The Husband and I celebrated our 6th anniversary with a trip to the Caymans. This was such a treat for me because I'd never ever been where the sea water was crystal clear before and to say I was excited to go would be a serious understatement. We left Nashville at 6:30am (ouch) and arrived in Grand Cayman before noon that day. Side note: I do recommend taking the flight we took on Delta via Atlanta. Yes, it's painfully early in the morning but you end up having almost a whole day there which means more beach time!
As our plane began its descent, you could practically feel everyone's mood shift as we saw the water turn from a dark navy to varying shades of aqua and you could see the bottom of the ocean from the sky. Not to get super romantic with the arrival, of all things, but believe me when I say there was this sense of joy as the plane doors opened and festive, island music and fresh, tropical air greeted us. Everybody was ready to just relax and unwind for a few days. Me, I was ready to work on my tan and do nothing but be up to my chin in that breathtaking ocean water.
We stayed at the Westin Casuarina Resort on Seven Mile Beach and while the hotel isn't the most modern Westin we've been to it provided decent accommodations and they have great customer service. We did learn that they will be updating the interior of the hotel so if you're booking a trip there and want to stay with them, call and make sure there isn't a lot of construction going on.
The hotel lobby leads out to their pool which has a swim-up bar and a poolside bar/cafe and is packed pretty much from sunrise to sunset. What really took my breath away was the beach with its superfine, white sand and water you could see right down to the bottom from the airplane so pool schmool. Plus, the girls who work at the poolside bar also take and bring you orders on the beach so, SOLD.
I think the only word I can use to properly describe this trip was "heavenly." There wasn't just one particular thing that made it so relaxing and so divine, it was a combination of being there with The Husband, not having easy access to the internet that forced me to just enjoy the moment, and being surrounded by paradise with its soft, sandy beach and fantastic ocean.
The pool water couldn't hold a candle to how clear the sea water was, I mean look at this!
Even the ripples on the surface made shadows on the bottom it was so amazing! If I could breathe underwater I would have stayed under the surface the entire time.
The hotel's official sea sports company, Red Sail Sports, has snorkels you can rent as well as other activites you can sign up for like jet skiing, going out on a catamaran, sunset dinner cruises and a stingray swim and snorkel day-trip that we signed up for on Day 3.
Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy that day but at least it didn't rain so it was still a nice enough day for us to head out to Stingray City to play with the rays. Sounds a lot scarier than it really is but the hundreds of stingrays that inhabit that little sandbar in the middle of the Cayman Islands' ocean are South Atlantic stingrays and have no poisonous barbs. Over decades, they've grown to know the arrival of boats to mean feeding time and feeding time tends to come with being handled by people so they're tame and used to it, so long as you don't pull on their tails and you handle with care. Highlight of that experience was when The Husband said "oh there's one behind you" and before I could turn I felt it swim by and graze my back starting with its wing all the way to the end of a very rough tail. I was in heaven.
We were given a crash course in identifying the rays, and it was the females we held and touched that day because the males tended to be smaller and less tame. We and our 48 other boat mates got to play at the sandbar for about 45 minutes before heading off to a nearby coral reef to snorkel for another 45 minutes or so.
Speaking of crash courses, did I mention that I'd never ever snorkeled before going to the Caymans? Not kidding. I swim just fine, I can handle myself in the water but I have never been out to sea left to my own devices with just a plastic tube through which I breathe. So The Husband, who has been a waterbaby since he was old enough to crawl taught me how the day before our trip out to Stingray City. I have to say, it was a little overwhelming at first because I'd also never let myself get out far enough from the beach that my feet weren't touching the sand. It took a few back and forths from shallow to deep but after about an hour and a very patient husband, I was comfortably floating, able to clear my mask and snorkel of water without having to return to where it's shallow. So when the time came to snorkel at the reef, I was still a little nervous but a lot more confident and we managed to swim around and stare at fish for about 20 - 25 minutes before sucking up a ton of water into my nose and calling it a day. But oh look how pretty, even on a cloudy day:
And yes, I'm aware I'm going to have to get a lot more practice in before that whole "cage dive with great whites" thing but baby steps. Stingrays and clown fish today, Great Whites after the next four or five times with rays and fish.
Oh, and then THIS happened.
That really pissed me off. Especially after the boat captain stressed how we shouldn't touch the coral and explained the delicate eco-system that was the reef. I'm not sure this guy paid attention nor did he care but I think only The Husband and I saw. Maybe I should have said something but I decided not to be THAT person just because that ass was being THAT TOURIST. That was probably the only downside to the trip - we encountered several of THAT TOURIST along the way and it would have gotten to me were it not for OH LOOK PRETTY WATER!
The last favorite moment of our trip was our dinner at Blue by Eric Ripert. Now, that one was too awesome an experience to stuff into an already-way-long post so I'll save it for another day.
That was the best trip The Husband and I have ever taken together and I'm already planning a return as soon as possible. It was PERFECT and I would do it all over and over and over again. And, not gonna lie, I'm wracking my brain as to how The Husband and I could just MOVE there and I could get a job on a boat that just takes people out to Stingray City everyday.
What - a girl's allowed to dream!