It's no secret that parks are important contributing factors to the overall health of our communities and environments. Parks play a vital role in our everyday lives, improving mental health and providing us with all manner of social, environmental, economic, and health benefits.
Parks and protected public lands not only assist with our mental and physical wellbeing, but they benefit our environment - providing habitats for wildlife and protected species (in our case the Blue Iguana) and offering people a place to connect with nature and each other. Though Cayman is small and suffers similar sustainable development challenges as most islands, it prides itself on it’s parks and the efforts made to preserve their natural, exotic beauty.
The Dart Family Park was founded in 2005 and has been a favourite amongst families ever since. The Dart Family Park is one of the largest public parks in Grand Cayman. The park has 180-degree ocean views, a 'lickle' beach area as well as an amphitheatre. The picturesque picnic spots are shaded by wild almond trees, towering palms and dotted throughout with indigenous, sweet-smelling tropical flowers.
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a two-acre park boasting exotic tropical wildflowers, lush greenage and some of Cayman's most beautiful native birds. The Botanic Park is home to the Woodland trail, the Blue Iguana breeding programme and all the indigenous fauna and flora of the Cayman Islands. Take a stroll or relax under a shady palm while you take in the beautiful surrounds.
Barker’s National Park
This park runs over 261 terrestrial beachside acres and is accessible from a barely noticeable path near Pappagallo Restaurant at the farthest end of West Bay. The park offers stretches of secluded space for leisurely activities like splashing in the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean, lounging on its beaches shaded by large mangrove trees or exploring the grounds in search of its variety of indigenous wildlife.
Full and plentiful blooms in springtime in Cayman herald in the arrival of butterfly breeding season at the Cayman Turtle Centre's Butterfly Garden. These fragile little creatures are integral part of the Cayman ecosystem and responsible for the vital process of pollination necessary to keep our biodiverse tropical island region healthy.
Mastic Trail and Reserve
Cayman's most iconic and well-known hiking trail can be found in an expansive nature reserve. The Mastic Reserve is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora unique to the Cayman Islands and or the Caribbean. Though the Cayman Islands are no longer abundant in the larger tree types like mahogany and logwood trees, the nature reserve and some smaller parks protect the remaining species and some smaller Caribbean varietals such as coconut, thatch palm, seagrape, almond and casuarina (Australian pine). An afternoon meandering through the rich tropical nature reserve is an afternoon well spent, by far one of Cayman's most enjoyable inland activities.
For more information on Cayman's protected parks and nature reserves contact the Cayman Islands Tourism Association or visit their website: www.visitcaymanislands.com