Cayman Islands: Day 3

March 29, 2013

Even though my husband Lucas and I have been with each other for almost eight years, we had never previously celebrated Valentine’s Day together.  The first six years of our relationship we were separated by distance and last year, when we were finally in the same city, he had to work the entire day.  Thus, we decided that for our first Valentine’s Day together we had to celebrate it in an unforgettable way.  Thankfully, we were in the Cayman Islands, which offered a plethora of extraordinary adventures both on land and under water.

There is no denying that the main attraction in the Cayman Islands is the picturesque Seven Mile Beach, as it is the most developed area of Grand Cayman and is home to the island’s most popular accommodations, restaurants, and bars.  A short boat ride away from the beach, however, brings you to the famous Stingray City, an area known for its abundance of stingrays.  This fun shore excursion allows you to participate in either scuba diving or snorkeling in relatively shallow water.  There you are afforded the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent marine animals while you feed, pet, and play with them.  To us, it was the perfect way to spend the most romantic day of the year.

We booked our Stingray City tour through Get Your Guide, a website that offers unique and interesting activities all over the world.  The tour operator was Divetech, which is a dive resort and shop located in the beautiful West Bay area of Grand Cayman.

Once our entire group had arrived, we embarked on a small boat that would have us in Stingray City in less than thirty minutes.  Along the way we were provided with magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea.

Stingray City will be the highlight of your Grand Cayman vacation if you should choose to experience it — it was most definitely ours!  Enticed with a small amount of squid by our guide, within minutes of descending to the bottom, dozens upon dozens of curious and hungry stingrays came to us looking for food.

While I was diving, my husband stayed up at the surface snorkeling, since he has yet to get his diver’s license.  Our guide was nice enough to bring some of the willing stingrays up for him to touch.

Out of nowhere a gigantic moray eel came charging at us.  I was the first to spot him and to alarm my guide.  Turns out his name is Pyscho and he is friends with all of the guides, since they feed him along with the stingrays.  Every time they bring a group out to dive, he joins in on the fun.

The dive only lasts about forty-five minutes and is considered “the world’s most shallow dive.”  The guide also brought Pyscho up to Lucas and they became fast friends.

Later in the evening, we chose to eat at Ristorante Pappagallo, which is less than a five minute walk away from our villa at the Cotton Tree.  This restaurant is for those with discerning palates and big appetites.  They serve delectable homemade Italian specialties with a liberal selection of wine to wash it all down.  Its name is due to the owner’s adoration of pappagallos, or exotic birds.  He built large, comfortable cages throughout the restaurant, so that guests could observe his beloved pets while they dined.

For our appetizer, we shared fried calamari and zucchini.

For my entrée, I had small portions of eggplant parmesan and butternut squash ravioli.

For Lucas’ entrée, he had a shrimp and pasta dish with a secret sauce.

For our dessert, we both later agreed that it was without a doubt one of the best we have ever tasted in our entire lives: fried dulce de leche cheesecake with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.  In case you were wondering, we argued over who got the last bite!  Looking back, we should have booked a hotel closer to these incredible restaurants. And for our next trip we are definitely going to go online and plan accordingly.  If you are planning a trip to the Cayman islands, you owe it to yourself to look for a nice hotel online that is close to some good restaurants.  You will most likely want to be close to some of island’s many fine eateries to save time and potential cab fare.  Besides, booking a hotel is a snap if you have not done it before.  It just takes a few clicks to have a major part of your travel planning taken care of.

Keeping us company during our meal were two parrots that would not stop kissing each other.  Our waiter joked that he put us near them on purpose in order to get us in the mood.  It was, after all, Valentine’s Day!  Love birds or not, it was certainly the most amazing Valentine’s Day we could have ever asked for.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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70 thoughts on “Cayman Islands: Day 3

  1. Camels & Chocolate

    OMG of all the morays I’ve seen in my life, I’ve never seen one get so close! You must have been terrified–those suckers are not kind.

    Love all the shots of your master with the rays in the foreground! And you weren’t scared diving without a suit that a stinger would brush up against you?

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      He was blind and they said that as long as you didn’t put your fingers near his mouth he would be really nice. If he hadn’t had been blind, I would have probably freaked!!! The guy literally came out of nowhere, it was so strange! I HATE diving with suits. If the water is warm, I usually take the chance. About 50% of the time I get stung and it sucks.

  2. Julie

    This is such a cool post!!! What an unforgettable way to spend your first Valentine’s Day together. And thanks for the tip, because Stingray City is definitely going to be next on my to-dive list. I love your photos – what kind of camera do you use underwater? When my boyfriend and I went on our first (and only, so far) dive trip in Key Largo, I used a disposable underwater camera just for kicks. The pictures came out blue and underexposed, obviously. Yours are incredible.

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 How awesome that you plan to dive Stingray City too!!! I know you’ll love it as much as we did. We shot with a Canon S90 with an underwater casing. If you plan to dive a lot you should definitely invest in a camera you can bring underwater. XO

  3. Jenna

    This looks like so much fun!! Especially the eel, sounds scary, but it would be awesome to get so close to one that’s friendly!

  4. This Battered Suitcase

    That dive looks like so much fun! I love stingrays. I do not, however, love eels of any kind, so I would have been a bit freaked out to see one swimming toward me like that! Glad that you had such an amazing day.

  5. Randy Kalp

    Wow, what a great underwater adventure you had! Seeing Psycho would have definitely freaked me out. 🙂 On our way back to Mass. we flew over the Cayman Islands and had an awesome view of all that beautiful, blue Caribbean water.

  6. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown

    Oooooooh I was loving it up until the eel photo!! They get fed here in Roatan too and once the company stopped feeding them they got aggressive with the divers, and chase & bite us now 🙁 The stingrays look fun though!

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      OMG really??? That’s so awful! I’m pretty sure that’s the only eel they feed and he’s blind, so he will probably not live much longer. I’m so sad to hear that about the eels in Roatan!

  7. Traveling Ted

    That is one incredible day and one you would remember for the rest of your lives even if it did not have the specialness of being your first Valentine’s together. Even more incredible due to the special significance.

  8. Emily in Chile

    I love the shots of the stingray just chilling while being brought up to Lucas! That would be me hovering on the surface, and I know I’d be really excited to get to join in the fun. The eel also is pretty scary, but I’m glad he turned out to be friendly. Definitely a different Valentine’s Day celebration!

  9. Melanie Fontaine

    Wow, this seems like an unforgettable experience! I’d love to learn scuba diving one day, people always seem to have the best experiences! Though I do have to admit that the moray eel would have creeped the heck out of me! 😉

  10. Mrs K

    Ahhh beautiful pictures as always!! Truly inspirational! Btw that moray would have scared the sh*t out of me:))

  11. Gayla

    What a romantic adventure. Much better than flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day! and your dinner and dessert looks good, too 🙂

  12. Alex

    So happy that you loved both Stingray City and Papagallos! You’ve got me itching for a return trip to my old stomping grounds!

  13. Peter Lee

    I am glad to see your valentine day adventure. Your under water journey is awesome and the way you mange these clicks is surprising. Thanks for writing about this hidden world.

  14. Arianwen

    Great underwater shots! I went diving the day after Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray so needless to say, it wasn’t the most relaxing experience. The ones you were with look very friendly though!

  15. Katie @

    Omg how frickin’ COOL!!! That is seriously amazing and totally on my bucket list now.


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