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.

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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.

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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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 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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20 Signs You Are Basic AF – Cayman Edition

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 more until we are left wondering if maybe we should have just moved to Nepal to become a monk. Maybe you’re in denial or maybe you’ve fully accepted that you’re basic AF (I have). Whatever the case may be, read the 20 signs below to determine just how basic you really are (in Cayman terms.)

1. ‘Ms. Piper’ is your “spirit animal”

“Live a little, am I right?!”

2. You’re launching your career as a bikini influencer

“When in Rome!”

3. You call the stingrays “sea pups” (but only in Insta captions)

“Aren’t they just the cutest?!”

(…Until they mistake your finger for chum. Not so cute anymore).

4. You’ve sabered the Tattinger at Tillie’s brunch (or wish you had)

Because there are few things more thrilling than obscenely large bottles of overpriced champagne and cavalry weapons.

5. If it’s on the Palm Heights rooftop, you’re so there

Sound healing, spin class, full moon party — doesn’t matter. Us basic girls will be there documenting every second.

6. You couldn’t possibly take a “wellness shot” without first putting it on your story

“Like, what would even be the point then?”

7. You went to Vigoro once, and now you’re a self-proclaimed “plant mama”

“Someone cut Brittany off, she’s literally on her 20th succulent.”

8. You threw a birthday party for yourself at Rum Point Club

“No, but just like SUPER low key.”

9. Your WhatsApp is full of group chats with names like “Girls just wanna have fun” and “Social butterflies”

“I can’t bring myself to leave the chat…Don’t want to burn any bridges on this microscopic island.”

10. Your hair service at Lift is more expensive than a plane ticket

“Yeah, but I’m stuck on this island, so what else am I going to do with my money?”

11. A wave of nostalgia sweeps over you every time you think of Target.

“I just miss everything about it. It was my therapy.”

12. The Gaelic Gala is where you live out your unrealized prom queen aspirations

“I just came to support my team.”

13. Your love language is Paradise Pizza.

“I like, can’t even imagine a world in which the Mr. White does not exist.” *Shivers just thinking about it.*

14. You still order pumpkin spice lattes despite the 90 degree weather

“Nothing will stand between me and Fall vibes. Not even this Caribbean climate.”

15. Island in the Sun by Weezer speaks to you on a “spiritual level.”

“I was divinely guided to the Caribbean. I didn’t choose the island life, the island life chose me.”

16. You prefer Kirk Market to Foster’s because of their in-store playlist (and legume pasta selection, obviously)

*Walking down the frozen aisle to Brown Eyed Girl* “Hold on, let me just Shazam this quick.”

17. You’ve posed on the Barefoot Beach stairs

“OMG, where even are we? This so does not look like Cayman!”

GUILTY.

18. You like to think of Seven Mile Beach as is its own independent country.

“West Bay? Never heard of ’em.”

19. You get nervous at the farmer’s market and panic-buy coconut water.

“This looks nothing like the Madison farmer’s market.”

20. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your weekend escapades will land you at the Bird

Nothing says ‘basic’ like a parking lot party.

Cayman Islands Travel & Lifestyle

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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You May Be A Cayman Expat If…

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 and an inflated sense of self importance. It’s time we own up to our expat idiosyncrasies and enjoy a laugh at our own expense. Are you ready to see where you rank on the scale? You may be a Cayman expat if…

1. Your dinner conversations revolve around rescue ‘doggos’ and at some point during the evening one of the dog moms even whips outs their “doggie cam” app to check on Hazel the foster pup.

2. You throw around the slogan “ADOPT DON’T SHOP” but have secretly joined a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy waitlist (for when you move back to Canada).

3. You willingly (even enthusiastically) go to Back Room with the understanding that it is a cigar bar, but spend the whole night complaining about secondhand smoke.

4. You rave about lychee martinis but have no idea what the fuck a lychee actually is.

5. You identify fellow expats by their Instagram handles. “Is that Cayman_Chiara?? She so does NOT look like her pictures.

6. You don’t actually mind wearing masks again at the supermarkets because it mitigates redundant interactions with casual acquaintances (because you’re like SUCH an empath and can’t take on that kind of energy.)

7. Speaking of supermarket run-ins, you may be a Cayman expat if you’ve had a conversation at Fosters that goes something like this:

-Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?

-Yeah, I think we met at a boat party.

-Uhhhhhhh yeah, that’s it. (Doesn’t remember said boat party at all…very foggy)

8. You turn the AC down to 60 degrees in your house just so you can enjoy some “sweater weather.”

9. You performed “reiki” on a friend’s disabled cat (that was rescued/kidnapped from Rum Point). He’s now climbing stairs and he’s never done that before, swear to God –Sorry, *Universe.*

10. You can’t go to the beach at sunset without putting it on your Instagram story. *Queue Sunset Lover by Petit Biscuit* Just kidding, we don’t have Instagram music in Cayman GOD D**** IT!!!!!!!

11. You’re having a birthday party for your golden retriever.

12. You swore you’d never staycation 5 minutes from your apartment and then BOOM, you’re unloading hundreds (thousands?) of dollars for a weekend at the Ritz Carlton. (But they had early check in and late check out so it was ABSOLUTELY worth it.)

13. You take pictures of the pool at your complex but can count on one hand the number of times you’ve actually gone in it #OfficeViews

14. You post stories of your Green2go Juice cleanse. #SoberSeptember

15. You debate leaving Cayman every couple of days but then have a daquiri on the beach and decide you’ll stay because it’s not actually that bad.

16. You are living out your unrealized professional sports dreams in the form of touch rugby.

17. You over-emphasize the MAN in Cayman out of fear of being criticized but proceed to pronounce it Cay’men’ when on the phone with your parents.

18. Anything outside of Seven Mile may as well be on the other side of the world in your book.

19. You drive a Honda Fit (or a Tesla), depending on your occupation and level of bouje.

20. You complain about extortionate grocery prices but don’t blink an eye at your brunch bill.

21. You got your PADI certification and haven’t been diving since.

22. You humble brag about not having any weekend plans like you’re taking some kind of moral high ground because ugh, your social calendar is always just so darn busyyy.

23. You won’t shut up about the hand soap and lotion in the Palm Heights bathroom.

24. You flexed on having a gas stove during the 24 hour power outage because clearly you have superior survival skills to all the other average Joe islanders who literally couldn’t even brew a simple cup of COFFEE. How embarrassing.

25. You feel the need to update your followers on your safety and well-being following a tropical storm (which was basically a hurricane, OKAY?)

26. You’re always moaning about the ungodly Cayman temperatures but go to hot yoga religiously. It’s the detox sit-up that does it for me. (But only if it’s in your practice, of course).

27. You’ve done a photo shoot with Cayman Collective.

28. You pay $100 for a Reviv IV drip on Saturday only to get wasted on a boat party on Sunday.

29. Unreturned, rogue shopping carts inexplicably make your blood boil.

30. Waitrose is the hill you want to die on. (Looking at you, UK expats).

Well Cayman expats, we are as perplexing as we are predictable but to be honest, I kind of love it. While there is always room for more self-awareness, a light sprinkling of quirky, self-indulgence is simply part of being human. So let’s keep living our best island lives and I will keep taking mental notes on our laughable expat antics (stay tuned). Now go walk a dog at the Humane Society and don’t forget to pick up your green juice on the way.

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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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The Comical Realities of Living at a Hotel in the Caribbean

The Comical Realities of Living at a Hotel in the Caribbean

I remember watching the Suite Life of Zack and Cody on Disney Channel as a kid and dreaming about how cool it would be to live in a hotel… Fast forward 15 years and it appears I am some kind of manifestation guru because I’m literally living that childhood dream. And at a hotel in the Caribbean of all places!

How Bryan and I became a full time hotel residents, you ask? Well, it’s the same familiar story as any Cayman apartment shopper. We were aimlessly scrolling the Ecay Trade classifieds one day, as one does, and stumbled upon an advert for a Holiday Inn 1 bedroom unit. We thought, huh…sounds strange but, what the hey, let’s check it out! (A fool-proof approach to life). A couple days later we walked into an all-inclusive timeshare-esque unit complete with a weekly housekeeping service, pool access, and not to mention, an OCEAN VIEW, and said YEP, 12 month lease it is! It almost felt too good to be true.

I’m happy to report in my first official month at the new place, there have been no “fine print” situations. So far hotel living has proved to be wonderfully convenient and unique to the point of being laughable. Read below to see what I mean as I detail the comical realities of living at a hotel in the Caribbean.

The key to my “apartment

Gone are the days of mini “where are my keys” heart attacks! Losing this card will only cost me a trip to the lobby.

hotel in the Caribbean

Housekeeping has spoiled me for life

At our last apartment I was becoming irrationally stressed by our perpetually damp, mismatched towel collection and the unrelenting dust bunnies mocking me in every corner. I was seriously doubting my abilities in basic house maintenance. Here at the Holiday Inn, my worries are whisked away once a week by the lovely housekeeping staff who even change the bedding and towels. I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. Perfectly white linens? Fluffy towels? Not a speck of dust in sight? They’ve ruined me.

…But reception may think I am delusional

Embarrassing story alert. One day I came home and my dirty dishes had disappeared from the sink, the coffee pot included. I thought, this is absurd. Who has taken my dirty dishes and for what reason? And how will I make COFFEE!? In a state of utter confusion, I contacted reception about my “missing items,” only to discover that they were, of course, in the dishwasher. Housekeeping had run a load while I was at work… The poor receptionist must have thought, yeah, this woman is not the brightest bulb in the box. IN MY DEFENSE, Bryan and I NEVER use the dishwasher. I had forgotten it existed. And the coffee pot disappearance sent me into automatic helpless despair. Don’t worry, I sent an apology email and most importantly, had my morning coffee the next day.

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I am now a hoarder of travel sized shower products

You get a mini shampoo, you get a mini shampoo, you ALL get mini shampoos! Everyone knows what they will find in their stockings this Christmas. A generous handful of mini coconut lime verbena products. Housekeeping just keeps bringing them and I keep squirreling them away. At first I had very honest intentions to kindly ask them to stop replenishing the supply, but now I seem to be growing an emotional attachment to their miniature cuteness.

Did someone say room service???

I call. I order. They say my quinoa salad and breaded cauliflower will be right up. And that right there is the kind of dependability I need in life. (They also deliver alcoholic beverages but that’s neither here nor there…)

hotel in caribbean

Poolside cocktails are DANGEROUSLY accessible

Imagine living next to a bar. More specifically, a poolside bar with an ocean view flanked by swaying palm trees. Are you imaging it? Okay, so tell ME you wouldn’t be there every week ordering a margarita from the luxurious comfort of a pool chair? It’s a slippery slope, one that I’ve been shamelessly walking since move-in. I certainly didn’t come to the Caribbean to drink a sad cup of tap water with my feet up on the coffee table. NO, life is too short! If you need me you know where to find me.

Pictured below: Classic Margarita from Driftwood Bar and Grill

hotel in caribbean

I’d like to file a noise complaint against a rooster?

Through no fault of the Holiday Inn, my rowdiest neighbors happen to be a family of extremely vocal chickens. The roosters like to kick off their crowing around 5:00 am or earlier but then just carry on throughout the better part of the day, loudly voicing their complaints and concerns. Try meditating on the balcony with a constant stream of cocka-doodle-doos in your ear. Worst of all, they drown out the sounds of the ocean waves. Then again, they did live here long before I came…

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Entirely impractical vacationer storage

The average hotel closet is simply not designed for a European man’s wardrobe. Certainly not ours anyway. (I’m not the issue, I have a minimalistic island wardrobe.) In the honeymoon stage of touring our apartment, we dismissed the limited storage space as a minor blip but when it came time for move-in, we were left scratching our heads. See below our sad excuse for a closet (note the completely unnecessary safe placement) along with our current creative storage solution thanks to AL Thompson. We are also utilizing bins that fit under the bed and storing random items inside bathroom and kitchen cupboards. (Maybe I should put stuff inside the dishwasher, hehe).

The pet-themed emails blasts I receive from the restaurant manager

Besides the neighborhood chickens, the Holiday Inn is also home to a grumpy cat named Ginger who we often get updates about via email. (See below). Another especially interesting email blast sent last week was basically a dating profile for a neighborhood dog named Duchess including a photo and description of her hobbies (and that she is a non-smoker). What’s funnier is that these pet updates are often featured alongside weekend drink specials. Honestly, I think that’s the kind of content we could all use a little more of in our inboxes.

These competing views

From my balcony I can either choose to stare at the beautiful ocean horizon OR a random heap of lord knows what (where the roosters and cats like to hang out). If I’m feeling luxurious I gaze at the ocean… If I’m feeling like I need to knock myself down a few notches I opt for a view of the rubble piles. See below.

I have a land line!

Exciting, right!?

More to come!

The lease is young! Who knows what other funny situations we will find ourselves in this year at the Holiday Inn. Hopefully my blonde moments are limited to the dishwasher incident, but you just never know, do you? The sun keeps making me blonder, it’s hopeless. Despite my unruly feathered neighbors, I am fully embracing the hotel lifestyle and look forward to having visitors one day soon! The sleeper sofa is waiting to be pulled out and the mini shampoos are eager to be opened.

Thanks for reading! Stay tropical!

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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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The Basic Girl’s Guide to Tropical Storms

The Basic Girl’s Guide to Tropical Storms

Nothing says welcome back to Cayman like back to back tropical storms! I wasn’t even out of quarantine when Tropical Storm Grace pummeled her way through the island and now, just 9 days later, it’s time for tropical storm Ida. All of this Mother Nature turmoil has me feeling like a seasoned islander, but let’s be honest…my survival skills are probably on par with that of a first year Girl Scout. (They’re called Daisies). That being said, if you actually earned all of your badges in girls scouts (or are looking for truly pertinent storm information) then just stop reading here. If you’re a basic girl like ME who generally underestimates weather and thinks it’s all going to be A-OK, then this is the article for YOU. Read on as I unload some ill-advised tropical storm guidance for all you basic girls.

(For factual, helpful information visit Cayman Resident :))

Don’t you dare call it a hurricane

For whatever reason, this distinction (or lack thereof) seems to stir up some controversy. To stay on the safe side, just refer to it as a ‘storm’ and that way you don’t ruffle any feathers with those who get rather defensive around the labeling of natural phenomena.

Prepare for supermarket MAYHEM

I haven’t seen so many people out shopping since Black Friday in the states or Lake Delton Walmart in the summertime. It’s anxiety-inducing is what it is. My first thought is, “what in the world are these people buying?” And my second is, “Should I be buying something right now?” I was at Hurley’s during this madness and people had LOADED shopping carts overflowing with god knows what and I was standing in line holding one pathetic salad, struggling to get the stupid lid to snap into place. I flounced off to my scooter and stored it under the seat, watching as people loaded bags and bags into their SUVs. I’ve never felt more out of the loop. All this to say that if you have the essentials at home, then avoid the supermarkets at all cost. They will make you basic girls question your decision making abilities.

tropical storm

Avoid riding a moped if possible

I never paid attention to “knots” in the weather forecast before purchasing a scooter, but let me tell you, that shit will ruin you. The wind speeds start to pick up long before the storm makes landfall and Esterly Tibbits is not a fun place to be when that happens. There is nothing that makes me question my sanity like driving 10 miles under the speed limit in the shoulder, drinking in the stench from the dump. If you are like me and scootering is legit your only form of transportation, then just take it slow and steady. And if someone has the GALL to honk at you or throw a dirty look your way just tell them to f*ck off. (I’ve never done that but I could be compelled.)

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The Essentials”: Snacks, wine, rock n’ roll

I get there are families out there who trying to plan for children and relatives, but that’s not us. We are basic girls and we just need to worry about ourselves. That being said, tropical storms are a time to kick back and open up a bottle of biodynamic Rioja and unearth your Lindor truffles from the freezer. (I say unearth as if I had forgotten about them. I knew exactly where they were.) Since the power is out and chances are you’re too basic to have a gas range, you’re gonna want to stock up on snacks. But if you only have wine then that will do just fine.

storm essentials

Don’t let yourself be bored even for a second

The power is likely to go out and you are not going to be sitting there twiddling your thumbs like a loser. Absolutely not. A tropical storm calls for preparation. You should be charging every single device you own and downloading movies to your laptop, preferably those featuring Bradley Cooper or maybe a young Tom Cruise. Also, if you’re an intellectual basic girl (I am) then you’ll want some books on deck. I recommend one romance, one literary classic, and probably a self-help book because let’s face it, we’ll probably encounter an existential crisis amidst the power outage. Stuck with our own thoughts…talk about terrifying.

Post about it, obvi

This is content you do not want to miss out on. Join the bandwagon with every single expat in Cayman and throw up a screen shot of the storm tracker for your Instagram. It is the basic thing to do after all.

When in doubt, just read the Women of Cayman threads

If you’re not refreshing the Women of Cayman Facebook page every 10 minutes then you are SEVERELY uninformed. (And missing out on unrivaled entertainment). Just be careful if you decide to ask a question on there as it is highly likely that your innocent inquiry will offend someone. One poor lady asked where she could get some coffee the morning after a storm and the Women CAME for her. Basically accusing her of not caring about the safety of the Starbucks baristas. I mean… the disregard, Karen.

Pretend like you are about to hydrate but then just stick to wine

There is a chance you could be without water so you should probably do something about that. I fill up a bunch of random water bottles and line them up neatly in the fridge like an elite athlete preparing for competition. Last storm I didn’t even touch them. They just sat there mocking me like, “are you gonna drink us or what?” I’ve heard of people filling up their bath tubs but something about that creeps me out. I watched too many horror movies as a child. I feel like I’m going to walk in the bathroom and find a scary woman lounging in the tub. Sorry, didn’t mean to unload my unresolved childhood trauma on you.

Discover a new use for candles

Somewhat of a revelation, we are realizing that candles are actually good for more than just ambience and pleasant aromas. Shame there isn’t a Bath and Body works in Cayman. Besides their obvious illuminating properties, they are also being used by the Women of Cayman for heating up food and water. They dedicated an entire thread to the versatility of tea lights. I haven’t tried this cooking method because it seems like a lot of work when cocoa pebbles are readily available. I enjoy candles until midnight-ish and then I just find them eerie. Power outages make me feel like Nicole Kidman in the Others, nervously pacing around my apartment with a lantern in hand.

Just do you

We’ve GOT THIS, basic girls. No one can tell us that we are unprepared or naive, because we already know that. We are living our lives for us. And just remember, even if it’s a hurricane, it’s still just a tropical storm. I mean a storm. Just a bit of rain. And some extra knots. Not the garlic kind. Okay, be safe and don’t take anything I just said seriously. For real information consult Cayman Resident. 🙂

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

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

This summer was my first time ever visiting Los Angeles. I went with my three best girlfriends from high school. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and we were ready to paint the town red. We wanted to leave it all on the dance floor. (But not all of our money). A few Google searches on clubs in LA had me feeling apprehensive. A $1,500 minimum table reservation was definitely not in the cards for us.

Where could we go for maximum fun at a reasonable price? After much research and a little bit of “living in the moment” spontaneity, our night moves landed us in a tequila bar, a mafia-esque restaurant, two gay bars, and finally, the wildly fun Harlowe Bar. Not coincidentally, 4 out of 5 of these places are located in West Hollywood. It was definitely a vibe! Read on to discover what we loved about each of these spots! Add them to your LA itinerary and you are guaranteed a fun night out.

#1 Lanea

The only place on this list NOT located in West Hollywood is Lanea, a trendy tequila bar in Santa Monica. Our AirBnB was in Santa Monica and we wanted somewhere easy to walk to on Friday night. They offer margarita flights and a handpicked selection of over 400 tequilas and mezcals. How is that even possible? I myself ordered a simple margarita on the rocks (I did say this was a basic girl’s guide), while my friends opted for unique cocktails such as Watermelon.Sugar.High and Paloma. I recommend Lanea to all you basic girls out there because its stylish lounge vibe will have you feeling like a sexy someone sipping your adventurous mezcal cocktail. (Just pretend to know the difference between tequila and mezcal). The music selection was also perfection!

lanes, Santa Monica
Image Source: Lanea, Twitter handle

#2 The Nice Guy

As a first-time visitor to LA, I conjured up many ideas of where to go in the city from Instagram influences and YouTubers. (Not proud). That being said, I of course tried my luck with Nobu in Malibu and Catch in West Hollywood. No dice. A month in advance wasn’t good enough apparently for a reservation. Somewhat miffed, I continued my research and landed on an absolute gem of a restaurant: The Nice Guy. This bar and restaurant with its low lighting and vintage design oozes Mafia era vibes. The four of us girls kicked off our Saturday night here with dinner and cocktails. I made my basic-self proud by ordering something dangerous — Squid Ink Campenelle as an entree and the Spicy Siena as a cocktail. We also ordered truffle fries (BASIC!) and Brussel sprouts as appetizers.

I recommend the Nice Guy to all you basic girls out there because it’s an enticing alternative to the disgustingly flashy Catch (I’ve never actually been there, LOL). It makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the ’20s and you can start your night off in a decisively sophisticated way. As they say, pay more for the fancy drinks and the beginning of the night. We all know what happens later.

the nice guy
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Daniels

#3 Rocco’s

Here’s where the gears shifted. From the Nice Guy we walked to Santa Monica Boulevard (not at all near Santa Monica, I don’t really get it). Rocco’s was a place that we stumbled upon by accident on our way to somewhere else which we never actually found. It is a gay bar with AMAZING music and a crowd that isn’t afraid to dance. We thought about leaving so many different times but good songs kept coming on and we couldn’t bear to leave the dance floor.

I recommend Rocco’s to all you basic girls because it is undeniably fun and you can wear whatever the hell you want and you’ll probably fit in. You can also watch some shirtless cowboys ride horses on the TVs which is great. We soon discovered that this was just one of MAAANY gay bars on Santa Monica Boulevard. If it isn’t obvious you certainly don’t have to be gay to hang out/party at Rocco’s. It truly is for everyone! The party started early with the dance floor filling up around 10:30, 11ish. It is a great place to turn the notch up on your evening out!

Rocco's
Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

#4 The Abbey

WOW. Please don’t leave Los Angeles without a visit to the Abbey. It is a world famous gay bar also on Santa Monica Boulevard, only a few minutes walking from Rocco’s. Going to the Abbey was an EXPERIENCE. To start, this place is huge and has many different areas with distinct vibes. You could lay low by the bar, chill/eat on the patio, or move to house music alongside the dancers. A section of the Abbey is called The Chapel. They are actually two different venues but they flow together seamlessly, allowing you to move from one to the other.

The Chapel will have you feeling dark and dangerous with its gothic lighting and medieval statues. The DJ booth is reminiscent of a pulpit with stained glasses windows. The DJ when we were there was an old woman with gray hair…amazing, right? I recommend the Abbey to all you basic girls out there because it guarantees an unforgettable experience complete with elderly DJs, risqué dancers, and playful sacrilege. (Sorry, not sorry.)

abbey
Photo Credit The Abbey

*The Abbey requires proof of vaccination upon entry

#5 Harlowe Bar

The Harlowe is just a short Uber ride from the Abbey. This is where we ended our night and definitely where we had the most fun. (Although the level of alcohol in our systems could have also contributed to that). The entrance was a bit rocky because of the anti-vax protestors stationed outside the bar. Nothing kills a vibe like being called a nazi…and a litany of other things. But we shook it off and inside was a much different story.

The bar was packed and had an amazing atmosphere. The DJ and the dancing made it feel like a club but the small, intimate setting gave the impression of a private party. We met many people in a short amount of time, quickly feeling like locals ourselves. Service was top notch and one of the bartenders even gave us free shots for our friend’s “birthday.” They also have a small outdoor patio available for that one friend who randomly announces she needs a cigarette. (Even though she never smokes sober). I recommend the Harlowe to all you basic girls out there because you will make so many drunk friends who you’ll subsequently follow on Instagram. They will forever remind you of that crazy night out in West Hollywood.

*The Harlowe requires proof of vaccination upon entry

Harlow
Photo Credit Harlowe Bar

Well, basic girls. There you have it! Although I am just a first time visitor, I feel these are solid recommendations if you’re looking for fun places to go out in Los Angeles that won’t have you waiting in long lines and/or shelling out thousands of dollars. I would go back to all of these bars/restaurants on my next visit to Los Angeles and hopefully some new spots as well!

If you like what you read, please be sure to check out my Cayman Islands blog posts and get ideas for your next Caribbean vacation! Thanks for reading!

go out in Los Angeles
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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 Reasons Why Lake Life Beats Island Life

7 Reasons Why Lake Life Beats Island Life

Welcome to a very special edition of Island Diaries by Kate! While most of my writing thus far has revolved around island living, I am in fact, a lake girl at heart. Growing up I spent my summers in “Up North” Wisconsin at a cabin on the lake with my family. A few years ago my parents purchased an RV on the same chain of lakes and we have continued to enjoy our lake lifestyle, a la “glamping.” Because I moved to the Cayman Islands in May 2020, I missed out on our long-established lake vacation and all the activities that came with it. One positive thing that came from this absence was a fresh perspective on the Midwest experience, namely, summertime lake life.

Returning to Wisconsin this summer has been a joy-filled experience. It has allowed me to see everything as if for the first time. In writing this blog, I am not saying that Wisconsin is better than Cayman. I am simply sharing the areas in which lake life has a leg up on island life (according to me)! Keep reading to discover the 10 Reasons Why Lake Life Beats Island Life!

1. The Lake Community

Lakes are a very intimate setting, both on the water and in the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve ever been boating on a lake in northern Wisconsin you know it’s absolutely compulsory that at least one person wave at every single boat that goes by. Many times one person starts it and then it turns into a domino effect of waving across the water. This is also true while out for a walk or run in the lake neighborhood. Each encounter requires smiles, greetings, and without a doubt a mention of the weather forecast (good or bad). It’s not that these kinds of interactions don’t happen in the Caribbean; however, boating on the ocean is more spread out and not nearly as cozy as the lake setting. There are simply less opportunities to chat up fellow ocean lovers. This community effect is further strengthened through the honorary lake “sport” of bar-hopping. Read more below!

beer pong

2. Dive Bars

A dive bar by itself is not a particularly alluring place to visit; however, a dive bar on the lake is the crème de la crème when it comes to summertime merriment. There is something so comforting and uncomplicated about pulling up to the bar’s dock after a lazy troll around the lake. Once inside the bar, each personality gravitates to their own unique vice. There’s the closeted alcoholic who orders the Bloody Mary they’ve been fantasizing about for the past week. The wannabe DJ who whips out their juke box app and queues up enough songs for the next two hours. The overly competitive bar shark who will challenge anyone willing to a game of darts or pool. The gambler who buys 50 pull tabs and doles them out like Christmas presents. Then there’s my Mom and I who make a beeline to the quarter machine and spend the next hour completely fixated on teetering coins, oblivious to the outside world. If you spend enough time at dive bars, you’ve probably been all of these people at one point in time (or maybe all in the same day). Whatever the case, bar-hopping is a quintessential lake life activity that allows you to relax, socialize, and simply be yourself!

dive bar

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3. Water Conditions

As a girl who gets seasick easily (even at paddleboard yoga) I am extremely grateful for the placid nature of lake water. In the Caribbean I have to start my sea preparations hours before getting on a boat. Dramamine, ginger tea, deep breathing, you name it. Lakes also have the obvious advantage of fresh water which is easy on the eyes and less damaging to the boats themselves. It feels so nice to jump into fresh water without having to brace for the sting of salt. One of the most beautiful phenomenons to experience on the lake is the glass water effect. The water is like a mirror; you can see the trees and clouds reflected on the surface. This is also known as prime time for water-skiers. I will talk about this more below in #4!

kayak

4. Lake Sports

While it is true that the ocean allows for a great variety of water sports (probably even more than lakes), lakes in my opinion provide a much better experience. Of course, water conditions have a lot to do with this. For example, waterskiing on the ocean is cumbersome and exhausting, requiring you to constantly adjust for the wavy surface. Lake conditions are much more conducive to an easy and graceful waterski outing. This is also true for the wake-boarders, kayakers, and the occasional paddle-boarder.

Another fun thing about lake sports is that you have an audience. At the risk of sounding conceited, it’s actually cool to have more than just your spotter watching you. Other boaters turn their heads to observe, people on the shore wave from their docks, a gaggle of geese scrambles away. It adds once again to the lake community feel. Likewise, it’s fun to watch other boats do their own sports. Unless it’s one of those horrendous surf boats putting up Poseidon level waves… (get off the lake!!!)

waterski

5. Floaties for the Win

It came as surprise to me that floaties are not all that popular in the Cayman Islands. While some stores do sell them, it is not common to see beach-goers with floaties. At the lake, floaties represent a culture in and of themselves. There are enormous flamingo floaties the size of a small cabin, 6-person floaties with drink holders and a place to dangle your feet. You may even see avocado, llama or unicorn floaties. Few things are more satisfying in this life than idly floating, face to the sun, with one leg lazily draped in the water. And of course this experience would not be complete without a drink in hand and a summer playlist in the background.

float

6. Cool Nights & Campfires

While it is true that campfires are somewhat of a universal pastime, Wisconsin simply provides the most ideal conditions for this quintessential summer tradition. Ever the more ideal if your set up is alongside the lake. (Ours is, hehe.) Wisconsin experiences notable temperature changes throughout the day, something I have missed desperately living in the Caribbean. Even if it’s 85 during the day, it might be 60 degrees at night (around 16 degrees celsius for my European friends.) This is sweatshirt, leggings, and baseball hat kind of weather… AKA every Midwest girl’s favorite outfit. (More about that below). These conditions invite you to throw on your favorite hoodie, huddle around the fire and roast the perfect toasty marshmallow.

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7. Lake Attire

Again, I know that people all around the world like to dress casual…the Cayman Islands included. But trust me when I say that Wisconsin lake life permits a certain level of laid back that I have yet to witness in the Caribbean. As mentioned above, night time calls for sweatshirts, leggings, and baseball caps. Day time is even more low key (if that’s possible.) Alcohol-promoting tee shirts and denim shorts abound. More often than not though you’ll just see people wrapped up in beach towels or life jackets. Up North the most important summer accessory is undoubtedly your can koozie (an insulating sleeve for your canned or bottled beverage). One thing is for sure, you will never have to worry about what to wear while on the lake in Wisconsin.

lake

Lake Life or Island Life? Which would you choose? For each one we can find points in favor and points against. Of course, when it comes to lake life in Wisconsin, we know it is fleeting. June, July, and August is our window to live it up on the lake. From my perspective, I think that is what makes it so special. We know it’s not going to last so we make the most of every opportunity. We live it to the fullest because we remember all too well what last winter felt like. Of course, if you’re really smart you’ll spend your winters in the Caribbean and summers in the Midwest… (wink, wink) 🙂 One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t trade this Wisconsin summer for anything!

Until next time! ~ “Lake” Diaries by Kate

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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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5 Reasons Why West Bay Should Be On Your Radar

5 Reasons Why West Bay Should Be On Your Radar

If you’re an expat or visitor to Grand Cayman, it’s possible you have only seen the island through Seven-Mile-tinted glasses. This means living out 90% of your Cayman experience inside a 5 to 10 mile radius. What if I told you there was so much more to this island than its small parcel of Caribbean luxury? No, I’m not talking about venturing out to Rum Point or Morritt’s…not that those places aren’t great. In this post today I am talking about heading “out West.” Whether you are looking to buy property, move to a new neighborhood, or find some new island activities, this article is for YOU! Keep reading to discover out the 5 reasons West Bay should be on your Cayman radar.

1. West Bay is blowing up!

It’s no secret that West Bay is developing rapidly. Cayman residents and visitors alike can look forward to many new properties and businesses in this area. This expansion will generate intrigue with the creation of two new dive shops, a rooftop restaurant, and an Ibiza-style full service café. Additional new attractions in West Bay will include the state-of-the-art Aster Cayman Medcity hospital and the outdoor shopping area of West Village which will also feature a grocery store and gas station.

Locals and visitors can keep an especially close eye on the North West Point Rd area which is being filled by multi-million dollar condos & homes. Cayman real estate agents are calling West Bay the perfect up and coming area for a rental investment. It will be ideal for divers and tourists visiting the island who’d prefer an Airbnb to avoid high hotel prices. For more insider tips and property listings in the West Bay area, contact Luxury Real Estate Advisor, Nikki Thomas, of Engel and Völkers. 

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2. West Bay is home to many unique restaurants

Tukka, West Bay

You may have stopped for lunch at Tukka while out on an East End jaunt. Australian flavors with a Caribbean twist AND ocean views…what more could you ask for? But unless you live in East End, most likely you are not going to drive to Tukka East every week for a meal. That’s why #2 is so exciting… there is also a Tukka in West Bay! And it’s calling your name. Their daily catch is supplied by Cayman’s local fishermen and often features Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Snapper, Lionfish, and spiny Lobster. Enjoy these fresh “Aussi meets Cayman” dishes from their shaded terrace overlooking the Caribbean sea. 

Some other restaurants to try in West Bay include Vivo, Calypso Grill, Cracked Conch, Pappagallo, and Heritage Kitchen.

Tukka West Bay Cayman
Tukka West Bay
tukka west bay cayman
Tukka West Bay – Tacos
tukka west bay
Tukka West Bay, Bobo’s Bar

3. West Bay has lovely beaches

We all know and love Seven Mile Beach, but Cayman has many other beaches that are worth a visit. Barkers Beach in West Bay is one of them! This wouldn’t be my first choice beach for a swim, but it’s a wonderful place for a beach walk or an unforgettable island adventure! For example, Barkers is Cayman’s kite-surfing mecca during the months of November through April. It’s also the island’s top destination for horseback riding (on the white sands AND in the water!) If all of this sounds a bit too action-packed for your liking, a simple reading session on the beach will do just fine!

Another beach option in West Bay is of course, West Bay Public Beach. This secluded spot is close to many eateries including Heritage Kitchen (more details in #5 of this list!). It also features bathrooms, changing facilities, and an easily accessible boat ramp.

barkers beach grand cayman
Barker’s Beach, West Bay, Grand Cayman
barker's beach west bay

4. West Bay is hiding an absolute gem of a walking route

Perhaps walking routes don’t excite you in the same way they excite me, but I think we can all benefit from peaceful places in nature. Boggy Sands Road is exactly this kind of place. It is the perfect little route for a leisurely morning or afternoon stroll. Park along the sea wall at Heritage Kitchen and meander down the residential street as far as it will take you. (Walk slowly, it is not a very long journey). You will come across beautiful palms, traditional Caymanian homes, a picturesque beach access, and maybe even a couple Cayman parrots!

Once you’ve finished the short walk, you can go for your swim or sip your coffee while reading a book on the sea wall. If you’ve worked up an appetite, you could also treat yourself to some local fare at Heritage Kitchen. Fresh fish fry, fritters and fish tea are some of their most popular dishes. 

Boggy Sands Road
Boggy Sands Road
Boggy Sands Road
Boggy Sands Road
West Bay, Grand Cayman
Boggy Sands Beach Access

5. West Bay is teeming with Caribbean island charm

The same Boggy Sand vibe described above is prevalent throughout much of West Bay. There is a rustic island essence to this side of Grand Cayman that cannot be experienced inside the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile Beach. Its winding, residential roads are lined with Caribbean-style homes and native greenery. West Bay is also home to many jerk stands that are consistently packed with loyal customers. There are many secluded beach accesses that are perfect for exploring and finding yourself in nature. In this part of this island it is truly about slowing down and stopping to smell the flowers (maybe even literally!) 

West Bay, Grand Cayman
West Bay, Grand Cayman
West Bay, Grand Cayman

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There you have it — 5 great reasons why West Bay should be on your radar either as an area to visit or a place to live! I personally hope that the growth in this area of the island will help to bring new energy and fresh feeling to West Bay while maintaining its quintessential Caribbean charm. May the development in this area attracts conscious visitors and residents who will honor the originality and local spirit of this beautiful side of the island. 

Thanks for reading! 

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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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The Pros & Cons of Expat Island Life

The Pros & Cons of Expat Island Life

If you had told me a couple years ago I would be writing a blog post about expat island life, I’d think you were crazy. That maybe you’d been hit on the head with a coconut. “Me? Living in the Caribbean? Get out of here!”

But then again…I do love the beach…. And year-round summer does sound pretty nice…

Cut to the chase, here I am living my best life on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Although, it’s not all rum punches and rainbows. After a year of uninterrupted island life, I’m here to share with you the ups and downs one can expect to encounter when uprooting their life to the Caribbean. 

The pros and cons I have generated for this blog post are honest and come from my completely unique perspective. Of course there will always be people who live a distinct experience from my own. My aim in writing this is to share a bit about my island lifestyle, showing two sides of the same coin in a light-hearted way. I hope it makes you smile and remember to love where you live, whatever “home” currently looks like for you! Without further ado, here are The Pros and Cons of Expat Island Life according to Island Diaries by Kate!

Pro: Rock a tropical wardrobe 24/7

Where I’m from we keep totes of winter, spring, summer, and fall clothes stored away under the stairs in the basement. Every year the short-shorts and tank tops anxiously await their return to the limelight for the fleeting months of summer. Just imagine the weight that would be lifted off your shoulders if you only had to plan for one season…summer! This is exactly what it’s like to live in the Caribbean, where the forecast is always sunny and 86 and flip-flops are widely accepted. I like to refer to this wardrobe as “tropical minimalism.”

expat island life

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Con: The “Groundhog’s Day” effect

Sure, sunny and 86 sounds dreamy but when this is the weather EVERY day, it starts to get old. It’s kind of like “Wow, gorgeous again? How original!” I often find myself fantasizing about brisk fall mornings that call for a sweatshirt and a warm cup of coffee. Cayman does have a rainy season which makes the weather slightly more interesting and unpredictable, but it doesn’t quite compare to experiencing all four seasons and the activities that come along with them. 

Pro: Amazing friends from all over the world

This tax haven, with its white sand beaches and turquoise waters, attracts young professionals from all around the globe. My first few months in Cayman felt like studying abroad all over again. Within a matter of weeks I had friends from England, South Africa, Colombia, Ireland, France, and the list goes on and on! The diverse social dynamic lends itself to an instant-friend phenomenon. One minute you’re chatting it up with a stranger at Starbucks and the next you’re invited to their boat party. The expat social networks in Cayman are very much intertwined meaning you undeniably have a mutual friend with every single person you meet. 

expats cayman islands

Con: Expat “bubbles”

There are so many opportunities to make friends with other expats but not nearly as many to make friends with locals. Undoubtedly this is because my apartment and almost all my favorite activities are in the Seven Mile Beach area which is heavily populated by expats. These enclaves contribute to a feeling of separateness from the local community. While it’s okay to be separate in some ways, I do feel I am missing out on many important cultural aspects by keeping within my “bubble.” 

Pro: No taxes

Self-explanatory. There is no question that this is a MAJOR pro of living in the Cayman Islands!!! (Thanks John Grisham for the inspo).

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Con: $10 peppers (the price of paradise)

We may live tax free but that does not save us from extortionate supermarket prices. There are many fruits and vegetables I’ve had to give up altogether while living in Cayman. For example, peppers. A single yellow or red pepper could cost you up to CI $8 which would be close to USD $10. Same with Romaine lettuce and almost any kind of berry. I’ve resorted to buying most of my fruits and vegetables frozen or in a can. Of course, we try to buy local produce when possible at the farmers market or at roadside stands, but sometimes you just want to indulge in a raspberry without breaking the bank! Is that too much to ask??

Pro: Short commutes

Of course, this depends where you live on the island. But, since I live in the Seven Mile Beach area, many of the restaurants, beaches, and supermarkets are either in walking distance or a few minutes drive away. Yet somehow, even with these short distances, I still seem to arrive everywhere late. I guess “island time” can affect even the most punctual of midwesterners. 

The furthest I have to drive is 15-20 minutes to get to the school where I work. When I tell Cayman residents this, they are taken aback by the “lengthy” commute. They clearly have never experienced 40 minutes of interstate blizzard conditions in the dead of a Minnesota winter…

expat island life

Con: No such thing as a “road trip”

Yes, I love being close to everything. It makes it super easy to organize plans on the fly. One thing I really miss though, is being able to take a road trip. I miss downloading podcasts and playlists and just hitting the open road. Even if the final destination was just to my hometown, it was the feeling of freedom that came with knowing a full tank of gas could take you anywhere. Here a full tank of gas gets you 45 minutes down the road to Rum Point where you can see… yup you guessed it, the ocean!

RECOMMENDED READ: ISLAND HACKS: 20 TIPS & TRICKS FOR LIFE IN CAYMAN

Pro: Endless island activities

And I do mean endless. Diving, snorkeling, boating, beaching, brunching, ahem–drinking, you name it! Cayman’s social networks are well-connected and VERY active. Because most expats do not have family here, our social calendar is typically wide open. (Minus the auditors who get let out of the office only for their required 4 hours of sleep) This leads to busy weeks and jam-packed weekends. Of course I enjoy the occasional chill weekend, but for the most part, I love having all of these social options. It helps to create a sense of community while we are all so far away from our families. 

scuba diving grand cayman

Con: Missing out back home

The Instagram stories tell one story, but of course, we all made sacrifices to live the picturesque island life. I think all island expats experience homesickness to varying extents, especially this past year as very few of us were able to leave the island. I went through a period where seeing planes take off from the airport made me want to cry. (Very dramatic, I know). It’s hard to miss out on celebrations and holidays and watch your baby nephew grow up through technology. (But thank god for technology). For sure this is one of the biggest cons to living abroad, further amplified by COVID restrictions this year. 

Pro:  Finally becoming a “regular

As silly as it sounds, I have always dreamed of becoming a regular at a café or restaurant. Of course you can become a regular no matter where you live, but the island’s small size and interconnectedness encourages the formation of rituals and routines. After living for a year on the same tiny island, Bryan and I can proudly say we are regulars at Palm Heights where we spend a good chunk of our paychecks on Paradise Pizzas and cocktails from Tillie’s. (Worth every penny!)

tillies, grand cayman

Con: Everyone knows everyone

The small town effect is inescapable. As mentioned above, this can be a good thing…but it can also be an annoying thing. Trips to the grocery store may take double the time because you could run into 10 people you know. One time I actually wore a baseball cap (very low over my eyes) and headphones so that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. It’s wonderful to feel connected but sometimes you just want anonymity when you’re contemplating your apple options. 

Pro: Palm trees and white sand beaches…

Sorry for stating the obvious, but this is a pro that cannot be ignored. Some days I wake up and think, damn, I live in the Caribbean. I feel extremely spoiled to be able to go on beach walks and sea swims whenever my heart desires. I will never get tired of watching the sunset from Seven Mile Beach. And even after a year of island life, the palm trees have yet to lose their magic for me!

cayman islands

Con: We’re literally in the middle of the ocean

When you move to a tropical island, you must learn to roll with a certain level of inconvenience. While Grand Cayman is blessed with numerous resources, it is certainly not overflowing with choice. The only “clothing” store I feel comfortable spending money at is the Humane Society Thrift Shop, everything else I’ve found is overpriced and/or not my taste. You may think, but Kate, why don’t you just ship things to the island? Well, many people do. But weeks of waiting and extra customs fees are just not worth it to me. Bryan was without a car for almost 2 months as he awaited parts from overseas. I dream of the day I can walk into a Target again or make a next-day Amazon order! Long story short, if you are someone who prioritizes convenience, don’t move to a Caribbean island. 

cayman islands, expat life

Pro: Personal growth and expansion

Moving abroad is an experience which will shift your mindset and pull you out of your comfort zone. Cayman, with its diverse population and unique geographical location, provides an especially expansive environment for personal development. Living the expat island life has taught me to value many different perspectives from locals and expats alike. Also, being immersed within inspiring tropical nature and a slower-pace of living has given me so much peace of mind and space for creativity. This year has inspired me to pursue my passion for writing in the form of this blog and has allowed me to connect with many ambitious and open-minded individuals. I am so grateful to the friends I’ve made this year as they have shown me many different possibilities for my own career and lifestyle. 

Conclusion

 So while living the expat island life is beautiful in many ways, it does not come without its share of challenges and inconveniences. Just remember that someone’s Instagram feed is a highlight reel, never the full story. No matter where you live in the world, you will find things you love and things you may like to trade. The key is to focus more on what lights you up rather than complaining about things that are out of your control. I hope you enjoyed this read and that is broadened your perspective on island expat life! 


Cayman Islands Travel & Lifestyle

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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10 Reasons to Visit the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

10 Reasons to Visit the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

Nestled away in a peaceful and verdant corner of Georgetown is the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. This inclusive gathering space is most commonly known for its Cayman-based art exhibitions, but their offerings do not stop there! 

I first visited NGCI for a free yoga class led by Janine Martins and was amazed to learn of their wide variety of community events and emphasis on wellness education. Whether you’re a long time supporter of the National Gallery or someone who has only thought about visiting, this post will open your eyes to the diverse opportunities they offer. Read the list of 10 reasons to visit the National Gallery below and see which experiences interest you most! 

#1 CULTIVATE WELLBEING WITH FREE WELLNESS CLASSES

NGCI has launched a new Art & Wellness program offering yoga, meditation, and nutrition classes for adults. And the best part is, they’re totally free! These opportunities cater to all levels of experience in a welcoming, community-based environment. I myself have practiced yoga with Janine and meditation with Jeri Bovell. I really enjoyed meeting new people and gaining a deeper understanding in these areas. Looking for something more independent? NGCI also promotes self-guided art drop-ins for teenagers and garden walks for all ages. Plan your next wellness experience at NGCI here!

National Gallery of the Cayman Islands
Yoga with Janine Martins at the National Gallery

#2 FIND YOUR ZEN WITH MINDFULNESS MONDAYS

Start the week off feeling peaceful and centered. The Gallery opens at 9 am for “Mindfulness Mondays.” This is a quiet hour in which guests can take a seat in a fold-out chair and intentionally meditate on one or two works of art.  The Gallery  provides sketching materials at the reception desk along with mindfulness prompts. As someone who has only ever taken cursory glances at artwork, I believe this is a great way to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the artist’s creation while also bolstering your mindfulness habit. 

RECOMMENDED READ: THE NON-ALCOHOLIC GUIDE TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

#3 DEEP DIVE INTO CAYMAN’S CULTURE THROUGH THE NATIONAL COLLECTION

Living as an expat on this island, I sometimes feel far removed from Cayman culture. I believe NGCI is one amazing community resource that can help bridge this gap. Located on the top floor of the Gallery is the National Collection which showcases artwork in a variety of styles by Cayman-based artists. Contemplating the artwork and the accompanying stories can assist in fostering an appreciation for the island’s unique history and way of life. The current National Collection show is Saltwater in their Veins. It presents an exploration of Cayman’s maritime culture and contemporary relationship to the sea. Learn more about the Collection here.

Top Left Artist: Charles Long

#4 CREATE A FUN & UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

If you’re looking for something fresh and educational for the whole family, look no further than the National Gallery. They offer a wide range of events including monthly free Family Fun Days and private art parties.  Click here if you want to learn more about these unique experiences.

#5 BASK IN GOOD VIBES AT THE ART CAFÉ

Don’t you wish you could get coffee at a reasonable price on this island? The solution is simple… The Art Café! It’s the kind of outdoor space that immediately fills you with a sense of peace and tranquility. With bistro-style seating and lush garden views, this is the perfect place to convene before or after a gallery tour. Bring your own lunch, or enjoy a coffee and snack for a small donation to the honesty jar. This is one of my favorite aspects of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands!

#6 NOURISH YOUR SOUL WITH A WALKING MEDITATION

If a seated meditation class is not your cup of tea, the National Gallery also offers the unique experience of walking meditation. The Siebens labyrinth (pictured bottom left) is a sacred geometric path that helps calm and focus the mind. It is located in the outdoor lawn area behind the Gallery.  To practice this meditative technique, you begin by following a single, non-branching route that leads to the center and out again. Use the labyrinth as a self-guided walking tour. It’s open to the public throughout the day.

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#7 FEEL THE ART COME ALIVE BY ATTENDING AN EXHIBITION PROGRAM EVENT

The National Gallery does an awesome job of organizing programs and events to help you engage with and understand the artwork. For example, you can discuss the art with the artists themselves at a series of artist talks, enjoy adult and kids’ workshops or take part in virtual Business of Art sessions. It’s a great way to connect with the community and expand your worldview. Learn more about these opportunities here

Top Left Artist: Nasaria Suckoo Chollette Top Right Artist: Al Ebanks

#8 SERVE THE CAYMAN COMMUNITY BY VOLUNTEERING AT THE GALLERY

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and connect with our island community. Sign up to support the Gallery’s vision through their volunteer program. You can do this by assisting with events, offering reception coverage and a whole host of other avenues! Click here to learn more.

#9 SHOP FOR UNIQUE TREASURES AT THE GIFT SHOP

In need of some original gift ideas?  NGCI offers a stylish corner of retail featuring art-inspired and locally made jewelry. But wait, there’s more! You can also find books, home decor items and childrens’ toys. Be sure to take a look around their beautifully curated shelves before or after your tour around the Gallery. 

#10 EXPERIENCE ART FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME

Can’t get to the Gallery in person? Check out their website for a world of online offerings. There are 360-degree virtual exhibition tours, video interviews with artists, teaching resources and virtual workshops. Get started by checking out the virtual tours or Gallery blog!

There you have it — 10 Reason to the Visit the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands! Amazing, isn’t it? NGCI is definitely the place to go for inspiration and rejuvenation in Grand Cayman. It is an inclusive gathering space that allows you to connect with yourself and with the island community. Their diverse offering of wellness experiences and educational opportunities is quite impressive. Whether you’re viewing the artwork, attending a yoga class, or just sipping a coffee in solitude, I truly believe there is something for everyone at the Gallery. Click here to learn more!

Cayman Islands Travel & Lifestyle

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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