Grand Cayman 2023
Day 3: Stingrays, blow holes, beaches and exploring the parks
Another beautiful day in the Cayman Islands and I'm up a raring to go at 5:45am! My internal clock just won't let me sleep in...even on vacation. It knows no better at this point but I'm ok with it because I won't have to readjust my schedule once I return home.
Last night was uneventful because we decided to leave the bathroom light on and shut the door. I'm happy to report I didn't get lost last night and neither did the hubby.
Sunrise was coming quickly so I got dressed, grabbed a warm nasty all carbon tasting pop and headed out to the dock to watch it show it's glorious scorching hot face. It was already warm out so I knew it was going to be hot out today. But, I'm ok with that since I live in the water most vacations anyhow.
Looking over to the left of me toward Rum Point there was some beautiful puffy orange clouds. It was so pretty and so mind boggling to see them all lit up when the sun hadn't even come over the horizon yet.
As I sat on the dock, 6:04am arrived and so did this beautiful sunrise. I watched until it finished its show and disappeared behind some clouds.
I headed back down the dock and noticed along the beach was our pool bird checking out what the shore had washed up from the previous night.
I also decided he might be onto something and decided to walk the beach area in front of our condo too. I ended up finding a nice sea urchin shell and proudly walked back to our place to present my findings to the hubby who was now up sitting on the patio with his coffee cup loaded with caffeine.
I brought out all of my "research" papers to put together a plan for the day that would excite anyone and if it didn't, then you better at least put on that smiley face and act like it did. It was time to pack our beach bags and stuff it with all the goodies needed for the day: 2 camera's, GoPro, 15+ batteries, GoPro stick and enclosure case, beach towels, snorkeling mask and fins, snacks and also a cooler with pop. But wait, where's the ice? There was no ice in the freezer ice maker now. Also, the bottle of water I put in there wasn't frozen either. Wait-a-minute-now! What's going on? Maybe this is why my pop was warm this morning as well. The refrigerator didn't seem to have things as cold as it should either. I guess we would have to forgo the cooler this time around and contact the rental company about it.
Sakari was up at 8am and I was a little shocked to see her arrive downstairs, dressed and ready to go. I guess it was time to make some breakfast. I whipped up some cheesy $9 scrambled eggs and some bacon. Now the bacon was something new for us. It was mentioned on the GC boards that people bring the packaged "pre-cooked" bacon that doesn't have to go in the fridge in their luggage. I decided to give it a shot and I'm really glad I did. It was yummy!
After breakfast we decided to watch a movie on Netflix until it was time to leave. Wait, why are we sitting around watching a movie while on vacation instead of out there in the ocean you may ask? I know, it's not like me at all because I have to have something planned every minute of the day.
Well, it was because we had an actual EXCURSION planned. Woo hoo!
It was now 9:30 and time for us to head out to our meeting place by 10:15am so off I went. Time to "wash" the windshield. Oopsy.
It was a short drive over past Rum Point to the Kaibo Kai area and boat dock. When we pulled up another car with the lettering "White Sand Watersports" pulled up next to us. This was our tour guide. He told us to come out on the dock around 10:15am and he would start signing people in...key word "people". Now just a little back history... when we booked our condo, on the listing it said that we would get a $100 discount with any tours booked with White Sand. So...today we are going on the STINGRAY CITY excursion!!! We hadn't done this for over 10 years (at this time I thought it was around 12 years). But Sakari was very young and I still remember that day so well. It was her first experience with a stingray and I caught the last bit of it on video and her little excited laugh after touching a stingray melted my heart.
She was 4 and 5 years old that trip and I knew she probably really didn't remember it, so I thought since we were staying here, we might as well experience it again.
When I contacted White Sand, they had said that they needed at least 5 people to go out on the trip. They said if they didn't get anyone else, if I was willing to pay for 5 people they would take us. Well, the cost of the excursion was $69/pp...yes Sakari is a whole person now and no longer considered a munchkin. So our total price for the 3 of us would be $207 - $100 discount = $107! Not bad right? If we had to pay for 5 people in order to do the tour then that would only cost us $245 total (with the discount) and that's only an extra $38 for what would now be a private tour. How great would that be???
This Kaibo Kai area/beach was absolutely beautiful. I had thought about staying on this end and now I see why so many like this place.
When we walked up to check in, we noticed there were already 4 people on the boat. I guess we weren't getting our private tour, but that was ok and we were looking forward to it.
It was a short ride out to Stingray City and me and the lady from the other group sat around chatting. Her and her husband come to GC often and they have been bringing their granddaughter with them since she was younger. Well, her granddaughter just graduated college and she thought it would be nice to bring her one last time (because she stated that she's getting to that age where she probably wouldn't want to be traveling with grampy and grammy much longer) and she brought her friend along too. I wish I had a grammy and grampy that did this for me growing up. How nice! She said her granddaughter had did her open water certification here in Grand Cayman when she was a teen and they were going diving while here.
It wasn't long before we could see other boats out in the distance. I knew that had to be the Stingray sandbar. Sandbar's are so cool. Just a place in the middle of the ocean that has gathered sand that is not deep and you can stand there in the water. So neat.
There were already boats and a few jet skis there but it was not crowded at all. I will also mention that today was a cruise ship day as well. So, I believe we probably got there before they did and this kept the amount of people down during this visit.
After finding our spot away from everyone, you could see all the friendly hungry stingrays headed our way.
We geared up and jumped right in. Our tour guide handed us squid to feed them and they came right up to you looking for a handout. They had a lot of friends with them too (fish) that would try to snatch the food from your hands before the rays could. The stingrays would just circle you waiting for the opportunity to grab a tasty treat when offered.
That smile said it all. Sakari was loving it. I even got some squeals and a lot of giggling out of her again (caught in the video I made).
Our guide let us hold them and kiss them for 7 years of good luck. I knew I had to do it since it had been over 7 years since I had kissed a stingray and my luck had ran out. Hmmm, a little over 3 years ago is when I had my foot accident. That's about the time my stingray luck would have ran out. Ok, I'm kissing this salty rubbery creature again for sure.
We had a great time just hanging out and sticking our heads in the water to watch the rays and fish.
There were schools of Crevalle Jack's hanging out and swimming with the rays. They were everywhere.
Our guide allowed us to hang out there as long as we wanted. I swam back to the boat, because walking was just taking too long, to change out my battery to the GoPro so that I could attempt to get some over/under pictures.
Sorry in advance but I had it on the wrong setting and it focused on the below water picture and they ended up blurry. I would not discover this for the rest of the day.
As we hung out in the water with the guide, the other family went back to the boat and sat. We stood around talking to the guide about life on the island, how long he had been there, what brought him there (his son moved there first), how business/jobs were there, how covid affected them and the business. We had looked up a lot of information about GC while we were waiting to leave for this tour: housing/rental prices, jobs and what they paid and estimates on how much it cost to live there. It was VERY expensive and they don't pay much for jobs and the estimates we seen online gave a breakdown of how many people in the family versus cost WITHOUT rent and it was something like $4800 for a family of 3 to live there MONTHLY and have to pay rent on top of that. It was just mind blowing and we have now crossed off ever wanting to move there. (Not that we would probably ever move to an exotic island in the Caribbean in my lifetime, but every vacation we always look up the possibility and dream while we're there...don't everyone?)
He told us how he moved into a very cheap 2 bedroom place for $950 when he first came and he still lives there and the landlord has never increased his rent in all these years. His wife does not buy anything from the grocery store unless it's on sale. He said they were very thrifty in all of their purchases to make ends meet.
Here's a short 3 1/2 minute video of our stingray excursion.
After awhile, we decided to head back to the boat and it was time to go over to the reef and snorkel. The reef was right past stingray city and only took about 2 minutes to get to it.
We were now about to snorkel the North Sound Barrier Reef. Now I normally don't care for boat snorkeling because I can't get close to the fish for pictures, but the reef was so pretty and a lot of it was really close to the water surface once we swam over to it.
I decided that I would use a life jacket. I didn't want to take any chances of getting tired with my foot and honestly I have been getting a lot of toe and foot spasms/cramps lately and today did not fail me on that because I did end up with some cramps.
Sakari and I immediately jumped in but the hubby decided to stay back on the boat this time.
We swam over to the reef and it was beautiful! Sakari took over the GoPro and I had the camera. I can always count on her to get close up's of everything down there because she LOVES to dive down and can hold her breath forever.
There was so much to see under there and we noticed there were A LOT, and I mean A LOT, of Niger Trigger Fish. I absolutely love these fish and the way their upper and lower fins flutter when they swim. They are so unique and pretty. I've always been excited whenever I run across one (usually when diving) but to see so many of them at the same time was just exhilarating.