Cayman Islands. “If you want to stay, stay!”
All night long our ship hurried toward the shores of the Cayman Islands, trying to catch up on the time lost in Jamaica and escape the black clouds and terrible downpour. Grand Cayman greeted us with a bright dawn, a calm sea, and a cluster of cruise ships huddled on the harbor-another day of discovery was beginning….
Nothing so special from Cayman, I did not expect – the fact that the island is a solid offshore zone, I did not touch anything, except the expected high prices for everything, and that the Caymans will be for me to discover and shock (in the best sense of the word), I had not even guessed.
The main attraction of Cayman is the beaches, clean, well-groomed, with white sand, clear water and surrounded by reefs. This, of course, was good, but I wanted more than just idle, my soul demanded discovery and experience. Excursions offered a lot of interesting things, but the price was not insignificant, and parking in the port, this time, not very long. My husband was eager to swim with stingrays, I wanted to turtles and other animals, which are not very abundant in the Caymans, and as a result, we found something that suited both and, moreover, fit into the time of the ship.
The excursion cost $155.98 (for two), guaranteed both stingrays and turtles and more, and ended an hour before the last tender boat departed (our ship was staying at the roadstead, which also made a difference).
Back in the day, when these islands were uninhabited and unknown to anyone, big green turtles lived here. The same Columbus who discovered almost all the Caribbean islands named the future Caymans “Las Tortugas” and, loading the holds with live canned food in the form of these very turtles, hurried to the king with a report.
The pirates, who liked to rest on the island, hide their loot (pirate treasures are still sought on the Caymans), wait until the impulse of revenge from the robbers subsides, and replenish the food supply, were not too harsh with the turtles and cooked from them a rich soup, which supplied the pirates with much needed calories.
But the island was Tortuga for a short time. The versions, whence the name “Caymans” varies: whether the turtles sticking their faces out of the water were mistaken for crocodiles (as fears have many eyes), or the pirates who loved the island saw them after taking a fair share of rum, or else there was a story that has not reached our times, but the name “Cayman”, that sounds like “crocodile” in translation from the Carib language, has stuck to these wonderful islands for ever…
Modern Grand Cayman is expensive, neat, civilized, very not cheap and very, very beautiful. And the beauty of Cayman eclipsed everything else in my memory, leaving me with an abiding desire to return to a place that is so wonderful and so unique…
The city of Georgetown, the capital of the Cayman Islands, is very modern, incredibly clean, well maintained, a bit colonial, slightly English and closer to the port is built with stores selling what so attracts cruisers. I did not spend time and money on buying gold and diamonds, because I was waiting for treasures much cooler than any trinkets, although many of our ship rushed to Cayman just for the mighty shopping.
The first treasure waiting for us was the island’s most popular tourist attraction – swimming with stingrays at Stingray Sandbar Reef .
There are huge reefs on the southern tip of Grand Cayman and two of them are the most popular with tourists. Their fame came from the stingrays that once swam to these reefs to eat fish thrown by fishermen from their nets. Stingrays have acclimated, got along with fishermen, and with those who like to snorkel on the reefs, have more than one offspring, and then became a beloved tourist and the number one attraction in the Caymans.
Half an hour on a brisk boat, delivering everyone to the reef Stingray, finding a place where there are more stingrays, and fewer tourists (this is the most difficult, in my opinion), and now you can jump into the warm water, teeming with stingrays and nimble fish. At first fearful – who knows what the stingray has in mind. Then it becomes interesting: they flash silently, clinging to your feet with their long tails, the huge females are close to tiny children, small males are chasing around, guarding the territory, and it is impossible at first to understand where a group of stingrays will appear from. After a dozen shots of the sea day and the swimming tail, it becomes easier – whether the experience comes quickly, or stingrays think better than you and begin to pose.
Just standing in the water and watching stingrays is interesting, but there’s more fun than that. So in every boat there is someone who has been involved with stingrays all his life and almost knows how to speak their language (at least, that’s the impression I get). The brave guy catches the largest waterfowl (and stingrays here reach three meters) and starts the main attraction: everyone is invited to cuddle with stingrays, kiss, and the bravest can even feed them with the saved pieces of squid. My husband frolics like a child while I was fixing with the camera all his amiability with a huge stingray and said it was the most memorable event of the cruise. My experiences with stingrays – brrr!, but I do not pretend to be objective in my assessment, although the faces of many were far from delighted, especially when someone kissed a stingray.
During all these hugs with stingrays you are photographed. On the way to the shore, these photos are shown and if you like it, the footage can be redeemed. You give the money and you get an e-mail with very good portraits of you and a huge stingray. The price is much more humane than a package of photos on the ship, and in terms of a piece goes for nothing, as the Americans sailing with us thought.
The only bad thing is that you will not get into the water with a normal camera, but you can always think of something.
All the time changing cameras – the one in the water takes underwater camera, the one in the boat – takes pictures with a normal camera, we managed to swim among stingrays, and take pictures of their underwater life, and capture how it was. The declared hour and a half of an hour swimming stretched over the program, but still, it seemed that the time flashed by too quickly, and it could have been delayed for another hour.
Half an hour on the way to the shore were spent with benefit, someone dried his wet clothes, someone was looking through the pictures, but mostly everyone shared his impressions, goggling with delight, especially children of all ages…
Then our road went along the coast and very attractive beaches, tempting white sand and clean sea. In the Caymans the sea is indeed very clear, transparent, milky turquoise, warm and gentle. So many hotels that sometimes it seemed that the entire Grand Cayman is built only hotels, fenced off the road with flowering bushes and facing the shore. Hotels here for all budgets, all standing on the first line and the level of service will always be the highest. And most amazingly, all day I did not meet a single bum on the island, chilling under a tall palm tree. Everyone is working in the Caymans, even those who moved here from lazy Jamaica (and our guide was the best example of this).
Treasure number two is the AD or Hell, located in the northwest of the island.
The understated and sometimes harsh beauty of the place once so inspired one of the residents, who claimed that this is what real hell looks like, that he infected his business idea all around and in record time has turned a small patch of land into a visual branch of hell. Now there are devils painted on the walls and doors, parked cars painted in “hellish” colors, there is a post office from which you can send a postcard from “real” hell to any part of the world, souvenirs with the theme of devils, fires and pans dashing over to the tourists in exchange for small money, and ingenious inscriptions: “Welcome to Hell! Postcard, I did not send (that scare people in vain, and who knows, maybe I’ll get into heaven, what the hell), but with the hell went to get acquainted closer.
Our guide assured that the hellish landscape formed by dead corals – the sea receded, the corals were exposed, began to dry up, and then died, though, it took more than a century. The scientific version is slightly different and says that this place is formed by an array of jagged rocks. I do not know who to believe, and who is telling the truth, but this Hell looks absolutely hellish, which contributes to the face of the devil, which is not so easy to discern among the ashes. I certainly would have added to this picture of a smoldering embers, and scented sulfur, for greater effect, but to share the idea was no one, which I now regret (could have immediately raised the price of an improved attraction, talking to myself a percentage of the creative).
What surprised me. Getting ready for the cruise, and contacting those who were going to visit hell, I noticed that Americans do not write the word Hell, and delicately insert the ellipsis (H … l), why they have so made, I could not find out, but it was repeated consistently.
Having received full satisfaction by hellish sights, we went further. By the way, it’s not so terrible hell, as we were frightened: a beautiful climate, friendly people, the sea (and what a hell!) beside, and the island is beautiful. All is not as sad as it turned out!
A third Cayman gem is the Turtle Center Experience, located just outside of Ada.
Once rich in turtles, Cayman is working hard to revive the endangered green turtle population. The farm is home to more than 16,000 specimens, the mature ones are regularly released into the sea, and the rest are allowed to be admired by tourists, of which there are many, so the commercial profits are steadily increasing.
The turtles frolic in the enormous pool, allowing themselves to be photographed and taking their time to get away from the babbling crowd. Snorting loudly, like little whales, they swim close, hoping to get treats, sold here, for small money. All the turtles swiftly gather at the food poured into the water, to the delight of children, to arrange a quarrel for the tastiest bites.
I hung out with turtles for a long time, but no one rushed us. Perephotografiv almost all turtles and trying to catch the moment burping and the appearance of heads above water, I had time to feed them myself, and see how they feed the others. By the pool with the turtles, there is a sandy beach where they lay their eggs, though it’s from May to October, and in November the beach was empty, sheltering only a few iguanas, briskly running across the sand in search of food. The iguanas are strictly herbivores, but watching them sift through the sand with their claws made me suspect that they are not squeamish about turtle eggs. Though I may be framing them for vain…
We did not see a clutch with eggs, but we looked at the baby turtles, living in separate pools. You can take the baby turtles in your hands after washing them with a special detergent to protect them from human infections. After checking the thoroughness of the treatment, the turtle will be fished out and placed in your arms. Turtle babies don’t really like being taken out of the water, they start scratching with their flippers and try to escape, which is not a bad thing for many of them.
The souvenir store at the farm shocked me with its prices and unimpressed me with its assortment, which I was not very upset. Americans also went there just to look and did not buy anything, probably for them it seemed too expensive. I was pleased with the communication with the turtles, I didn’t even expect it to be so interesting and, despite the limited time, no one will hurry us.
At the very end, on the way to the port, we stopped at the rum cake factory and the rum factory next door. The rum and cupcake tasting was unlimited, but the draconian tax on imported alcohol in Texas made us refrain from buying another bottle (although the mango one was very enjoyable).
We bought the rum muffins after a thorough tasting. No, we weren’t tasting to get full, but to choose the most palatable one and bring it home to my parents as a Caribbean souvenir. My parents loved it!
It was the shortest day on our cruise, delivering a very pleasant experience and leaving wonderful memories. The Caymans, from which I wasn’t expecting anything special, provided the most vivid day of a Caribbean vacation…
If I had a bag of money lying around somewhere, I would spend it only on one thing – once a year, when mental strength comes to an end, and making myself do the usual and ordinary things is getting harder and harder, I would take out a bundle of bills from the bag and buy a ticket to the Caymans. And there, on the most perfect of all the Caribbean islands, I would spend a week full of idleness, beauty, warm sea, white sand, and hot sun, filling my soul to the brim with it all. And so every year, for the rest of my life!
It’s just a matter of finding where the sack of money is…
And another thing… To become a resident of the Cayman Islands, it does not take much. You get a work visa, fly to the island and start working hard, having previously paid a license for a certain type of activity (it is clear that the cleaner pays little, the dentist shpilit very different money, and so on). Eight years you work in the Caymans, proving in practice that the slacker and slacker – it’s not about you. You don’t pay taxes, nobody pays them in the Caymans, just a license, without which you will be kicked out of this paradise faster than you think. After eight years, your request for citizenship Cayman is considered by the high commission, which according to only one criteria known to her decides to give you citizenship or send you back to your historic homeland. And if you do not like something and you do get a “citizenship denied” bell, it is not a reason to be sad. The applicant flies home (you can not fly away – they will deport by force), pines for a year in the Cayman Islands, saving up money for a new flight, and after 365 days to apply for a new work visa, again for eight years.
And what the hell with it, citizenship! So, eight years at a time, a year apart, you can live in the Cayman Islands for the rest of your life.
Visa and vacation in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is truly an incredibly beautiful and romantic vacation destination. It seems that everything in this territory is designed for a person to feel carefree, calm and joyful. The Cayman Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea. This archipelago consists of three islands, which are located near Cuba.
Panoramic view of the Cayman Islands
The closest neighbors of the Cayman Islands are:
A visa is required to visit the Cayman Islands. For citizens of Russia and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States a visa can be obtained by applying to the British Consulate. It is worth remembering that it is possible not to make a visa in the case of travel to the Cayman Islands on a cruise ship. But in this case, it must be a transit trip.
This is what a visa stamp looks like when you visit the Cayman Islands.
That is, the tourist program indicates the Cayman Islands as one of the places of visit, but the ship enters their territory for a small amount of time as a tour, and then continues on to another destination.
In other words, if the Cayman Islands is not the final destination and the journey is carried out by water transport, a visa is not necessary. In all other cases, it is required. Visa is issued in the country of actual stay. To obtain it, the consulate staff should provide a package of documents, consisting of:
- A valid passport. It is also necessary to provide a copy of document with personal data. They are on the first page. Make sure that the document has a free page to paste the visa.
- Visa application form.
Cayman Islands Visa Application Form
If the trip is a tourist trip, you need to book a hotel room in advance and provide a statement on that. If it is necessary to issue a work visa, then an obligatory document is an invitation from the employer. An invitation is also required for a visitor’s visa.
Map of the Cayman Islands with all islands
Transit visa is required only if one does not transfer on the day of arrival to the Cayman Islands. If the transfer is on the same day, you do not need a visa. It is worth remembering that immediately before filling out the form, you must initially register on the website. Be sure to specify the type of visa required and the purpose of the trip.
Tourist visa can be obtained for two periods:
If necessary, you can extend the visa in the Cayman Islands.
The number of those wishing to obtain citizenship in the Cayman Islands is increasing every year. But due to the fact that the territory of the islands is small, the government of the archipelago decided to issue citizenship only to some categories of people.
- Large investors.
- Migrant workers, who worked on the islands for quite a long time.
It is worth remembering that when applying for citizenship, the applicant must provide a statement of no criminal record and goodwill. Unfortunately, for citizenship of the Cayman Islands will have to pay. For retirees, $500,000 will be required. Also, the person must be over fifty-five years of age and have no minor children in their care.
This is what a passport of a citizen of the Cayman Islands looks like
For investors it is necessary to invest at least five hundred thousand Caymanian dollars in the development of the economic country. At the same time, the minimum annual income must be at least 150 thousand U.S. dollars. Citizenship for investors is not granted forever. Its term of validity is 25 years.
To obtain citizenship migrant workers need to have a minimum period of work in the Cayman Islands. It must be at least 8 years in total.
The Cayman Islands are a very popular place to make money. After all, their territory is not only active restaurant and hotel business, the Cayman Islands are not inferior to any metropolitan area. But before you go to work on the island, you must remember that you can work in this country only with a work permit.
An example of a work visa that allows you to work in the Cayman Islands
To obtain it, you need to contact the labor council. For each profession and profession permit is issued for a different period. For example, domestic helpers get a permit for five years. The same period of validity is for employees in the medical sector, church representatives and teachers.
If necessary, it is also possible to obtain a temporary permit. Its period of validity does not exceed six months.
But it is worth remembering that a person has the right to work for no more than eight years. If after that time, he does not apply for citizenship of the Cayman Islands, he must leave the island for at least 2 years. Only then is he eligible to reapply for a work permit. The maximum duration of the permit is five years, but can be renewed for another three years.
The Cayman Islands are a very exotic region. Come to rest on the Cayman Islands is best between mid-December to mid-April. Often in the summer months the temperature does not change much, but it was in this time period fall outbreaks of heavy rains and storms, which can significantly spoil the whole vacation.
The Cayman Islands are not only unique in nature, local attractions, but also an abundance of entertainment for tourists. In this corner of paradise are especially popular:
- Scuba diving.
You can spend your holidays in Cayman Islands in different ways. For tourists created a whole infrastructure for leisure. The most popular places are:
- Maritime Museum of Water Treasures. Visit this place will be very interesting not only for children, but also for adults. The museum has an electronic guide, which gives tours and tells about the past of this wonderful region.
- Cardinal – Park. This place features unique animals and birds native to the Cayman Islands.
- National Gallery. It features world-renowned authors.
- Turtle Farm. This farm breeds turtles and releases them into the ocean every year.
- Botanical Park. Otherwise known as the Queen’s Park. This place contains all the unique plants that grow in the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands are a unique place where you can combine leisure with earning money.