Snorkeling with Captain Marvins

We usually like to experience the local culture of a new place by venturing off the beaten track, eating where the locals eat, and doing what the locals do.  We generally try to avoid the tourist traps, however, this time we decided to join the crowds of sun-seeking vacationers and go on a snorkeling tour, which turned out to be a fantastic idea. Captain Marvins was highly recommended to us as the best way to see Stingray City on Grand Cayman. Wanting to maximize our snorkeling time, we booked the three stop snorkeling tour which includes two different reefs. After finally finding the right check-in location (I once again didn’t read the fine print and location details correctly), we were off to make friends with the local stingrays and friendly fish.

 

After a beautiful boat ride through the bay and out to the sandbars and reefs of North Sound, we first stopped at Stingray City where we got to feed, pet, and kiss these not-actually-so-scary rays.

The water at Stingray City is quite shallow, making it easy to walk around and interact with the stingrays.

We were given a quick introduction before being left to roam around the water and take pictures. Anticipating the next snorkeling trip, Kyle got me a waterproof cell phone dry bag so that I could pretend to be an underwater paparazzi using my phone. A bit nervous at first, I used my brand new phone under water and was amazed at how well it worked and that it actually kept my phone completely dry. (I can fully recommend it, check it out here. It's even in turquoise!) Needless to say, we both went a bit crazy taking a gazillion pictures, most of which ended up being blurry. Lucky for you, some of them turned out okay.

It turns out the stingrays are much friendlier than expected (I’m sure the fact that we fed them would explain that) and we even got to hold and pet them.

We then stopped at the Barrier Reef and the Coral Gardens to explore the Grand Cayman underwater world. We had only been on one snorkeling trip before this and I could not wait to get my fins *ahem* feet under water again. Saying it was breathtaking seems like the understatement of the century.

The water around the Cayman Islands is incredibly clear, providing some of the best diving and snorkeling conditions in the world.

We meandered around the reef for about an hour and spotted two conchs, a variety of colourful fish, and an eel which was quite camera-shy (one could also say I’m not the best diver and couldn’t hold my breath long enough to get a good picture).

Hungry and slightly sun-burned, we headed back to the island to find yet another local place to eat and on our way stumbled across this beautiful ’57 Chevy, reminding us that we really do need one our next trips to be Cuba!

I was hoping for a dinner right on the beach with great seafood and amazing views. We found just the right place: Alfresco. The restaurant is right on the beach and offered all things Caribbean, including a sunset on the beach - perfect for a romantic dinner.

I cannot resist a good seafood pizza, and this was one of the best I have ever had. Kyle enjoyed a Cayman style lobster dish. Yumm!

 

Cayman Islands sure spoilt us. We can't wait to plan the next trip to go back.


 

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Cayman Islands

Kyle and I decided a while back that the best presents aren’t things (even though I never have an issue with expanding my fast growing purse, shoes, clothes, you name it, collection) but experiences, which to Kyle means trips. So for my birthday this year, Kyle decided to book a surprise weekend getaway. This was his second year in a row trying to plan a surprise birthday trip after the last one was spoiled by a overly talkative friend of ours. Even though this time Kyle didn’t tell anyone where we were going, the surprise was foiled when Southwest Airlines decided to send me an email to ensure I was prepared for my trip!

Knowing where we were headed, packing got a lot easier and I was of course super excited that we would finally head to a beach destination where I could relax and do nothing for a full weekend. People who know us (more so Kyle than me) or have traveled with us, know that our itineraries are always jam packed as we try to maximize our time as much as we can. Little did I know that we were also there to catch up with some of Kyle's friends from Vancouver, M&M.

Our flight from Chicago Midway via Ft. Lauderdale to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, provided some amazing views of the Caribbean islands.

Upon a slightly stormy arrival in Georgetown, we were greeted with live music, a very short immigration line, and so much humidity that my hair decided to go wild. (Of course Kyle didn’t notice a difference.)

Once we arrived, we decided to get right down to business, aka scouting out the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa grounds, which is where our friend works. The resort is right on Seven Mile Beach and despite the stormy skies, didn't cease to impress.

 

Who wouldn't want to watch the storms go by in these comfy chairs?

After the storm cleared up, we couldn’t wait any longer, threw on our latest beach collection, grabbed a drink or two or three, and headed back to Seven Mile Beach where we watched the sunset, chatted with friends, and relaxed (*ahem* in my case splashing around).

The water was so warm we stayed here almost all night.

Feeling the effect of the evening sun (and for some the drinks), we left the beach to scout out a place for dinner. Our friends had suggested a few local places, including Al La Kebab, which, for those who know my love of Kebab, was the obvious choice. I enjoyed a Peanut Satay Chicken Schwarma (I also have a love for everything peanut) and Kyle decided to have something with a local flare with a Jerk Mayo Chicken Schwarma. Unfortunately, *someone* was too busy trying not to rub peanut sauce all over her dress (and of course failing miserably) to take a picture of the food or the cute Al La Kebab stand. You just have to trust me when I say it was amazing!

We were officially hooked on island life.


 

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