Attending a boat party in Grand Cayman is basically a right of passage for island newcomers. Within a couple weeks of moving to the island, you’ve probably been invited to a handful, each one sounding more exciting than the last. At first blush, a boat party may seem like an ultra-fun, and dreamily tropical adventure. Don’t get me wrong, they really do have the potential to be all of that and more! However, there are certain aspects of a boat party that one must prepare for in order to maximize fun and minimize calamity. Today I will share a basic outline of what to expect as well as my top pointers that will allow you to experience all of the good and none of the bad on your very first (or 100th) Cayman boat party.
What to expect on a Cayman boat party
Cayman boat parties have become a pillar of the island’s social scene, most commonly taking place on Saturdays and Sundays. The boats vary in size depending on the organizer. For example, the annual Gaelic party is hosted on a double-decker boat suitable for hundreds of guests whereas a small, birthday party boat may hold space for around 20 guests or less. No matter the occasion, the boats’ tried and true itineraries don’t vary all too much — the destinations predominately include Stingray City, Starfish Point, and Kaibo. Boats typically come equipped with either a sound system or a DJ so your maritime merriment is well-accompanied with energizing soca beats. Boat departure is typically around 1 pm with arrival just after sunset. Many organizers will also suggest a spot for after-party drinks but, quite frankly, I’ve never had the stamina to make it to those!
Tips for a Cayman boat party
Choose the right people: The overall vibe of a party is even more crucial if it’s taking place on a boat…quite simply because there is no escaping! Once you’re on, you’re on for 5 hours or more. It is important to consider who will be in attendance and if you can survive an afternoon at sea with them. Come to think of it, this is actually a great concept for a reality dating show.
Pace yourself: This is a piece of advice that even the most seasoned of Caribbean party-goers may fail to abide by. Salt-water and sun create certain conditions that warrant chugging down a cool beverage. When most of your liquid supply contains some level of alcohol, it can be very easy to overdo it on the booze. Not to mention, these parties are not well-known for food options. All drink and no nosh is a recipe for disaster. That being said, know your limits and drink less than you would on land. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Pack smart – water, snacks, sunscreen: Following up from number 2, part of staying in control on the boat involves nourishing your body with snacks and water (no, Truly’s do not count). Not only can you feed yourself, you can share with others! A surefire way to make life-long friends — offer up some chips and salsa and BOOM — besties for the resties. Also, we know you want to get a lovely island tan but 5 hours without sunscreen and someone is sure to confuse you for a lobster. Do yourself a favor and apply once before boarding and once more after Stingray City.
Attire – keep it simple: A boat party calls for similar apparel to that of a beach party. Here, we don’t complicate things — It is most fitting to wear a swimsuit, a swim cover-up, sunglasses, and flip-flops. Remember, one of the possible stops is Kaibo, a beach restaurant at Rum Point. While the scene is quite casual, I would still recommend wearing your cover-up and shoes off the boat for drinks and appetizers.
Respect the ‘rays: As mentioned above, one of the quintessential boat party stops is at Stingray City — a group of sandbars located 25 miles off the shores of Grand Cayman. It is here where they feed wild Stingrays, hence the large population of these overly-affectionate sea beasts. Although apparently gentle creatures, they can give quite an intimidating first impression. Have no fear! They are not aggressive and seem to be very accustomed to humans. At the same time, do remember they are wild animals and should be treated with due respect.
Save the starfish: A much less intense alternative to Stingray City is Starfish Point, an isolated beach on the north side of the island. Here party-goers are once again free to roam through the shallow waters, combing the sandy bottom for star-shaped critters. While you are allowed a bit of light interaction, do NOT take them above the surface. They are unable to breathe out of the water and can die within minutes. Certain educated individuals WILL tell you off which is not the vibe you want to attract.
Avoid seasickness: While there are many people who do not experience seasickness, there are an unlucky few, myself included, who cannot even go on a paddleboard without feeling nauseous. If you are prone to these symptoms, make sure you take a non-drowsy Dramamine or consume ginger in some form an hour or so before the trip.
Carry cash: This day in age we seem to be very reliant on card payments; however, there is a definite advantage to carrying cash while at a boat party. For one, belongings can get jostled around on the boat and losing cash is not as bad as losing credit cards. Additionally, if you make a stop at Kaibo with a large group, having cash on hand is an easy way to pay your share of the tab as they do not split checks. Lastly, the boat staff will leave a tip container at the end of the trip and it is a nice show of appreciation to leave cash gratuity on your way out.
Do not overcommit: This is true for any activity in Grand Cayman but especially with drinking-centered events like boat parties. Cayman offers an incredibly lively social scene. You could easily fill up every single weekend with parties and brunches but remember, it’s okay to turn things down as well. I promise, there will always be more boats. It is best to wait for one with the right people for the right occasion in order to truly enjoy the celebration to its fullest!
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