I recently took my first big vacation in a couple years, a week-long trip to the tropical island of Grand Cayman. My girlfriend was there for 3 weeks for work, so I thought I’d keep her company and get away from the cold weather in Chicago for a little while. The weather was tremendous the entire trip, with high’s of about 85-86 every day and lots of sun. A couple days saw very quick periods of rain, but they came and went and the sun was back out shining in no time!
We stayed at the Marriott – Grand Cayman, which is located in the heart of the action on Seven Mile Beach. I started off my trip eating at Sol bar out by the pool/beach area of the Marriott, since I was informed me they have gluten free buns. I ordered the bacon cheeseburger on gluten free bun, which actually turned out to be an Udi’s gluten free bagel. I thought that was kind of cool and it tasted really good. The bagels are honestly better as a hamburger bun that the actual Udi’s buns since they are much bigger.
The second night of my trip we decided to eat at Red Parrot, conveniently located in our hotel. This is where we had a little bit of a problem. After talking to the chef, the waiter informed us they do offer gluten free pasta, so I went ahead and ordered it. When it arrived at our table, the pasta looked exactly like regular pasta, so I asked the guy twice to make sure it was gluten free, and he says “Yes”. I take a couple bites, still not believing this pasta was actually GF, since I had never seen GF pasta that looked this way.
I finally ask someone else to make sure the pasta is gluten free and he goes back to check and says “Oh no, actually it’s not gluten free”. WHAAAAAT. After ordering “gluten free pasta” and asking the guy twice to make sure before I ate it, I still end up getting gluten-ed on only my second day there. Needless to say, I was extremely unhappy about this. Luckily, the manager (I think) Carlos swooped in and helped us out and delivered not only some quality GF pasta that meal, but GF French toast another meal. He really took care of us and let us know what we could and could not have. I felt a little sick the next day from the two bites I took, but it wasn’t too bad.
Balboa’s bar in the lobby of the Marriott offered gluten free pizza (although they don’t have this every day, you have to check) and it was very delicious. Different than any pizza I have tried here in Chicago, that’s for sure. The pizzas are personal-size with 4 slices and are definitely big enough to fill one person.
We took a catamaran to Rum Point one night (more on that below) and dined at Rum Point Restaurant. Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable about which items contained gluten and which didn’t, so that was very helpful. I tried red snapper for the first time, and it was delicious. I would definitely recommend eating at Rum Point Restaurant if you find yourself in Grand Cayman.
We also dined at Deckers and Ristorante Luca while on vacation. I got the grilled tuna at Deckers and red snapper (2nd time of the trip!) at Luca. They were both very tasty and well-prepared. I’m not sure if I would get the tuna again, but not because I didn’t enjoy it, it just reminds me too much of the tuna sandwiches I’ve eaten my whole life. I guess I just prefer salmon and red snapper over tuna.
If you find yourself in Camana Bay, Michael’s Genuine and Ortanique were both nice, yet expensive, places to eat for lunch. I just had a salad with grilled chicken at Michael’s and salmon at Ortanique — I would recommend both. Camana Bay is technically it’s own city, but it is only like a 10 minute walk from the Marriott. There are tons of restaurants, shops, and a movie theatre there, so it might be worth spending a few hours walking around one day.
If you visit George Town on your trip, Rackam’s is a cool bar on the water with a bunch of huge fish chilling just off the dock. They must get fed quite a bit by tourists, I would imagine. Anyways, Rackam’s had a fun atmosphere and it was a nice place to grab a drink.
Outside of eating and drinking, there are tons of fun activities and attractions to see and do in Grand Cayman. Here is what I would recommend:
- Stingray City – This is tops on everyone’s list of things to do, and for good reason — it’s awesome! Where else can you swim with stingrays and have them rub up against you, begging for food? Our pictures with the stingrays are definitely the best ones from vacation. As our waiter at dinner said, “You haven’t really visited the Cayman Islands until you visit Stingray City!”.
- Snorkeling – There are literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of different places to snorkel on Grand Cayman. Heck, even the area right off the beach of most hotels has good snorkeling. We went on one of Captain Marvin’s tours (the 3 stop one) that took us to Stingray City and then two different snorkeling spots, and I highly recommend it. I think the price was around $35-40 per person, which is very reasonable. The snorkeling itself is amazing — there are so many beautiful fish and other ocean wildlife. At the last stop on the tour, they gave us squid to hold and the fish would swim up and nibble on it and try to rip it out of your hand. Very cool!
- Rum Point – We took a catamaran out to Rum Point one night and ate dinner there. It’s a very relaxing, isolated area located in the upper Northeast corner of the island. Since it was dark when we were there, we didn’t swim or snorkel, but it is supposed to be a good place to do both. The hammocks close to the water are a fantastic place to just chill out and listen to the waves.
A couple pics from Captain Marvin’s tour to finish up: