travel diary: grand cayman (part II)

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As you may have seen in this post, I shared a look at what I did on our recent trip to Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Today I’m sharing part two of my travel diary and it’s all about where to stay and what to eat + drink. Despite being in a bathing suit each day, it didn’t stop us from devouring all of the island’s fresh seafood and traditional rum.

And I must preface these with the note that the service we received while there was so top notch. On the islands, you will hear about “Cayman Kind” and after five days spent there, we couldn’t stop talking about how nice everyone was. From the bellman taking photos for us (with multiple backgrounds, no less!) to the waiters recommending favorite local haunts – it felt like everyone went above and beyond to make us fell at home.

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Which brings me to where to stay on island. We spent our trip at The Grand Cayman Marriott Resort on the famous Seven Mile Beach and couldn’t have had a better experience. Being able to wake up each morning and walk to the beach while enjoying a fresh juice and seeing the water so calm and the beach so quiet…it was a more serene experience than I’d had in in quite some time.

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What makes this resort unique I thought was all of the amenities they offer. Not only do you get free access to paddle boards and snorkeling equipment as part of your daily resort fee, they had so much programming. Custom made mojitos at happy hour, a beach bonfire offering s’mores, fresh slices of watermelon, a sunburn relief station (thank god for it!) and great activities if you have kids in tow (think balloon animals and hair braiding.)

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The hotel has just gone under a major renovation and we loved our room’s balcony, comfy beds and beautiful surroundings. Not to mention that the service at this Marriott was impeccable. I swear it was like the beach attendants could predict our every desire. But my favorite part about this property? The fact that you don’t even have to move from your beach chair to take in some of the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see. Each night, we’d be sure to be on the beach and get to watch the sky light up in the most gorgeous colors. It was in these moments that I kept thinking to myself about how lucky I have truly been in life and felt very grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by this blog.

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But without further or due, here’s what we ate + drank on island…

The Sunshine Grill: Five words…The Best Fish Tacos EVER. Our boat captain from our stay had recommended this restaurant to us and the meal was so memorable. It’s super casual (our outfits were not…you’re better off in a sundress and sandals), is home to their famous “painkiller” cocktails that are topped off with fresh nutmeg and the menu is full of solid choices that are fresh and light. They’ll also bring you a variety of Caribbean hot sauces to top off your meal which is always a win/win in my book (I love hot sauce and we became addicted to a Jamaican sauce made with Scotch Bonnet peppers #todiefor.)

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Luca Restaurant at The Caribbean Club: The setting for Luca is striking as soon as you walk in. Beautiful wood interiors and a sprawling back deck that overlooks their pool, you nestle in for handcrafted cocktails and a menu with so many delicious sounding options that it is hard for you to choose. We ended up dining on fresh local red snapper with lemon risotto, pasta with clams, jumbo shrimp with kale and lobster pasta. All of it was so good and perfectly portioned.

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Rum Point Wreck Bar & Grill: If you’re experiencing Stingray City, take your boat over to Rum Point for lunch post-ray holding. You can grab a colorful picnic table at and enjoy freshly blended drinks (they are famous for their Mud Slide) and sandwiches featuring the island’s abundance of seafood. We had delicious jerk mahi sandwiches and loved the setting right on the water under strung lanterns. (A quick note about this place: don’t come if you’re in a hurry or have somewhere to be as the service is most definitely on island time.)

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Anchor & Den and Vista Bar: We loved our stay at The Marriott so much and one of the highlights was eating breakfast their each morning. Their newly renovated lobby and restaurant, Anchor & Den offered fresh pressed juices, baked goods, made to order crepes and a sit down experience with everything from conch sausage omelets to delicious breakfast quesadillas and oatmeal full of toppings. Outside on the beach, we ate fresh mahi mahi wraps, fish tacos and drank pina coladas alongside a great local beer, CayBrew. Oh and did I mention the gelato bar they had? I took some coconut + chocolate down to the beach at sunset one night and it was heaven.

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Michael’s Genuine: Michael’s Genuine is actually a favorite restaurant of mine from Miami so I was thrilled to try his Grand Cayman outpost. Nestled into a relatively new shopping center, Camana Bay, this restaurant is heavy on seafood but with surprising pairings. The tuna tartar came with plantain chips, the local tiger fish was served over a bed of farro with vegetables (it was so good) and we ate something called breadfruit which was so strange but so addictive.

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West Indies Wine Company: Hands down the coolest wine store I’ve ever been to (and this is coming from a girl who spent eight years living in Northern California.) The shop features an abundance of wine with dozens available “on tap” to try. Their machines allow you to select a wine you’d like to sip on, insert a pre-paid card and then select 3, 6 or 9 ounces and the machine will automatically disperse that amount into your glass. It was amazing and had me wishing I lived near the West Indies Wine Company. I was able to indulge in one of my favorite Napa wines from CADE thousands of miles away and in a beautifully designed shop.

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A huge thank you to The Department of Tourism for The Cayman Islands for helping to arrange such a fantastic trip. A getaway I won’t soon forget.

[All photos by me]

travel diary: grand cayman (part I)

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some photos I shared of my incredible trip down to Grand Cayman for a girls getaway. The safest island in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman offers so much to do and our 5 day / 4 night excursion proved just the thing I needed to escape New York’s never ending winter and hit the internal “refresh” button.

So today I’m sharing my first travel diary from the trip and can’t wait to show you all we did!  (P.S if you’re interested in what I packed/wore, see HERE.) We fit so much in and had such an amazing experience getting to know Grand Cayman and the overall history of the Cayman Islands. A quick trip (the flight is under 4 hours from New York City! I flew Delta on the way down and Cayman Airways on the way back and could barely believe what an easy flight it is. It’s less time than getting back to California!)

I think it is important to note also that I did not edit my photos prior to sharing them so the colors, visuals, scenes you’re seeing are 100% authentic and truly representative of the views you take in from this gorgeous place…

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IMG_6096Cayman Food Tours:  This food tour took us away from the beach but it was so worthwhile. Marzeta shepherds an impeccable walking tour around Grand Cayman’s main town, George Town weaving in the island’s history and architectural gems alongside stops that feature amazing tastings. We made several stops to take in everything from local snapper in a delicious traditional sauce and iced tea made on the island to the famous hot pepper jelly (so spicy and so good!) to a traditional West Indies Roti.

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Sunset Cruise on the Jolly Roger: When I first saw the Jolly Roger I didn’t know if it was going to be quite my speed (it is boat designed to look like an old time pirate ship), but the sunset sail we took on it was a trip highlight. Come aboard and enjoy an open well bar (including island punch) and a gorgeously long cruise along the famed Seven Mile Beach.

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IMG_0357Stingray City: I kissed a stingray and I liked it! No, seriously – I held and gave a string ray a quick wet one to hopefully bring me seven years of good luck at Grand Cayman’s famous Stingray City. Cayman Luxury Charters was kind enough to bring us out on their beautiful boat, The Cayman Evasion and we had the most glorious day. Our captain, Paul, could not have been more knowledgeable, patient or kind and we had the best time learning from him about the island and all of the creatures its waters hold. We soaked up the sun, felt the water on our faces, snorkeled, saw starfish up close and personal in Starfish Cove and Paul made us feel like we were seeing the island and everything its waters hold through the eyes of a local. Our experience on The Cayman Evasion with Paul was easily a major highlight of  our trip and it was an experience I would recommend to anyone visiting.

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Snorkeling: The Cayman Islands’ reefs are some of the best in the world for snorkeling and diving. As part of our chartered boat experience, we snorkeled in the unbelievably clear water and saw stingray and so, so many fish. Our captain Paul had a handy guide on the boat that allowed us to identify the various species and because the water is so clear surrounding the island, we got up close and personal with the fish which was spectacular. I have previously had major anxiety when snorkeling but due to the water being so calm in Grand Cayman, I was actually able to breathe through it and get myself more calm. So many beautiful fish come right up to you (I had a stare down with one at one point!) and I think I could have stayed in that water with its unbelievably warm temperatures for hours.

La Mer Spa: Housed at The Marriott Grand Cayman, I indulged in the most relaxing massage I have had in recent memory. It was centered around aromatherapy and I think I became so relaxed I fell asleep at some point. Note to self: go before getting any sun as my back was a bit sun-burnt which made things less divine than they could have been but my therapist did put redness reducer on and healing oils which certainly helped. As I am typing this I realized that I haven’t had upper back pain from stress ever since this massage – a miracle, if you ask me.

Yoga Class: I generally don’t take time for fitness while on vacation but given my half marathon training, my schedule dictated the perfect excuse to chill out and calm down. Just a short walk from the Marriott on Seven Mile Beach where we stayed (more on that in next week’s travel diary) is a gorgeous yoga studio, Bliss Yoga Living. We took a flow class with Danielle and it was so relaxing that my roommate Alyson actually managed to fall asleep during savasana (HA!) Their space is beautiful and I loved unplugging, getting out of the sun for a bit and managing to get my required stretch + strengthen time in.

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IMG_0338Cayman Helicopter Tours: Oh my gosh was my first helicopter ride an exhilarating experience! If you’ve never done a helicopter tour, I can’t imagine a better place to do it than the Caribbean. To see the colors of the water from above is truly breathtaking. Our pilot Jerome who began doing tours many years ago, took us up and had us soaring over the cruise ships, Stingray City, the various reefs and the island itself and I felt like my face was in a permanent smile for the entirety of the trip. With my feet on the ground, Grand Cayman was amazing…from above it was even more spectacular (who knew that was possible!)

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Nightly Sunsets: The sunsets in Grand Cayman are not to be missed. They are some of the most magical ones I’ve been privileged enough to take in and there’s no better place to take the scene in than the beautiful white sand Seven Mile Beach. Settling up on a beach chair with a glass of wine and my camera was my nightly routine and the most peace I’ve felt in quite some time.

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Other places not to miss include the Cayman Spirits (the tour of their distillery is the #2 activity on the island after Stringray City according to Tripadvisor and home to the most delicious gin and coconut rum I’ve ever tasted) and the island’s National Gallery houses some incredible pieces from local artists.

Next week I’ll be sharing more of where we stayed + what we ate and drank so be sure to check back for my second post in my travel diary series for this trip!

xx,

Meghan

A huge thank you to The Department of Tourism of The Cayman Islands for helping to arrange such a fantastic trip…a getaway I won’t soon forget. Special thanks to Blacklane Limousine for providing my reliable, clean + awesome car service to and from the airport.

[All photos taken by me] 

a caribbean packing list

 

As mentioned previously, today I’m headed on a getaway to warmer weather. Goodbye, freezing New York! Goodbye, snow! I am headed towards Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands and I couldn’t be more excited. After several very stressful months, I’m looking forward to donning a swimsuit, sandals and sunscreen and getting to know this island, its culture, locals and food. (It’s been nearly two years since I’ve been on a beach that wasn’t the Hamptons or Jersey Shore!)

As any sane person does, I used this getaway as the perfect excuse to kickstart my spring shopping. I’ve rounded up several items that I purchased to pack in my suitcase and a few other items that I have my eye on for later this season as well.

I’m en route as you read this so be sure to follow along on my Instagram and on Tuesday, March 24th I’ll be taking over the Cayman Island’s Instagram handle and sharing exclusive photos there – be sure to follow!

Click on the + signs in the above image to be directed to each item or click below!

Bathing Suit // Aquazzura Heels (just bought them in black) // J.Crew Panama Hat

Blue + Black Sunglasses // Passport Holder (got mine monogrammed with MMD!) // Ear Cuff (so chic) // Yosi Samra Ankle Strap Sandals (these are my absolute favorites from last summer – they are so comfortable even when walking around all day!)

Tassel Sandals // Boyfriend Shorts // Leopard Flat Clutch //

Truffle Clarity Pouch // Eyelet Shorts (I got them in white and they are on sale!)

Neon Jelly Sandals // Gold + Orange Bracelet (perfect for stacking) // Samantha Wills Bardot Turquoise Ring (cannot WAIT to wear this!) // Soludo Wrap Sandals (also love the wedge version in white)

And if you’re looking for a cover up that doubles as an easy, breezy dress, I’ve had this one for several years now in a pink shade and love how it feels like pjs. I also bought this swimsuit and love the way the top fits – it is so flattering on!