive is just off the island’s southwest point, but isn’t accessible as a shore dive.
Smiths Cove: Although often considered a snorkel site, Smiths Cove (off South Church Street just south of George Town) is an easy shore dive as well. The reef starts just a few feet from the surface and divers can also explore the West Wall from this location.
Wreck of the Cali: Located in just over 20 feet of water about 100 feet offshore, the Cali is a shallow dive recommended for beginners. Experienced divers can save the Cali for departure day, when they can’t scuba dive; the site offers a great snorkel experience and is a good way to finish off your Cayman vacation.
If you’d like to introduce your children to the joys of scuba diving, you might give SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youths) a try. This program, operated by Red Sail Sports, was developed by a Cayman father for his children. It allows young divers to breath from a continuous air supply and has buoyancy compensator to keep children floating safely near the surface. For more about this program, see page 124. Units are available for use at Red Sail Sports (www. redsail. com) locations at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman (s 345-949-8745), Westin Casuarina Resort (s 345-949-8732), and Marriott Grand Cayman (s 345949-6343).
INTERNATIONAL SCUBA DIVING
HALL OF FAME
In March 2000, the Cayman Islands established the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame with 19 inductees who have made a significant contribution to the world of recreational scuba diving. The Hall of Fame is temporarily located in the Port Complex in George Town and is a member of the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame.
■ Lloyd Bridges (US): star of the television show Sea Hunt and responsible for introducing many viewers to the world of scuba diving.
■ Jacques-Yves Cousteau (France): the best – known aquatic explorer in the world, Cousteau co-invented the aqualung and served as a television personality and expert on the world of marine life.
■ Ben Cropp (Australia): following his career as a spearfisherman, Cropp went on to work in the film industry and was known for his shark hunting. He later became an underwater cameraman, director, and producer.
■ E. R. Cross (US): compiled the world’s first scuba diving safety training manual for sport divers.
■ Dr. Jefferson C. Davis, Jr. (US): one of the pioneers of dive medicine, Davis helped developed hyperbaric medicine and is known for the treatment of decompression sickness.
■ Gustav Della Valle (Italy): founder of ScubaPro, Della Valle introduced markets around the world to the equipment of scuba diving.
■ Sylvia Earle, PhD (US): recordholder for solo diving and the world’s deepest woman diver, Earle is also the author of Sea Change, a 1995 book.
■ Bernie Eaton (UK): publisher and editor-inchief of Diver, the UK publication with the largest circulation in the world of scuba diving.
■ Emile Gagnon (France): co-inventor of the aqualung with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
■ AlGiddings (US): underwater director and cinematographer, Giddings has been awarded three Emmys.
■ Hans and Lotte Hass (Austria): With over 100 films on the submarine world, this pair have made contributions to the world of underwater photography, films, and science.
■ Jack Lavanchy (Switzerland): president of PADI Europe, Lavanchy popularized recre
ational scuba diving through Europe and North Africa.
■ Jack McKenney (Canada): one of the top underwater wildlife photographers and film producers, McKenney served as editor of Skin Diver.
■ Bob Soto (Cayman Islands): Soto brought recreational scuba diving to the Cayman Islands in 1957.
■ Ron and Valerie Taylor (Australia): first known for their spearfishing, the Taylors became known as filmmakers, working on films such as Jaws, Jaws II and The Blue Lagoon.
■ Al Tillman (US): founder ofthe National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).
■ Stan Waterman (US): winner of five Emmy awards, Waterman is also known for his work in underwater films as director and producer.
Snorkelers will find a good spot just south of Smiths Cove Park, along South Church Street. This free park has good snorkeling along the rocks on its north side; covered picnic tables and plenty of shade make it a popular lunch site. Eden Rock is also frequented by snorkelers. Another favorite is Soto’s Reef, sometimes called Passion Reef. One of the top snorkel destinations is the wreck of the Cali (see above).