Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas in late August 2017. It's where I grew up and where my parents still live. Harvey brought unprecedented 500-year flooding to the area. Unfortunately, my parent's home was flooded extensively.
We originally had a family vacation planned for a few weeks later that we cancelled as the hurricane arrived. So when Thanksgiving time came around we decided to make a trip out of it; we wouldn't have much room at my parent's temporary apartment to host Thanksgiving anyways. My sister wanted lots of beach time so a few options like Miami and Hawaii came up but the Cayman Islands won out.
Grand CaymanBritish Overseas Territory in the Caribbean Sea
The Cayman Islands are comprised of three islands in western Caribbean Sea: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. They're located roughly 300 miles south of Cuba. Grand Cayman is by far the largest of the islands and where most tourists are attracted.
Kimpton Seafire Resort
We stayed at the Kimpton Seafire Resort, one of the largest and newest hotels on the coral-sand Seven Mile Beach on the western end of Grand Cayman. Most of our days involved spending a few hours on the beach and then driving around the island for sightseeing and dining.
The island is fairly small — we could drive around the whole island in about an hour — so it didn't take long for us to see all of it.
This trip was my first time traveling internationally with a drone. I brought my tiny DJI Spark, my Sony A7R II with a few lenses and a rented GoPro Hero 6 Black as there would be some snorkeling involved. Needless to say the drone got a ton of use. While the Spark's photo quality is rather paltry compared to my mirrorless camera and it can't record 4K video, it did capture some stunning perspectives.
While our hotel was closer to the West Bay side of the island, the George Town area a bit south was much more popular — especially on days when the numerous cruise ships docked. Everything in that area felt like it catered exclusively to tourists so it wasn't my favorite part of the island.
Most nights we would find and drive to a local restaurant. We tried places like Yoshi Sushi, The Lighthouse Restaurant, Catch and Casa 43. My favorite was The Brasserie where there was a little plot of land in the back where they grew some of their own produce. And it didn't hurt that they had some stellar Gin & Tonics.
One particularly rainy day we drove all the way around the island and stopped at Rum Point. Shallow waters, shady Casuarina pine trees and a bar make it a popular snorkeling stop when the weather permits.
Snorkeling, starfish & stingrays
The best snorkeling was nowhere near land so I decided to charter a boat for an excursion on our last day. We went back near Rum Point — with much better weather this time — to snorkel for a while, then we visited a shallow water area called Starfish point to see some starfish and finally we visited another shallow area called Stingray City.
After being given some rules for swimming near live coral reefs (don't touch it, don't kick it, don't stand on it...), my sister and I put on our snorkeling masks and hopped off the boat. Unfortunately, I didn't have a red filter on the GoPro so the colors underwater don't look great, even with basic correction in Premiere Pro.
After snorkeling near Rum Point we briefly visited Starfish Point and then Stingray City. The water around Stingray city was an odd bright green and brownish color. The color we saw on that day was not typical for the area but is apparently related to the bark of Mangrove trees discoloring the water. I don't recall exactly why that was the case though.
Getting up close to stingrays was definitely the highlight of the day. It was hard to believe how many there were. I was most surprised at their remarkably soft skin.
After getting acquainted with having a bunch of stingrays brushing up against us, we were given some fish to feed to the stingrays.
We headed back to land after a few hours in the sun to grab one last dinner together before flying back to the United States the next day.