Parent Category: Travel Info
Category: Travel Feature
Published on Sunday, 30 August 2009 11:25
Written by Eric Lurio
It's 6:30 am and though the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
's beds are so comfortable that you and your love can't imagine ever leaving them, the bright sun, fresh ocean air and hunger for a hearty breakfast from the poolside beckons you to wake and get out to enjoy the day
After about an hour spent getting your asses in gear, the two of you head down to The Red Parrot Restaurant
where you scarf down some breakfast cereal and another cup of coffee before heading over to the lobby [filler] where the van from Captain Marvin
's tours picks the two of you up for the day's expedition.
The quick tour of the palatial hotels on Seven Mile Beach -- which includes such great ones as Britannia Villas
and Morritt's Tortuga Club and Resort --
before heading to the dock at the residential district of the northern peninsula for a day of snorkeling in the gorgeous rich blue waters of the famous North Sound.
Captain Marvin is legendary on Grand Cayman
. He's been taking people around since 1951 and claims to be over 90 years old, and there's no one to dispute this. He was the person who first tamed the wild stingray back in the 1960s. The stingrays are tame in these parts and after a short wander around a shallow reef a serious snorkeler can find anything from the fish, the worms to the urchins in the coral reefs
The urchins are what you really have to look out for, since some species are poisonous. The fish range from the tiny wrasses to the 10 foot long barracudas, the coolest fish in the sea. Zipping around the coral heads are parrot fish, squirrel fish and other species. there are the polychete worms, which look like tiny fur trees, they escape back into their tubes when you put your finger too close. After this short zoological jaunt, it's time to head over to "Stingray City." Stingray City
is a sandbar halfway between the eastern shore of Seven Mile Beach
and Rum Point
on the opposite shore— about three feet between the sandy bottom and the surface. No swimming necessary, just jump off the boat and wait a couple of minutes until you get attacked.
Getting attacked by a shark is usually a bad
thing, but not this time. This is what thousands of people come here for. First a couple, then tens and maybe up to a hundred, come flapping their "wings" around the sand bar and rubbing against various part of your body. Take a dead squid provided by one of the crew, and they will eat out of your hand. They don't have teeth, so you can't get bit, and the sting is at the base of the tail on the top of the body, so it's never near you. The beasties tickle, and the rays are something like a cross between Portobello mushrooms and pussy cats, strange but true.
While tourists frolic with these denizens of the deep, some of the crew has been spear-fishing and collecting conches for the lunch at the Kiebo Yacht Club
over at Rum Point, where a skilled chef will quickly convert these denizens of the deep into a delicious meal. Conch fritters are the French fries of the Caribbean, and when done right are heavenly.
While eating off of paper plates on a wooden picnic table may not seem particularly luxurious, the food served on them most certainly is. This is a great place for conversation with both the people from the boat or the club's residents, shooting the breeze with the velvety sand between your toes is just the thing. For what is something you have to decide for yourself.
After half an hour of extreme digestion, it's farewell to Rum Point and another reef. this one is rather deep and near the place where the bay meets the Caribbean Sea. Here there are a greater variety of fish and other sealife than before, and it's just like the stuff you see on Animal Planet
. Then it's time to go home to the Mariott and a nice long nap.
Good for the next day is the Atlantis Adventures
' submarine. The Caymans are located on the southernmost edge of Cuba's "continental shelf" and while the area in the bay is perfect for snorkeling, the outer coast soon falls off into a miles-long wall, where coral reefs near the surface turn into something entirely different. Unfortunately, you don't have a PADI certification you can't go scuba diving, so this is actually a rather good alternative. A hundred feet down in a nice dry environment is actually pretty good.