Discover Cayman Brac: Where to Stay & What to See

Discover Cayman Brac: Where to Stay & What to See

There is nowhere quite like Cayman Brac. It has a beautiful kind of quirkiness that manifests itself in the radical kindness of the locals and the peculiarity of the island’s “attractions.” These traits are juxtaposed against a gorgeous Caribbean backdrop, leaving you wondering if Brac is even a real place. Maybe I dreamt it all? Find out where to stay and what to see below in Discovering Cayman Brac.

Where to Stay in Cayman Brac

Featherstone

Featherstone, Cayman Brac
View from the Owner’s Apartment

The Location

Featherstone is located in the eastern part of the island off Tibbet’s Turn. Winding down Surfer’s Lane, you will happen on Beach Drive, a rustic gravel lane flanked by beach bungalows and sea grape trees. The property is tucked away at the end of the access, its own tropical oasis. Quiet calm, and zen energy permeate the space, leaving guests feeling ‘off-the-beaten-path.’ Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a delightful breeze and the everpresent lull of lapping ocean waves.

Sunset from Featherstone’s private beach

The Cottages

Featherstone features three seperate rental units: the Cottage, Owner’s Apartment, and Guest Apartment. These Caribbean-style cottages open up into a private beach spanning 1.5 acres, complete with a dock and several hammock-adorned beach cabanas. The beachfront building contains the Owner’s Apartment on top and the Guest Apartment on the bottom, both sea-facing. Behind the main building is the two-story Cottage. Though set back, you can still catch a glimpse of the sea from the balcony. It is possible to rent all three properties (The Estate) for a larger group or private event.

We stayed in the Owner’s Apartment which sleeps 7 and features a full kitchen, dining table, and master suite. The suite’s bathroom boasts a double vanity, stone walk-in shower, and corner bath. The bedroom is equally plush, starring a Japanese-style bed with bamboo sheets, offering tantalizing views of the Caribbean Sea. Japanese accents are visible throughout the whole of the unit, contributing to the unique feng shui of Featherstone.

Outside the master suite, sleeping arrangments include a pull-out couch in the living room as well as a a bunk-bed and a futon in the detached unit off the porch. This area also features a half bath, making the Owner’s Apartment a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom unit. Cooking supplies, bedding, beach/bath towels, and wifi are all included.

The best part of this unit is the wrap-around porch, the perfect space for morning coffee, afternoon lunches, sunset bubbles, or even a dip in the private jacuzzi.

One of the many hammocks at Featherstone

The Amenities

The units are lovely, but the private beach and amenities are the bread and butter of Featherstone. The list of possible activities is long, ranging from lazy to active. Starting from the beach-bum end of things, guests can enjoy the hammocks, cabanas and lounge chairs spread throughout the sandy beachfront. Once the Caribbean heat kicks in, guests can put on their watershoes and head for the waves, enjoying a quick dip or a snorkel session. The owner has water accessories available upon request, as well as a game room full of books, board games, and sport gear.

For the more active islanders, there is a kayak ready to go on the beach, as well as a ping-pong table, and volleyball net upon request. With so many amenities, you may find it difficult to leave the property. But if you do, there are two bikes available for guests and a mini market just a few minutes down the road. And from there, the real adventure begins.

Private dock at Featherstone

What to See in Cayman Brac

What is there to see in Cayman Brac? Some would argue, “nothing” but I for one, say everything. Brac (population 1,800) is not hung up on island aesthetic, and it does not promote a Caribbean resort-style energy. What it deliberately lacks in tropical “glam,” it more than makes up for in ‘Cayman Kind’ and eccentric character. The best thing to do is rent a car and drive. Marvel at anything and everything. The island is known for its iconic bluff as well as its caves, which are obvious musts, but don’t stop there.

Cruising down the quiet roads of Brac, you will find conch-lined pathways, painted palm trees, and Caribbean houses in hues of paradisiacal pink and sea foam green. You’ll pass seaside churches, skull caves, stairs to nowhere, and mini Caymanian homes (think doll houses). Whilst out and about, you are guaranteed to encounter the notoriously friendly locals, always happy to chat and point you in the right direction. While exploring a roadside cave, a woman and her two children pulled over in their car just to say ‘Good Afternoon’ and ask how our trip was going. It’s a warmth that is felt from the moment you step foot on the island.

Keep reading to discover some must-see places on your aimless excursion through Brac:

Bubble House Cayman Brac
The Bubble House (on the way to the Great Cave)

Star Island

Star Island is one of Brac’s most popular restaurants, serving fresh local fish and Caribbean sides like plantain and cassava. We went for dinner and found an empty restaurant, though locals stopped in periodically for pick-up orders. I ordered grilled snapper with rice and beans and fried plantain. The delicious, fresh flavors made up for the lack of ambience in the restaurant. Star Island was no exception to the quirky character of Brac. With fluorescent green and yellow curtains and a menu that includes dolphin, it’s sure to be a memorable visit.

Star Island, Cayman Brac

RECOMMENDED READ: A Very Last Minute Cayman Brac Itinerary

La Esperanza

If you’re looking for a “party,” this is inevitably where you will find it. At least, that is what the cashier at Blackbeard’s told us. La Esperanza is a seaside drinking hole where the waves can almost be heard over the blaring soca beats. There is also a small grocer and jerk stand open during the day. On Friday and Saturday nights it’s the liveliest bar on island–loud music, friendly locals, and domino games. The challenge is to keep up with the amount of drinks being bought for you.

La Esperanza
La Esperanza during the light of day

Brac Reef Resort

A very different vibe from La Esperanza, Brac Reef Resort is closer to what you may find on Seven Mile Beach–pricey drinks, pristine poolside views (only for hotel guests), and a menu that is far from local. I only recommend it for its delicious margaritas and gorgeous views. We went during the day for a quick pick-me-up and dip in the ocean.

Foot’s Museum (Casa del Diablo)

You read that right. On your way to the Great Cave, you will pass a driveway lined with statues, some demonic in nature, and one with flippered legs sticking out of a toilet. There’s no way you can see something like that and not stop. So we did. I have heard rumors about this house but do not know the full story. Basically, it’s an artist’s house, (Ron “Foots” Kynes) directly on the water, that serves as an art gallery for the odd Brac tourist. The kind of art you will find there ranges from a fishing boat full or Red Stripe bottles to fake missiles, all the way to Led Zeppelin tributes. We did not see the artist, but the property is open sans no-trespassing signs. Enter if you dare!

Foots Museum
Foots Museum, Cayman Brac
Foots Museum
Foots Museum (exterior)

The Bluff

The bluff does not require a lot of explanation. It’s a stunning, dangerous view. Don’t get too close to the edge, obviously. You will also hear people talk about the lighthouse at the top of the bluff. There is indeed some kind of light structure, but if you’re picturing a picturesque, Cape Code kind of lighthouse, then prepare to be disappointed. The terrain is odd and apocolyptic, further contributing to Brac’s “am I dreaming” sensation.

The Bluff, Cayman Brac
The Bluff

The Great Cave

There is nothing super “great” about this cave, but it’s fun to climb the makeshift ladders to the top, and explore the rocky shore at the bottom. From this coastal vantage point, you can see the bluff from the bottom and check out other small caves along the water.

Climbing up to the Great Cave

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5 Amazing Spots to Grab a Drink in Madrid

5 Amazing Spots to Grab a Drink in Madrid

Visitors of Madrid are like kids in candy stores. The city is teeming with terraces and tapas bar, each one offering a unique kind of allure that only the madrileños can pull off. With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start. Read on and narrow your search, discovering 5 amazing places to grab a drink in Madrid. Whether you’re after an elegant rooftop terrace or a buzzing local market vibe, this small but mighty list will get you off to a solid start.

#1 Ático 11 (Iberostar Hotel Las Letras)

The first azotea on our list, Ático 11 is perched atop the sprawling expanse of la Gran Vía, the most emblematic street in Madrid. It belongs to Iberostar Hotel Las Letras. Enter through the hotel lobby and take the elevator to the top floor, free of charge. Emerging onto to the rooftop is like stepping into an urban oasis. Flowers and greenery, sleek wood finishes and striped canopies, all give way to a cool, garden-like feel. Nestle into a cozy, verdant corner, or opt for a table with a view. of la Gran Vía The menu is unsurprisingly more expensive than your run of the mill tapas bar, but that comes with the elevated territory. Rest assured, you can still order a glass of wine for 4 euros, which, considering the stunning surroundings and free entry, is a hell of a deal.


Recommended Read: Where to Go Out in Los Angeles ~ A Basic Girl’s Guide


#2 El Viajero

Step out of the hustle and bustle of Gran Vía and into the narrow and winding streets of La Latina, one of Madrid’s most quintessential neighborhoods. There you will find El Viajero, a three-story corner building draped in cascading flora. The third floor hosts a small rooftop garden that will make you feel as though you’re a main character in a Spanish film. Many scenes for shows and movies have been filmed there, including the Netflix series Valeria.

If you’re looking to eat, El Viajero offers a simple, healthy menu with many delicious options. But, given the title of this post, you’re most likely in the market for liquid reinforcements. We settled for a simple tinto de verano, which was served alongside a complimentary side of potato chips for 4 euros each. The Spanish just do it better.

#3 Ginkgo Sky Bar

One last posh locale to explore before we head to some more simple, local favorites. Ginkgo Sky Bar is one of the most upscale, elegant terrazas of the city, offering 360 degree views of Plaza España and El Palacio Real. Unlike Ático 11, entry is unfortunately not complimentary. The fee to climb the elevator to the urban peak is 8 euros per person, but the vibe does not disappoint. The floor in the center of the terrace is glass, suspended above the swimming pool with transparent floor.

The menu at Ginkgo is, of course, on the pricey side. Specialty cocktails start at 14 euros a glass. To save a couple bucks and stay on the vino theme, we went for a white wine at 7 euros a glass. So in total, the entire rooftop experience costed us 15 euros a person. If you’re into amazing views and cool vibes, I would say it is worth the extra expense!

#4 Mercado San Miguel

All those rooftops have had us in our chairs for too long. It’s time to get up and move with the rhythms of a madrileño market. Mercado San Miguel is a tapas spot, more than anything; however, it’s also a great spot for a glass of sangria or vermut. Plus, ya gotta eat to be able to keep drinking. Located in barrio La Latina, the covered market boasts its original iron framework with glass windows throughout. The stalls are always buzzing, attracting adventurous and hungry travelers from all around the world. Once you have a drink in hand, you can work your way through fresh marisco, jamón ibérico, croquetas, and allllll the queso. ¡Buen provecho!

#5 Calle Cava Baja

To round out the list of where to grab a drink in Madrid, we have another tapas destination that makes for an equally fun drinking route. Calle Cava Baja is one of the most lively streets in Madrid, boasting 50 bars in only 300 meters. That’s less than the length of a track, imagine. Here you can bounce around from bar to bar, enjoying complimentary tapas with your cañas or vino, and rubbing elbows with travelers and locals alike. Many of the bars can get loud and become standing room only, but that’s all part of the experience. I won’t prescribe one single bar in particular. I recommend you flit in and out of various spots, allowing the buzz of voices and smell of patatas bravas to guide you. Y ahora, ¡a gozar!


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Moving to Cayman: What to Pack vs. Leave Behind

Moving to Cayman: What to Pack vs. Leave Behind

So you’re really doing it. You’re really moving to Cayman. It may seem insane to you right now, or maybe you’re someone who does stuff like this all the time… Whatever the case, rest assured, many expats have come before you and many will follow in your steps. The question remains: how in God’s name are you going to pack your entire life into a couple of suitcases? Well, as someone who has been in your very shoes, I can deliver a few pointers. But inevitably, you’re going to pack incorrectly anyway. Let that be a relief. It’s just part of the experience.

When I moved to Cayman, I packed one large suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a backpack. I know other people who shipped boxes of stuff before or after moving, but don’t ask me how to do that. Honestly, I think it’s cheating. Moving to an island means adopting a bit of minimalism. Also, as much as people complain about Cayman stores and prices, there are still plenty of places to shop. However, it can take a bit of time to understand the lay of the land — where to buy what. That being said, I’ve crafted a list below of island essentials that will make your first few months more convenient and comfortable.

Checklist for Moving to Cayman

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries / Cosmetics
  • Electronics
  • Medicines
  • Important Documents / Money

Clothes

  • Swimsuits (more than one) – You will be spending a lot of time in a swimsuit. I would bring at least three different options to start because swimsuits are pretty expensive on island
  • Flip-flops / Sandals – Leave your heels at home. Okay, bring one pair. Cayman is a gloriously easy-going place where sandals are widely accepted pretty much anywhere you go
  • Running/walking shoes
  • Casual clothes in general – before moving, try to get a sense of your employer’s dress code. In my experience, workplace attire is much more lax in Cayman. There are certain occasions in which you could dress up. For example, brunch or work events. But, for the most part, dress is casual island-wide. Plan for comfort because it’s hot and you will sweat. Loose fitting, light clothing is key.
  • Sundresses for brunch!
  • T-shirts and tank tops
  • Lightweight long sleeves – come in handy while out in the sun and on the beach
  • Shorts and breathable pants – my denim came along for the ride! Because dress is casual, I often wear jeans to work
  • Light rain jacket – Cayman has unpredictable pockets of downpour and you will get wet!
  • Workout clothes – at most workout classes, girls are wearing sports bras and yoga pants/and or bike shorts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Hats – the wider the brim, the better!
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare glasses
  • Fanny pack 🙂 – arguably not an essential when moving to Cayman, however, it proves incredibly convenient on beach walks!

Recommended Read: What to Wear in the Cayman Islands

Toiletries / Cosmetics

  • Favorite sunscreen (Cayman has the basics but not a ton of variety) The dermatologist-grade face sunscreen is available but can be expensive. I use Heliocore – a bottle that costed me $35 in Spain was $75 in Cayman.
  • Travel-size toiletries – so you won’t be forced to go to the supermarket straight away (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, floss)
  • Face wash / face creams – one or two of your go-to skincare products
  • Contacts and contact solution
  • Nail kit
  • Lip balm
  • Makeup – Cayman has some decent makeup options whether it be drugstore essentials at the pharmacy or CEL Beauty or higher end products at MAC and the perfume stores in Georgetown. The prices aren’t too different from what I buy in the US. It is still a good idea though, to stock up on your go-to makeup items before the trip in case you can’t find them right away
  • Menstrual cup

Electronics

  • Phone + Charger (if your phone is unlocked, you can get a Cayman SIM card from Digicel or Flow)
  • Extra charger if you have one! – just in case you — I don’t know — foster a dog and it chews through your charger…
  • Laptop + Charger
  • GoPro + Accessories – if you plan to do a lot of snorkeling / diving, you might like to record your adventures!
  • Headphones / Ear buds
  • Sport watch
  • Roku – small and can be plugged into your TV for easy access to streaming apps

Medicines

Once you arrive on island, you can make your rounds to the supermarket and pharmacy, but it’s not a bad idea to have a few essentials on hand for your travels

  • Prescriptions – at least 4 weeks worth until you can get set up with a doctor on island
  • Ibuprofen
  • Dramamine
  • Probiotics
  • Magnesium (to help with sleep)

Important Documents

When moving to Cayman, or anywhere abroad, it is important to have on hand the official copies of key documents either to prove your identity or recover lost forms of ID like a driver’s license or passport. Passports and birth certificates are the only true validity of your identity. Keep them safe overseas! Also, if you have already been sent your work permit, you should have it on your mobile device or print it out prior to traveling along with your COVID vaccine card

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Work permit
  • COVID vaccine/booster card (physical copy and QR code if you have it)
  • Visa information (if applicable)
  • Doctor certified prescriptions
  • Marriage certificate
  • Driver’s license

Money

Once on island, your employer will issue you an employment letter so you can open a personal bank account. In the meantime, ensure you can use your credit and debit cards internationally. Contact your home bank ahead of time and let them know where you will be. US currency is also accepted everywhere if you happen to be bringing US dollars. ATMs are available at most bank branches and some supermarkets.

What NOT to Pack

  • Overly formal clothes – maybe just one or two outfits in case you attend a work event or gala
  • Warm clothes – one sweatshirt and one pair of sweatpants for home will be just fine! Only bring warm clothes if you plan to immediately travel to places like New York or Colorado while living in Cayman
  • Don’t take all of your clothes or shoes! – Key word: minimalism
  • Don’t pack a year supply of tampons and pads – you can find these at any pharmacy or supermarket, plus menstrual cups really are the way to go
  • Limit large-size toiletries – stick to travel size except for those items that may be hard to find/expensive like my Heliocare sunscreen, for example
  • Towels – wherever your employer is lodging you, towels will be available. In between your relocation digs and your permanent residence, you will be able to buy towels at Kirk Home, AL Thompson, or Cost U Less. Also, the expats are rather infamous for stealing the towels from Sunshine Suites so that’s always an option (lol)
  • Beach bag – this is another item that could take up a lot space…my entire first year on island I used a reusable grocery bag from Kirk as my beach bag and it served me well
  • Adult toys – I’m serious…The importation, possession and distribution of sex toys are considered offences under Cayman’s penal code. NOT a great way to start your new island life!!

Have more questions about moving to Cayman? Consult Cayman Resident for a detailed guide for living and working in the Cayman Islands. Best of luck on your new adventure!

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Girls Trip Guide to Savannah & Tybee Island, GA

Savannah, Georgia is the ultimate 2-for-1 when it comes to Girls Trip Get-Aways. The city center oozes southern charm with its iconic Spanish moss-adorned oak trees and historic high-stooped homes. But, who cares about that when what we really came for were the City Market bars and open container laws? Just kidding, we came for both. 

If these elements aren’t enough to entice you and your gals, Savannah also prides itself on their adorable neighboring beach community just 20 minutes down the road — Tybee Island. Tybee is where we stayed, just steps away from its quintessential wide sandy beach.

Although we weren’t able to check all our items from our Savannah travel list, we did have a pretty unbeatable trip. Read on to plan your Savannah girls trip with festivity and flair. 

savannah

Where to Stay

As aforementioned, we stayed on Tybee Island, just steps away from the beach. Our island pad for the week was at South Beach Ocean Condos, hosted by Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals. We found this property through Airbnb at roughly $300/night for max 6 guests. (2 bedrooms and a pull out couch). The beach was a literal stone’s throw from our front door and we could see the ocean from our balcony. We were about that life.

What is the Tybee vibe?

Okay, so the Tybee vibe is golf carts, bicycles, flip-flops, beach umbrellas, sand dunes, ice cream shops, dolphins, and gollyyyyy, justa whole-lotta local charm. It’s crawling with families and ocean revelers just out for a low-key good time. This place is the opposite of pretentious and everyone is just doing their own thing which is great. 

Tybee Favorites

Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure Tours

10/10! We saw many dolphins throughout the hour and a half tour, but if for some reason you don’t see dolphins when you go, the company will rebook you at no cost on another tour. Our group went at sunset which I highly recommend as it provides a gorgeous backdrop for the already stunning dolphins. Being out on the boat offers a unique vantage point of the island that you would miss out on from shore. You will also walk away with some random dolphin facts…you never know when those may come in handy…

**BONUS: While loading onto the boat, we saw a lemon shark up close from the floating dock! 

CoCo’s Sunset Grille

We went to CoCo’s right before our dolphin tour and ordered some drinks to go. They have a rooftop patio which overlooks Lazaretto Creek. It was certainly an ambient and tranquil setting for our dolphin pre-game. 

The Beach (obviously)

It goes without saying that the beach is Tybee’s main attraction. The sand is dotted with chairs and umbrellas up and down the shoreline. The water is teeming with ambitious boogie-boarders, happy families, and even the occasional kite-surfer. Overall, the beach is an impeccably wholesome vibe ideal for summer fun. 

Tybee Island

The Deck BeachBar and Kitchen

The Deck was the first place we went to after arriving on Tybee. We ordered a round (or two) of spicy margaritas to kick off our stay and set the tone for our trip. Set back behind the sand dunes, The Deck boasts an oceanview and eternal summer vibes that will certainly get your trip off on the right foot. 

The Sand Bar

A bit random, we were simply walking by this bar en route to the ice cream shoppe when the bouncer stepped outside and informed us they’d have a DJ later that night. DJ Blue Ice. We thought the name was cool so we mentally committed to returning. Low and behold, the DJ lived up to his name and there was something of a joint birthday party being thrown for him and a very nice lady named Lizzy. We were just happy to be along for the ride. All in all, it was a cool little place with nice people and a nice atmosphere.

Huc-A-Poos

Even more random, was our discovery of Huc-A-Poos. Actually, Lizzy the birthday girl recommended it. The bouncer ordered us a Breezy Taxi and we cruised a few miles down the road, turned down a dirt road, and found ourselves at Poos, a bar and restaurant specializing in pizza. The bar itself is organized chaos. The walls are adorned with old license plates, dollar bills, bumper stickers, album covers, and everything in between. The bartenders were two sheets to the wind and there was someone who may or may not have worked there walking around with his gut on display. We wandered outside where some locals were playing bags and the night ended with my friend challenging one to a foot race. She fell, but she’s okay. All this to say, if you’re looking for a strange/authentic local experience, go to Huc-A-Poos at midnight on a Monday. Just don’t count on a ride home. (More on that below)

Savannah

Let’s not beat around the Spanish moss, basically all we did in Savannah was drink. But we’re 5 hometown best friends who only get together once a year so we had a lot to celebrate, okay? Check out our three favorite Savannah Bars below. 

savannah Georgia

Savannah Favorites

The Grove

The Grove is a City Market bar and restaurant with 3 distinct levels. We started our night out in Savannah with drinks and live music on the rooftop terrace. The band was great and we enjoyed our vantage point from the roof which allowed us to scope out our second bar: Treehouse (cool, but not on the list because the promoter basically called us old). We later came back to the Grove to finish out the night on the second floor. Unlike the ground floor, which is bright and airy, the second floor has much more of a club vibe. We could have stayed there until bar-close but our friend basically fell asleep on the dance floor and we had to call it quits.

Rogue Water Tap House

Another place on our Savannah/Tybee list that we would not have heard of if it weren’t for the locals. The bartender at the Warehouse recommended it to us for their karaoke on the second floor. It was a Monday night so the bar was on the quiet side, but the atmosphere still delivered. Especially noteworthy were the good-spirited bartenders who helped tick off some of our bachelorette scavenger hunt items, even the flaming Statue of Liberty shot. (You didn’t hear it from me).

Totally Awesome Bar

While at Rogue Water, someone recommended to us ‘Totally Awesome Bar’ which happened to be hosting a Silent Disco that very night. None of us had ever been to a silent disco and we decided it would be essential to our girls’ trip to partake. We made our way downstairs to the underground bar, decked out in an 80s and 90s theme with old school video games and pool tables. We got our headphones, turned the dial up, and started the party. Do I think we would have liked this bar as much had they NOT been hosting a silent disco? Probably not. But we were in the right place at the right time and that’s called alignment!!


What to Pack

  • Do NOT and I repeat, do NOT wear heels in Savannah. Even if you are Bella Hadid, don’t do it. Because if the cobblestone doesn’t do you in, the vertigo-inducing historic steps will. And you may not live to tell the tale. Pack sneakers and leave anything even slightly destabilizing at home. 
  • Err on the side of casual – Savannah and Tybee are not flashy places. Nobody will be impressed and it’s too hot for that shit anyway. You need a swimsuit, sandals, shorts, t-shirts, shorts, and if you’re feeling really glitzy, a sundress or skirt.
  • Hat, sunglasses, and a tried and tested sunscreen because she burns…we sported coastal grandmother-esque sun visors for the duration of our trip and our skin does thank us for it
  • I personally love to sport a bandana headband and I do think it fits the vibe in Savannah but you do you

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Again, BEWARE the cobblestones and those damned historic steps
  • You can Uber/Lyft to and from Tybee but it was definitely easier to get a ride TO Savannah rather than back to Tybee. Drivers become more sparse and more expensive the later it gets (also weeknight drivers are fewer). 
  • The Breezy Taxi works for getting around Tybee but is not the most reliable. The guy who dropped us off at Huc-A-Poos told us he’d be back to get us later but we called infinite times and nobody picked up. 
  • Lines – Savannah nightlife is its strongest Fridays and Saturdays which means there can be a wait to get into some of the bigger bars. We really wanted to go to Saddlebags, but the line seemed endless and we got impatient. We later regretted this but at the time we just couldn’t be bothered. 

There you have it! Enjoy all that Savannah has to offer! Listen to the locals — they are kind and know their city best!

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11 Trendy New Places in Grand Cayman, November 2021

November 20th represents the light at the end of the tunnel for Cayman residents and visitors alike. A lot has happened during the nearly 2-year border-closure. While we feel for the struggles of existing businesses, we also celebrate the beginnings of some very promising new places. If you’re visiting the island for the first time […]

20 Signs You Are Basic AF – Cayman Edition

We left our countries, we moved to the Cayman Islands, and now we think we are absolved of all ‘basic betch’ tendencies. Guess again. Mainstream culture will hunt us down and find us even on a tiny rock in the Caribbean Sea. It tempts us with surface level validation and keeps us coming back for […]

You May Be A Cayman Expat If…

Let’s call a spade a spade. We Cayman expats are a quirky, pretentious bunch. While most of us are generally kind, well-intentioned people, we are all guilty of falling into some slightly pompous (often predictable) behaviors…myself included. Plop someone in paradise, give them a nice salary, and BOOM, you’ve got a diminished grip on reality […]

MEET KATE

 Hi, I’m Kate! I’m a Wisconsin native who traded her snow boots for flip-flops in May of 2020 when I packed my whole life into two suitcases and moved to the Cayman Islands with my partner, Bryan.  I created Island Diaries as a way to document my island adventures and share about the Cayman lifestyle. A Midwest girl at heart, I bring a fresh perspective to Caribbean life, serving as a guide for locals and tourists alike on all things Cayman Islands. Whether you are local to Cayman, planning to visit, or just curious about island life, I invite you to explore Island Diaries and let this site guide you on your next island adventure!

NIGHT LIFE: Where to Go Out in Grand Cayman (A Working List)

NIGHT LIFE: Where to Go Out in Grand Cayman (A Working List)

The land of eternal celebration, Grand Cayman has no shortage of drinking holes. The question remains, which of these are worth patronizing? It depends. Do you want to sip Negronis alongside artsy blue checks? *Attempt* to whine on a locally dominated dance floor? Or do you want to be shoulder to shoulder with a sea of expats belting out ‘Sweet Caroline’ into the wee hours of the morning?

You can have all of that, and more. All in the span of a few hours, really. For the most part, the nights to go out in Cayman are Friday and Saturday, with the exception of the Wharf on Tuesday nights. Keep reading to find out where to go out in Cayman!

***This is a working list that will be updated in accordance with my own experience. I will continue drinking and dancing my way through Cayman…purely for research purposes. Obviously. 😉 Have any recommendations? Send them my way!

Sand Bar

The vibe at Sand Bar is very event-driven. They are known to have DJs on Friday nights, though the music is overwhelmingly house and electronic. Even I (who would rather bang my head to total silence than listen to EDM) have had a great time at Sand Bar on Friday nights. The prime oceanfront location and young, chill atmosphere are its saving grace. The DJ and dance floor are set up on the lower level, directly on the water. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook to hear about their upcoming events.

go out in cayman
Photo: Sand Bar

Cuba Libre

On Saturday nights, Cuba Libre hosts a salsa party with free entry from 9-12 pm. Fuego Latino hosts the event and provides a short lesson at the beginning for anyone interested in learning the steps and even a few turns. Then, DJ Fuego begins and plays a wide variety of salsa, bachata, merengue, and, if we’re lucky, reguetón. The vibe on Saturdays is consistently good and is best enjoyed with a mojito in hand. Obviously. The dance floor showcases all levels of salseros, from beginners to advanced, to those who can only dance with alcohol in their systems. Then, of course, there are those lurking in the wings who don’t dance at all. Don’t be one of them.

The Wharf

We don’t have to wait for the weekend to go out in Cayman. Tuesday nights are where it’s at at the Wharf, an oceanside bar and restaurant where you can dance beneath the stars. Every Tuesday they host ‘Salsa at the Wharf,’ from 9:30 pm to 12:30 am. Similar to Cuba Libre, there is short lesson at the beginning where you can learn some basic steps and turns, then the dance floor starts to fill up as the night goes on. Additionally, on the last Friday of every month, The Wharf hosts ‘Boogie Nights,’ a disco-themed dance party from 9 pm to 1:30 am.

Recommended Read: 11 TRENDY NEW PLACES IN GRAND CAYMAN, NOVEMBER 2021

Paradise Pizza’s Mambo Italiano

Saturday night’s only, Paradise Pizza hosts a very niche event that has garnered a great deal of attention from locals and visitors alike. Rub elbows with the high falutin Palm Heights crowd and prepare for a possible celeb sighting. Dinner service starts at 7:00 pm and features a 4-course meal for 29 CI. Sounds like a great deal until you order a few Negronis and a round of shots and BOOM, $100 gone. But it IS outrageously fun. After most the food has been served they start karaoke which always kicks off with a Frank Sinatra solo by the larger-than-life head chef, Jake. The party goes until about 11 pm or until yours ears start to bleed.

**Definitely need to make a reservation — at least a week in advance

Back Room

Dark and intimate, this cigar bar will leave you reeking of ash tray. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. If there’s no space at the bar, you can drift toward the namesake ‘Back Room,’ lined with plush couches ideal for chilling with a group of friends. It can draw a good crowd on Fridays and Saturdays. And although it’s typically a low key vibe, I seem to recall dancing there on one particularly wild night. Aside from the cigars, they are also known for making a mean espresso martini that will keep you going late, or at least late for Cayman standards.

Carib Café

Located in Georgetown, not far from the waterfront, Carib Café is a conundrum of a place. The music is LOUD and prime for dancing; however, very few are actually dancing. We’ve never let that minor detail prevent us from taking to the dance floor, and you shouldn’t either. Just know, everyone will be staring at you…The. Entire. Time. The bar is inside but the real vibe is on the outdoor patio, decorated with bright, painted murals and hanging shade sails. The best nights to go are Thursday for Latin music or Friday for their regular DJ who plays a rather sporadic mix of soca, reggae, Afro beats, and when we’re really lucky, reguetón. Definitely one to work up to if you like to go out in Cayman.

Recommended Read: 11 MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES IN GRAND CAYMAN

Mango Tree

A much more spacious, less judgmental version of Carib Café. Mango Tree is a bar and restaurant during the day, but on Fridays it transforms into a night life venue for locals and unhinged expats alike. Its location is somewhat unexpected — right next to the airport, but the atmosphere is great. Huge bar, many tables and TVs, and even a stripper pole — *wink.* While you still will not find a sea of party-goers taking to the dance floor, there is at least more participation than in Carib Café. And overall, less dirty looks. The times I have been the music has always been very danceable and the service super quick!

The Bird

This is where you will inevitably end your night, reluctantly singing along to some stupid party anthem while being steam-rolled by a sea of drunk bodies. The Bird is essentially for those not ready to go home yet, desperately clinging to the last hour before bar-close. If you go around 1 am, you will invariably find all the expat rugby and Gaelic players in wavering stages of inebriation, but what you won’t find is someone to take your drink order. Last time I just walked in with my own Truly and tried to stay out of the way. The party overflows onto the sidewalk and parking lot, where you can enjoy a chorus of revving Honda Accord engines and other late night debauchery.

go out in cayman
Photo: The Bird

That’s it for now! Stay tuned as I continue to explore the world of Cayman night life. I know there is a lot of ground left to cover.

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Where to Go Out in Los Angeles: A Basic Girl’s Guide

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MEET KATE

 Hi, I’m Kate! I’m a Wisconsin native who traded her snow boots for flip-flops in May of 2020 when I packed my whole life into two suitcases and moved to the Cayman Islands with my partner, Bryan.  I created Island Diaries as a way to document my island adventures and share about the Cayman lifestyle. A Midwest girl at heart, I bring a fresh perspective to Caribbean life, serving as a guide for locals and tourists alike on all things Cayman Islands. Whether you are local to Cayman, planning to visit, or just curious about island life, I invite you to explore Island Diaries and let this site guide you on your next island adventure!

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7 Amazing Places to Get Breakfast in Grand Cayman

7 Amazing Places to Get Breakfast in Grand Cayman

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…even more important if your day involves beaching and drinking. Start your morning with a solid foundation that will fuel you through your sun-soaked afternoon. Many Cayman restaurants offer hearty breakfast menus at reasonable prices. From local diners to seaside hideaways, I’ve got you covered.

The Diner

The Diner is a hidden gem tucked away in West Bay. (Between Heritage Kitchen and Alfresco). This cozy family restaurant showcases local ingredients with hearty comfort food plates; good for the soul and easy on the wallet. You’ll come for the menu options but stay for the warm hospitality and welcoming environment. I recommend: The omelette (personalized toppings…try it with local callaloo!)

Coconut Joe’s

Located on West Bay Road, opposite the Hampton Inn, Coconut’s Joe’s is known for their affordable, All-American breakfast. (Also their coconuts)! Though directly off the busy road, the restaurant feels tucked away, shaded by palm trees and umbrellas. It’s a rustic meets tropical breakfast oasis. One that is sure to satisfy your morning cravings. I recommend: Coconut French toast and coconut water (served out of the coconut) …what can I say, I like coconut!

Recommended Read: 7 BEST HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN GRAND CAYMAN

Cayman Cabana

The most scenic breakfast spot on island, Cayman Cabana offers authentic Caribbean dishes right on Georgetown’s waterfront. The restaurant proudly supports Cayman’s local farmers and fisherman and their menu reflects that collaboration. I recommend the saltfish & ackee for a true island breakfast!

Bluestone Lane

Bluestone Lane boasts a beautifully designed café space a block away from Georgetown waterfront. Their Australian-inspired menu features healthy favorites such as a the Avocado Smash, Good Grains Granola, and Buddha Bowl.  It has an attractive city vibe and arguably, some of the most expertly crafted coffee drinks on island. I recommend: Breakfast Bowl – Tossed baby kale, heirloom tomatoes, feta, avocado, farro & a poached egg paired with a Flat White Coffee

Southwest Collective

So you want to eat breakfast from the comfort of AC, but also enjoy an ocean view? Say no more. Located on the second floor of Harbour Place in GT waterfront, Southwest Collective overlooks the port, offering expansive views of the Caribbean Sea. Not only is the atmosphere great, but the matcha smoothies are even better.

Recommended Read: 11 TRENDY NEW PLACES IN GRAND CAYMAN, NOVEMBER 2021

Bread and Chocolate

Located in Georgetown center, Bread & Chocolate is a quirky little hole-in-the-wall bistro serving all day vegan breakfast as well as soups, salads, and sandwiches. Nestle into a cozy table or at the bistro bar and dig into a their namesake French toast stuffed with hazelnut butter and bananas. Portions are generous and the food is delicious! I recommend: Breakfast Plate – tofu scramble, hickory smoked tempeh, tomato, and house-made garlic aioli on a fresh baked sesame seed bun. Served with home fries and fresh fruit

Island Naturals

Island Naturals makes a mean vegan chorizo. I would eat it every meal for the rest of my life. That being said, I highly recommend ordering the hearty breakfast wrap. It’s loaded with chorizo, potato, onion, tomato, jalapeño, spinach, and cashew cheese. Prepare for your mind to be blown. Additionally, they have great smoothies and açaí bowls, making them a well-rounded spot for a healthy morning meal.

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 Hi, I’m Kate! I’m a Wisconsin native who traded her snow boots for flip-flops in May of 2020 when I packed my whole life into two suitcases and moved to the Cayman Islands with my partner, Bryan.  I created Island Diaries as a way to document my island adventures and share about the Cayman lifestyle. A Midwest girl at heart, I bring a fresh perspective to Caribbean life, serving as a guide for locals and tourists alike on all things Cayman Islands. Whether you are local to Cayman, planning to visit, or just curious about island life, I invite you to explore Island Diaries and let this site guide you on your next island adventure!

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Road Trip in Style: Renting a Moke in Grand Cayman

Road Trip in Style: Renting a Moke in Grand Cayman

Those who live in Cayman, or visit frequently, know the island has finite activity options. Everything seems to revolve around the ocean or alcohol. (Or both simultaneously). Which makes sense because I mean, duh, this is is the Caribbean. Cruising around the island in a Moke though, is an adventure that allows you to appreciate the often overlooked beauty of the less populated, less developed parts of Grand Cayman. Keep reading to find out how to rent a Moke and hear my tips on WHERE to drive this impossibly cool island car!!

How to Rent

It is my understanding that there are multiple car rental companies offering Mokes, but the one that I went with was Hertz. You can find the contact information for Moke rental on their website. Ali was incredibly laid back and helpful, which made reserving the vehicle super easy. I reserved about a month in advance to be safe as there are only so many Mokes on island!

The price is around USD $200/day (or CI $170), which is obviously much more than a standard car, but entirely worth it! The Moke seats 4 people, so if the price is a bit steep for you, try splitting it with your passengers. Contact Hertz directly to confirm pricing as well as insurance rates/options.

Get to Know the Car

Rest assured, it drives automatic. That was my first question. No one would have been safe had I tried to drive manual 🙂

It has a pretty decent sound system with a radio and what appeared to be an aux cord jack.

There is a canvas cover which can be easily removed and stored in a small cabinet. You can also put it back on with no problem.

There is basically no room to put anything, so pack light!

It’s NOT the most comfortable vehicle I’ve driven, but I suppose that comes with the territory.

Still unclear if it is pronounced ‘mok’ or ‘mokey.’ Remains a mystery.

I did not get to choose my color, but then again, I didn’t ask. I have seen black, green, yellow, and orange on island!

Where to Go: The East End Tour

Stop 1: Pedro St. James

An overlooked, hidden gem with deep-blue vistas and historical charm, this stop has a lot to offer. Our group kicked off the tour with a few cocktails which we enjoyed on the grassy area overlooking the sea.

If feeling adventurous, Pedro St. James is also known for its Natural Topaz Swimming Pool. It fills when the sea is rough and the waves reach over the rocks. Be warned though, the trek to this pristine oasis is not for the feint of heart (nor for the flip-flop clad wanderer). You must cross a wide expanse of iron-shore, so come prepared with good shoes! Also come prepared to be disappointed if the pool is empty… 🙁

Photo Credit: Brandyn Murray

Stop 2: Czech Inn

A quirky and unexpected roadside shack with a LOT of character. Definitely worth a visit to gander at their eclectic collection of keepsakes and to enjoy a delicious meal. The prices are reasonable and the owner is very friendly! They are apparently known for their Schnitzel and ribs (don’t ask me, I’m pescatarian). You can also just come here for a drink, so long as you have a DD!! 😉

czech inn cayman
Photo Credit: Czech Inn

Stop 3: Blow Holes

Another roadside pit stop that will really blow your mind! Just kidding, the blow holes themselves aren’t particularly awe-inducing but the view is incredible and it makes for a nice (perfectly timed) photo op! Beware, there is not great signage. As you’re driving, the view will start to open up, free from trees and buildings. You will see a rocky roadside barrier wall lovingly called “Lover’s Wall,” and soon after that will be the Blow Holes!

blowholes

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Stop 4: Tukka

Just a stone’s throw from the expansive Caribbean Sea, with a view overlooking the Wreck of the Ten Sails, Tukka is the perfect East End lunch spot. The menu presents a fresh and delightful collaboration of Caribbean meets Aussie cuisine. I highly recommend the lion fish tacos and seafood platter, but then again, basically everything there is good!

tukka east end

Stop 5: Kaibo

Though a bit obvious, and possibly overrun by tourists, Kaibo is a must-see. This was our last stop on the tour before we headed back to Georgetown. It will charm you with its tiki bar meets European beach chic aesthetic. Sink your toes into the sand on their beach picnic tables and watch the boats coast into the dock. I recommend their wood-fire pizzas and of course, their MUDSLIDES! (The nonofficial drink of the Cayman Islands).

Kaibo
Photo Credit: Cayman Good Taste

BONUS:

Heritage Kitchen Sea Wall

I’m throwing you for a bit of a loop as Heritage Kitchen is on the complete opposite side of the island. However, if you need to return your Moke and are headed that direction anyway, I recommend driving out to West Bay and parking in front of Heritage Kitchen along the sea wall. It is the perfect spot to watch the sunset FROM the Moke, if you so please.

heritage kitchen sea wall

Happy Moking!!

My 3-Day New York City Itinerary: Culture, Cuisine, and Clubbing

My 3-Day New York City Itinerary: Culture, Cuisine, and Clubbing

Planning an express trip to a city as big as New York can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Pick out a couple of must-see neighborhoods and pre-book one “main event” for each day you’re there… (I will help you with that!) Then, let the city guide you with its fast lane charm and sea of complex characters. There will never be a dull moment. If there is, you’ve done something wrong!

Where to stay: Sonder One Platt, Financial District

Sonder is an affordable boutique hotel with locations in major cities all around the globe. There are 7 just in New York City alone. Think of a design-centric Airbnb but with New Age traveler technology. Your room number and passcode are provided through the Sonder app where you can also make requests for housekeeping. There is at least one staff member on site 24/7; otherwise, check-in & check-out are completely contactless. The room features a full kitchen and building amenities include a gym, spacious lounge, and rooftop. They also offer luggage storage which is so key!

The Financial District, or Fidi, is a wonderful spot to explore as it is home to many top attractions including Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, World Trade Center, Pier 17, Stone Street, and much more. It is also well-connected to the rest of Manhattan, just 30 minutes via Subway to Central Park or Rockefeller Center.

How to Get Around

During our stay in New York City, we used a combination of Subway, Uber, and of course, lots and lots of walking. I believe taking the Subway is a must if you want the full New York experience. It is definitely the most affordable option and it provides a glimpse into the life of locals, from glamorous to eccentric to downright bizarre. Of course, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and protect your possessions, but for the most part the Subway is safe and always well-populated. Uber rides range from $20 to $60, so we only took it when we absolutely had to.

subway

Day 1

We flew into Newark and took an Uber into the city. It was around $40 and took about 30 minutes. We arrived to Sonder well before check-in at 12 pm but they allowed us to store our luggage. From there, we wasted no time and jumped right into the activities below!

Lunch @ Stone Street: Mad Dog & Beans Mexican Cantina

Stone Street is one of the city’s oldest streets and was actually the first road to be paved in New Amsterdam, which later became New York. Cobblestone streets and Dutch colonial style buildings set the scene for a picturesque lunch spot. In winter they have heated bubbles perfect for outdoor, COVID-friendly seating. There were many options for dining, all with enticing menus, but we settled on Mad Dog & Beans Mexican Cantina. There I ordered sangria, street corn, and a papaya salad (actually served out of a papaya–woah!) ¡Delicioso!

maddogny

Wall Street, Stock Exchange, World Trade Center

Given the express nature of this trip, we did little more than walk by these attractions, admiring them from the outside. Worth it, though! We actually weren’t able to make it to the World Trade Center (will save for a future visit), but it’s very doable because each of these attractions are within walking distance. On Wall Street you can snap a picture with the bull (some people were actually climbing on top of its head — don’t be that person).

Pier 17

This was a spot that we stumbled on after picking up post-lunch Americanos at Starbucks. We were out for a walk by the river, just a couple blocks off of Stone Street and wandered up the elevator to the rooftop where apparently, they put on concerts during the summer. There were ‘Cozy Winter Cabins,’ set up at the time, for the holidays, but we just drank our coffee on the terrace overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. Simply gorgeous and definitely worth a visit if in the area!

5th Avenue – Rockefeller Center – Bryant Park

Tourist trap? Yes. Must-see? Also, yes. From a visitor perspective, these three destinations feel like quintessential New York City. 5th Avenue gives off major ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ vibes while Rockefeller Center is where they film the Today show and also home to the famous Christmas tree. It is close to Times Square if you should want to visit that as well, (not my cup of tea). Though we had already seen these spots on our first visit to New York, we wanted to explore them again during the holidays. You can start near Central Park, walk the length of 5th Avenue (window shop ’til you drop!) and stop along the way at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park.

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Tree

Jazz Club: Flat Iron Room

From Bryant Park, we walked about 20 minutes south to the Flat Iron District, home of the namesake Flatiron Building as well as a top notch, snazzy jazz club – the Flat Iron Room. A little lazy on the names if you ask me, but the club speaks for itself. Entering through the secluded corridor you’ll be escorted to a dark room with intimate tables facing the stage where jazz musicians perform nightly. MAJOR speakeasy vibes Reserve in advance as the place was fully booked the night we went. The reservation gets you a two-hour slot at your table and from there, you can chill at the bar or the standing area if you so please.

Flat Iron Room

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Day 2

Uff da, if Day 1 wasn’t busy enough for you, get ready for Day 2! First stop, caffeine.

Coffee: Joe & The Juice

The city is littered with the chain café / juice bar fittingly named “Joe & The Juice.’ At times it felt like there was one on every block. The coffee is served in adorable pink and purple take-away cups that made me very happy indeed. I opted for a flat white and banana muffin which got my morning off the a sweet, lively start.

Joe & the Juice

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an art person…nor even a museum person. To be honest, I had only really heard of the MET because of the MET Gala. But, as an aspirant well-rounded traveler I thought it apt to pay a visit to the city’s most renowned museum located in the iconic Central Park. At $25 a ticket, I would say it is worth seeing. The best part? The Egyptian Temple of Dendur. That in itself makes the museum visit worthwhile!

Central Park

Given that the MET is located in Central Park, the most obvious pre or post museum activity would be to tour around the sprawling greens of Upper Manhattan. The best way to see the park, in my opinion, is to rent a bike. You will feel you are part of the action but can still hop off for photo ops at the Gapstow Bridge and rock lookout.

The West Village

While not an obvious transition from Central Park, this neighborhood was a must-see for me given my affinity for all things Sex and the City. Yes, you may have heard that Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in the series is located at 66 Perry Street, a classic New York City brownstone in the West Village. Fans can snap a picture in front of the stoop, but be careful not to walk on the stairs as the current owners do not love that their apartment is now a tourist attraction. (Hey, comes with the territory if you ask me!) While in the neighborhood you can stop at Magnolia Bakery for a sweet treat.

Dinner: Felice 56

In a city overflowing with Italian eateries, Felice leaves their mark as a classy, reputable chain with an authentic and delectable menu. We made a reservation for 7 pm and were treated to excellent service, fresh pasta, and a smooth, romantic ambience. I ordered Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, a pasta dish with some cheese that is fancier and much more mature than I will ever be.

Clubbing: LAVO

While not for the faint of heart, LAVO provides a quintessential New York nightlife experience that will get you close and personal to some major DJs and apparently, the occasional celebrity. (If that’s your thing). It was absolutely packed and definitely not conducive to social distancing, but that’s the price you have to pay if clubbing is on your New York agenda. It was outrageously fun and worth whatever variant I may have picked up there. We purchased tickets in advance for New Years Eve through Joonbug (fast pass is recommended unless you want to wait in an hour-long line). Visit their upcoming events page to buy tickets for specific DJs.

Day 3

Are you still kicking after that night out at LAVO? Good, because I’ve got a whole new line up excursions for your last day in New York City that you’re not going to want to sleep on!

COVID Testing

It’s time to talk about a necessary evil. To fly back to the Cayman Islands, we needed an antigen test the day before travel. There are many pop-up sites on the streets in high traffic areas of the city, but those can take 48 to 72 hours to receive results. Not to mention, some are exceptionally sketchy in appearance and overall vibe. We went to Bloom Labs and paid $75 for an antigen test that we got back in 3 hours. PCR tests are also available, albeit more expensive. There was a line outside the site but it went very quickly. I recommend this lab to any traveler needing quick results as it is an efficient, and professional testing site.

Murray Hill

From the testing center in Midtown, we went walking in search of a restaurant to satisfy our sudden Japanese craving and stumbled upon Mazu Szechuan Cuisine in the young, vibrant neighborhood of Murray Hill. While the restaurant wasn’t necessarily dripping in ambience, nor overly gourmet, it provided large portions and essentially got the job done. What was more impressive was the area, which as it turns out, is something of a nightlife hub for recent college grads. Definitely a cool place for young travelers to test out a new bar scene or grab a quick bite.

Brooklyn Bridge

Shifting gears, it’s time to get to Brooklyn before the sun sets. One way you can do this is by walking, jogging, or biking over the emblematic Brooklyn Bridge, which is roughly a mile in length. Of course, you can also drive over it too, but what’s the fun in that? When we walked it on our first visit to New York City in the summer, it was packed with photo-happy tourists and savage cyclists showing no mercy to those in their path. Travel vloggers beware.

Brooklyn Bridge

Dumbo

Whether you make it all the way across the bridge or go the route of Subway, once you’ve arrived in Brooklyn you must go to to the Pinterest-famous photo spot on the corner of Washington and Water Street. Old-fashioned red-brick buildings frame an iconic view of the steely-blue Manhattan Bridge. This photo-taking venue is located in the artsy neighborhood of Brooklyn named Dumbo. Your Instagram feed will thank you. From there, we walked to the waterfront and passed by Pebble Beach and Jane’s Carousel, stopping for a rest in the Time Out Market. Further walking adventures carried us all the way to 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge for the most expensive chai tea latte of my life in their coffee shop, Neighbors.

Brooklyn Nets Game

What do you do to reward your Instagram husband for taking countless pictures of you during your New York City trip? You agree to an NBA basketball game and will yourself to stay awake through all 4 quarters. Go Nets! Kevin Durant? Love that guy!

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North Side, Grand Cayman: Perfect Afternoon Itinerary

Tired of the Seven Mile scene? Ready to add some flavor to your standard weekend plans? This itinerary for North Side, Grand Cayman is simple, easy, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon! I have kept this list to 3 essential stops so that you may complete the tour in 3 hours or less […]

MEET KATE

 Hi, I’m Kate! I’m a Wisconsin native who traded her snow boots for flip-flops in May of 2020 when I packed my whole life into two suitcases and moved to the Cayman Islands with my partner, Bryan.  I created Island Diaries as a way to document my island adventures and share about the Cayman lifestyle. A Midwest girl at heart, I bring a fresh perspective to Caribbean life, serving as a guide for locals and tourists alike on all things Cayman Islands. Whether you are local to Cayman, planning to visit, or just curious about island life, I invite you to explore Island Diaries and let this site guide you on your next island adventure!

CAYMAN ISLANDS LIFESTYLE GUIDE

Island Living Done Right

THINGS TO DO IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

Island Travel and Lifestyle Tips

Palm Heights Vegan Brunch

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Balanced Living in the Cayman Islands

MY STORY: MOVING TO CAYMAN

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Top 3 Cayman Yoga Studios + My Class Recommendations

Top 3 Cayman Yoga Studios + My Class Recommendations

Here in Cayman, it’s all about balance. That means brunching on Sunday but still hitting the mat on Monday. Whether you’re a dedicated yogi or a downward dog dabbler, yoga is undoubtedly a great way to shake the manic Monday feeling and bring equilibrium into your week. While I myself fall into the latter category of dabbler, I’ve Chaturanga-ed my way through each of the featured studios and have formed opinions on all 3. (Hint: they each have their pros and cons). Read on to discover the Top 3 Cayman Yoga Studios and the classes I would recommend for each of them.

For chill beats and aromatherapy: Cayman Yoga Club

What’s to love? Clean white walls, modern design, and welcoming energy. Many of the teachers at CYC provide personalized, hands-on adjustments for their students in order to prevent injury and improve alignment. Their vinyasa classes flow beautifully to carefully-curated playlists, allowing you to slip deep into the movements. My favorite part of the classes, hands-down, is shavasana. Not just because I get to lie on the ground in corpse pose, but also because the teachers come around with cool, lavender-soaked towels, lightly pressing them over your eyelids. It doesn’t stop there; they also give heavenly mini massages to your temples and the back of your neck. You’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.

What’s NOT to love: The schedule is a bit sparse and there is not much variety in the class offerings. (Only vinyasa and slow flow).

The class to try: Vinyasa with Imani

Intro special: $59 for first 30 days, unlimited

Recommended Read: 7 Best Running Routes in Grand Cayman

For flowy, haute fitness vibes: Bliss Yoga

What’s to love? The apotheosis of Cayman yoga, Bliss offers a wide variety of buzz-worthy classes like Hot 26+2, Core, and Power. I always leave the studio feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and well, tired AF (in the best way possible). The classes are challenging yet beginner-accessible, a dynamic which has attracted a community of loyal island yogis. Although pricey (like the rest of Cayman), their retail shop features coveted brands like Lululemon and Manduka.

What’s NOT to love: Because of their popularity, Bliss classes tend to fill up, making the studio space feel tight and cramped. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like having other people’s feet in my face.

The class to try: Hot 26+2 with Manuella

Intro special: FREE for 7 days (limit 1 class per day) or $99 for 30 days (limit 1 class per day)

Recommended Read: An Inside Look Into Janine Martins’ Morning Routine

For Pitta energy and witchy retail: One Heart Yoga & Apothecary

What’s to love? One Heart is different from any yoga studio I’ve been to. Dark exposed ceilings and eye-popping pink lotuses create a chicly enigmatic space sure to inspire your practice. Most noteworthy is their 800 square foot, sound-proof studio fittingly named ‘Pitta,’ after the fiery Ayurvedic dosha. One Heart’s sweatiest and highest energy classes take place in this room, some heated by infrared panels so you’ll feel that sweet, sweet burn from the inside out. Need a pep talk before Mark makes you hold your third Wheel Pose of the class? Check out the west wall full of quotes from famous rappers like Tupac and Biggie. Yoga aside, their showers are amazing and their apothecary shop is full of alluring elixirs, teas, and ceremonial incense.

What’s NOT to love: Though purely anecdotal, I once attended a class at One Heart with a playlist that featured a song by Fetty Wap. I was instantly transported to my college party days which was not the vibe I was after. And no, it was not the hot trap class, it was unheated slow flow.

The class to try: Baptiste Power Yoga with Mark

Intro special: FREE for 7 days (limit 1 class per day) or $100 for 30 days (limit 1 class per day)

[BONUS] For the adventurous yogi: SUP Yoga, Vitamin Sea

What’s to love? Paddle board yoga on the iconic Seven Mile Beach will make you feel like a fierce island goddess, surrounded by stunning turquoise waters and inspiring women. Kiristen Cousins, Cayman’s SUP Queen is a breath of fresh air, creating a safe and welcoming environment which allows you to laugh at wobbles and falls while continuing to challenge yourself. This class encourages you to feed off group energy, gathering motivation from fellow yogis and Kiristen herself. You may even make a forever friend at the class…I did!

What’s NOT to love: If you are someone who gets sea sick you may need to take a non-drowsy dramamine or some form of ginger prior to class. While the Seven Mile venue is known to be very calm, you will still feel a gentle but constant rocking that could upset your equilibrium while balancing on the board.

The class to try: Paddleboard Yoga (if you have a membership with Bliss, you can book through them as well)

11 Trendy New Places in Grand Cayman, November 2021

11 Trendy New Places in Grand Cayman, November 2021

November 20th represents the light at the end of the tunnel for Cayman residents and visitors alike. A lot has happened during the nearly 2-year border-closure. While we feel for the struggles of existing businesses, we also celebrate the beginnings of some very promising new places. If you’re visiting the island for the first time since lockdown, there are many fresh spots to explore! Read on to discover 11 trendy new places in Grand Cayman.

1. Next Door

A hot new locale with speakeasy vibes, Next Door allows you to step away from the beach scene and into city life. (Even if just for one drink). Located ‘next door’ to its owner’s existing Camana Bay restaurant Agua, this ambient lounge serves up artfully-crafted cocktails in an undeniably classy setting. Stop in during their jazz nights, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 pm to 11 pm.

2. Ms. Piper’s

New on the island scene, Ms. Piper’s has made quite the splash thanks to their feminine vagabond aesthetic and cleverly curated menu. Soft pink tones and silver thatch details set the scene for an easy and breezy tropical oasis in the heart of Seven Mile Beach. Sip a Frappé Negroni poolside beneath a striped umbrella or nibble on croquetas and buñuelos in one of the ‘cottages’ many intimate nooks. You will fall in love with the iconic character that is Ms. Piper as she tells her life story through culinary creations and fearless female-inspired cocktails.

RECOMMENDED READ: NORTH SIDE, GRAND CAYMAN: PERFECT AFTERNOON ITINERARY

3. Paradise Pizza

Having opened during the dog days of lockdown, Paradise Pizza has been a saving grace to ‘za fanatics island-wide amidst border-closure. Their highly acclaimed Neapolitan-style pizzas like the Mr. White and Cayman Veg have enchanted our taste-buds to the point of no return. Most famously, Paradise has become the Saturday night spot, hosting a family-style event lovingly named Mambo Italiano: a 4 course pasta and pizza meal with a healthy side of karaoke.

11 trendy new places

4. Tomfoodery

Fresh on the Camana Bay restaurant scene, Tom Foodery is a vibrant fast-casual eatery. It delights the eyes with tropical murals, ocean-inspired art, and the gorgeous Tomfoodtree. (Made by 3 Girls and a Kiln using recycled materials). Their menu exudes creative Caribbean flair with innovative takes on island favorites. Try the Fried Fish-wich with escovitch and scotch bonnet aioli or the Breadfruit Salad with arugula, tomato, and avocado.

RECOMMENDED READ: 5 REASONS WHY WEST BAY SHOULD BE ON YOUR RADAR

5. Cuba Libre

Salsa dance the night away with a mojito in hand (or the namesake Cuba Libre). Our Caribbean neighbor doesn’t feel so far away with this exciting new venue located in West Shore Plaza. Stop in for a traditional Cuban meal featuring classics such as tostones rellenos and ropa vieja. Don’t forget to snap a picture of the gorgeous classic Cuban car that greets you upon entry. You will be instantly transported to La Habana Vieja!

6. The Diner

A new take on an island staple, The Diner is a hidden gem tucked away in West Bay. (Between Heritage Kitchen and Alfresco). This cozy family restaurant showcases local ingredients with hearty comfort food plates; good for the soul and easy on the wallet. You’ll come for the menu options but stay for the warm hospitality and welcoming environment.

7. Arepa 345

Decidedly the most unique and personalized new spot on the culinary scene, Arepa 345 is an homage to Venezuelan home-cooking. Chef John lovingly showcases the most popular arepas from Venezuela including Reina Pepiada, Pelúa, Dominó, and Perico. These delicious creations are prepared with flair and TLC out of a stylish black food truck on Lime Tree Avenue. (Across from Cost U Less).

RECOMMENDED READ: 7 BEST HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN GRAND CAYMAN

8. Seven Mile Greens

Seven Mile Burger’s earthy sister is Seven Mile Greens, perfect for those seeking healthy options in a pinch. Located in Governor’s Square, this fast-casual greens spot offers convenient and clean meals on-the-go. Build your own salad or order one of their deliciously-curated menu options. The generous portion sizes will leave you feeling satisfied and energized for island activities!

9. Driftwood Bar and Grill

Previously the Blue Iguana Grill, the Holiday Inn’s waterfront restaurant has undergone a major face lift and is ready to welcome visitors and locals alike as Driftwood Bar and Grill. Chill at the bar, catching a game on the big screen or lounge poolside with views of the calm and glittering North Sound. This casual island eatery will make you feel right at home with its friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere.

10. Tukka West Bay

This East End favorite has now opened up as second location in West Bay! Australian flavors with a Caribbean twist AND ocean views…what more could you ask for? Their daily catch is supplied by Cayman’s local fishermen and often features Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Snapper, and Lionfish. Enjoy these fresh “Aussi meets Cayman” dishes from their shaded terrace overlooking the Caribbean sea. 

11. Union Grill & Bar

The newest addition to Camana Bay dining and drinking is Union Grill and Bar. This elegant waterfront corner is a one-stop shop for mouth-watering dishes and artisan libations. Feast on the juiciest of steaks and freshest of seafood in the plush comfort of the dining room or settle at the bar with an Island Spice martini.

Whether you are a resident or visitor, I hope these 11 trendy new places have inspired your upcoming island plans. Cayman awaits!

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