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CARIBBEAN CAYMAN ISLANDS DESTINATIONS


bioluminescence, for it was just as surreal, and even more serene. Words don’t quite do justice to these two very different islands. And if you’ve got clients interested in seeing extraordinary phenomena on a well- developed, British-owned territory, the Caymans should be on your radar.


Just as worthy of a visit is the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, where blue iguanas, unique to Grand Cayman, have been bred since 2001 as part of a recovery programme. I was lucky enough to spot one skulking freely around the grounds in all its bluish glory, swerving its way through the exotic display of waxy-looking flowers, fanned-out palms and other colourful flora that make up this 60-acre park (entry is $12 adults, $6 children). But most memorable was a horse-riding trip along the beach. A small-group tour with Spirit of the West had me serenely trotting along – vast sea to my left, wild forest to my right – in silence, bar the sound of hooves kicking up the dusty sand (from $75).


w LITTLE CAYMAN If Grand Cayman is all about the attractions, Little Cayman – reachable via a 35-minute flight on a tiny, inter- island aircraft – is all about serenity: pure, open sea; peaceful, empty beaches; and a population of just 160. Diving and fishing are the main lures


here, with just three resorts spread across its 11 square miles. I stayed at Southern Cross Club, a remote, chilled-out spot for divers and fishing fans made up of 14 brightly coloured bungalows scattered across an empty stretch of sand. It’s about as conducive to switching off and tuning out as you can get, with barely anyone around to interrupt the views of calming blue, but it was the diving that truly blew me away. Little Cayman’s coral reef is nigh-on pristine, and at Bloody Bay Wall you’ll find one of the most-renowned and spectacular drop-offs in the Caribbean. A huge coral reef covered with tiny


green fronds, mustard-yellow sponges and burgundy clumps of brain-like coral, the ‘wall’ suddenly drops off into a void plunging more than 1,000 feet. Swimming over it feels like stepping off a cliff or floating through the sky like a parachutist, stomach plunging with vertigo as you look down to see nothing but deep, dark blue. Exploring the reef and its universe of


creatures – elegant turtles, iridescent rainbow fish and schools of tiny glittering fish – took me back to the


30 August 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 49 Tried & Tested


Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort Set right on Seven Mile Beach, this large, family-friendly five-star is in the heart of the action. Rooms are comfortable and spacious, and the food options are excellent. Locals flock for the sushi, brunch and crêpes, and there’s a stylish outdoor restaurant dishing up freshly caught seafood against an idyllic sunset come evening. It’s especially popular with families and larger groups from the US, which means it can get a little loud, but the beachfront location and fun, upbeat vibe, with DJs, kids’ activities, barbecue nights and more, make it an excellent option for those after a livelier stay. marriott.co.uk


Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman The newest addition to Grand Cayman’s roster of luxury resorts, the Kimpton goes all out with an ultra-stylish design across its 266 rooms, suites and bungalows. Its pièce de résistance, though, has to be the spa, a mosaic-bedecked masterpiece with a hammam and several treatment rooms. The full-body massage was divine – as were the tacos and cocktails I followed it up with at the beach bar afterwards. seafireresortandspa.com


ABOVE: Beach horse riding


LEFT: Queen Elizabeth II


Botanic Park BELOW:


Southern Cross Club


PICTURES: DON RIDDLE; ATLANTIS SUBMARINES; BURRARD-LUCAS.COM; SHUTTERSTOCK; CAYMAN ISLANDS DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM


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