My second home in the Caribbean
At the beginning of 2016 I travelled back to the Cayman Islands to conduct new and exciting coral reef research with the Department of Environment. In this post, I would like to share with you my favourite things about these beautiful islands and why I keep coming back for more.
Apart from my brief experience learning how to dive in Indonesia, the coral reefs in the Cayman Islands were the first underwater habitats I grew to know and love. On clear, calm days I would hang off the side of Pegasus (the DoE’s work vessel) trying to catch a glimpse of the golden brown Acroporid species, shimmering beneath the surface. Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis are the 2 species of branching corals found in the Caribbean, in comparison to the Pacific which has 11 species. They remind me why coral reefs are often referred to as the rainforests of the sea. In 1998 they were impacted by disease which nearly irradiated the species completely. They can still be found at dive sites in the Cayman Islands but not close to the extent they thrived before.
Stingray City – you can rock up in a boat and go for a swim with these amazing creatures.
Southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) aggregate in response to feeding by dive operators at the famous Stingray city. here are concerns, however, that extensive human interaction and supplemental feeding almost daily may be having subtle negative impacts on the behaviour and general ecology of the stingrays. To maintain the biological health of these stingray populations for the long-term the Guy Harvey Research Institute conduct research on the behaviour, reproduction, genetics and population characteristics of these species.
Little Cayman – The most perfect little patch of earth.
Little Cayman is the smallest out of three Cayman islands. It is by far the least populous, with a permanent population of about 170. It is approximately 10 miles (16 km) long with an average width of 1 mile (2 km) and most of the island is very undeveloped. Almost the entire island is at sea level – the highest elevation is approximately 12 metres.When I first visited here in 2013 I had island fever after 3 days!! Oh how things have changed. I believe I can easily live in a place like this now.
Top things to do:
- Have a stroll along Point O’ Sand
- SCUBA dive the infamous Bloody Bay Wall
- Find the hidden caves
- Explore the wrecks
- Have a Caipirinha at Southern Cross Club
- Stumble home from the Hungry Iguana
- Visit Booby Pond (bring a nose plug!)
- Have a bonfire at Lucky Bean Beach
- Visit stumpy the Iguana at Beach resort
Try SCUBA diving! The marine life is to die for.
In 30 degrees water temperatures, there are turtles, Caribbean Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks and of course the Nassau grouper (the puppy dog of the sea).
The beaches are incredible. Top four would have to be:
Point O’ Sand , East LC
Smith’s Cove, West GC
Governors Beach, South GC
7-mile Beach, West GC
The sunsets in the Cayman Islands were my best motivation for going running. Though I am not sure they beat the west coast of Scotland but it is definitely a lot warmer. My runs normally ended with jumping into Smiths Cove, a beautiful little secluded bay right next door to George Town, the capital of the Caymans.
Be sure to check out the Department of Environment and marvel at the amazing marine and terrestrial research they have conducted in the Cayman Islands. The amazing people from the Department of Environment who make it so hard to leave.
· January - May 2016 ·