I promise I'll stop talking about this trip and posting pictures from this trip...after this.
Grand Cayman, you were wonderful. I honestly had NO expectations going into this trip, having just moved apartments and been running around like a crazy person for weeks trying to find a place and pack and move and everything. It snuck up on me, and I was throwing swimsuits and mini bottles of sunscreen into my suitcase the night before we left, hoping I didn't forget anything in all the chaos.
I've never been much for the beach, but this one changed my ways. The beautiful white sand, the totally clear, aqua water, the ability to see all the way down to the ocean floor... it was just the best. We flew down on a Thursday and flew out on Tuesday, and our timing couldn't have been better in terms of weather and avoiding cruise ships. It felt like the perfect amount of time-- our sunburns couldn't have handled much more heat than that!
We explored Georgetown on our first full day in Cayman after a thunderstorm hit the beach, and it was perfectly timed with a weekend of no docked cruise ships and therefore no crowds! We stopped in lots of little tourist shops, and of course I bought a shirt with a shark on it and posed with the shark statue. No surprises there. We had drinks and dinner at Margaritaville-- get the "5 O'Clock Somewhere" drink if you ever stop by one!
SEE THAT WATER?! So good. Our Westin resort was renovating the pool (slight bummer) so we got free buffet breakfasts every morning (an incredible spread, we didn't even need lunch!) and free water activities (no bummer here at ALL). The rafts, the snorkel gear, the paddle-boarding, all FO FREE. Such a dream. Those rafts were the best-- we spent hours just lounging out in the water, frying our skin without realizing it! Oops.
Also, paddle-boarding. SO MUCH FUN. I thought I would be falling all over the place, but I didn't even fall once. Apparently a post-four knee surgery knee is capable of better balance than I thought, or maybe yoga is paying off? So much fun.
Okay. Stingrays. Let me tell you how OBSESSED I was with them. We took an excursion on a catamaran out to Stingray City and I was the first one off the boat! I couldn't wait to touch them. Our captain said they feel like sandpaper on top and a wet portobello mushroom underneath, and that was absolutely spot on. You just held your arms out flat and wide (think like if somebody was about to load you up with pizza boxes or something) and they slide right up and snuggle you. The coolest. I couldn't get enough! Also, supposedly kissing them is 7 years of good luck (or so they tell tourists) so I'm set for 7 years.
Best adventure ever. Plus, drinks and lunch at Rum Point (home of the Mudslide! Boo for no vegan Mudslides, though.) was a fun end to a great day of exploring the island.
ide note on eating gluten-free and vegan in Grand Cayman... Be prepared to eat lots of salads and french fries. No menu I saw during my trip mentioned anything gluten-free or vegetarian, and jerk chicken/pork/fish is the most popular style of food. I did eat seafood a few times, knowing it was locally and sustainably caught, and I was just plain HUNGRY. Overall, I was glad for buffet breakfasts (where I did eat eggs so I could have omelettes with tons of veggies) with lots of fruit, home fries, cereals, and soy milk, and REALLY glad I took lots of snacks with me (Lara bars, protein bars, Kind bars, nuts, dried fruit, and veggie chips!) to help sustain me. It wasn't impossible to eat, but there also weren't tons of great options at all.
Getting to hang out with these three lovely ladies all week was such a blast. We weren't all super close before this trip, but we now have shared so many amazing memories together that we'll never forget! We talked a LOT but never got sick of each other, laughed and cried and vented and drank and tanned together, and all came back closer than we left.
It was a trip of so many firsts for me: really swimming in the ocean, paddle boarding, snorkeling, seeing a sea turtle in the ocean, skinny-dipping, riding on a catamaran, cuddling and kissing stingrays, visiting the Caribbean, drinking Cayman Lemonades (delicious), reading books on a Kindle (I've fallen in love and I didn't think it was possible)... memorable in so many ways.
If you're ever in Grand Cayman, I can't recommend the Stingray City trip enough, especially when it also includes a visit to Rum Point. Also, try to time your trip right with resort renovations so you get tons of free stuff. ;)
And now, I snap back to reality...