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

RECOMMENDED READ: WHY I MOVED TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

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.

RECOMMENDED READ: THE PROS AND CONS OF EXPAT ISLAND LIFE

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

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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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!

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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. 

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#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.

RECOMMENDED READ: CAYMAN ISLANDS EAST END GIRLS TRIP ITINERARY

#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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21 British Words I Learned in the Cayman Islands

21 British Words I Learned in the Cayman Islands

In preparation for moving to Grand Cayman, I gave much more thought to the Caribbean lifestyle than I did the island’s British influence. Of course, I fully anticipated the change to driving on the left side of the road. I even pondered for a moment if I would become an advocate for tea rather than coffee. One thing I never imagined was the sheer amount of British words and expressions I would encounter while living here. Given my interest in all things language, I’m very happy to welcome in new variations to my vocabulary. But even so, I’ve had to laugh at many of the words I’ve learned here thanks to the island’s UK expat population. Without further ado, here are 21 British words and expressions that I have learned in the Cayman Islands.

#1 Dungarees

USA: Overalls

What used to be exclusively a farmer’s get-up has somehow evolved into a cute outfit for women and girls. Next time you see a Brit in overalls be sure to say, “Hey, LOVE your dungarees!!”

#2 You alright?

USA: Hello, how are you?

In my first few weeks of teaching in Cayman, I could not for the life of me figure out why the teachers kept asking me if I was “alright?” I’m thinking…do I look stressed? Is there something wrong with my face? YES, I’M FINE. STOP ASKING. Here, I come to find that this is just the UK’s version of a casual greeting. Honestly, I’m a bit relieved.

#3 Are you keen?

USA: Would you be interested? / Are you up for it?

This expression stuck out right away when I moved to Cayman. If you are being invited to any kind of social outing someone will most definitely ask you if you’re “keen” to join. A sound response would be “Yes, I’m keen.” I actually think this phrase is quite useful. I find myself sprinkling it everywhere like fairy dust.

#4 Lovely

USA: Nice

To a Brit, EVERYTHING is lovely. They had a lovely time, they met a lovely person, they think the weather is lovely, the food is lovely…it’s ALL lovely! And wouldn’t you know it, I describe everything as lovely now too. Send help.

#5 Do you fancy…?

USA: Would you like…?

How can you say no to something if the offer starts with “Do you fancy?” It makes everything sounds twice as attractive. Do you fancy a cup of tea? HELL yes, I fancy a cup of tea.

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#6 Pudding

USA: Dessert

Recently, I was at a gathering in which one of the English guests brought along a “pudding.” Me, the naïve American, was thinking this person has brought along some chocolate snack packs à la elementary cold lunch. I was actually excited. Then, to my dismay, they go to get the “pudding” and come back with what I would describe as a giant swiss roll. I simply couldn’t accept it.

#7 Torch

USA: Flashlight

The other day some friends were discussing supplies that would be needed for a star-gazing excursion. Someone mentioned “torches” as an essential supply. I thought, dang these people are serious star-gazers. They’re going to light a torch like a regular Indiana Jones headed into the Temple of Doom. Alas, the British “torch” is just a regular old flashlight. And here I was ready for an adventure.

#8 Plaster

USA: Band-Aid

The word “plaster” in the US will stir up images of broken arms in casts or even the clay-like building material you’d pick up at Home Depot. Not a single American will ever picture a small bandage used for cuts and scrapes. Nonetheless, you may here a Brit use this word when visiting the “Chemist’s Shop,” AKA the pharmacy. How will I ever keep up??

#9 Petrol Station

USA: Gas Station

Even their fuel sounds uppity.

#10 Cheeky

USA: Sly? Subtly rude? Honestly, this one doesn’t translate well.

I love cheeky. Now that we’ve been introduced, I don’t believe we will ever part ways. This adjective has the ability to describe people, their actions, and their attitudes in one succinct and perfect word. Whether it be a cheeky comment, a cheeky grin, or a cheeky blog post, you’ll get an immediate impression of what’s being described.

#11 Pardon me?

USA: What did you say? Or straight up ‘huh?”

Not going to lie, the first time one of my 6 year old students said “Pardon me?” it freaked me out a little. Like, who are you? Benjamin Button?

#12 Boot & Bonnet

USA: Trunk & Hood (of a car)

When has a vehicle ever sounded cuter?

#13 Chockablock

USA: Busy, Crammed

When I was on the Cayman job hunt back in 2019, I was corresponding with a school principal via email. In attempting to find a time in his schedule for an interview, he described the school week as “chockablock.” I read this sentence about 10 times and was completely stumped. I actually Googled chockablock because I thought for sure it was a holiday or some kind of school celebration. Soon, I discovered this word to mean “crammed full of people or things.” Albeit useful, this word is a bit too obscure for my fancy. 😉

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#14 The Letter Zed

USA: The letter ‘Z’

Whenever I hear someone from the UK (or Australia) say Zed, it always reminds me of a person’s name. Zed to me is an electric guitar player with a blonde afro riding a long board. To be clear, I don’t actually know such a person but if he existed his name would be Zed.

#15 Garden

USA: Yard

In the US, if you have any grassy space around your house, you call that the yard, NOT the garden. For us, a garden has flowers or vegetables and is created quite deliberately with much effort. My question is, if the Brits are calling their yards gardens, what do they call garden gardens?

#16 Nappies

USA: Diapers

An American mom on island wrote in to tell me that her toddler was coming home from school referring to his diapers as nappies. I don’t have a child but I feel this would be a most unsettling moment for me. I would turn to them them and say, “you’re one of them now, aren’t you?”

#17 Waitrose

USA: No equivalent

This is not so much a word or expression as it is a cultural phenomenon. Waitrose is an apparently high end grocery store in the UK. Their products are shipped to Cayman and sold at Fosters, a major supermarket on island. UK expats are absolutely obsessed with Waitrose products. Read below some of the posts I have come across in the Real Women of Cayman which accurately illustrate the Waitrose mania here on island.

“Anybody know if BA will be bringing Waitrose in this trip?”

“Did any Waitrose stuff come in with the vaccines the other day?”

“Lots of Waitrose stuff is in Fosters today, including BACON AND SAUSAGES!!”

I am trying to think of a US equivalent to the notorious Waitrose hype and truthfully I cannot. I get pretty excited about Whole Foods but that’s because I love their salad bar.

#18 Jumper

USA: Sweatshirt

With Cayman being so hot all of the time, there really isn’t too much talk of “jumpers” around here. Once though, a friend said she sometimes likes to wear a jumper around the apartment when the AC is on. I’m thinking…a jumper? Like a jumpsuit? I mean, those are cute and all but why specifically when the AC is on?

#19 Faff

USA: (n) fool’s errand (v) goof off /dilly-dally

The definition of faff that I found lexico.com is enough to make anyone giggle. Faff as a noun means “a great deal of ineffectual activity.” You can also use it as a verb to say someone is spending time ineffectually. For example, you can say “stop faffing around,” or “the DVDL in Cayman is a faff.” I think we all have something we are ready to label as “faff.”

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#20 Knackered

USA: Exhausted

Just sounds funny.

#21 Bloody

USA: No equivalent

Any American who grew up with Harry Potter absolutely loves this British slang word. Ron was always saying “bloody hell this” and “bloody hell that.” It became the new cool thing to say on the playground at recess. Now whenever I hear it used it by a real English person in the flesh, I can’t help but smirk, reminiscing on my Sorcerer’s Stone days.

Well friends, there you have it. 21 British words and expressions to add to your repertoire. Although I enjoy poking a bit of fun at the Brits, I honestly love learning new language tidbits. I can also acknowledge that the USA has plenty of words and expressions that would make zero sense in other parts of the world. Check out 30 American Sayings That Surprise The Rest of the World or 30 American Sayings That Leave Foreigners Totally Puzzled to read up on some examples! Thanks for reading this lovely little post. I hope you all have a bloody good day 🙂


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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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North Side, Grand Cayman: Perfect Afternoon Itinerary

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 with maximum enjoyment and minimal exhaustion! Read on to uncover the perfect North Side itinerary and begin planning your next Cayman adventure!

Setting Out

I am a firm believer that a good road trip is never complete without a preliminary coffee stop! If you are meeting up with others, a great place to start the journey is at Jessie’s Juice in Camana Bay. Grab some caffeinated encouragement for the road and go over your afternoon game plan with the group.

Stop #1 Over the Edge Café

312 North Side Road KY1-1601, Old Man Bay

If departing from the Seven Mile area, the drive to Over the Edge will take roughly 40 minutes. (Might as well be a 3 hour road trip for Cayman standards.) Roll the windows down, turn on 98.9, and enjoy endless Caribbean vibes while cruising through Savannah and Bodden Town.

Over the Edge is a no-nonsense, oceanfront bar and restaurant located in Old Man Bay. Serving delicious Caymanian cuisine in a casual setting, this is the place to go if you want a seaside meal at a very reasonable price. I myself ordered the Mahi Mahi (pictured below) with plantain, rice and beans, and sautéed vegetables. They also brought complimentary Cayman fried bread to our table upon arrival. We sat as close to the water as possible and enjoyed a soft breeze and sweeping views of the glittering turquoise waters. Over the Edge is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and satisfied, ready for a Barefoot Beach adventure!

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Stop #2 Barefoot Beach

Queens Highway

After lunch, it’s time to make your way to the beach for some exploring! A 6 minute drive east from Over the Edge, Barefoot Beach is a secluded area offering stunning vistas and a bohemian feel. It is best known for its picturesque seaside steps and jagged cliffs. (Cliffs in Grand Cayman?? Yes, it’s true!) Wear good shoes and do some exploring along the rocky paths. Although the ocean entry is a bit rocky, I managed to swim around and wade through the light waves. It was very refreshing! All of this sounding a bit too adventurous for your liking? Simply pack a cooler of drinks and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings!

Above Photo Credit: The Cayman Expats

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Stop #3 Willie’s Fresh Fruit & Juice Stand

Corner of Bodden Town Rd & Frank Sound Rd

After an hour or two at the beach, you definitely won’t say no to a fresh mango or guava juice. I certainly didn’t! While driving back to the Seven Mile area, be sure to stop at the Willie’s fruit stand located at the corner of Bodden Town & Frank Sound Rd. You wouldn’t believe the joy we experienced when we came across it. Our group stocked up on juices for the road as well as freshly baked bread and a native Cayman fruit we had never seen before. We were told it was an apple but I beg to differ! At any rate, it was fun to try something new. With fresh island goodies for reinforcement, it’s now time to make the trip back west. So roll down your windows, turn up the soca, and cruise with your sun-kissed skin and mango-stained lips all the way back to home base.

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This island is beautiful, but living in the Seven Mile area with prices as high as its condos can start to feel a bit like an artificial paradise. I love going out to the North Side of Grand Cayman because it has a nitty-gritty island feel that reminds me I am, IN FACT, living in the Caribbean! Crazy, I know. Anyone who has driven out this way understands the shift in mindset that occurs once you’ve passed through Savannah. I recommend these three stops to anyone who may be looking to add flavor to their weekend plans. It will give you a beautiful and authentic taste of Cayman. Happy adventuring!

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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 Best Running Routes in Grand Cayman

7 Best Running Routes in Grand Cayman

Gorgeous weather, picturesque seascapes, and palm tree lined paths. These words describe the running scene in Grand Cayman. This island offers a wide array of flat, scenic running loops which are great (free) alternatives to hitting the gym or joining a fitness class. Lace up your trainers, hydrate like crazy, and you are on your way to the best workout nature can provide!

Running is a great way to explore new places (or places you’ve lived forever). You’re able to develop an expanded appreciation for your surroundings as your brain makes connections that just aren’t possible when driving around in a car. And let’s not even mention the physical and mental benefits of going out for a jog! If you can’t tell, I am a big fan of running 🙂

Do I have you convinced? Are you ready to go out for a run or try out a new route? Then read on as I highlight the 7 Best Running Routes in Grand Cayman! You will note that they are all roughly 3 mile (5K) routes as this is my preferred distance; however, you could easily add on mileage at the beginning or end of the routes. They are also all in the Seven Mile or South Sound area as these are my stomping grounds. Happy Running!!

THE BEST RUNNING ROUTES IN GRAND CAYMAN

1. Governor’s to Heritage Club

Type of Course: Out & Back, Pavement + Gravel

Where to go: Start at Governor’s Beach and head west on West Bay Road. When you arrive at Public Beach, take the pedestrian path toward the Kimpton. Continue past the Kimpton onto the gravel. After a bit of “off-roading” you will eventually meet back up with West Bay Road, but don’t go much further! The turn-around point is at Heritage Club (yellow high rise condo building). Once you hit this, you’ll know it’s time to turn around and back track the whole course.

Course Highlights: This route will allow you to enjoy ocean views as you jog along the Public Beach path. Here you will see other fellow runners as well as dog-walkers, beach-goers, and volleyball players. I love the active, friendly vibe of this area. Definitely one of the best running routes in Grand Cayman!

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2. North Sound Golf Course

Type of Course: Loop, Pavement + Grass

Where To Go: Start at the North Sound Golf Course entrance (closest to Waterways apartments). Follow the road until you arrive at an entrance gate. Run through the gate and take a right onto Crighton Drive. Keep going until you get to the Holiday Inn. Cut right onto the golf course and follow the golf cart path to the water. This is roughly your halfway point. Continue running along the shore through the grass and you will see the clubhouse come into sight. Run to the clubhouse and continue on straight until you arrive back to the entrance.

Course Highlights: This is my all time favorite running loop in Cayman for a couple different reasons. First, it’s always gorgeous. I love to go at sunrise or sunset — the colors of the sky matched with the pristine green fairways is nothing short of stunning. Secondly, it is a very peaceful setting and I don’t run into many people. (This is often ideal on a small island like Cayman.) And don’t worry — I’ve never been hit by a rogue golf ball! Living on the edge.

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3. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Course

Type of Course: Out & Back, Pavement + Gravel

Where To Go: Start at Governor’s Beach and run to the entrance of the Ritz-Carlton. Go up the steep hill leading up to the lobby and follow the road past Andiamo. Take a left onto the cart path. You’ll go through a tunnel (watch out for carts) and emerge onto the course. Run toward the tennis courts and once past them, continue straight. You will eventually come to a gravel road with sweeping views of the fairway. It’s now a straight shot all the way to the end of the course. Once you run out of path, you can turn around and run all the way back to Governor’s Beach.

Course Highlights: My favorite part of this run is charging up the hill to the Ritz lobby. (Woah, a hill in Cayman — no way!) I also look forward to jogging through the tunnel leading to the golf course; it ignites my adventurous spirit. Overall, this is quick, easy course that can easily be made longer or shorter depending on what you need for the day!

Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Grand Cayman

4. Governor’s Beach to the Marriott

Type of Course: Out & Back, BEACH RUN!

Where To Go: Start at Governor’s Beach and run east along the shore until you arrive at the Marriott. Here you will turn around and run all the way back. Currently the area of Coral Beach is washed out and requires a bit of knee-deep wading. It poses a nice little challenge — just be prepared to get a little wet. (I mean, you are running on the beach after all).

Course Highlights: This is the crème de la crème when it comes to running in Grand Cayman. The island vibes runneth over. No matter the time of day you’ll see people out walking, paddle boarding, and swimming. White sand + turquoise waters = the most picturesque 5k of your life! No question that this is one of the best running routes in Grand Cayman. Of course, you have to be someone who enjoys beach running…someone with relatively strong feet and ankles…

5. Camana Bay Mangroves + CIS

Type of Course: Loop, Pavement + Gravel

Where To Go: Start in the heart of Camana Bay and head toward the “bridge to nowhere” that overlooks the marina. On the other side you’ll find a private tennis court and a trail that loops around the mangroves. There are a few places to turn around on this trail, but I take it out as far as I can and follow the trail back to the bridge. Once you’re across the bridge, turn left toward Cayman International School and loop around their athletic facilities. Once this loop is complete, run back to your starting spot and voilà — 5k complete!

Course Highlights: I love the mangrove loop because it’s very secluded. Nature has you surrounded — no high rise condos in sight! During this part of the route you will also be running on gravel. I don’t know about you but I love me some crunchy gravel sound effects while out on a jog!

6. Britannia

Type of Course: Loop, Pavement + Grass

Where To Go: Britannia is an abandoned golf course by Camana Bay than has shifted into quite an active green space. It is great for dog-walkers and joggers alike. Although the grass is still partially maintained, it gives off kind of a post-apocalyptic “I Am Legend” vibe. I dig it. For your run, start to the right of the Clubhouse and follow the cart path. You will see the ocean start to come into view. Run all the way to the water’s edge and drink in the view while catching your breath. Follow the path to continue the loop around the course. I will stop explaining here because the path has many twists and turns but that is the fun of this route! Once you have finished the whole course, you can run the length of the residential street of the Britannia Villas to make it a full 5k.

Course Highlights: I love this course! The aforementioned post-apocalyptic vibe makes it a super unique running area complete with ocean views and overgrown tropical lushness. The winding paths will keep you entertained as you zig-zag your way around the man-made ponds and rolling hills.

7. Smith’s Cove + South Sound

Type of Course: Out & Back, All pavement

Where To Go: Start at Smith’s Cove and head east on South Church St. Run all the way to the Tides (the most luxury, modern condo building you’ve ever seen) and then keep pushing a bit more. The actual turn around point should be “Tatenda,” a Luxury Cayman Villa. Gosh, lots of luxury on this island it seems… Tatenda is right at the intersection of South Sound Rd and “The Avenue.”

Course Highlights: If you’ve ever meandered through South Sound, you’ll understand why it makes such a gorgeous running route. Tall palms. lush greenery, waterfront mansions — OH MY! Unfortunately, South Sound is not the safest place to run in my opinion because of the lack of sidewalks, narrow roads, and reckless drivers. That being SAID, please do be careful. Maybe don’t run with your earbuds in…stay alert! You must just hear some Cayman parrots squawking in the distance.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about the 7 Best Running Routes in Grand Cayman. Alternating between these 7 different 5K routes helps to keep running exciting for me. Living on such a small island, you wouldn’t imagine there would be so much variety, but all it takes is a little creativity to design a new, exciting route. From this list, I would say my top 3 are definitely #1, #2, and #4. I encourage you to try a new course that you haven’t explored before. You are sure to see new things and maybe even new faces! Just be careful of the rogue golf balls, manic drivers, and sharp corals (if on the beach). You’ll be great! Happy Running!

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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 Best Healthy Restaurants in Grand Cayman

7 Best Healthy Restaurants in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. It boasts a diverse restaurant scene specializing in steak, seafood, and many local favorites. As much as this island’s visitors and residents love to indulge in decadent dishes, it’s no secret that these meals can be quite heavy and calorie-dense. In the land of year-round beach bodies, it’s nice to have a list of go-to healthy dining alternatives.

The restaurants listed below are my tried and true favorites for the health-conscious islander. Of course their menus do not represent 100% clean eating — they feature sweets and greasy fan favorites as well! However, the majority of their selections are nourishing and healthful. I come away from these meals feeling refreshed and energetic. Even more exciting is that these 7 picks are wonderful options for vegans and vegetarians. Myself being vegetarian, I am so grateful to have found them. Without further ado here are the 7 Best Healthy Restaurants to Try in Grand Cayman!

1. Vivo

Location: North West Point Road (West Bay)

Hours: 11 am – 9 pm on Weekdays, 9 am – 9 pm on Sat/Sun & Holidays, (Closed Monday and Tuesday)

Why I Love It: Vivo is a breath of fresh air in the Cayman culinary scene. It is a small outdoor café with an incredible ocean view. You can hear the waves crashing against the shore as you as eat your meal. With only a few tables, Vivo offers an intimate setting. The staff is also super friendly and welcoming! The menu features many healthy options including fresh seafood as well as vegan/veg versions of some Cayman favorites.

Kate’s Menu Favorite: The Vivo Loaf – Lentil and mushroom loaf, stuffed with cauliflower, topped with garlic coconut cream sauce, served with mixed salad and Brussel sprouts (bottom left)

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2. Island Naturals

Location: Ground Floor, 12 Earth Cl (Seven Mile)

Hours: 7 am – 7 pm on Weekdays, 8 am – 6 pm Saturday, 8 am – 5 pm Sunday

Why I Love It: Island Naturals simply emanates good vibes. The second I walk in the door I am greeted by smiling faces; people who truly seem to enjoy their job. If you go you are sure to see Jen who will instantly brighten your day with her positive energy. While I tend to stick to a few menu favorites, everything I have tried at Island Naturals has been delicious! This restaurant has amazing variety and the freshest ingredients. It is also centrally located and is only a minute drive from my apartment. (I’m certainly not upset about this).

Kate’s Menu Favorite: Small Zen Buddha Bowl w/ Vegan Chorizo – Quinoa, Red Cabbage, Sweet Potato, Broccoli, Avocado, Tomato, Kale, Beet; Hummus, Sesame Seeds w/ Greek Dressing (bottom left)

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3. Jessie’s Juice

Location: Market St (Camana Bay)

Hours: 7:30 am – 4 pm Weekdays, 9 am – 4 pm Saturdays, 9 am – 3 pm Sundays

Why I Love It: Jessie’s provides a cute city vibe that most places in Grand Cayman simply cannot recreate. Striped yellow umbrellas and wooden booths give off a fun and welcoming energy. Their menu offers great variety and is very inclusive, taking into consideration a wide array of dietary needs. They will having you come back time and again to try their coffee, smoothies, pastries, bowls, kombucha, and much more!

Kate’s Menu Favorite(s): Matcha Mint Smoothie Bowl (bottom left), Life-Changing Bread, Harlem Express Smoothie

4. Bread & Chocolate Vegan Bistro

Location: 3 Dr Roys Dr (Georgetown)

Hours: Breakfast & Lunch: 8 am – 3 pm on Weekdays, 8 am – 2 pm on Sat/Sun

Dinner: 5:30 pm – 8 pm on Weekdays

Why I Love It: When I first visited Cayman in October 2019, I was totally vegan. Bread & Chocolate was one of this first restaurants I tried on island. An all vegan restaurant in Grand Cayman? I couldn’t believe my luck! Located in central Georgetown, 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!

Kate’s Menu Favorite: Breakfast Plate – Breakfast scramble (tofu with red onion & turmeric), hickory smoked tempeh, tomato, and house-made garlic aioli on a fresh baked sesame seed bun. Served with home fries and fresh fruit (bottom left)

5. Bluestone Lane

Location: 51 Fort St (Georgetown)

Hours: 7:30 am – 4 pm on Weekdays, 8 am – 4pm on Saturdays, 9 am – 3 pm on Sundays

Why I Love It: I love Bluestone Lane for the same reasons I love Jessie’s Juice. It has an attractive city vibe that I didn’t imagine possible on this island. With locations also in New York, Los Angeles, and DC, it’s no wonder I feel I’ve been transported somewhere a bit more cosmopolitan. Bluestone Lane boasts a beautifully designed café space in Georgetown center. Their Australian-inspired menu features healthy favorites such as a the Avocado Smash, Good Grains Granola, and Buddha Bowl.

Kate’s Menu Favorite(s): Breakfast Bowl – Tossed baby kale, heirloom tomatoes, feta, avocado, farro & a poached egg, Flat White Coffee (bottom right)

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6. Palm Heights Vegan Brunch

Location: 747 W Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach)

When? Keep your eyes on the Palm Heights Events Calendar. If you happen to be around when they are putting one on, drop everything and go! (Yes, they really are that cool.)

Why I Love It: Palm Heights’ close attention to design details is certainly not lost on their vegan brunch. With an expertly curated menu and intimate family-style seating arrangements, this is truly an event like no other. The brunch has historically taken place at their Turtle Pool which gives off boutique, luxury dining vibes. Prepare yourself for culinary innovation. You will be exposed to flavor combinations you never even thought possible. This is quite a social event with plenty of opportunity for chatting with table mates, event organizers, and even the chefs!

RELATED POST: Tillie’s: The Brunch to End All Brunches

7. Fresh Kitchen & Coffee

Location: Galleria Plaza, West Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach)

Hours: 7:30 am – 5 pm on Weekdays, 11:30 am – 3 pm on Saturdays, Closed on Sundays

Why I Love It: Fresh’s simple and clean interior is the ideal space for a lunch date or work session. Similar to Island Naturals and Jessie’s Juice, this restaurants offers bowls, smoothies, coffee, pastries…and much more! (They also serve Green2Go juices in their drink cooler) Fresh’s delicious, house made ingredients have left me feeling satisfied and energized every time I have visited. Definitely worth a stop next time you get hungry while running errands!

Kate’s Menu Favorite: Acai Breakfast Bowl – House made granola / almonds / shaved coconut blueberries / a drizzle of honey (pictured below)

Healthy Restaurants Still On My List

As a writer, I want to bring you the most honest & accurate information possible. I understand there are many other restaurants in Grand Cayman that offer healthy options on their menu. I want to try them all! I just haven’t had the time (or money) to do that. (If you’d like to invite me out to lunch somewhere, please feel free to hit me up! 😉 )

That being said, here are some other restaurants I have heard about but have yet to try:

Brussel Sprouts

The Brasserie

Green2Go

Saucha

-Seven Mile Greens (Coming soon)

(And many more!)

That’s a wrap! I hope this list has inspired you to try a new healthy restaurant or maybe a new menu item from one of your favorites. And hey — if all you end up ordering at these places is a dessert or pastry, that’s fine too 🙂 (I won’t tell anyone).

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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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The Ultimate Grand Cayman Bucket List

The Ultimate Grand Cayman Bucket List

Grand Cayman, however small it may be, offers countless activities and adventures for visitors and locals alike. The best part? Most of these activities require very little planning and in many cases, minimal spending. These factors make this island a perfect setting to tick off a whole slew of bucket list items! Keep reading below to uncover the Ultimate Grand Cayman Bucket List and get started on your tropical adventures today.

Download the PDF version below of this bucket list below:

1. Kiss a stingray for 7 years of good luck: Stingray City is where you can go to feed, pet, and even kiss these gorgeous sea creatures. Hop on a boat party or book a group tour with Red Sail.

2. Enjoy a fish fry at Eastern Star: 30 minutes from central Georgetown, this beachside bar and restaurant offers a wide selection of locally caught fish, lobster, shrimp, and conch.

3. Visit the Parrot Sanctuary in East End: If kissing the stingray didn’t work, don’t you worry! Kissing a parrot is said to bring 10 years of good luck. The Parrot Sanctuary will bring you face to face with some of the island’s native plants and animal species. The stars of the show are of course, the Cayman Parrots! After your visit you can head across the road for a seaside lunch at Tukka.

4. Explore the Crystal Caves in Northside: Venture through three spectacular caves and the surrounding tropical forest on a 90-minute guided walking tour.

5. Dive or snorkel the Kittiwake shipwreck: Before moving to Cayman, I thought exploring sunken ships was only possible in the movies. This island makes these adventures so accessible with its plethora of shipwrecks and world-class diving culture.

6. Take a leisurely stroll through the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park: Live like royalty for a few hours while wandering through these elegant gardens with their exotic floral display. This experience will leave you feeling peaceful and inspired!

7. Salsa dance a Tuesday night away at the Wharf: Can you name a more perfect backdrop for a night of Latin dancing? Arrive early to brush up on your steps as a dance instructor gives complimentary lessons. Entrance is free and water is provided!

8. Embark on a sunrise stingray cruise: Perfect for the early-birds, this tour gets you to the sand bar before the crowds. After Stingray City, you’ll head to the North Sound barrier reef for some snorkeling. A truly perfect start to the day!

9. Go horseback riding on the beach: Have the adventure of a lifetime by swimming bareback on your horse. Cayman’s crystalline waters create a dream-like setting for a truly unforgettable horse riding experience.

10. Take a Humane Society pup for a beach walk: This organization works so hard to care for homeless pups! Their shelter is often full and they greatly appreciate volunteer dog-walkers. No need to sign up or register, just stop in and they’ll give you the sweetest dog to take for a couple hours, the whole day, or even just 20 minutes.

11. Book a fitness class or sound healing on the Palm Heights rooftop: The view from atop this boutique hotel on Seven Mile Beach is absolutely breathtaking. Need relaxation? Clear your mind and soul with one of Janine Martins’ sound healing sessions. Want to sweat it out? Check out Jude Love’s Full Body Conditioning or Naturally Heated Pilates.

12. Star gaze at Barkers Beach on a clear night: This one is for the real adventurers wanting to go off the beaten trail. Away from the hustle and bustle of Seven Mile Beach, Barkers is a peaceful, remote setting for an evening of star gazing. Pack flash lights, bug spray, and refreshments of choice!

13. Snorkel with turtles at Spotts Beach: Another activity that rewards all the early risers out there! The best time to see turtles at Spotts Beach is from 7 am and onward. Swim around the seagrass area and you are sure to spot a few! Check out my Spotts Beach video here!

14. Swim in the natural topaz pool at Pedro St. James: Timing is everything with the swimming hole at Pedro St. James. Sometimes it is pristine and gorgeous, other times it simply an empty rock hole. If you are someone who understands tides, you may have a bit more luck with this! Wear durable shoes as you’ll have to traverse the Ironshore.

15. Go for a hike on the Mastic Trail: Immerse yourself in the island’s native plant species with this 7.4 km out and back trail near Bodden Town.

16. Kayak or snorkel the Bioluminescent Bay: Book with Cayman Kayaks for an unforgettable 2-hour bioluminescent kayak experience. Feeling brave? Other tours on island allow you to jump in and snorkel. Just beware of the jellyfish! Read about my failed DIY bioluminescent experience here!

17. Camp on the beach during the Easter Holiday: What a wonderful way to disconnect and enjoy the natural beauty of Cayman’s coastline! Hundreds of people turn out for this long-standing island tradition. If you’re unable to camp, take a walk on the beach to experience some of the fun first hand!

18. Spend an afternoon boat partying: You will not escape this island without attending at least one boat party. Move to the rhythms of Soca music as you cruise about the dreamy turquoise waters of the Caribbean! Read my boat party tips here!

19. Steal the dancefloor at a Tillie’s theme brunch: A truly iconic experience, Tillie’s will wow you with their creative design, delicious food, and outrageously cool DJs. Read about my own Tillie’s brunch experience here!

20. Sip a Mudslide at Kaibo in Rum Point: This cocktail is as Cayman as it gets. Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s, and ice, finished with cinnamon, a cherry, and a shot of Kahlua down the straw!

21. Try a paddleboard yoga class with Vitamin Sea: There are few things more peaceful than a sunset savasana on the water. Surround yourself with the expansive beauty of Seven Mile Beach alongside a group of saltwater yogis. All levels are welcome!

22. Load up on fresh fruit from Tony the Mango Man: During the summer months in Grand Cayman, the sight of this man outside of Governor’s Beach will be enough to make your whole day. Bring cash to stock up on local produce and have a chat with the man behind the mangoes!

23. Participate in the Flowers Sea Swim: Hosted annually on Seven Mile Beach, this one-mile swim race attracts athletes from around the world. Grand Cayman is certainly an inspiring destination for such an exciting event!

24. Compete in (or spectate) the Cayman Islands Marathon: Runners from Cayman and around the world can compete in either the half or full marathon. Those who are not so inclined to long distance races can partake in the event by passing out water or simply cheering on the runners. Read about my own Cayman marathon experience here!

25. Spot a Nurse Shark at Eden Rock or Sunset House: Nurse sharks can be seen almost anywhere off Cayman’s shores. Eden Rock and Sunset House are highlighted because of their easy shore access. (And also because I have personally spotted nurse sharks at both of these sites). Go for an easy shore dive or a lengthy snorkel and you may just spot one yourself! Read about my very first shark sighting here!

26. Shop for amazing gifts at Pure Art in South Sound: A visit to this unique store guarantees a heartwarming shopping experience. With unique handmade gifts and island-inspired local artwork, you are sure to walk out with treasures for yourself and others. Not to mention, the store owners are incredibly kind and helpful!

27. Watch the sunset with a Paradise Pizza on the beach: This island is a paradise. Why waste time indoors? Paradise Pizza is located behind Tillie’s. Pick up a Neapolitan-style pizza and take a seat on Seven Mile Beach for unique sunset dinner experience.

28. Rise early for a sunrise Seven Mile beach walk: At this hour, you have the beach almost completely to yourself! Enjoy the cotton candy colored skies as you pad across the expansive stretch of beach. Afterwards, treat yourself to a pastry from Icoa or Marriott’s Anchor & Den — you earned it!

29. Try a local island dish at Vivines in East End: An authentic, West-Indian eatery, Vivines offers local favorites such as stew chicken, macaroni pie, oxtail, conch, and callaloo.

30. Coffee Crawl though Georgetown and Seven Mile: The “Coffee Crawl” is a caffeinated itinerary invented by yours truly! It is a guide to exploring the many coffee shops of Grand Cayman — a wonderful way to get to know the island and its businesses! Check out my guide here!

There you have it! The Ultimate Grand Cayman Bucket List is sure to inspire your future travels (if you’re a visitor) or weekend plans (if you’re a local). Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Grand Cayman is always brimming with events, attractions, and activities (on land, at sea, and underwater). No matter what plans you end up making, this little island is going to wow you again and again — I can guarantee it!


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A Weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman: Not Your Average Review

A Weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman: Not Your Average Review

What does luxury look like to you? When I was playing college soccer I considered the continental breakfast at the Mankato “Amerc-Inn” to be completely lavish. (They had French Vanilla coffee creamers). Travelling about Europe, finding a hostel whose storage lockers actually worked represented total indulgence. Throughout my life I have always basked in the joys of mini luxuries. That is why staying at the Ritz-Carlton, a hotel whose name alone incites feelings of extravagance, was truly an experience like no other. Keep reading to hear about my weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. I promise it’s not your average review!

The Room

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The view from an oceanfront room at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is truly what dreams are made of. Every time we returned to our room after being out for a while, we had to go out on the balcony to relive the experience all over again. Looking out over the shimmering pool and expansive turquoise waters was all I needed to feel I got my money’s worth. I went a little bit crazy on the Nespresso machine in the room, raising countless coffee cups over the balcony like a caffeinated Gatsby.

I achieved the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long while in the King bed. With its perfectly fluffy white duvet and heavenly pillows, it was like sleeping on an expensive cloud. Floating about the room in my hotel robe and applying my makeup in front of the bathroom’s double vanity really served to remind me of my life goals. All together, the room gets an A+ for its mesmerizing seascape and bliss-inducing ambience.

The Pool + Beach Activities

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman caters to a wide range of luxury interests. For many people, vacation means piña coladas delivered to your lounge chair. For others, vacation requires a bit of action in the form of exercise or activities. Whatever type of vacationer you may be, the Ritz has you covered. Bryan and I dabbled in both the lazy and active lifestyles by dividing our time between the lounge chairs and water sports. On Saturday we enjoyed a poolside drink and snack from Bar Jack. We then rented some complimentary paddleboards. They turned out to be a great workout for me and a little nap for Bryan. (He just treated his as a makeshift floatie — no judgement whatsoever).

I highly recommend the water sports, but be careful with Bar Jack. We paid US $60 for our two drinks and a tiny side of fries — GASP! (The price of luxury, I guess?) Sunday we switched it up with lounge chairs on the beach. We much preferred this as there were far less screaming children on the beach. (Not what a teacher needs on her vacation) NO RUNNING! We also committed a little “whoopsie” by bringing our own cheap wine to the hotel lounge chairs. We most likely would have have slipped under the radar had we not requested an ice bucket for said wine. Ah well, a little opportunism never hurt anybody.

Featured below: Blossom Village by Collective Swim

In-Room Dining

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After feeling gypped by our “light” refreshments at Bar Jack, we were a bit wary when it came to room service. That being said, I went on a short walk to pick us up some Island Naturals for lunch. (Zen Buddha Bowls with vegan chorizo YUM!). In the evening we discovered our amazingly thoughtful friends had ordered us a cheese plate. It was delivered to our room along with a cake to celebrate our anniversary, compliments of the hotel. We certainly felt very special and grateful to our friends and the hotel staff. We took all this deliciousness out to the balcony and enjoyed an anniversary “dinner” that couldn’t be beat.

Since our faith had been restored in the idea of room service, we dared to order breakfast to the room on Sunday morning. I ordered the Cayman Continental (a bit different from the continental breakfast in Mankato). It consisted of a large French press, juice, a bagel, a beautiful yogurt parfait, and a fruit “plate.” (More like a small fruit cup through my American eyes). It was all delicious! This costed about US $28…not great but not ghastly. As for Bryan, he ordered a more traditional breakfast (eggs, meat, hash browns, toast). At first he was wildly disappointed because they botched the order but quickly recovered as they brought us a brand new breakfast. In the end, we were quite happy campers. Eating anything with that kind of view — who could be upset?

Resort Dining

If you’ve read the review thus far, you can probably guess Bryan and I are not really what you would call epicureans… nor are we foodies. That being said, if you’re looking for a well-informed fine dining review, I suggest you look elsewhere. This particular weekend, we actually didn’t eat in any of the restaurants. (Unless you count our exorbitantly-priced sweet potato fries from Bar Jack). However, I have eaten at both Taikun, the gourmet sushi lounge, and Seven, the illustrious steakhouse, and obviously both were ridiculously delicious and expensive. For a much more thorough and helpful review, I suggest you consult The Island Epicurean who offers reviews on all four of the Ritz-Carlton restaurants.

Spa & Fitness Center

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of the major selling points for us was the fact that we were allowed free reign of the spa and fitness facilities. The complimentary section of the spa includes a steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi. Of course I meandered my way through each area pretending I was a well-seasoned spa-goer who doesn’t panic the minute they sit down in a 160 degree Fahrenheit room (nightmares from Final Destination — the indoor tanning scene). Despite my initial hesitation, I felt very relaxed and terribly sophisticated after my first spa session. My only complaint was that there was no tea being served in the changing room and I just feel that was a grave mistake.

Next up is the gym which to our satisfaction we found virtually empty save for a couple valiant weekend warriors. The ultimate sign of luxury for me was a basket of new (or at least clean) headphones for gym-goers. I gratefully “borrowed” a pair to use on the TV attached to one of the the ultra-chic and stealthy ellipticals. Yes, ellipticals can absolutely be described as chic. (The elliptical at my apartment gym sounds like it’s about to fall apart at any moment and certainly does not have a TV attached). By the time all was said and done I felt like a proper Victoria’s Secret model leaving the spa/gym; my face glistening with the expensive kind of sweat only the Ritz-Carlton can produce.

Service:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As mentioned before, my lodging experiences throughout my life have entailed college soccer road trips, $15/night Euro hostels, and even a rodent-infested quarantine facility. BUT, I do come from the Midwest and let me tell you that people are NICE in the Midwest. (Not talking about you, Illinois) That being said, I have high expectations when it comes to customer service and I would say, although unsurprisingly, the service at the Ritz-Carlton met and exceeded my expectations. It’s pretty wonderful that this experience is available to island locals during COVID and the fact that the hotel staff upholds the same service standards even for local “small-spenders” speaks well of their company’s culture and values. From the rum punch welcome drinks to the kind anniversary gesture, we truly felt special throughout our short stay.

To bring this most unconventional review to a close, here are my final thoughts on the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and on luxury hotels in general. As someone who is perfectly content to spend a week sleeping in a camper or a hostel bunk bed, I was surprised at how much I relished the luxury experience at the Ritz-Carlton. I believe it is something that everyone deserves to enjoy at least once in their life. Now that I’ve opened this door and have had a taste of the good life, I already am feeling the need to repeat it in the near future. I would recommend a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman to vacationers and locals alike. But whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy the simple pleasures in life just as much as the luxury ones!


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