In 2004 my brother was working for DiveTech as a scuba instructor. I had spent a year as a journalist at a small town paper in Alberta before heading to Whistler to work as a photographer for the ski season. At the end of the season I was wondering what my next move would be, whether to look for another journalism job or not, when my brother called me up and asked if I wanted to work as an underwater videographer making videos for tourists on snorkelling!
I first moved to island in 2006. Where I was head Chef of Kaibo up on the North Side of the island.
Living in paradise comes with a steep price tag. That which is not locally sourced and produced must be imported and when you do manage to get your hands on these items, they’re usually exorbitantly priced. So, how then do you economically enjoy the luxuries of Cayman? We’ve put together some of the best tight-budget tips from locals and expats who call Cayman home.
Though there is truth in the statement that Cayman offers visitors approximately 360 days of sunshine, if you happen to be visiting during the 60 odd days of rain and thunderclouds, you might find yourself at a loss for things to do. Fortunately, there's more to Cayman than sun, sea and sand. Below are a few of the indoor activities you can enjoy during the odd rain shower.
HI DAVID! I LOVE A GOOD “GROWIN’ UP STORY.” TELL US ALL ABOUT YOU!
I was born in Toronto, Canada and returned to Jamaica where we lived at the time, 2 weeks later. At around 9/10 months old, we moved to Grand Cayman and have been here ever since (other than for College/University).
FROM ONE ROCK TO ANOTHER, WOW! WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES GROWING UP IN PARADISE?
Growing up here, everyone enjoyed the beach; mainly Seven Mile. Saturdays and Sundays were spent all along that beach. Beach Club Resort was a popular hangout. Lots of cooking, swimming, boating, skiing etc. As we got older in our teens we took to the bicycles, motorbikes and the sea. There were many developments (which had private roads), so we had lots of private land and dirt roads to ride our motorbikes on. We spent most of our time after school on bicycles, playing hide n seek, building forts in the nearby overgrown lots, or snorkeling/spearfishing. Other hobbies were soccer, mainly, bird bush (shooting birds (Seasonal) and the gun range.
Fishing is obviously a big one, either catching Jacks in the North Sound, or heading to 12 mile bank for a little luck at the tuna and marlin. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac were always looked forward too on long weekends. Those were compiled of going up on the bluff, fishing, diving, snorkeling, and exploring the caves. In Little Cayman, it was about the beach at Owen’s Island or Point of Sand and getting together with family and friends and of course looking for conch, lobster, seafood and fishing, diving etc. Many great memories! Little Cayman always carried the stories of the Pirates that came through this area and so as kids we would naturally go looking for treasure. We often spent some of the day looking but were mainly unsuccessful and lost interest when we saw the Man o’ Wars swooping at the Mahi Mahi just outside the reef or when the fry-jacks appeared in a frenzy at the surface in the lagoon! Night time in Little Cayman was about gathering around the BBQ and listening to ghost stories; I still get goosebumps thinking of them! Walking the beach looking for lobsters crawling in the Turtle grass or Turtles coming up on the beaches to lay their eggs was also a great treat to find and see.
AMAZING STORIES! WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN CAYMAN FOR YOU?
The convenience and safety. A great place for kids to grow up. It’s a 10 min drive to most places. Also geographically, a 1 hr flight and your in the USA to enjoy a weekend away or venture further to other places. No tax is also great, however, we pay that in other ways I suppose.
WHERE ARE YOUR TOP 3 PLACES TO TAKE FRIENDS FOR DRINKS?
Any local beach bar these days as they are becoming less and less. Calicos, Hemingways (Now Tillie’s), Royal Palms. Rum Point is always great, too!
WHERE WOULD YOU GO FOR THE PERFECT DINNER DATE?
Wharf or Grand Old House! If it’s just a fun date then Casa 43 or anywhere your allowed to get a little messy with your hands!
TELL OUR READERS ABOUT THE HIDDEN GEMS THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT?
East End has many local spots that are right on the beach and are GEMS in my opinion. Smith Cove, Barker’s Beach, Welly’s for some "local" food. Honestly, not much is hidden anymore but you can still find beaches that are isolated and tucked away if you wish. The Sealife and what it holds is truly our gem; I have never heard anyone here complain after a day on the water!
WHAT ACTIVITIES DO YOU LIKE THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE WATERSPORTS?
None really! Well, beach volleyball is fun but only for fun, and maybe bar hopping (yes that's an activity). Enjoying one of the many great restaurants is also a great treat. Cayman really does have an awesome array of restaurants and even though I am not a "foodie", as I believe they are referred to, I do enjoy visiting the restaurants for great food and the ambience.
BEST PLACE TO GO FOR A SUNSET DRINK?
Sunset house, Calicos, Macabuca, Rum Point, Cayman Cabana, Crudo, Rackams… Way too many to list.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MOVE HERE?
I am originally from Milan, Italy. But for the past ten years I’ve been living in few different countries like Jamaica, Australia and Thailand. I moved here for the pristine water of Cayman… a paradise for an underwater photographer like me.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO PHOTOGRAPHY? ADVICE FOR PEOPLE LOOKING TO VISIT CAYMAN?
Coming from Italy, I grow up surrounded by amazing art and artists, there you get inspired from everything that is around you and from all the art exhibits we have. I think a big impact on me was made from the book “The Decisive Moment” by Cartier-Bresson, it opened my eyes on photography and on the way I look at the world. I always had the need to create and to express myself, before was with painting but when I started traveling around I discovered that photography was the perfect fit for me. A good thing about Cayman is that its a small country, really easy to get around or to fly to the sister islands from Grand Cayman. It’s also a safe island, perfect for “Solo Travelers” or for a “Girl Only” vacation type.
My favorite beach is Spotts Beach, it never feel’s busy and snorkeling is phenomenal … perfect spot for swimming with the green sea turtles.
FAVE HIDDEN SPOT?
My hidden spot is underwater, I love the Gamma Wreck on the south part of Seven Mile Beach. Really shallow wreck, perfect for underwater photography or for a fun afternoon of snorkeling.
WHAT'S THE BEST LOCAL HANGOUT?
I really like to hang out at Macabuca on the North West point of the island, it’s a fantastic cozy oceanfront tiki bar with amazing food and drinks.
FAVOURITE SUNSET SPOT? I love watching the sunset on Seven Mile beach near Boggy Sand road, it’s really quite never crowded and picture perfect.
YOU SHOOT A LOT OF WEDDINGS, WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE GETTING MARRIED IN CAYMAN?
Cayman is perfect for destination weddings for the easy flights we have from the USA daily. Plus you can’t beat the turquoise water and white sand of the world famous Seven Mile Beach for a dream wedding setting. Just be prepared for the hot weather when you pick up your wedding attire, especially for the groom, standing on the beach with a full suit can get hard.
WHAT MAKES CAYMAN SO UNIQUE?
I fell in love with Cayman for the underwater world, with the 100+ feet of visibility underwater and this is one of the reasons Cayman is one of the best diving destinations in the world.
WHAT SHOULD BE ON OUR CAYMAN BUCKET LIST?
A must is taking a boat tour out to Stingray City sandbar, where you can interact with the southern stingray. A really amazing experience.
WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU, ANY EXCITING TRAVEL PLANS WITH YOUR CAMERA?
I just spent the past 11 months traveling in North America in a Van, from the Florida Key all the way to Arctic Ocean in Canada to Alaska and back to Florida touching all the 50 states… it was a journey of 36 thousand miles and thousands of photographs! Next, before settling down in Cayman again, I am planning a European road trip with another Van. It seems like at the moment I can’t stop seeking beauty all around the world but Cayman has a special place in my heart.
In the evening when the warm sun sets on lazy Seven Mile beach days, the cool Caribbean night air fills with the welcome noise of soca sounds and laughter. Cayman comes alive after dark and its nightlife is of the Caribbean’s finest. From bustling beach bars to premium pubs and swanky nightclubs, it's night-time entertainment offering is diverse and colourful. Whether you are in the mood for live music, to karaoke your heart out or to dance the night away, Cayman offers something for every mood and every person. How you decide to let your hair down is completely up to you.
As the avid traveller knows, if you want to eat well, eat local.
There are many reasons to support local food establishments and farmers and enjoying locally sourced foods. Not only does it taste better, but it is also healthier. While local produce is allowed to ripen naturally, and so retains its nutrients, food that travels long distances is often picked before it’s ripe and chemically treated to survive the long journeys.
My name is Peter John Balls “PJ”, but know also as Ballsy in general or the fishing community. I was born in Grand Cayman, and spent the better part of life in Cayman besides some school in Canada. My parents migrated here from Jamaica in 1973. My Father was a Barclays Offshore manager who moved & lived throughout the Caribbean and then eventually made Cayman his home.