Sunday, March 12, 2017

Vacation | Cayman Islands, Part 1 (Booze and Beaches)

 Margaritaville Resort Cayman Islands
Welcome to Lisa and Jim's Caribbean Vacation 2017. This year's adventure took us to Grand Cayman. Why Grand Cayman? Because I wanted to go to Cuba, and Jim wanted to go to The Bahamas. After 27 years of marriage, we've learned to compromise. Occasionally. Grudgingly. After we've been going eyeball to eyeball for six months and neither one of us is willing to blink and it finally becomes apparent that we are in danger of not going on a vacation at all.
Caribbean map
If you're wondering where the Cayman Islands are, here is a detailed scientific map of the area that I photographed off the back of a T-shirt. See the big island south of the amputated bottom of Florida? That's Cuba. And the little island south of Cuba? That's Jamaica. The Caymans are south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, but as far as I can tell, they're not actually on this map. The words are there, but the islands themselves appear to have been swallowed whole by the leaves of a gigantic mutant palm tree.
Grand Cayman
Once we finally agreed that we were going to the Caymans, I turned the chore of making reservations over to Jim. He decided we should stay at the new Margaritaville Resort in George Town. When I say "new," I mean "so new that it was scheduled to open two weeks before we got there." And "so new that parts of the resort weren't even finished when we got there." Like the elevator that went up to our room on the third floor ...
Cayman Islands
... and four of the resort's six restaurants. I gave Jim a hard time about it every time we had to walk up the stairs or heard a jackhammer outside our door, but truthfully, we both knew what we getting into and I had (happily) agreed to it. Because of the construction, we were able to get a pretty great deal on our accommodations, which were on the island's swanky Seven Mile Beach, in a brand new hotel that was absolutely beautiful. (And frankly, we didn't consider having to climb three flights of stairs while on a fabulous Caribbean vacation to be much of a hardship -- although judging by Trip Advisor comments, some of our fellow travelers didn't share our point of view.)
Cayman Islands
This was the view from the balcony outside our room. The best part about staying in a resort that was not 100 percent complete was that it was only about 30 percent occupied while we there, so there were always empty beach chairs and unused umbrellas and we never had to wait in line for anything.
Grand Cayman
This was the grownups pool. The little straw-roofed hut in the background is the bar, which, yes, you could swim up to. (We're willing to put up with jackhammers and no elevators when we're on vacation, but a swim-up bar is non-negotiable.)
Margaritaville Resort
Behind the two pools there was a row of flowering bushes. And behind the bushes was the beach.
Grand Cayman
This was the bar in the lobby (photographed at approximately 10 a.m. -- it got considerably busier as the day went on).
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
And this was the resort's 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill out by the grownups pool area. Between the two bars, there were bands playing every night of our stay.
Cayman Islands
I decided on Day 1 of vacation that I was going to drink my way through the resort's margarita menu...
Margaritaville Beach Resort Cayman Islands
... which turned out to be much less of a challenge than I had anticipated.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
This was my favorite: the Wildberry Tropical Fruit Margarita, frozen. Mmmm. The perfect beach drink. 
Cayman Islands
Anyhoo, by the end of Day 2, I had not only reached my goal, but I had a new BFF: our Canadian bartender, who may or may not have been named Brian but who totally took my side in the Cuba vs. Bahamas argument. Thank you, Brian (or whatever your name was). I promise to think of you next year when I am smoking cigars in Havana. 
Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman
All of the beaches on Grand Cayman are public up to the high-water mark, including the stretches in front of the resorts, so you can go for a nice long walk along the shoreline. Here's a heart-shaped piece of coral I found one day when I was out wandering.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach (which is actually only 5 1/2 miles long) is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Margaritaville Resort Grand Cayman
It was so pretty in the evening. The lights would come on on the palm trees as it started getting dark.
Seven Mile Beach
And the sunsets were just spectacular.
Seven Mile Beach
All of these photos were taken with my iPhone. I was kind of surprised how well they turned out. 
Seven Mile Beach
Sigh...

Anyhoo, that's it for Part 1 of The Cestkowskis' Caribbean Vacation 2017 Edition, but I have a lot more left to share. So tune in tomorrow (or whenever I get around to writing again) for Part 2, in which Jim and I venture off campus and actually see something beyond bars and beaches.

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