Day 16: Grand Cayman Islands
My last weekend on the island already and Katie and Yoshi have a big day of sightseeing on the other side of Cayman, namely Bodden Town (Pirate Caves), Cayman Kai (Starfish and Rum Points) and the East End (Wreck of the Ten Sails and Library Beach). We pack picnic snacks and wine into the car, grab fresh towels, snorkel gear and all the cameras we can carry and off we go.
Driving through Bodden Town, we come to the Pirate Caves, a tourist attraction on the main road. The building itself is being renovated, but we are still able to tour the animal sanctuary and pirate caves behind. Cayman has a fascination with pirates.
By the mid to late 1600’s, the English had established themselves in Jamaica and begun treating the Cayman Islands as natural appendages of the larger territory. Apart from small settlements on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, most of the three islands were left untouched, which was ideal for pirates. In addition Cayman lay astride the route of treasure galleons returning to Spain, laden with gold and silver from the New World. This promise of capturing Spanish treasure ships on their way home from the Caribbean soon attracted the attention of a motley crowd of buccaneers, pirates and freebooters. The ‘Golden Age’ of piracy spanned from the 1650s to the 1730s and Cayman’s most notorious pirate was Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, who frequented the area from 1713 to his death in 1718.
Some of the biggest names in buccaneering circles, including Lowther, Lowe, Morgan and Blackbeard, prowled the coasts of the Cayman Islands. According to ‘A History of the Cayman Islands’, the abundance of fresh water, turtle meat and wood made Cayman an ideal landing spot. Furthermore, the Islands offered pirate captains the possibility of finding crews to man captured vessels and a quiet location away from the authorities where pirates could hide their loot and careen and repair their vessels. This pirate’s haven only lasted for about 110 years; by the 1730s, the scourge of the buccaneers had been largely tamed, if not discouraged by the growing population.
Starfish point is an amazing spot to visit. You can see starfish right in the shallows of the water. They are much larger than I thought they would be, a bright fiery red/orange in colour. We counted about 4 starfish in our short visit. There’s a signboard posted with ten fun facts about starfish – like starfish eat with their stomachs inside-out!
www.Caymanislands.ky describes Rum Point as a picturesque spot on the north side of Cayman, which “has something for everyone’s Caribbean beach vacation. While younger children have the advantage of playing in the clear and shallow waters, adults have access to the top Caribbean watersport operators and a beach bars providing some of the best food and drinks on the island.
Rum Point Beach offers changing rooms, showers, huts, hammocks, volleyball nets and more. Not to mention the shallow and clear waters of Rum Point Beach make it the ideal beach for swimming in the Caribbean and offers the finest of snorkelling, ensuring that Rum Point is not only a fun and beautiful, but a convenient beach.”
Half way between Starfish and Rum Points is Kaibo, where we were going to go for the beach BBQ last week, before the weather changed our minds. After kind naturedly berating the waitress for the weather which stopped our plans, and being only too aware of the unreasonable demands a lot of tourists place on hospitality industry professionals, we sit down to grab some drinks – is 11.20am too early for rum? No, of course not. However, we wash it down with fish goujons and poutiness (fries with gravy and cheese on them).
Driving along the coast, we pass boxed homes of turquoise, watermelon, sky blue, pale lime and lemon. The verandahs house rows of chairs set for daily chats with neighbours and watching the sun go down. Chickens still meander across the road, but in combination with scurrying crabs. The waters are crystal clear and sparkle in the sun like diamonds. It has a quieter vibe than Seven Mile Beach, more relaxed.
Wreck of the Ten Sails
I first read about the wreck of the ten sails at the National Museum last week. So it was great to be able to go and see this memorial site for myself. So what happened and how did ten sails get wrecked?
This historic shipwreck occurred off the East End of Grand Cayman in February 1794.
In a tragic case of crossed signals, ten ships that were part of a convoy on its way from Jamaica to the United States and Britain were wrecked on the surrounding reef. The warning issued from the Cordelia to the other ships was misinterpreted as a call to follow more closely, and one by one nine more ships crashed into the reef.
Local residents braved the stormy waters and successfully rescued all of the ships’ crew and passengers.
Pulling off the road, we discover Library Beach and it looks like the perfect spot to break out our little picnic. Sand crabs and playing pop up in the sand nearby, you can hear their little claws clicking away.
Heading home past the blowholes, we are all flagging. It’s been a long day, but it’s so different from the 7-Mile/West Bay side of the island, that you really can’t visit Cayman without seeing this part of it as well.
DAILY IGUANA COUNT: 13