Hey guys! B and I just got back from a relaxing week in grand Cayman and I’m popping in today with a recap of our trip. If you’ve never read one of my trip recaps before, I really try to be honest about the trip in case anyone uses this post to help plan a future vacation. This includes all the good and everything else! Just wanted to put that out there so that you didn’t think I was complaining about anything :)
You may have already seen this if you follow me on Instagram, but we ended up in the Cayman Islands after we had major flight issues and had to cancel a trip to Spain for our anniversary and B’s 35th birthday. Thankfully we were able to regroup and we found some available flights to Grand Cayman instead. The Kimpton Seafire was the only hotel that we looked at that had an available room with ~12 hours notice, so that’s what we went with!
Our flight to Grand Cayman was direct from Charlotte and only 2.5 hours. It didn’t take us long to get through security and get our luggage once we landed – such an easy flight. There was a taxi line outside and our hotel was only about 10 minutes from the airport.
The Kimpton Seafire is one of the newer hotels in Grand Cayman, and the service there was amazing. Check-in was a breeze and they even gave us a glass of sparkling rose before we made it up to our room.
The Kimpton Seafire has a gym, a spa, a kid’s club, and a gorgeous pool. They supply fruit-infused water, sunscreen and aloe our at the pool and we spent 2 days hanging out there. They also have a poolside food and beverage service. We ordered a shrimp salad and tortilla chips with guacamole one day and the food was really good!
The beach is a short distance from the pool and we liked being able to walk out and dip our feet in the ocean throughout the day.
We were celebrating B’s 35th birthday and our first anniversary, so we booked a couples massage instead of giving each other gifts. The spa at the Kimpton Seafire is probably one of the nicest spas we have been to. They have a co-ed quiet room with comfy chairs, relaxing music and refreshments. B wished they had a lounge area in the changing rooms instead of only co-ed options, but they probably have it this way because a lot of couples get the spa services together.
Kimpton Seafire Island Fest
Since we booked this trip with about 12 hours notice, we didn’t have a chance to research anything to do or see prior to arriving. Thankfully our hotel staff had some great suggestions and recommended the Kimpton Seafire’s weekly Island Fest on the first full day we were there. The night started with a buffet of local foods that included fish, crab, steak, grilled vegetables and local dessert.
We ate on the water and enjoyed music from a local band. Once it started to get dark, they had a fire thrower and salsa dancing. We had a really great time!
Cayman Caboose Food Tour
There are many different tours on Grand Cayman and we felt like a food tour was right up our alley. We booked one called Cayman Caboose Food Tour, which took us around George Town to try local cuisines. There was a large group that was supposed to be on our bus but they cancelled at the last minute, so B and I ended up kind of getting a private tour. Will owns the company and he was our tour guide. He was born in Grand Cayman and has worked in hospitality, and he was a wealth of information!
Our first stop on the tour was to the local farmer’s market. Learning about the local fruits and vegetables was my favorite part of the trip. We got to try a small sample of different fruits.
We also stopped at the Cayman Island Brewing Company. It was cool to see how the island has been able to create and grow such a successful brewery. They are also huge into recycling and showed us the process of how they clean and sanitize used bottles.
Next went to local jerk chicken place called Di Kit-Chin. That was the best jerk chicken we have ever had. We thought the tour was worth it just for that because we never would have found that place on our own.
Then Will took us to the beach and taught us how to make Ceviche with fresh fish. We ended the tour with some rum punch and conch fritters at the Royal Palms Beach Club, which is one of the only local restaurants on Seven Mile beach.
We really enjoyed taking the food tour with Will. He is really passionate about sharing the best local spots on the island, and I think his tour is a different experience compared to some of the larger, more commercialized tours.
Eco Tour with Red Sail Sports
Our hotel offered a catamaran eco tour, which hit all of the “must see” spots on the island on a 3-hour boat ride. We sailed through the mangroves, went snorkeling, and stopped at Star Fish point.
We ended the trip by going to the sandbar at Sting Ray City to swim with sting rays. I did get in the water for about 5 minutes and kissed one for good luck, but the whole experience freaked me out and I stayed on the boat for most of the time!
We ate at a restaurant called Agua one night, which is located in a shopping center called Camana Bay. We loved walking around here and visiting the different shops. There’s a market, book store, several clothing stores and even a movie theater. We bought some local spices at the market!
Our favorite shop was the West Indies Wine Company. It was a self-serve wine bar where you connect one of their cards to your credit card and use it to sample and enjoy any of the 80 wines they have on tap. We both love wine and it was fun to try tastes of so many different kinds.
There are a lot of amazing restaurants on the island and unfortunately we did not get to try Blue by Eric Ripert, which is supposed to be *the* place to try on the island. Our food tour guide also recommended the Brasserie for farm to table local foods. We will definitely be making reservations in advance at these places if we ever come back!
Coccoloba is a Mexican street food restaurant at the Kimpton. We ate here several times just out on convenience. We tried everything from their toastadas to ceviche to their mahi-mahi sandwiches. It was delicious and a great, easy option for us. Our only complaint was that their mixed drinks were inconsistent – one day they were amazing and another day the didn’t even taste like the same drink.
Coccoloba sits on the water and has an amazingggg view of the sunset!
Calico Jack’s is a beach bar right beside the Kimpton hotel. It’s one of only two places still owned by locals and not by a hotel. We walked over and ate lunch one day. We split conch fritters and I got a grilled shrimp salad.
We happened to be eating here at the same time that cruise ships were dropping off bus loads of people. There are dining areas both at the bar and also at picnic tables out on beach, and then cruisers can pay to get a beach chair and an umbrella. Unfortunately, our server dropped off our food and never checked on us again after that. We actually had to go and find her just to ask for our check, and then wait for what felt like forever for her to bring us our card back. The conch fritters were good but the poor service made it hard for us to recommend it.
Catch was recommended to us by multiple locals as being the best place to eat fresh seafood. We dined on the water and split the mussels, tuna tartare and their lobster bolognese. Everything was delicious! This we the best meal we had on the island. I wish I had better photos but it was dark outside when we went.
Agua is the sister restaurant to Catch and is located at Camana Bay. We didn’t realize it was the sister restaurant to Catch until right before our reservation, but we still enjoyed it and felt like the menus were different enough to where the meals weren’t repetitive. Something both restaurants offer is an amazing gin & tonic menu, which is B’s favorite drink :)
We ordered a fresh seafood tower that had shrimp, oysters, ceviche and crab. We also split a lamb dish that came highly recommended by our server.
Not only wast he food great but the views and atmosphere were really enjoyable. Just be sure to bring the bug spray if you eat here!
Kimpton Seafire Review
We loved our stay at the Kimpton Seafire and I wanted to share my full thoughts about the hotel in case someone is interested in staying there. The service at the hotel was completely amazing. Everyone was so accommodating, the concierge was great at helping us make reservations for dinner and taking tours, and the pool service was great as well.
We arrived at the hotel on Easter Sunday and it was PACKED, but things really calmed down Monday-Thursday while we were there. As do many other hotels, the Kimpton offers a kids club and is very family friendly.
We used credit card points to book the hotel so we didn’t actually pay for the cost of the room out of pocket. However, the room would have been pretty costly otherwise. The hotel sits further away from shops and the grocery store compared to other popular hotels, which means it’s unfortunately not very walkable. While this is less convenient, we visited friends down at the Westin on a Friday and their pool seemed crazy busy. I could not have imagined trying to relax there. Our friends also said it was hard to reserve a chair down at the beach at the Westin – they got up at 6am and got the last beach chair. So I definitely think it is worth weighing the expense vs. what type of vacation you’re looking for.
Another note on cost. Our couples massage was also the most expensive couples massage we have ever had, and we weren’t really thinking about the price conversion when we booked it in Cayman Island Dollars. Since we used points for both the hotel and flight, we felt like it was okay to splurge on the massage as a birthday/anniversary gift. But it probably wouldn’t be something we booked again if we decided to go back.
Things to know for Visiting Grand Cayman
Here are a few of my thoughts about the trip if you’re ever thinking about visiting the Cayman Islands!
The Kimpton is kind of off on its own and you do have to walk a little bit if you want to get to shops or a grocery store. The taxi ride to and from the hotel was $32 USD and one night we paid $38 USD for a taxi to take us by the grocery store and then to dinner a few miles away. We could have saved a lot on taxi rides and also taken a trip to the grocery store to stock our mini fridge with some snacks and drinks, but there wasn’t a car rental available when we first arrived. We would definitely rent a car next time – even though they drive on the left side of the road!
We brought plenty of sunscreen, but we didn’t even think of was mosquitos. They were everywhere and some evenings were uncomfortable trying to hang out outside without slathering ourselves in bug spray. I wish I had remembered to bring neem oil, which is a natural bug repellent.
How Long to Stay
We arrived to Grand Cayman on Sunday afternoon and we left on Saturday afternoon. We decided to stay for 6 days just because we had already planned the time off of work, but we definitely could have had the same experience in 4 or 5 days. The trip was so short and easy for us that it didn’t feel like we lost a day for travel on either end.
We have been to several Caribbean islands just because they are so easy to get to from Charlotte. St. John and Scrub Island are our favorite because they are a lot less touristy and not quite as expensive. But Grand Cayman probably comes in a close second. We liked staying at a bigger resort with more people. It was very easy to get taxis from our hotel, and we were also really happy with the experience at the airport. There was plenty to do on the island and our vacation was a perfect mix of lounging and exploring. We would definitely go back!