Experience Grand Cayman Like a VIP

Text by Dede Fulk
Arriving to the Island

Imagine heading off to an island escape without having a plan. Now imagine doing it and knowing exactly some of the activities that will make you feel like a VIP.

To begin we landed on the tarmac with the Cayman Islands Aviation Authority (CIAA) ready for an island “meet and greet” service. “Kenworth”, our private security agent, met us, collected our bags, bypassed the customs line and then guided us to our rental car. Then he explained the driving situation and how to avoid an accident driving on the other side of the road. “Just follow the guy in front of you”. It worked just great until we were out in a lonely street and every once in a while we forgot we were supposed to drive on the other side of the road.

To make more things authentic I looked for a local car rental company. Marshalls Car Rental at www.marshalls.ky was so helpful. They are the true “Mom and Pop” shop starting way back with one rental car. They explained the best places to purchase food if staying on the secluded side of the island. We gathered a stack of brochures, pamphlets and maps for scouring out the island. One thing to remember is to request a car with the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car. This makes driving on the other side a little easier to remember especially if you need to pass other cars.

Fun Foodies

If you didn’t feel like cooking you could always rely on Chef Lloyd Brown or Chef Mohamed Mansoorto to provide top restaurant food in the privacy of your villa. www.caymanprivatechef.com or www.caymanchef.com.

48 Vacation Rental Travels While staying at Rum Point we experienced Kaibo Restaurant. You have the choice to overlook the beach, the water, and the marina either upstairs or downstairs and feel the sand between your toes on the beach. Brian from Kaibo walked us through the fine dining options upstairs with an a la carte menu or a six-course tasting menu. Known for the best collection of Rum in the Caribbean offering over 110 rums available at your fingertips to quench your palate. A unique cocktail list takes you on a journey through different countries and styles to sample rare rums, rum flights and rum tastings. Three bottles displayed the three stages of rum production: the growth of the sugar cane, sugar cane harvest, and then the distillation. I never thought learning about rum could be so intriguing.

They have a Rare Rum Club once a month where they showcase new rums and specialty drinks. All dining is outside and the bar area is more for the pre-cocktail crowds or after dinner drinks. Sunday is a busy day when a lot of locals come around and hang out on their boats. If your desire is to experience Kaibo check out www.kaibo.ky In the more touristy section of
the island, Cracked Conch is your go to for fresh seafood overlooking the ocean. They’ve been around on Cayman for 28 years. They’ve divided it into two sections, one more informal called Macabuca Oceanside Tiki Bar where you can get your favorite cocktail or Cracked Conch, the more formal restaurant of the two. Both overlook one of the best land dive sites and are at the water’s edge.

Nick our waiter made the evening. Although very young, his passion oozed from him as he explained the preparations of the dishes. He made you feel like you were the only couple dining at the Cracked Conch. He told us how Cracked Conch moved from 7-mile beach to this location because the orange and red sunset views were better. His cocktails of choice started with a sorrel ginger drink. It included a local variation of hibiscus creating a liquor using a high proof Jamaican rum garnished with some candied lemon peel. The next drink was a Todd Collins, not on the menu yet, but the cornerstone was lemon thyme syrup with botanist gin, chartreuse and ome mescal. Both cocktails were refreshing and perfect to sip while the sun dipped down on the horizon.

One appetizer we couldn’t pass up was wild caught Argentinian shrimp, tossed in mild house made hot sauce and accompanied by verata cheese, the creamier version of mozzarella. The other appetizer was a Shrimp cocktail with avocado lime sorbet, watermelon and hazelnut vanilla vinaigrette. Then of course we had to try the new classic Short Rib ravioli that melted in your mouth with mushrooms and Parmesan foam drizzled with truffle oil over top. After this I couldn’t imagine more food to come.

As we waited, we gazed at the multiple patios overlooking the ocean and watched the divers come and go beneath us. Their lights became brighter as they ascended to the surface. We flew the drone to capture some shots from a unique vantage point.

Conch ceviche was one menu item not to be passed up. Thinly sliced avocado, onions, and tomatoes accompanied this dish. Spicy octopus, Nick’s favorite, included marinated artichokes with squid ink vinaigrette and fresh oranges and arugula salad.

Dinner melted in my mouth with delicious seared scallops prepared with lemon risotto and coconut, bacon and a special sauce to bring out the flavor. Pan Seared skin on local snapper also adorned our plates. Chorizo foam pureed for a nice light texture, fingerling potatoes and a tasty tomato salsa made this snapper dish delightful.

I thought I would roll out of this swanky, yet laid back restaurant, but of course we couldn’t pass up the chocolate lava cake with a molten chocolate center and the baked Alaska key lime pie. Raspberry compote with drizzled sauce added to this dish. It was truly a dinner to remember forever that we talk about to this day.

VIP excursions

Crazy Crab Cayman isn’t like most charter boat companies. Troy the owner, born and raised in Cayman, realized the need for smaller family sized private charters. His motto is, “Arrive as guests, leave as friends”. And that’s what he created for us.

Since having the right guides can make or break an excursion, Crazy Crab made sure to hire two of the best guides that can provide knowledge and support. Mandy, a marine biologist and scuba instructor with a passion for sharing knowledge and Jaco an experienced boatman accompanied us on our excursion to Stingray City and Starfish Point.

No these Stingrays aren’t domesticated and yes they are in the wild with barbs still a part of them. They’ve become conditioned to the sound of boat motors from years ago when fisherman would dump their fish remnants. They come in droves to munch out of your hand, get petted or just enjoy a relaxing rest on your arms. With each boat allowed to have 1 pound of squid, it’s no wonder Crazy Crab Cayman is so popular versus the large boats that have to divide up their squid among so many passengers.

Imagine 120 stingrays, mostly females, counted twice yearly by the Ocean Foundation, coming to play with you. Females dominate this species and are larger in comparison to the males. Their main predator is hammerhead shark so they scurry off to the mangroves for protection.

Mandy taught us to keep our thumbs inside our fist when feeding squid so that stingrays don’t suck up your thumb with the food like a hoover vacuum cleaner. Another thing to watch out for is the souvenir stingray hickey. They love to brush up against you and flap their muscular wings over you. Tradition is to kiss the stingray before leaving the sandbar to give you good luck. Since we just got married we thought it wise to pucker up our lips and give our stingrays a raspberry. Jaco was really proficient at this, probably from years of practice. We even saw their “oh so cute smiles” when Mandy showed us. I used to think just touching the stingray tail would deliver that fated sting, but we learned that the barb is sheathed a third of the way own the tail and they don’t have much control over their tail. They can’t eject their barbs on us unless we launch on them. Jaco even managed to kiss the tail.

After visiting with the stingrays we ventured to Starfish point where orange reddish Sea Stars meet in the shallow waters basking in the warm waters. They were the largest Sea Stars I’ve seen. We watched as they curled round your hands when you held them. They suctioned their legs to you and Mandy had to pry them off Keith’s hand. We even played a game to see which one would flip over the fastest. I never knew starfish were bendable like this. If they lose an arm it takes approximately one year to regenerate. Sea Stars don’t necessarily have a set life span as they keep living until something eats them or until someone lifts them out of the water for any length of time.

All the knowledge and the friendships created from that excursion will always be remembered. To reach out to Troy at Crazy Crab Cayman go to www.crazycrabcayman. com to book your private excursion.

Holding onto your memories with photos

Often times when traveling there is always someone left out of pictures or you try to get that perfect selfie or moment on film. I found the perfect company partnered with Virtuoso Travel. Flytographer is a global company that contracts out with professional photographers that know the area and what places are best for a family or couples photoshoot. Originally I set up the photoshoot in Hawaii until that venue changed because of the eruption. Flytographer was quick to find Tanya with her company in Grand Cayman.

You receive a list of photographers with their bio and location in that area. We selected Tanya, a three-year resident of the island. She had worked and received her training at a studio on the island with a well known photographer. She loves to capture real moments, not necessarily posed shots. As a child her mother thought it was so important to have childhood photos, although somehow in her move she lost all her photos. She doesn’t take this for granted for that reason.

Tanya was so easy to work with. We changed our days because of approaching storms and “too much sunburn”. When we finally met she was very genuine and loved capturing our true love, our laughter and most cherished moments. I couldn’t wait to see the final photos as she clicked her camera when we were least expecting it. I gave her ideas for what I wanted so we got all the Palm tree photos I asked for. We’ve been told, “they look like photos you find in the frames for sale”.

So if you want to have memories of that perfect proposal, honeymoon, wedding, or even to include everyone in the pictures, reach out to www.flytographer.com for your vacation photographer.

So many options

When you arrive at a destination you have a choice for hundreds of activities it can be overwhelming. It’s important to plan your trip without stress and to value your biggest asset, your time. Sure I am a proponent of spontaneity but a little planning can get you some real VIP experiences that will take that trip from a great trip to an amazing trip, even a once in a lifetime memory. These are just a few things we did that delivered an over the top experience.

May you get some great ideas for your next vacation and if you need any help reach out to www.designingvacations.com

Dede Fulk

Dede Fulk, owner of Designing Vacations LLC Globetrots around the world with her husband, Keith, scoping out unique luxury destinations that include nature, culture and cuisine. She combines her passion for blogging, photography and videography with travel consulting to create meaningful experiences for Kevin McGoffN Kevin McGoff is a travel writer living in Indianapolis and Isle sur la Sorgue, in southern France. He is a member of The International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance. His published articles may be found at Next Stop Sur la Route travelers and to make the world a better place one trip at a time. You can contact Dede at www.designingvacations.com or dede@designingvacations.com

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