Our second day in Grand Cayman was full of fun and action. We didn’t get a super early start but we dragged ourselves out of bed to meet up with the Comfort Suite contingent in the lobby area for breakfast. Breakfast was included as part of our stay and while it wasn’t anything exciting, it did the trick. There was cereal, breads, fruit, yogurt, and, best of all, make your own waffles. We loaded up on some carbs, then took a quick walk to the nearby Texaco station to pick up some waters and snacks at the convenience store.
Our next stop? The beach! It was only a short walk from our hotel to the beach, maybe about 50 yards down a narrow path. I would say the hotel is pretty much on the beach. We frolicked in the water for a short while and then we had to bid half the group goodbye, as a few of us were scheduled to participate in the rehearsal event for Claire and Sean’s wedding and had to make our way toward their hotel, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites.
Rather than taking the scary sidewalk route on West Bay Road, we decided to walk along the beach down to their hotel. It was a MUCH better option, and we enjoyed the lovely views along Seven Mile Beach. The rehearsal event started at one o’clock and we got to the Beach Suites a little after noon so we decided to grab a quick lunch by the pool, at the Seven Mile Beach Bar. We got a round of frozen drinks to start and quickly placed our order, since we didn’t have much time.
I saw conch fritters on the menu and really wanted to try them. I’ve never eaten conch, and it’s supposed to be the local specialty. Josh, Mike, and I split an order to start. The fritters were made of ground up conch mixed with breading, spices, and diced vegetables. They reminded me of mini crab cakes, though I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t really taste or detect conch in the mix. The fritters were tasty, but they could have been made from any kind of seafood. I also wished that they were slightly crispier.
Blurry conch fritters
For our mains, Josh and I split an order of fish and chips and a blackened fish sandwich. Again, I wished that the fish in the fish and chips dish were crispier, but I liked that they were big, meaty pieces of fish. I dipped them in jerk-flavored tartar sauce while Josh used malt vinegar (Claire would approve!).
Fish and chips
The blackened fish sandwich was a bit of a disappointment, as it was nowhere near as flavorful as the jerk fish sandwich we had at Stingers. The fish was also a bit too flaky and fell apart when we picked up the sandwich. The bread didn’t help either, as it was slightly stale and crumbly in texture. I did like the fries though, which were on the thinner side.
Blackened fish sandwich
While we weren’t crazy about the food at the Beach Bar, the drinks were really good. In addition, the views were pretty nice and service was great. We told our waiter that we were in a rush and he made sure to get our food to us quickly. We found that the service at the Beach Suites was always great, since we ended up seeing some of the same waiters and bartenders for most of the wedding events.
After we finished eating, we met up with the rehearsal group in the hotel lobby. Claire and Sean made a few quick speeches thanking the people involved with the wedding, and then off we went on the rehearsal adventure. Instead of having a traditional rehearsal dinner, Claire and Sean organized a boat excursion for us where we would get to snorkel at a coral reef and visit the stingrays at Stingray City. I had been researching a boat trip before we went to Grand Cayman, so I was super excited that this was what they had planned.
We were picked up in vans by people from Red Sail Sports, the company that ran our boating excursion. We drove a little ways to a dock on the bay side of the island which was the launching point for the boat. After we signed our waivers (which always makes me a bit nervous!), we boarded the ship. It took about 45 minutes to get to our first destination, a coral reef where we could snorkel for a bit. The boat ride itself was pretty relaxing – we enjoyed the breeze and took in the views. It was a bit overcast when we set off, but the sun started peeking out more when we got to our destination. The water there was crystal blue and just gorgeous.
Boats along the way right after we set sail
The blue water as we approached our destination
Other boats letting their passengers off to snorkel
Another red sail boat similar to the one we were on
We donned our snorkeling gear (masks, snorkels, and flippers, plus a snorkeling vest for me) and went into the water. The waves were a bit rougher than I expected, considering how calm the water on the beach had been, so it took me a little while to get used to snorkeling again. We haven’t snorkeled since we were in the Galapagos, and I was a little rusty. I was also having trouble getting a good seal with the snorkel, and ended up with mouthfuls of salt water – blech! But once I got in the groove, I could see some of the coral formations and lots of cool plant life. There weren’t too many fish swimming around but we did see a few schools of small, colorful fish.
A coral formation
Close up on the coral
Bubbles! (and I think Claire's arm?)
Little blue fish
I have to admit, I got a little seasick from bobbing on the waves. We didn’t snorkel for too long though, about 20-30 minutes, and then we got back on the boat to head off to our next destination, Stingray City. The area is located on a sandbar so even though it looked like we were in the middle of the ocean, the water was only about waist deep. It was also crystal clear, and there were lots of stingrays swimming around our legs. It was a bit freaky at first, but then we got used to them brushing past us. The sand underneath our feet was super soft, and we were happy just standing there watching all the stingrays. Some of them were just enormous, and some of them were cute itty bitty ones.
Stingray popping into view
One of the larger stingrays
Top side view
One of the smaller ones being chased by a larger one. You can see how close they were to us as they were swimming around.
Some of the tour operators would “catch” a stingray and hold them up for us so that we could pet them and take a few pictures. The stingrays felt like wet, bumpy portobello mushrooms. Some of the braver folks (Mike, Sean) actually held the stingrays as well, propping them up with their arms underneath.
One of the guys holding up a stingray
Stingray waving its wing
Close up of the stingray skin
Soon it was time to say goodbye to the stingrays, and we were on our way back to shore. We all gathered at the front of the boat and relaxed with some Caybrews, enjoying the breeze once again. Once we were back on dry land, we returned to the Beach Suites to do the actual rehearsal. I practiced walking in a straight line, Silva and Josh learned their marks for their readings, Felipe thought about his signature, and Mike rehearsed his best Casey Kasem voice.
The start of the "aisle" for the ceremony, a long walk down to the beach
Claire and Sean had organized some welcome drinks for the wedding guests later that evening, so after the rehearsal we rushed back to the Comfort Suites to shower and get ready. Actually, we didn’t really rush, since we took the beach route back and stopped to take a few photos of the gorgeous late afternoon light on the water.
Back at the Comfort Suites, we cleaned ourselves up and met up with the rest of the crew for dinner. We decided to go to Deckers, a seafood restaurant across the street from the Beach Suites.
The restaurant has a large outdoor and indoor sitting area, and while we sat inside to seek some relief from the heat, the open air concept meant it was still pretty warm inside. Nevertheless, we were glad to be seated immediately and quickly ordered a round of drinks to start. I got a blood orange mojito, which was a nice reddish color and pretty refreshing.
Blood orange mojito
The menu had lots of interesting dishes, but I zeroed in on the Caribbean lobster mac n’ cheese. It featured a mascarpone, havarti, and grana padano cream sauce and was topped with bread crumbs and cheddar. There were lots of little chunks of lobster mixed throughout, though it wasn’t heavy on lobster flavor. I still really enjoyed the dish though, as the sauce was creamy, cheesy, and well seasoned. It was a whole lot of comfort in one big bowl.
Caribbean lobster mac n' cheese
The mac n’ cheese was pretty rich so Josh and I went halfsies on his entree, the catch of the day, which was escolar. It was served on an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, warm potatoes, pine nuts, and a passion fruit dressing. There were also a few pieces of coconut shrimp on the plate. The fish was delicious – well seasoned and meaty. The dressing was sweet and tangy, and I’m always a huge fan of arugula salad.
Catch of the day - escolar
Overall we were all very pleased with our meal at Deckers. The food was well prepared and everything tasted great. In addition, service was really fast and efficient. We told our waitress that we were in a bit of a rush, and everything was delivered right away. Coincidentally, Claire’s family was there for dinner as well, and they liked it so much that they went back the next day, for an all you can eat lobster special. The restaurant was definitely one of my favorites on the trip. It wasn’t cheap but it also wasn’t so expensive compared to a lot of restaurants in Grand Cayman. As I said previously, the island is pricey in general. The lobster mac n’ cheese was C$18 and the catch of the day was C$26. The ambiance was slightly more upscale but it still had a low key vibe. I’d definitely recommend it for a nice but not overly fancy meal.
After dinner we crossed the street to the Beach Suites where Claire and Sean was hosting welcome drinks at the pool bar. Their signature drink was the Cayman Blue, which featured Bacardi Razz, Blue Curacao, and 7-Up. It was candy sweet and deceptively alcoholic. I was definitely feeling it after a few of those drinks! We had a great time that night, drinking and chatting with everyone who was attending the wedding. We got to know Claire and Sean’s families a bit better, and learned that Sean once fed his little sister pennies and dimes. All in all it was fun and exciting day, filled with good food, lots of drinks, and plenty of stingray.
Seven Mile Beach Bar
At Grand Cayman Beach Suites, West Bay Rd.
Next to Hyatt Regency, West Bay Rd.