"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hey, mon, Cayman is Grand - W. Caribbean Cruise - Day 3

We would be hard-pressed to have had a better day than we did in Grand Cayman today. Perfect warm weather and what a beautifully amazing place. Of course, your opinion of a new place is always strengthened with a good guide showing it to you, and Capt. John-Michael was just that. He was the pilot and tour guide for our private boat tour around Grand Cayman Island. He picked us up at the port after we had tendered in early this morning from the ship. We drove to the other side of the island away from a surprising amount of rush-hour traffic coming into George Town. We arrived at his dock and boarded his beautiful 27-foot Boston Whaler Outrage and headed out immediately to Stingray City, one of Grand Cayman's busiest attractions. We knew Capt. John-Michael knew what he was doing when we arrived at Stingray City with only two other boats in sight (by the time we left an hour later there were dozens of boats and jet skis around us). Stingray City is a section of waist-deep ocean near Grand Cayman Island with a sandy bottom just inside a large barrier reef. Years before their were cruise ships and too many tourists, local fisherman used this area to gut their catch instead of waiting until they got back to the dock and making a big mess there. Stingrays in the area got in the habit of visiting this area and feasting on the discarded chum. Nowadays, anyone can drop into the water with a handful of squid and feed these beautiful and gentle creatures by hand. There are scores of them in the waters here of all varying sizes. Some of the bigger ones had wingspans that were easily 4 or 5 feet in width. We all fed them and it was truly an amazing experience. They don't have teeth per se and their undersides are very soft. Their imposing-looking tails are not sharp or stinging as their name implies, but instead just rough in texture. And, they really seemed to try and prevent hitting you with them as they circled about. Capt. John-Michael also showed us a trick that since the rays can't swim backwards if you get in front of them and carefully cradle them in front of you they will actually just hover their resting in your arms (photo above). Very, very cool. He also explained to us that the rays actually like human contact and that was evident as many of the rays hung around with us long after the squid was gone.
We left the growing crowds at Stingray City behind and headed next to a prime snorkeling spot. We spent another hour or so floating around and gazing at a huge diversity of fish (the most we had ever seen in one area while snorkeling) swimming in and out of coral reefs growing on huge boulders in about 10 feet of water. Capt. John-Michael came through again by picking a spot that was only occupied by us the entire time we snorkeled. Afterwards, we motored over to the north central part of the shoe-shaped island known as Rum Point and anchored near shore. We took about a half-mile beach walk to a little restaurant just off the beach for lunch (photo above). We got a bit of jolt at the Cayman Dollar-U.S. Dollar exchange rate, but it's hard to grumble too much when you are in paradise. By the time we got back to the boat Capt. John-Michael had gathered together four huge starfish (photo below) for us to examine up close. Each one was a different brilliant color and are fairly heavy in weight. As a final stop before returning us to the ship, we slowly motored through a huge expanse of mangroves without another soul around. Very tranquil. Through the murky water Capt. John-Paul showed us hundreds of large jellyfish resting on the bottom of these canals.
If you ever get the chance to find your self in Grand Cayman, we highly recommend Capt. John-Michael's eco-tour. It's affordable, professional, private for groups of up to 10 and extremely respectful of Grand Cayman's awesome biodiversity.

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