What To Wear in the Cayman Islands

What To Wear in the Cayman Islands

When it comes to style, the Caribbean is an eclectic blend of luxury, casual beach vibes, and local island flavor. With all these seemingly contradictory tastes, it can be hard to know what to wear in the Cayman Islands. By no means am I well-versed in the world of fashion. However, I have identified eleven island girl essentials that have become staples in my Cayman wardrobe. I believe these could be welcome additions to your Caribbean closet as well. Whether you are preparing for a move, planning a visit, or are already living in this tropical paradise, I hope this essential list infuses your life and your attire with practical yet stylish island vibes.

# 1 Linen Pants

Effortlessly elegant, linen pants are a Caribbean wardrobe essential. I found the below featured pair at the Humane Society Thrift Shop (a recurring theme when it comes to my island attire). They are light, comfortable, and seem to pair with everything. Whether you’re chilling on the beach or adventuring around the island, these linen basics are a must have when you’re planning what to wear in the Cayman Islands!


# 2 Shades

Here in the Caribbean, we would be nothing without our sunglasses. Their practicality combined with serious style factor make them an invaluable accessory for island life. It is no secret that they can also be a great prop for a shameless brunch flex as well as the standard selfie. My featured shades were purchased in Camana Bay at De Sunglass Man.


# 3 Collective Swim Suits

When I was living in the Midwest, I literally purchased ONE swimsuit a year to wear throughout the few fleeting summer months. Here in Cayman, it is a very different story. There seem to exist infinite opportunities to parade around in swimwear. Even my frugal self has numerous rotations of one pieces, tops, and bottoms. My go-to bikini is Collective Swim’s black Kittiwake (named after the Grand Cayman shipwreck). Designed in and inspired by the Cayman Islands, I would recommend Collective Swim to any local or visitor looking for something uniquely Cayman and readily available on island.


# 4 Wide Brim Beach Hats

We love beach hats for the same reasons we love sunglasses — they are practical and timelessly chic. Something you probably did not know is that in a pinch, they make great shopping baskets! Warning: the cashiers may laugh at you but just tell them that you were inspired by Island Diaries. They’ll think it’s a movement…and that’s what it is 😉


# 5 Boyfriend / Button-Down Shirts

Prior to moving to Cayman, I would have never imagined that button downs and oversized boyfriend shirts would become such key players in my wardrobe. Coming from MinneSNOWta, I was dreaming of minimal-coverage island attire. I wanted the kind of tan I could never achieve in the Midwest. Months after moving, I find myself covering my arms every chance I get! Partly in an effort to block the sun but also because my body has acclimatized, no longer sweating profusely the minute I leave the AC. Boyfriend shirts and button ups are great for sun protection and provide a laid-back, beachy feel for any occasion. The Humane Society Thrift Store has quite the abundance of these styles. That is where I found the below featured tops!


# 6 Colorful, Statement Jewelry

The Caribbean invites a certain boldness in color and style than just wouldn’t make sense in other parts of the world. Since living in Cayman, I have unearthed the most unique, fun earrings (from the thrift store) that have become conversation pieces at every dinner or event I wear them to. Don’t go searching for this kind of jewelry though…it is best to let it find YOU.


# 7 The Iconic Kirk Grocery Bag

What costs $1 and serves as the perfect beach companion? Why, a reusable Kirk Market bag of course! While not the most luxurious of accessories, it gets the job done and adds local flavor to your island wardrobe.


# 8 Ultra-Versatile Denim Skirts

Leave it to the American to call the denim skirt an “island essential.” Say what you want, it truly goes with everything and is great to throw on over swimsuit bottoms. And yes indeed, both the below featured skirts are from the Humane Society Thrift Store.


# 9 The Romper

Back home I swear I considered buying a romper once every couple of months and they never made it past the dressing room. Living in the Caribbean, rompers have a certain je ne sais quoi that just works for the island lifestyle. Light and airy, this style offers a beachy, boho vibe that can be dressed up for a brunch or left casual for a beach day. Check out more of my thrift store finds below!


# 10 Head Scarf / Bandana

Beach-waves are a highly-coveted hairstyle that are quite achievable when living by the ocean. As lovely as this style is, it can lead to some pretty unruly hair. Not to worry, I have the perfect fix for this. Head scarves and bandanas are a simple and chic way to keep your hair out of your face and appear effortlessly beautiful wherever your island adventures may take you!


# 11 Comfy Slip-Ons


If my students didn’t ask me to tie their shoes on a daily basis, I may have forgotten how to do it by now. That is how infrequently I lace up because practically all of my shoes here are slip-ons. Flip-flops are an obvious essential if you are beaching on the regular; however, I would also recommend investing in comfortable sandals that can come on and off at a moments notice. This style is perfect for impromptu beach walks, beach restaurants, boat parties, and every occasion in between. Featured below are Viscata Menorcan sandals and an island-found pair from No. 1 Shoe Shop. Ideal shoes to wear in in the Cayman Islands!

Fun, beachy, and practical — those are the three words that describe my island wardrobe and I don’t see myself deviating far from this style anytime soon. The 11 island essentials I described today add comfort and lightness to the Caribbean lifestyle. Next time you are wondering what to wear in the Cayman Islands, take a page from Island Diaries and be sure to consult your local second hand stores! Happy shopping!

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The Non-Alcoholic Guide to the Cayman Islands | 20 Alcohol-Free Things To Do in Cayman

The Non-Alcoholic Guide to the Cayman Islands | 20 Alcohol-Free Things To Do in Cayman

Grand Cayman offers a buzzing social scene filled with brunches, boat parties, happy hours, and everything in between. While an active social agenda is great for making friends and forming connections on the island, it is no secret that many of these activities center around alcohol. That is why I have devised a list of non-alcoholic activities that can be incorporated into your island plans to encourage healthy connections and sustainable living. Get ready — sober island life never sounded so good!

1. Dive

The single most tropical activity you could possibly partake in, scuba diving is an ultra-healthy and adventurous way to experience the island. Red Sail offers a Sunday morning special departing from the old Calico’s — CI $50 for two tanks, all the equipment, and even a group guide if desired. Diving is a great way to make friends and form new connections. Read about how to become scuba certified in one of my previous posts.

2. Snorkel

Logistically much simpler than diving is the equally healthy and adventurous activity of snorkeling. All you need is a mask, fins, a snorkel, and a buddy! I recommend Eden Rock for its beautiful coral formations and Spotts for turtles. In the summer, Cemetery Beach is another great spot to swim with wild turtles!

3. Latin Dance Classes

Fuego Latin Dance offers a variety of classes focusing on Salsa and Bachata. These classes are CI $20 per hour and cater to beginners as well as improvers. Although completely alcohol free, I must admit that Bryan and I had some wine beforehand to help us ease into our dance moves. This is a great way to meet new people because you switch partners each time a new step is added to the routine.

4. Coconut Club Vegan Brunch

We never thought we would see the words “vegan” and “brunch” side by side, but Coconut Club puts on an artful and inspiring 5 course presentation in which cocktails are replaced by freshly fermented kombucha. The event is CI $45 and is a lovely way to connect with new faces as meals are presented in a family-style setting and there is plenty of time to chat in between courses. Keep an eye on their events calendar or the Coconut Club Instagram to see when their next vegan brunch will take place!

5. Walk a Dog

The Cayman Islands Humane Society encourages locals to pick up a dog at the shelter for a quick walk or a day-long excursion as a way to provide them exercise and grant them a bit of freedom from their caged surroundings. The dogs love it, you love it, and your liver loves it! Win-win-win!

6. Beach Walks

Too obvious? I think not! Don’t be that islander who takes their paradise surroundings for granted. Beach walks are straight forward but offer wonderful versatility in your island plans. For example, instead of driving directly to Island Naturals, park at Governor’s Beach and walk to get your smoothie! It is so much more rewarding having to work for it a little bit 😉

7. Coffee Crawl

Like a pub crawl but you trade alcohol for caffeinated bliss! Explore Grand Cayman by visiting its many cafes and coffee shops. Read my Coffee Crawl post to get started planning your own!

8. Road Trip

Living in the Seven Mile Beach area, the lifestyle can start to feel quite busy (and expensive)! Shake up your weekend itinerary by planning a little road trip out to East End or North Side. There are many little stops to make along the way including restaurants, beaches, scenic photo ops, and much more! 

9. Vitamin Sea SUP Yoga

One of the first things I researched before moving to Cayman was paddleboard yoga by Vitamin Sea. Stalking their Instagram account was one of the only things that got me through the snowy Minnesota winter. While Vitamin Sea offers standard paddle board rental, I would highly recommend trying out the yoga class which is taught on the water at sunset…I mean, what more can you ask for? 

10. Rent a Bike or Scooter

There are public bike and scooter stations located around the island. Hop on a scooter just across the street from the Westin and ride it to Camana Bay. Your reward for making it all the way there without falling could be an ice cream from Haagen-Dazs or a gelato from Gelato & Co. 

11. Join a Run Club

Grand Cayman has a surprising number of run club opportunities catering to a wide range abilities. These clubs are free to join and are a great way to meet fellow runners who share your health goals. Two of my favorites are the Palm Height’s Monday Night Run Club and the Saturday Morning Camana Bay Run Club which departs from Jessie’s Juice at 7 am.

12. Thrift Shopping

Shopping second hand is not only an amazing way to save money and practice sustainability, it is also a surprisingly entertaining way to pass the time on a Saturday. You truly never know what treasures you will unearth at the thrift store! I recommend the Humane Society Thrift Store but you can also try out the Red Cross and Another Chance (at the Strand). Read my recent post to learn the best tips for finding amazing thrift deals.

13. Go “Hiking”

Anyone who lives in Cayman knows that hiking, by standard definition, is not really a thing. The Mastic Trail is the one minor exception. Located near Bodden Town, the trail is a 7.4 km round-trip journey where you will come face to face with some of Cayman’s most quintessential trees and wildlife including Cayman parrots! Wear good shoes, pack a NON-alcoholic beverage, and you are set for an afternoon of exercise and nature appreciation!

14. Rent a Jet Ski

Island vibes abound when zipping across the crystalline turquoise waters of Seven Mile Beach on a jet ski. If you are not yet “balling” and do not own a jet ski, you can rent one from Red Sail, departing from the beach at the Kimpton. The cost is roughly CI $50 per half hour. A bit expensive, but it’s a nice way to treat yourself and also makes for a great gift!

15. Kayak The Bioluminescent Bay

Paddle beneath the stars from Rum Point to Cayman’s only bioluminescent bay. Cayman Kayak’s offers a 2-hour guided tour for USD $59 that gives you a front-row seat to this magical underwater phenomenon. 

16. 3 Girls & A Kiln

Get in touch with your artistic side and stop in at 3 Girls and a Kiln in Camana Bay. They are an art collective specializing in island chic ceramic and handmade, upcycled goods. They offer a whole calendar of monthly crafting events as well as make & take wood painting classes — perfect for a girls day out, a date night, or a little self-discovery bliss! 

17. Read on the Beach

Another seemingly obvious island activity; however, many are not taking full advantage of this seaside R&R! Spend a luxurious afternoon selecting the perfect read at the Book Loft and then head to a quiet stretch of Seven Mile or a secluded corner of Smith’s Cove to indulge in some cheap, alcohol-free entertainment. 

18. Sister Island Adventure

It can be hard to escape drinking culture when it has you surrounded on all sides. Maybe a weekend get-away is exactly what you need to break out of your current social pattern and satisfy a bit of wanderlust. Whether it’s rock-climbing in Cayman Brac or biking around Little Cayman, it’s never a bad idea to shake up your routine! Check out my Cayman Brac itinerary for a little help planning your island-hopping adventure!

19. Art Appreciation

Experience the island through the eyes of local artists by scheduling a visit to their studios. Read my East End Girls Trip Itinerary to read about the two studios I visited: Charles Long and White Dog Art. Cayman also showcases artwork around the island in the forms of murals, paintings, and sculptures. Visit the National Gallery for a more concentrated collection of artwork.

20. Sound Healing

Saving the best for last, a Sound Healing session with Janine Martins is an absolute must if you’re seeking fresh experiences and pure inspiration. Janine will bring your body back into a state of harmony with her beautiful voice and Tibetan singing bowls. Not to mention, her public offering is held on the Palm Heights rooftop, a truly dreamy location. Keep an eye on the Palm Heights events calendar or Janine’s Instagram for upcoming sound healing dates!

There you are! 20 alcohol-free activities to begin incorporating into your island social calendar. Don’t forget that as much as we love them, there is much more to this island than just boat parties and brunches! If you haven’t tried any of the above activities, I challenge you to try at least one this weekend. I promise they will open your eyes and allow you to experience Cayman through a new, beautiful, (sober) perspective! Enjoy 🙂

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Preparing For Your First Ever Cayman Boat Party

Preparing For Your First Ever Cayman Boat Party

Attending a boat party in Grand Cayman is basically a right of passage for island newcomers. Within a couple weeks of moving to the island, you’ve probably been invited to a handful, each one sounding more exciting than the last. At first blush, a boat party may seem like an ultra-fun, and dreamily tropical adventure. Don’t get me wrong, they really do have the potential to be all of that and more! However, there are certain aspects of a boat party that one must prepare for in order to maximize fun and minimize calamity. Today I will share a basic outline of what to expect as well as my top pointers that will allow you to experience all of the good and none of the bad on your very first (or 100th) Cayman boat party. 


What to expect on a Cayman boat party

Cayman boat parties have become a pillar of the island’s social scene, most commonly taking place on Saturdays and Sundays. The boats vary in size depending on the organizer. For example, the annual Gaelic party is hosted on a double-decker boat suitable for hundreds of guests whereas a small, birthday party boat may hold space for around 20 guests or less. No matter the occasion, the boats’ tried and true itineraries don’t vary all too much — the destinations predominately include Stingray City, Starfish Point, and Kaibo. Boats typically come equipped with either a sound system or a DJ so your maritime merriment is well-accompanied with energizing soca beats. Boat departure is typically around 1 pm with arrival just after sunset. Many organizers will also suggest a spot for after-party drinks but, quite frankly, I’ve never had the stamina to make it to those!


Tips for a Cayman boat party

Choose the right people: The overall vibe of a party is even more crucial if it’s taking place on a boat…quite simply because there is no escaping! Once you’re on, you’re on for 5 hours or more. It is important to consider who will be in attendance and if you can survive an afternoon at sea with them. Come to think of it, this is actually a great concept for a reality dating show. 

Pace yourself: This is a piece of advice that even the most seasoned of Caribbean party-goers may fail to abide by. Salt-water and sun create certain conditions that warrant chugging down a cool beverage. When most of your liquid supply contains some level of alcohol, it can be very easy to overdo it on the booze. Not to mention, these parties are not well-known for food options. All drink and no nosh is a recipe for disaster. That being said, know your limits and drink less than you would on land. Of course, this is easier said than done. 

Pack smart – water, snacks, sunscreen: Following up from number 2, part of staying in control on the boat involves nourishing your body with snacks and water (no, Truly’s do not count). Not only can you feed yourself, you can share with others! A surefire way to make life-long friends — offer up some chips and salsa and BOOM — besties for the resties. Also, we know you want to get a lovely island tan but 5 hours without sunscreen and someone is sure to confuse you for a lobster. Do yourself a favor and apply once before boarding and once more after Stingray City.

Attire – keep it simple: A boat party calls for similar apparel to that of a beach party. Here, we don’t complicate things — It is most fitting to wear a swimsuit, a swim cover-up, sunglasses, and flip-flops. Remember, one of the possible stops is Kaibo, a beach restaurant at Rum Point. While the scene is quite casual, I would still recommend wearing your cover-up and shoes off the boat for drinks and appetizers.

Respect the ‘rays: As mentioned above, one of the quintessential boat party stops is at Stingray City — a group of sandbars located 25 miles off the shores of Grand Cayman. It is here where they feed wild Stingrays, hence the large population of these overly-affectionate sea beasts. Although apparently gentle creatures, they can give quite an intimidating first impression. Have no fear! They are not aggressive and seem to be very accustomed to humans. At the same time, do remember they are wild animals and should be treated with due respect.

Save the starfish: A much less intense alternative to Stingray City is Starfish Point, an isolated beach on the north side of the island. Here party-goers are once again free to roam through the shallow waters, combing the sandy bottom for star-shaped critters. While you are allowed a bit of light interaction, do NOT take them above the surface. They are unable to breathe out of the water and can die within minutes. Certain educated individuals WILL tell you off which is not the vibe you want to attract.

Avoid seasickness: While there are many people who do not experience seasickness, there are an unlucky few, myself included, who cannot even go on a paddleboard without feeling nauseous. If you are prone to these symptoms, make sure you take a non-drowsy Dramamine or consume ginger in some form an hour or so before the trip.

Carry cash: This day in age we seem to be very reliant on card payments; however, there is a definite advantage to carrying cash while at a boat party. For one, belongings can get jostled around on the boat and losing cash is not as bad as losing credit cards. Additionally, if you make a stop at Kaibo with a large group, having cash on hand is an easy way to pay your share of the tab as they do not split checks. Lastly, the boat staff will leave a tip container at the end of the trip and it is a nice show of appreciation to leave cash gratuity on your way out.

Do not overcommit: This is true for any activity in Grand Cayman but especially with drinking-centered events like boat parties. Cayman offers an incredibly lively social scene. You could easily fill up every single weekend with parties and brunches but remember, it’s okay to turn things down as well. I promise, there will always be more boats. It is best to wait for one with the right people for the right occasion in order to truly enjoy the celebration to its fullest!

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A Very Last Minute Cayman Brac Itinerary

A Very Last Minute Cayman Brac Itinerary

Sometimes it’s the trips we don’t plan for that turn out to be the most memorable. There is nothing quite like the excitement of a spontaneous weekend get-away. Could it be that a spur-of-the-moment trip to Cayman Brac is exactly the adventure you’ve been craving? Read below to discover the perfect last-minute itinerary to inspire your impromptu mini vacay.

Hotel Alexander

Many people traveling to the Brac opt for a house rental, but this may require booking well in advance. When planning on the fly, Hotel Alexander is the ideal option for location and convenience during your stay on the island. A minute walk from the beach and an even shorter walk to the liquor store, Hotel Alexander provides a comfy home-base for your little island adventure. Best of all is the Pura Vida bartender, Emmanuela who is warm, funny, and makes some amazing Seven Fathoms cocktails!

Car Rental

CB Rent-A-Car is a literal minute walk from the tiny Brac airport. Stroll on over and rent a vehicle for only CI $30-45 per day. There is an extra CI $25/day charge for comprehensive insurance but even so, this has to be one of the most affordable rental car companies I have ever encountered. Our Kia Sportage was CI $44 /day and was the perfect size for our travel team of four along with our get-away luggage. Pro-tip: Bring your aux cord… Cayman Brac, for reasons that escape me, has an obsession with country music. It is all the play on the radio. I don’t know about you, but this is not the vibe I was looking for on my island holiday. Bring your playlist or be prepared for a weekend of country-western jams!

THE ITINERARY

Friday Evening – Kicking Off the Adventure

Get Lost: Our flight landed at 5:40 pm. After picking up our Kia, we got totally turned around and ended up at the most beautiful dead-end. There we watched the sunset and of course, took some killer photos. See the directions below if you want to *purposely* find this dead end 😉

When leaving the airport, take a left onto Westside Road and then a right onto Robert Foster Ln. Keep driving and you will drive right into the ocean (literally!)

Sunset at the “dead end”

Drinks @ Captain’s Table: Known for its beautiful and kind bartenders who make excellent Micheladas! A casual and intimate restaurant with a poolside bar that provides a fragmented ocean view. 

Check-In @ Hotel Alexander: After unloading your get-away gear in the room, head next door to Big Daddy’s (AKA Blackbeard’s) to stock up on liquid reinforcements for the evening and weekend ahead. 

Enjoy the Hotel: Sure, the flight from Grand Cayman is only 30 minutes, but no matter how short the journey, a bit of travel fatigue is inevitable. Luckily, the hotel features a poolside bar and full menu restaurant which means you don’t have to venture from your lodging for a nice meal and social vibe.

Beach Night Cap: The beach is just a minute walk from Hotel Alexander. Bring some glasses and a beverage of your choosing for a moonlight night cap accompanied by a few good friends and the pacifying sound of ocean waves. Night, night!

Saturday – DIY Island Tour

Morning Run: I feel I haven’t truly visited a new place until I have completed a 5k run in its foreign surroundings. This is why Saturday morning, bright and early, I was hitting the road to explore Cayman Brac on foot. I ran from Hotel Alexander to Sunset Place and back, about a 4 mile (or 6k) run, round-trip. With traffic-free roads and the sound of waves crashing, it was quite an idyllic route to jump start a day of adventure. 

Breakfast: Star Island Restaurant: A short drive from the hotel, Star Island may be the most affordable place I have dined in the Cayman Islands aside from maybe Burger King. A cozy, local haunt, Star Island feels like a mash-up between a VFW hall and church luncheon. The staff is very sweet and the food, quite tasty. Nothing beats the price — CI $8 for an omelette with ALL the sides included. I ordered a ginger juice and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh and delicious it tasted. 

Star Island in all its glory. If you look closely you can see a cow to the right!

Road Trip My best advice to you, if you have no rock-climbing or diving plans, would be to rent a car and drive around the island, looking for random adventures. That is precisely what we did and there was certainly no shortage of adventures to be had! Below I will list some of the spots to keep an eye out for if you are looking for some Brac travel inspiration!

  • Idea #1Caves: The rocky features of Brac’s landscape are home to many crevices and caves. Consult Google Maps or the tourist guide provided by CB Rent-A-Car and make quick pit-stops at the many natural roadside attractions. Warning: these caves are not for the faint of heart as they are very dark and heavily populated with spunky little bats. If you’re like me, you’ll observe from afar while snapping a cute photo.
  • Idea #2 – Natural Swimming Hole: Somewhere on Spot Bay Rd on the East End, if you have a good eye, you may catch a glimpse of the most beautiful natural pool with sparkling, crystalline water.  If you’re lucky enough to spot this dazzling oasis from the road, you must immediately pull-over and go for a swim or a hobble along the Ironshore.
  • Idea #3The Bluffs: The jagged, picturesque bluffs are quintessential to the Brac landscape and are a must-see on your spontaneous island tour. While on the East End, in the Creek area, turn onto Ann Tatum Bluff Rd and then left onto Major Donald. Keep driving until you come to the Lighthouse…which is quite an underwhelming structure; however, the panoramic vista overlooking an expansive blue seascape will truly take your breath away. But careful! Not too close to the edge…do not use our picture as a reference 🙂
  • Idea #4 – Beach Walk: On the south side of the island, drive as far east as you can and you’ll arrive at the Great Cave. Continue walking toward the water and you’ll find yourself on an expansive stretch of rocky beach with stunning, ground-level views of the bluff.  Pick your way along the rough shore, feeling the salty, ocean breeze on your skin, until you reach the blowhole nearest the bluff face. 
  • Idea #5 – Public Beach: After a day of adventure and spontaneity, make your way to Public Beach and sink your toes in the sand for a little R&R. 
  • Idea #6 – Sunset: Enjoy the dreamiest of sunsets from Sunset Place at the end of South Side Rd W while catching a glimpse of Little Cayman on the horizon.

SUNDAY – BYE, BYE, BRAC

Morning Run: This time, I ran the opposite way — from Hotel Alexander to Public Beach and back, totaling 5 kilometers.

Breakfast: Back to Star Island, because we simply couldn’t get enough!

Relax: Following an action-packed Saturday, we treated ourselves to a slow morning at Hotel Alexander. Brewing a pot of coffee in the room, lounging poolside with a book… A leisurely and luxurious start to our Sunday.

Bikes: Following our recharge session, we headed back to Captain’s Table where you can rent motorized bicycles for CI $25 the day. With only a few hours before departure, we took a cruise up and down South Side Rd W, off-roading every now and again onto sandy paths leading to the beach. 

Airport: Back to Grand Cayman we go! 


FINAL IMPRESSIONS

Cayman Brac is a lovely place to escape on a weekend adventure! Its landscape and outdoor activities are quite distinct from Grand Cayman and will make you feel as if you are truly “getting away.” Be sure to pack casual or athletic clothing and supportive footwear as this island features rugged terrain and boasts a sporty itinerary. My other top tips for this trip would be to rent a car, take the bikes for a spin, and arrive at the airport at least an hour before your flight (a lesson our friend learned the hard way). Overall, Cayman Brac is a place that is definitely worth visiting if you are feeling active and adventurous! 

Have more questions about the Brac? Comment below or follow me on Instagram!

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Island Hacks: 20 Tips & Tricks for Life in Cayman

Island Hacks: 20 Tips & Tricks for Life in Cayman

When moving to a new place, especially a tiny island in the Caribbean, it can take a while to get the lay of the land. In my first year of living in Cayman, I have picked up many lifestyle tips and strategies that allow me to live with ease and enjoy island life to the fullest! In this blog I share my 20 essential island hacks that can help optimize your day-to-day living in Grand Cayman.

1. Keep a swimsuit, flip-flops and towel in your trunk at all times – Island life 24/7/365 people! The ocean quite literally has us surrounded. You may be sweating bullets at a Tillies brunch and suddenly the water is calling your name. Do yourself a favor and prepare yourself a “go-bag” of beach essentials to always have in the car — ideal for impromptu ocean dips.

2. Always have cash on hand for fruit stands and group outings – While many businesses in Cayman happily accept credit cards, there are a few situations where you definitely want some cash in your wallet. Many restaurants on island are not keen to separate checks, creating a mathematical nightmare for large groups. However, if you have the right cash in your pocket you can pay your share of the tab smoothly without waiting on cards to be run. Additionally, the farmers market and produce stands are cash-only. The last thing you want is to see a juicy mango and not be able to buy it!


3. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are the best and cheapest anti-aging “skin treatment” you can invest in. Save your money and invest in some top of the line SPF, ladies! (And conscientious men). 

4. DIY Beach Happy Hour – Most likely you are not taking enough advantage of this island perk. All you need is a travel tumbler and a trip to your local Tortuga Rum for your drink of choice — BOOM, you’re ready for a DIY Beach Happy Hour. A walking happy hour with friends, a seated happy hour in solitude, anything goes! But the best part is you are paying a couple dollars for your cocktail instead of $CI 12 + 15% gratuity. I’m just saying.

5. Detangler and brush — My long-haired sisters know the havoc the ocean can wreak on your hair, creating a nest of knots that a pelican may mistake for his home. For this, I always go to the beach with a leave-in spray that moisturizes my hair and prevents knots. Once I am done with water for the day I spray a bit more and brush it out before the knots past the point of no return. 

6. Grocery bags as beach bags — I love me a Kirk bag but Foster’s will work just as good.


7. Follow all of your favorite restaurants on Insta for deals and happy hours — If you do not have an Instagram, I would suggest getting one; simply to follow your favorite businesses on island. This is truly the best way to get exclusive updates and deals from the places you love to eat and drink. For some businesses, Instagram pretty much serves as their main website. 

8. Bug Spray — No one is safe at sunset. While I will say the mosquito situation has improved slightly since moving here, I would still recommend keeping bug spray in your “go-bag” so you do not become a delicious feast for the skeeters! 

9. Carry reusable produce bags with you to stop at fruit stands — They now sell these at Kirk right next to the regular plastic produce bags. They are only 99 cents per bag and are perfect to carry in your car. In the summer when you stop to visit Tony the Mango Man you can save some plastic and put the mangoes directly in your reusable pouch! 

10. Real Women of Cayman — I’ve said it once and I’ll say it forever… anything you want to know about Cayman or life in general can be found on this Facebook page

11. Let the ocean become your personal spa — The ocean is recognized for its aesthetic quality but a bit under-appreciated for its health and beauty benefits. Salt water helps combat acne-causing bacteria, skin infections, and speed up the healing process. Also, sand is a natural exfoliant, which rubs away dead skin cells and helps clear pores and acne. Cancel your next facial and make your way down to Seven Mile Beach! Your skin (and wallet) will thank you!


12. Keep an umbrella or poncho in the trunk at all times — I know I am asking you to keep many things in your vehicle but as we can see, they all serve a purpose! It doesn’t rain all that often in Cayman, but when it rains, it torrentially pours with no warning at all! Don’t let yourself get caught in these unforeseen weather messes without the proper rain gear! But hey, some of us like getting caught in the rain (and piña coladas). 

13. Shop at the thrift stores — Just do it already. In my first year of living here I have not made a single overseas order. Almost all of my clothing has some from the Humane Society thrift store and my savings account thanks me for it. Read my thrift store tips to get started!

14. Book loftSpeaking of thrift stores, there is one on island that is dedicated to just books. While we all want to support our local books stores, we also know that $CI 30 per book at Books & Books is not the most sustainable way to fuel your reading passion. The Book Loft is located above the Humane Society. Their donated books go for $2-$4 each. And after you pick up (or drop off) your books you can go cuddle a cat or walk a pup — the perfect feel-good weekend activity!

15. Coconut water — Sunshine and saltwater, as lovely as they are for our well-being, can dehydrate our bodies quickly. An effective and easy way to combat dehydration is by drinking coconut water which is packed with natural electrolytes — packaged does the trick but natural is obviously preferred! Coconut Joe’s has a $5 natural coconut water served straight from the coco itself!

16. Free workouts are everywhere — Gym memberships and exercise classes can be quite pricey. For many people they are worth the cost, but remember that Cayman offers many free workout options as well! Take a long, luxurious walk on the beach. Go for a swim along Seven Mile. Join a group that puts on free organized runs and workouts (Tuesday Night Bootcamp, Saturday Morning Run Club, and many more!)

17. Non-drowsy dramamine / ginger for seasickness – Whether you have been invited to a boat party or are preparing for a day of scuba diving, it can be a good idea to take some preventive measures if you are prone to seasickness. Non-drowsy dramamine does the trick but you can also count on ginger which comes in many forms (ginger-ale, oils, chews, tablets, etc.) I myself like to peel fresh ginger and add it to my smoothie before a boat adventure.


18. Meditate outdoors – No need to search “ocean sounds” on YouTube or download an app, you have the real thing right outside your door! Take a seat on the beach and let the waves guide your breathing. Few things are more relaxing than a seaside meditation

19. Buy a scooter – This tip is much more of a commitment than my previous suggestions but as a scooter-owner, I have to tell you it has made island life so convenient for me. Never again will you worry about parking or traffic jams, you simply flit in and out of wherever you need to go. It also gives you a unique and beautiful island perspective as you notice things you maybe wouldn’t inside a car.


20. Read Island Diaries! 🙂 Nice job, you are already using this tip to your advantage. Thank you for reading! Watch out for future posts to hear about island lifestyle tips, itineraries, activity ideas, and much more! If not already subscribed, enter your email below!

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Cayman Islands East End Girls Trip Itinerary

Cayman Islands East End Girls Trip Itinerary

Are you looking for a unique day trip to shake up your girlfriend plans in Cayman? Look no further! Below you will find a unique East End itinerary featuring food, art, and drinks! While our outing did not include any beach stops due to overcast skies, I will offer some suggestions for additional or alternative activities to customize your very own girls day out! 

Stop #1 Jessie’s Juice

Jessie’s is a great rendezvous point to kick off your girls day out. Here you and your girlfriends can meet up and equip yourselves with caffeine for the exciting journey ahead! After all, what’s a road trip without a coffee companion?


Stop #2  Charles Long Art Studio

114 West Ln, Savannah

This East End itinerary features two very distinct art studios; the first of which is located in Savannah along a pebbled residential road beside the artist’s private home. Arriving at the Charles Long studio felt like total submersion into the local Cayman culture as Charles himself came out to greet us and shake our hands one by one. The studio is open and airy with natural light streaming through the domed ceiling. A visit to the gallery must be reserved in advance via Instagram or by calling directly. The pure island vibes and familiar spirit of this gallery make it an excellent detour off the beaten tourist trail. 

Instagram: @ckglong

Phone: +1 345-917-5741



Suggested Stop: Pedro St. James

Pedro Castle Road, Savannah

Charles Long’s studio is very close to Pedro St. James, a natural historic site situated alongside the sea. While I have yet to tour the 18th century Great House, I have enjoyed a drink and appetizers at the distillery that overlooks the water. There is also a stunning swimming hole that sometimes fills completely with water. Wear sturdy walking shoes and venture down the Ironshore to take a dip in the natural topaz pool.

Stop #3:  White Dog Art

Bodden Town Road

As you continue further east toward Bodden Town, you will near the second stop on our girls trip itinerary. White Dog Art is a simple modern house that greets visitors with a stunningly vibrant mural painted by the artist herself. Similar to our experience at Charles Long studio, the artist, Ren Seffer, came out to greet us with a warm and welcome smile. She invited us into her bright studio space where we felt right at home amongst her cheerful canvas paintings. It was so fun to see the contrast between the artwork of Charles and that of Ren. While both artists showcase a sea of bright, happy colors, their styles are utterly distinct and cannot be compared. (A visit to White Dog Art studio can be arranged through their website)

Instagram: @whitedogartcayman

Our group posing in front of the studio’s mural with Ren on the far right

Although I did not walk away with any pieces, I enjoyed getting to know more about the culture and history of Cayman through the art itself as many of the paintings featured emblematic places and people of the island. A few of the girls in our group gathered information from both artists to have a piece commissioned. This is also something to look into if you are searching for the perfect art for your home or as a gift.



Suggested Stop: Fruit Stand

Just up the road at the corner of Bodden Town Rd and Frank Sound Rd there is a fruit stand where you can pick up some local produce (cash only). This is a nice stop to restock your refreshments as you continue on your East End ramble!

Stop #4: Tukka

898, Austin Conolly Dr, Gun Bay

At this point in your girls trip, you have most likely worked up quite an appetite. No worries, delicious island fare is right around the corner! East End offers several excellent options for waterfront dining. For this itinerary in particular we selected Tukka, an Aussie-owned restaurant with a Caribbean twist. Their menu is quite large and diverse featuring local favorites as well as many international & Australian dishes. Being that our trip took place on a Sunday, they were offering a brunch deal for $CI 34. I myself ordered a la carte, selecting a lionfish taco and coconut prawns. While I am typically a cocktail girl, I was feeling rather rustic and decided to order a local bottle — Caybrew light. The highlight of lunch was sitting on their patio overlooking the water with a lovely ocean breeze!



Suggested Stop: Barefoot Beach

Queen Highway, East End

Unfortunately, the day we went on our East End trip it was a bit cloudy and cool (for Cayman standards) so we decided to skip the beach. However, I would recommend a stop at Barefoot Beach either before or after lunch. Even if you do not plan to swim, it is a beautiful spot to relax, take photos, and enjoy some drinks and snacks from the cooler. 

Barefoot Beach

Stop #5: Czech Inn

Bodden Town Rd

Circling back from East End en route to George Town, the Czech Inn is the perfect place to finish an East End outing on a high note. Arriving at the Czech Inn is a visual overload as this bohemian, outdoor bar and grill is decked out head to toe with unexpected decorations like surfboards for tables. While it is definitely not known for its scenery, the vibe of this place is one of a kind and 100% worth a visit. Although our group did not order food, the place has excellent menu reviews making it a perfect casual, roadside lunch spot. 



My thoughts on the day:

This itinerary provides a well-rounded cultural taste of East End that includes food, art, and nature. It is a perfect day trip for you and your girlfriends but could be enjoyed by anyone for any occasion! I am by no means an art enthusiast but I really appreciated the unique perspective these galleries provided me. I was able to see the island through the eyes of local artists — a truly special experience! I will definitely be back to Tukka soon for some more lionfish tacos and coconut prawns! Happy trails on your next journey out east!

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25 Weird Things That Only Happen In Cayman

25 Weird Things That Only Happen In Cayman

State the obvious, Grand Cayman is a Caribbean paradise and a wonderful place to both live and vacation. However, its beauty and prestige do not make it immune to some unavoidable quirks and peculiarities. I feel the longer one lives in Cayman, the less noticeable these oddities become. However, as a Midwest girl laying fresh eyes on this undeniably unique island, I have observed some truly one-of-a-kind occurrences that are too good not to share! The 25 items below are things that have surprised me, amused me, or just plain stopped me in my tracks since I have moved to Cayman

1. Island residents pay hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars to stay at hotels that are 10 minutes from their own home. AKA Staycationing, somewhat of a COVID-inspired phenomenon. 

2. Ordering anything from overseas pretty much guarantees several weeks or months of waiting. That is, if it even arrives.

3. ALL supermarkets (and many stores) are closed on Sundays meaning weekly errands have to be completed on Saturday. Oh, the horror.

4. The island’s dump (Mount Trashmore) is located in plain sight and is literally the highest point on the island. In 2020 it started on fire and school had to be cancelled because of the fumes.

5. People feed and pet wild stingrays like they are puppies. It is even considered good luck to kiss them.

6. There is such an overpopulation of green iguanas that people actually go “iguana hunting” for a cash reward. Before you get too excited, I think the reward is only $5 per iguana.

When in Rome?
A green iguana chilling in the tree at the school where I work

7. There seems to be no system for returning shopping carts at the grocery stores. If there is one, no one is following it. As a result all the carts end up strewn throughout the parking lots, at bus stops, and on the side of the road. Yes, I am upset about it.

8. Driving 45 minutes to the other side of the island is considered a “get-away.”

9. Virtually no one has a personal mailbox. No junk mail. No bills. Everything is either dealt with electronically or mailed to employer P.O. boxes.

10. As there is no televised news station in Cayman, all pertinent information can be learned through a Facebook group called the Real Women of Cayman.

11. On any given moment it could be torrentially raining in one area and blue skies one minute down the road.

12. Nowhere else in this world is there a Tony the Mango Man. And nowhere else on Earth do the mangos taste quite as good!

13. At first I thought it was a myth but apparently people actually cook turtle meat and put it in a soup called Turtle Stew.  (Which is a bit appalling to me but we won’t get into that here).

14. Gaelic football, despite its inane rules, is somehow the most popular sport for both men and women on the island.

15. The famous, award-winning 7-Mile Beach is not actually 7 miles at all, it is about 5 and a half. But you can walk the entire length of it which is pretty awesome.

16. The right of passage for new island arrivals is to attend either a boat party or a brunch (probably both, many times over). Oh, and be recruited to play Gaelic football.

17. Chickens. Chickens everywhere. On the golf course, in the streets, at outdoor restaurants, at the beach, and anywhere else you can think of. They will be there…asserting their dominance.

18. Being able to live COVID free throughout the entirety of this never-ending global pandemic!

19. Paying $2,000 per month for rent is considered a “good deal.”

20. Nobody really knows where to buy underwear. Except the Real Women of Cayman… they might know.

21. A bag of romaine lettuce costs $9. *GASP!!*

(7.69 CI = $9 US)

22. People put on sweatshirts when it drops to 78 degrees fahrenheit. (Sorry, *jumpers* for the English folk)

23. There are over 40 dive operations and 365 dive sites. There is literally a dive site for every day of the year

24. NO TAXES 😉 (but the money you save in not paying taxes goes straight to your romaine lettuce budget)

25. Your friends group is so international that you begin to pick up an unidentifiable accent and slang that could be English but maybe it’s South African? Either way, it’s totally lekker bru!

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10 Simple Second Hand Shopping Tips

10 Simple Second Hand Shopping Tips

Save Your Money & The Earth With Second Hand Style

So you want to save money, practice sustainability, and build a wardrobe you’ll love? Don’t worry — you can do all three! Thrift shopping has been gaining popularity in the past few years as people begin to realize they can find high quality clothing at second hand stores. Don’t let those eerily specific Instagram ads trick you! You don’t have to purchase something online every other day to be “fashionable.” YOU create the fashion. And I am going to give you 10 tips to ensure you leave your next thrifty trip with clothing you love for a fraction of the original price. Oh, and don’t forget…all while saving the planet!

Step 1: Narrow Down The Best Thrift Stores In Your Area

I have visited enough thrift stores in my lifetime to tell you that not all of them are worth frequenting. Depending on where you live, there may be multiple options and you will want to narrow them down to one or two of your favorites to save time and avoid frustration. Some things to consider would be if the store is clean, organized, has enough inventory, and gives off an overall positive vibe. (I have been to some downright creepy thrift stores).

Step 2: Carve Out Some Time

If you think shopping at a run-of-the-mill retail store is time consuming, just wait until you give it a go at thrift shopping. The key to finding amazing items is time and unwavering patience. You are going to sift through 20 duds before you find something worth a second glance. It is not a glamorous job, but the hard work pays off! 

Step 3: Have In Mind What You Are Looking For

In a store where each and every item of clothing is unique in color, size, and style, it can be easy to become distracted. That is why I always walk in with a few ideas that narrow my search and help me to concentrate. For example, I may be hoping to find a new pair of shorts, a beach bag, and a casual dress. If after hitting those targeted areas in the thrift stores I still feel like browsing, I will branch out to other sections.

Step 4: Narrowing The Search – COLOR

Some thrift stores, such as Goodwill, organize their racks by color making it incredibly convenient for shopping. However, most leave their racks a haphazard mess of rainbow clothing and let the shoppers fend for themselves. Whatever the case, it is helpful to know what colors you favor when shopping secondhand. This streamlines the experience and helps you identify clothing that you are more likely to wear. If you hate the color yellow don’t buy a yellow shirt just because it cost $1. Focus on colors that match your style and are more likely to combine with the rest of your wardrobe.

YES. You are seeing this correctly. Lululemon leggings and tank top from the thrift store. Original price roughly $140 in total but I snagged these two for $15 only!

Step 5: Narrowing the Search – MATERIAL

Yet another way to focus your shopping is to pay attention to the material. A common misconception surrounding second hand clothing is that it lacks the quality of new garments but this is not always the case. Just by eyeing or feeling the fabric you immediately have a sense of its quality. If you are not looking for a cheap cotton t-shirt then simply skip over any and all cotton t-shirts. Set your sights on your preferred fabrics. For example, these days I have been searching for linen tops so I scan the racks with laser focus on linen items almost exclusively.

Step 6: Scanning the Item: SIZE

Okay, so you have found an item you are mildly interested in. Before you even pull it off the rack, take a quick peek at the size. This is the quickest elimination method as less than a quarter of the clothing on the rack will actually fit you. 

Step 7: Scanning the Item: IMPERFECTIONS

This is another very quick elimination strategy. Yes, you are willing to buy used clothing but not when there is clear evidence of it having been used! Some stores do a good job of filtering out dingy items but I have been to many that just throw everything on the racks and leave you to do the dirty work. If you pull out an article of clothing that is heavily used or damaged, next it! Please do not buy a yellow-stained blouse just because the brand is nice.

Step 8: Scanning the Item: BRAND & PRICE

This is the final check before you go into the dressing room. For some, clothing brand is inconsequential and not a factor in the purchase. However, it can be useful when considering the price of the clothing and if it is actually worth it. Use your previous shopping experience to determine the overall value of the product and if its price is fair. For example, I once went into a second hand store with many designer brands. However, I randomly found an H&M top priced at nearly $20 (basically the same or more than you’d buy it new from an H&M store). That was an obvious mismatch for price and value. If you see something like this, don’t even waste your time trying it on. If the whole store is like this, find a new thrift store!

Step 9: Time to Try On!

Don’t be afraid to try on an insane amount of clothing. It is not everyday you get lucky at the thrift store, so when you hit the jackpot you have to take advantage! If you keep finding clothing that passes all of your tests, then simply add it to the pile! Remember, you carved out plenty of time for this 🙂 But when trying on clothing, use the same standards as if you were paying the big bucks. If it doesn’t fit or doesn’t look good, don’t buy it just because it is unbelievably cheap. If you’re not going to wear it, leave it for someone else who it could be perfect for. 

Step 10: Wash & Sanitize

Woohoo! You found some winners and are walking out of the store with new threads that you love and that cost less than your dinner last night. Now what? Well, there is one last important step and that is of course to wash the clothes and yourself. Immediately throw your “new” purchase in the washer and take a shower. Actually, you should do this even if you are buying brand new clothing from the mall. In 2021, this is now self-explanatory.

Havana Club Bag: Originally priced at $30, I got it for $5 James Perse Dress: Originally priced at $85, I got it for $6.

Bonus Tip: FLAUNT IT

Get ready to brag to all your friends and family about the amazing deal you just got at the local thrift store. Oh, these Lululemon leggings? Just $6. This Columbia rain jacket… only $4. You will watch them shake their heads in disbelief and you will feel like an economically-wise, sustainable bad ass. Who says millennials have no life skills?

A Guide To Becoming PADI Certified In The Cayman Islands

A Guide To Becoming PADI Certified In The Cayman Islands

Going scuba diving has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, but having lived most of my life in the Midwest, I had no idea when I would be able to make this dream a reality. I certainly didn’t imagine moving to the Cayman Islands would be the factor that ultimately pushed me to do it. But now, here I am living in the Caribbean and what an amazing place to learn how to dive! While I am quite familiar with water sports and have done my fair share of snorkeling, I really had no concept of what a PADI certification would entail. Heck, I didn’t even know what PADI meant. (cough, Professional Association of Diving Instructors, cough, cough). That being said, this blog will serve as a written account of my experience (the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly), as well as a little guidebook full of tips and tricks to navigating this experience while living or visiting Grand Cayman.

Smiling because I have finished all the pool skills and am on to my first dive!
(Sunset House)

FAQ:

How much does it cost?

There are two parts to getting PADI certified – you first complete an online course followed by an in-person training. The price of the online course is $190 USD and the 3-day in-person training (including pool skills, four dives, and ALL the equipment) is $215 (180 CI).

Where did you get certified?

While Grand Cayman has many excellent dive school options, we signed up with Red Sail Sports, which is quite a popular choice on the island. Our instructor, Alex, was top notch and the whole experience was a very positive one from start to finish. I would definitely recommend Red Sail to anyone living in Cayman or visiting the island. 

Is it really worth it?

Of course, diving is not for everyone. Many admire the ocean from afar, but I’m not sure everyone is meant to go 60 feet beneath its surface. I can only speak from my own experience and this was my take: to me diving feels like entering into a world where I am no longer human. (Wow, melodramatic much?) I am doing something that instinctually, feels impossible — breathing underwater. Everything is quiet, time slows down, and I feel more peaceful and in-the-moment than I even knew to be possible on land. What’s more, I get to see and experience all the beauty of the Caribbean sea — its shipwrecks, its coral reefs, and its diverse marine life.

After practicing setting up our equipment (Sunset House)

Sounds great, how do I get started?

Step 1: First things first is signing up for the PADI online course (Open Water Diver)

This is completed and paid for independent from the dive school of your choosing. We decided which school we wanted before signing up but you could always do the online portion first and find your school later. The course consists of 5 sections, each with a short quiz. At the end, you take a 50 question exam which you need to score at least a 75% on. It takes anywhere from 10 to 16 hours to complete the whole course so I would not recommend leaving it until the night before… (ahem, BRYAN). 

Step 2: Choose a dive school

As mentioned above, we went with Red Sail Sports but there are many schools on island that offer PADI certification. Cayman Diving School, Turtle Divers, Divetech, DNS, Ocean Frontiers, Eden Rock, and Deep Blue are just a few examples to get you started. They may vary in price slightly but you will find their overall training structure to be quite similar. 

Step 3: Get training!

As I mentioned, the in-person course is 3 days in length. With Red Sail we completed most of our training at Sunset House, a restaurant and dive resort in South Sound. On the first day, we completed about 5 hours of pool training (uff-dah). On day 2 we completed 2 shore dives and on day 3 we put all our skills together with 2 boat dives.

My dive buddy Bryan after our final dive

What to expect:

Difficulty level

Being a swimmer and water enthusiast, I have to admit I went into the training a bit over-confident. I was not totally prepared for the challenges that a PADI certification would entail. Yes, the instructors are fun and want you to enjoy the experience, but they are also preparing you for any little thing that could go wrong while diving. That being said, there are certain skills that for some people (apparently all the men in our group) are seamless and easy…but for others, (me) cause a good deal of anxiety or discomfort. Namely, when we had to completely remove our mask and put it back on underwater. Despite these challenges, walking through these emergency situations step by step definitely helped me to feel more confident and equipped in the water. Overall I would say the training is very do-able and straightforward.

WOW, tiring (but rewarding)

I would recommend not scheduling many other activities for the 3 days that you are in the training. Why? Because it TOTALLY wipes you out. All you will want to do when you finish is eat everything in sight and pass out. And actually, you feel okay doing that because on average, a scuba diver burns 400-700 calories per dive. 2 dives per day and you have yourself a pretty solid workout! 

Equipment

They provide everything! If you have a nice mask or fins that you use for snorkeling, you can bring them along with you. But if not, they provide mask, fins, wetsuit, and of course all the dive equipment (BCD, weights, regulators, etc).

Time Commitment

  • Day 1: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Day 2: 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
  • Day 3: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Getting ready to board for dives 3 & 4

Tips and my personal advice!

Bring snacks, water, and sunscreen!

During all 3 days of training there will be small breaks, not long enough to eat lunch but long enough for a protein bar, piece of fruit, Gatorade, or maybe some cookies! But try not to bring anything that will melt as you are outside in the sun all day.

Hydrate! Before, during, and especially after

While diving you can become dehydrated quickly due to environmental factors (sun, salt, wind) as well as by breathing dry, compressed air from the tank. All of this considered, you should be hitting the water hard at any and all opportunities. 

Go with a good friend or your partner

All 3 days you will have an assigned “buddy” who you do all your pre-dive checks with and many of the emergency skills. Of course, it’s okay and could even be nice to buddy up with a stranger but for me it was very comforting to have Bryan as my buddy (we get along pretty well, I guess), and it helped me get through some of the tougher skills.

If you get seasick, take non-drowsy Dramamine (even for the shore dives)

 Even though we didn’t go on a boat on day 2, I felt nauseous just from being on the wavy surface for a few minutes. Another trick of the trade that our instructor shared with me is ginger. They sell ginger root tablets at the grocery store but I happened to have fresh ginger at home so I made myself a mango, banana, ginger smoothie about an hour before the boat (along with a non-drowsy Dramamine) and felt amazing the whole day.

Highlights:

  • Seeing turtles, stingray, barracudas, a mermaid statue, and two nurse sharks!
  • Overcoming a fear: I was truly scared and anxious when it came to removing my mask underwater. I had to really focus and dig deep to be able to do it at 50 feet. But not only did I do it, I did it with composure and confidence which felt pretty amazing! 
  • Our instructor Alex was actually the best! We couldn’t imagine a better teacher for our PADI certification
  • If I wasn’t tan enough before, I definitely am now! Also, my hair is looking a lot more blonde so basically I got free highlights. I mean, this course really does pay for itself
  • Burned calories without trying: As I said before, divers can burn 400-700 calories per dive and even though the equipment weighs a lot on land, in the water you are weightless. Essentially, we burned calories while being incredibly lazy underwater. What more can you ask for?
  • A new appreciation for the island: If you think the island is beautiful on land, just wait until you see what it has to offer just off its shores!
Our instructor Alex, myself, Bryan, and Freuhle

Your dive certification awaits!

If you are someone who has been on the fence about getting PADI certified, I hope this article serves as the inspiration you need to take the dive! It is a certification that never expires and can be used anywhere in the world. Getting certified means becoming part of a dive community whether it be in Cayman or around the globe. It grants you access to explore a world that would otherwise remain completely unknown. Pictures and videos are nice, but wouldn’t you rather see it for yourself?


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The Reverse Bucket List: 25 Things I’ve Checked Off In 25 Years

The Reverse Bucket List: 25 Things I’ve Checked Off In 25 Years

We all have a list of things we’d like to do within this lifetime…but do we ever stop to think about all the amazing things we’ve experienced so far? 25 years on planet earth may seem like a long time or a short time depending on who you ask. I do not think there is any dispute however, in saying that there is a lot of lessons to be learned and fun to be had in the first 25 years of a life! In today’s blog, to commemorate my 25th journey around the sun, I will be taking some time to reflect on my top 25 favorite and/or most memorable experiences in no particular order…AKA the Reverse Bucket List. I hope this inspires you to write down your own! (You’ve got a lot of writing to do if you’re over 50! Hehe.

1. Went skydiving with Bryan in Miami

2. Ran my first ever marathon in Minneapolis

3. Studied abroad in Madrid with Emma

4. Scored a game-winning OT goal against Bemidji

5. Learned how to waterski and barefoot from my dad

1. Skydiving in Miami
2. At the Minnesota State Capitol after finishing my first ever marathon
3. Emma and I in the Puerta del Sol during our first week in Madrid
4. Playing soccer for SCSU vs. Northern (not the same game described above!)
5. From left: Demi, Angie, Raayn, and myself quadruple-skiing behind my dad’s boat on Chain Lake

6. Bought a moped named Valentina and taught myself how to ride her

7. Got asked on a date by my Spanish tutor and immediately fell in love

8. Fostered a dog named Maggie and actually enjoyed the experience! (Apologies to Bo…my kitty back home)

9. Got a belly button piercing with my college teammates (it didn’t stay in very long)

10. Recreated the Tommy Bartlett waterski show with all my cousins at the cabin “Up North”

6. With my scooter, Valentina
7. Bryan and I at the cabin in Pine Lake, MN where he proposed
8. Maggie, the foster pup
9. In St. Cloud, MN getting ready for a very traumatic belly button piercing session
10. Me when I was 10 getting ready to ski from the dock in the “Fearing Ski Show”

11. Competed in the world championship for jump-roping in Bloomer, WI (if you know, you know)

12.Was a contestant in the Ms. Reedsburg pageant and failed miserably

13. Learned how to brew my own kombucha

14. Went cliff jumping with Bryan at the Calas in Mallorca

15. Went to France with Demi and celebrated the French world cup victory with the locals

11. Me with my jump rope trophy in Reedsburg. As you can see I was going through a bit of an Avril Lavigne punk phase.
12. Riding in a parade float as one of the Ms. Reedsburg contestants, relieved that it was over and vowing to never do something like that ever again
13. With a bottle of my ginger berry kombucha
14. Jumping from a cliff at Cala Llombards in Mallorca
15. Demi and I at an outdoor bar in Marseille watching France play in the World Cup

16. Went camping on Madeline Island with my high school besties and had our campsite ransacked by a bear

17. Became an aunt to baby Clyde!

18. Moved to a Caribbean island amidst a global pandemic

19. Visited the Today show in New York City (even got on camera!)

20. Walked around Paris in the rain and ate some macaroons

16. (From left) Raayn, Angie, Demi, and myself enjoying the beach at Madeline Island, blissfully unaware of the fact we were cohabitating with bears.
17. My nephew Clyde who I have no pictures with yet because I have been trapped on an island most of his life!!
18. Living my best life in the Caribbean! (Still amidst a global pandemic)
19. Our view from the Today show in NYC!
20. Eating a macaroon in Paris during a rare moment when it was not raining

21. Got front row seats to a George Ezra concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis

22. Partied with my brother and friends in Madison, WI to celebrate my 21st birthday (Complete with the infamous Wando’s fish bowl, JJ riding a mechanical bull, and walking through ice and snow in heels)

23. Took a family trip out west and saw the Grand Canyon

24. Kissed a stingray in Grand Cayman

25. Made a wish and threw my penny into the Trevi fountain in Rome

21. Bryan and I waiting for the George Ezra concert!
22. Keagan and I both celebrating our 21st birthdays in Madison
23. Me, my mom, and Chase at the Grand Canyon. I have clearly arrived at a very fashionable moment in my life.
24. Bryan and I holding a Stingray (that we later kissed) in Grand Cayman
25. Tossing my penny into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Having a Lizzie McGuire moment.

That’s a wrap! While obviously this is not an exhaustive list, it definitely highlights some of the most memorable moments and events from over the past couple decades. Once I got rolling, so many memories came flooding back to me — so many so that I obviously couldn’t include them all in my reverse bucket list! I highly recommend this exercise to anyone, whether it be for a birthday or for the New Year (or any time of the year, really). It’s such a fun excuse to go back and look at old photos and reminisce on your journeys around the sun! Next year when I turn 26 I will have to do it again and see how much I can add 🙂 Happy birthday to me! Thanks for reading — Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!