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oct 08 2015

How to Do Grand Cayman Like a Local

This article was written by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

You’ve soaked up the sun on Seven Mile Beach; swum with the rays at Stingray City; and dived the island’s famous North Wall. So now you think know Grand Cayman. Think again. Beyond George Town’s duty-free shops and the swanky resorts of the Seven Mile strip, there’s a side of this 75-square-mile territory that islanders have been keeping to themselves. Until now. Here are eight fun and unexpected ways to experience Grand Cayman like a local, no snorkel gear required.

Related: Hurricane-Proof Caribbean Vacations

Flip out with the flip flop tree

A flip-flop tree grows in Grand Cayman. And it has more than 2,600 followers on Facebook. Really. So peel yourself off that chaise and hop in a cab to see the (dead) casuarina tree along the South Sound coast road that’s embellished with hundreds of sandals, shoes, sneakers, and thongs nailed to its trunk. The ever-evolving installation was started back in 2008 by two residents who wanted to draw attention to the garbage discarded on the island’s shores by displaying stray sandals they found on the sand. Now islanders are memorializing their own flip-flops on the tree, and the footwear fiesta has reached heights of more than 15 feet and has begun migrating to a neighboring trunk. Bring your worn-out skimmers and add a shoe to the collection. Just remember to dispose of the other foot responsibly.

See the stars—starfish that is

Let the cruise-ship hordes head for Stingray City; Caymanians cruise instead to Starfish Point, on the northeast tip of the island, where, depending on the season and tide, scores of red cushion starfish sit in gin-clear, knee-deep water. They gather here to feed on micro-organisms found on the white-sand seabed, presenting the perfect opportunity for you to snap a photo with the sea stars. Just don’t lift them out of the water; they can’t breathe properly unless submerged. And don’t even think about taking one home as a souvenir—that’ll get you a $500,000 fine or 10 years in the slammer.

Related: Cayman Islands to Build Cruise Port That Could Destroy the Environment

Take the best foodie tour

You’ll never go hungry on an island with more than 200 restaurants. But you might just go broke. Grand Cayman is one of the Caribbean’s priciest destinations (its currency is worth even more than the U.S. dollar) and dining out is no exception. But if you’re in town on a Wednesday night you can save as you savor by joining local foodies on the Flavour Tour at Camana Bay. For just $89 a person you’ll enjoy a tasty four-course progressive dinner (each course served at a different restaurant in the retail village) as well as pre- and post-dinner drinks at West Indies Wine Company. Four not-so-small plates plus six cocktails for less than 100 bucks? Sold.

Relax on a gem of a beach

Stroll the Seven Mile Beach strip on any given day and you’ll see conventioneers escaping air-conditioned conference rooms and well-oiled tourists basking in curtained cabanas. What you won’t see is hotel employees hanging out on their day off. That’s because they’re all soaking up the rays at Smith Cove, a petite beach that’s just 10 minutes’ drive away yet feels a world apart. This South Sound gem has absolutely no “scene,” so you can really relax. Restrooms and a few picnic tables are the only amenities, so bring your own beach chair, umbrella, and refreshments. Visit on a weekday and apart from a few locals, your only company will be a flock of vocal chickens pecking their way across the sugary sands.

Shop like a local

Sure, you can pick up a shot glass, T-shirt, or baseball cap as souvenir but wouldn’t you rather buy something lovingly handcrafted and unique to the islands? The only answer to that question is yes, and the only choice for one-stop local shopping is Pure Art Gallery & Gifts, a South Sound souvenir store that features Caymanian and Caribbean art and craft items. Must-buys include: straw hats and baskets woven from the dried fronds of the national tree, the Silver Thatch palm, and jewelry made from Caymanite, a semi-precious stone only found here.

Explore underwater—at night

Recreational diving got its start in the Cayman Islands, but you don’t have to be a diver or snorkeler to explore its fish- and coral-filled depths. Atlantis Submarines takes adventurers 100 feet below the surface, no breathing apparatus required, and Grand Cayman is the only Caribbean island where you can take a nighttime tour. During 45-minute dives you’ll witness all the ocean’s after-dark attractions, including silvery tarpon, which hunt for prey using the sub’s high-wattage lights. And with excursions timed for pre- and post-dinner hours, you won’t even have to miss a meal.

Related: Crazy Cool Night Activities at Hotels Around the World

Take a cooking class

Maybe it’s raining. Maybe you’re sunburned. Or maybe you just love air-conditioning. Either way, here’s an indoor idea: Take a cooking class at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman’s culinary studio (launching this month), where resort chefs lead one- to two-hour classes that range from traditional island cuisine to macaron-making and tutorials on carving a cake in the shape of your favorite designer handbag. Kids from four to 12-years-old can get in on the foodie fun at Bon Vivant, a cookware showroom at Camana Bay, where little ones join hour-long cooking demos and leave with a recipe and their own culinary creations.

Have a Funday Sunday

On Sundays Caymanian boaters (and their friends) navigate north to Rum Point, the island’s quintessential Funday spot. There, the day is well spent anchored off the famous Wreck Bar & Grill. Take a dip in the warm waters; swim ashore for a Mudslide (the vodka-, Kahlua- and Bailey’s-laced Mudslide invented here back in the ‘70s); and get to know the locals as you stand in the shallows and chat over a frosty Caybrew beer (or three). See your hotel’s tour desk for boat rental info or hop one of Cayman Luxury Charters’ yachts.

WATCH: Going Full Local in Puerto Rico

sep 30 2015

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season in the Caribbean

(Courtesy spurdog/myBudgetTravel)

So far, the 2015 hurricane season (which runs through November) has been pretty mild, but with warnings about Hurricane Joaquin heading toward the Bahamas, we’re turning our attention to what steps travelers can take to prepare for the worst. If you’re headed for a hurricane-prone island this fall, Budget Travel suggests the following precautions:

sep 25 2015

Awesome Winter Deals to Book NOW

(Courtesy Royal Caribbean International)

As the shadows grow longer, the leaves fall and our thoughts turn to... winter vacation! Before the snow piles up and the Polar Vortex returns, there are some amazing deals to get you on the best ski slopes, the world's most beautiful islands, and a Caribbean cruise. But you've got to press the button on these deals soon.

sep 18 2015

Great Getaways: Puerto Rico

El Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Pay a visit to El Morro in Old San Juan the next time you're in Puerto Rico.

(Courtesy sojourner73/myBudgetTravel)

If you're looking for a fun, affordable beach getaway, visit Puerto Rico, home to plenty of beaches and nightlife, and enough options to satisfy every foodie, nature lover, and history buff. And the best part? U.S. citizens can visit this island paradise without a passport.

Visit El Yunque National Rainforest

aug 18 2015

3 Flash Sales You Won't Want To Miss!

Italy - milan duomo

Score 2-for-1 round-trip airfares from NYC to Milan with this amazing flash sale from Emirates when you book by Thursday, Aug. 20th.

(Courtesy amichka/myBudgetTravel)

We've just discovered three flash sales happening this week that you won't want to miss. Here's what you need to know.

For ski lovers who are planning ahead

Vail Resorts and RockResorts in Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Grand Teton National Park, Utah, and Jamaica are having a 96-hour flash sale starting Tuesday, Aug. 18th until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21st where you can save up to 50 percent on stays at luxury-style campgrounds, boutique hotels, and resorts. Sample prices include rates at The Lodge at Vail from $129 per night, rates at The Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek from $117 per night, and even a 60 percent discount at Half Moon, A RockResort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with rates from $229 per night. If you currently have the Epic Pass, you're eligible for even more discounts—purchase the 2015-2016 season Epic Pass by Sept. 7th for $769 per person for access to unlimited skiing and snowboarding at 10 U.S. ski areas and select ski resorts in Australia and Switzerland.

For a last-minute beach getaway

jul 20 2015

Going Beyond The Beach In Grenada

Palm Trees on La Sagesse Beach on Grenada Island

Of course if you do want to go to the beach, La Sagesse Beach is one of the most beautiful on the island.


In the Caribbean, clear turquoise water and soft white sand are a dime a dozen. The sensory appeal of Grenada's magnificent beaches is undeniable, but savvy visitors venture beyond the sun, sand, and sea. This compact island pleases with a trifecta of adventure, activities, and nature. The best part: its manageable size makes it easy to cover a lot of ground in a short time frame.

jul 09 2015

Carnival Cruise Lines Will Start Sailing To Cuba In 2016

boat shed and palm trees on the beach in cuba
(Courtesy Tuckerg/myBudgetTravel)

Well, it's official. As of May 2016, Carnival Corporation's new brand of ships, Fathom, will be sailing to Cuba as part of their move toward creating more meaningful cultural experiences between the American and Cuban people.

may 20 2015

Want to Visit Cuba NOW? Here's How...

Americans are returning to Havana, thanks to affordable people-to-people tours.

(Courtesy avam/myBudgetTravel)

Being the first of your friends to visit Cuba is like having the best lawn in the neighborhood: Bragging rights alone are a souvenir.

Going to Cuba isn't as simple as clicking "book" yet, but thanks to new regulations, U.S. travelers won't face as much red tape. Trips still need to fit into one of 12 acceptable categories, such as family visits, participation in religious or educational activities, performances, sporting events, or people-to-people tours, but you'll be spared the hassle of waiting for license approval on a case-by-case basis and allowed to bring home $100 worth of Cuban cigars in your $400 souvenir limit.

may 06 2015

Ready for a Ferry Ride to Cuba?

A street musician entertains passersby in Havana, which may soon be reachable by a four-hour ferry ride from Southern Florida.

(Courtesy Buckhead720/myBudgetTravel)

For those of you who've enjoyed ferry rides to prime destinations like Sausalito, Nantucket, and Mackinac Island, hold on to your hats: The U.S. just approved ferry service between Florida and Cuba.

Granting licenses to several cargo and passenger companies, the federal government opened up the possibility of ferry service in the Florida Straits for the first time in more than a half century. The Miami Herald reports that some ferry companies say they may offer service within weeks from ports like Key West, Miami, Port Everglades, and the Tampa area.

mar 20 2015

Would You Pay $250 for a Professional Vacation Photographer?

Couple in Bali

A Flytographer duo guided this couple through a shoot in Bali, ensuring they followed local customs (no kissing in front of temples) and asking permission from rice farmers to pose in their fields.

(Vony and Bayu for Flytographer in Bali)

Forget the selfie stick. Brand-new photo service Flytographer has recruited professional photographers in more than 130 cities worldwide to take fanciful candid or posed photos of you on your dream trip. No more tilting your smartphone's camera just right, hoping to catch your face and most of the Eiffel Tower in the background. And don't even get us started on the social awkwardness that ensues when you ask a stranger to take your picture.

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