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7MB Grand Cayman trip report first week of May

Discussion in 'Cayman Islands' started by Skeptic14, May 6, 2019.

  1. jgttrey

    jgttrey ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston
    653
    798
    93
    Snorkeling from almost anywhere along that stretch of the beach is poor. All sand, a few coral rubble piles and small patches of grass. That's not unique to Plantana. It's the case all up and down SMB except for the spots like Governors, Cemetery, etc.
     
    mi000ke and KathyV like this.
  2. Skeptic14

    Skeptic14 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Va
    625
    391
    63
    Agree, its definitely not close to downtown, it's closer to the north end of 7MB than south.

    We walked to sunshine grill a couple times from Plantana, pretty easy walk.

    Based on my limited participation in the condo search, iit did seem the variation from unit to unit in regard to how updated they were was greater than the beachcomber. My wife picked unit 5, for the ocean view and nice upgrades and we'd stay in it again no doubt.

    It is very close to Governor's reef and if not for our toddler we probably would've done it. Instead, we went to Wreck of the Gamma because of the really nice wadding pool for our toddler to splash in while my wife snorkeled the wreck.

    ---------------------------

    Also, in my initial post I didn't mention anything about winds which might be of some utility. May isn't typically a windy month but it seemed a bit windier than usual according to some divers that were frequent GC visitors. Most mornings the wind started around 9-10 mph and by afternoon would be 14-15, one day closer to 18mph. Almost invariably out of the E or SE. Our last day it was very calm by comparison and 7MB was even more tranquil than usual. But even with some wind you are pretty close to shore and we were diving the N side so it wasn't unpleasant.
     
  3. mi000ke

    mi000ke Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Massachusetts & Grand Cayman Island
    903
    1,082
    93
    True, and the only exception might be the artificial reef in front of the Marriott, which compared to the rest of SMB is not half bad. And it's very close to shore. Our favorite snorkeling spot is Smith Barcadere, but that's a few minutes drive past town. Snorkeling SMB, while not great, is not totally awful - we go out almost every day (we're located mid-SMB) and always see a handful of fish, often a turtle or two, and the occasional ray.
     
    Redfoot and KathyV like this.
  4. Skeptic14

    Skeptic14 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Va
    625
    391
    63
  5. Reefterp

    Reefterp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: PA, United States
    9
    1
    3
    sounds like a great trip!! Can I ask some follow up questions since I'm considering a similar one?

    Pre kids my husband and I were avid vacation divers but we had to take a hiatus after having 3 kids in 3.5 years. FINALLY next year we'll be able to go diving again because my friend has volunteered to come along as our kids' "scuba nanny" during the time that we dive.

    I've narrowed our destination choice to pretty much only Grand Cayman and specifically the 7MB area because we need great diving, great sandy beaches, topside activities for a family, and somewhere we can fly direct from PHL or EWR because I don't want to do connections with kids.

    My questions:

    1. Are there Seven Mile Beach dive ops you recommend that offer lockers for gear storage? I loathe lugging wet gear (x 2) back to our condo between dives.

    2. Do the dive ops pick you up from your hotel? If not, should we definitely rent a car or is taxiing realistic? I prefer not renting a car if it can be avoided but I will do so if it means not being majorly inconvenienced.

    3. Where do you recommend for a condo rental? We would need at least a 3 bedroom but would prefer a 4. I need to be on the beach and with a pool, and my taste leans more towards the "luxurious within reason" rather than bare bones

    4. What topside activities or restaurants do you recommend with small children? They will be almost 7, 3, and 3 at the time of the trip.

    Thank you!!
     
  6. Trivan

    Trivan Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New Jersey
    25
    26
    13
    1. I dove with Epic and my next trip Living the Dream, both will keep BC/Reg, I never asked about wetsuits, fins, mask as I take those with me at the end of the day

    2. The 2 above do

    3. I really think that depends on your budget. 7MB has a lot at all price levels

    We fly out of EWR and there are not many directs, just depends on when you travel. JFK is the best as there are daily directs on JetBlue.
     
  7. Reefterp

    Reefterp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: PA, United States
    9
    1
    3
    Luckily we can fly direct from Philly (which we're closer to than EWR, JFK would be a major hike).

    Thank you I will check out those options! We own all our own gear except regs, oddly enough, because we don't dive often enough to want to deal with getting them serviced annually so we just rent those. I like to bring only my mask and computer back between dives.
     
  8. caydiver

    caydiver Manta Ray

    839
    547
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    Most small ops offer valet service for gear. Most will do pick up along the SMB, some actually in front of your condo or resort conditions permitting. caymanvacations.com and other similar sites will give you a nice overview of condos but Caribbean Club, The Beachcomber and The Meridian are probably the most luxurious but there are so many beautiful options you can work your way down. If your pockets are deep The Residences at the Ritz Carlton are unsurpassed. Rumor has it that there may now be a couple of units at Watercolours that are in the short term rental pool. If so they would be on par with RC. So many wonderful restaurants to choose from and most very family friendly. Only you know your kids and how long they can sit through a meal but you can get ideas at caymangoodtaste.com. Started coming here with little ones 30 years ago and just love this wonderful country.
     
    Reefterp likes this.
  9. jgttrey

    jgttrey ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston
    653
    798
    93
    Ditto. Most will deal with your gear if that is what you want and will pick you up.

    For condos, I'm not a big fan of the mid-rise options like Caribbean Club, etc. Don't get me wrong, they are very nice and C Club has a good restaurant, but I'm not a fan of being on the 5th floor when there are very nice condos where you can walk right out onto the beach and have 1/4 the population density.

    Same same for the Ritz. It's a Ritz so it's nice, but it might as well be a Ritz in Los Angeles unless you spend a fortune to be on the beach side. I've only eaten there, but the entire time I felt like no one there really experienced Cayman at all. It just misses the point.

    There are tons of options further north that are very, very nice, but much less crowded and with more direct access to the beach - i.e., walk out of your unit onto the sand. Plantana, Avalon, and several even further north - Christopher Columbus, Silver Sands. Everyone is different, but for me, they hit a sweet spot where I feel like paying any more would only get me less.

    My kids are 14, 12 and 8 and we've been there every summer, so we've covered the whole spectrum of kid activities. Turtle Farm, obviously, though I'm glad my kids are old enough that we can skip it now. That young, it's a little challenging. The Atlantis Submarine was a hit. There's also a glass bottom boat. Camana Bay at lunch time if the fountains are running is fun because they can run around and splash and the gelato place is great. Stingray Sand Bar and Starfish Point make a good combo, especially if you do it by private charter, though that'll cost more. Skip Rum Point, which is a ye olde tourist trap for day visitors. Same for trinket shopping in G-town.

    Check the Cayman Port Authority website for the cruise ship schedule and plan your visit to the popular sites on days when there are no ships in port or maybe only 1. Stingray Sandbar, Turtle Farm get slammed when there are 3 or 4 ships.

    Renting a car is personal preference, but I recommend it. It's the one thing in GCM that is reasonably priced and very helpful if you are in a condo.
     
    Reefterp and Trivan like this.
  10. KathyV

    KathyV Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,173
    3,242
    113
    @Reefterp, If you don't want to rent a car then central 7MB is the most practical place to stay so you can walk and do short cab rides - the ride from the airport for a large group will be expensive. But if you prefer to stay in another area, like northern 7MB as recommended by @jgttrey, then you will need a car. There's a lot to see and do on the island so a car makes it more convenient wherever you decide to stay, and it helps when you are hauling groceries back to the condo too. Car rental prices are usually pretty reasonable on GC and your credit card may cover most of the insurance you will need except liability.
     
    Reefterp likes this.

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