Pirates Week Festival
JTB Media Creation, Inc./Alamy

Learning to Scuba


Adventure sports are big these days, and scuba diving just may be the most accessible. Serious physical training or stamina is not required; if you’re a passable swimmer, you can scuba dive. Dive centers are found in most large towns, and much of the basic training can be done in your local swimming pool. Training at home allows you to take your time getting familiar with the theory and equipment required for diving while preparing you to earn your open-water certification at a tropical destination like Grand Cayman. Your local dive shop can send you off with a referral that permits you to complete your four open-water ocean dives in optimal conditions (rather than in a quarry or a lake, which often can be cold and murky). The PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DIVING INSTRUCTORS, otherwise known as PADI, is the world’s largest certifying agency. It has recently added an e-learning program (www.padi.com/scuba) in which you can do most of your studies online.

Jay Easterbrook/Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Even with no prior training, you can become a certified scuba diver in just three days. That certification allows you to dive anywhere in the world for life. Don’t have three days to spare? You can dive the same day as part of a “Discover Scuba Diving” course, offered locally through DIVETECH and others (and worldwide through PADI).

If You Go

STAY
Cobalt Coast
Open since 2000, this all-inclusive north-shore resort puts guests steps from the water and offers unlimited, round-the-clock shore diving and a quiet, relaxing environment.
www.cobaltcoast.com

Sunset House
One of the best-known and longest-standing dive resorts on the island, Sunset House, located just south of George Town, has diving on the premises. Its open-air restaurant and bar, My Bar, is a hangout spot for divers.
www.sunsethouse.com


EAT
Cracked Conch
Located in West Bay, this haute-cuisine restaurant serves upscale Caribbean fare made from freshly caught ingredients. The service is similarly excellent.
www.crackedconch.com.ky

Rankin’s Jerk Centre
For a casual, inexpensive meal, visit this popular food stand in Bodden Town. Island favorites such as jerked chicken and pork, curried goat and plantains make for a delicious local experience. (345) 947-3155


DO
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is home to the rare, endemic blue iguana. The gardens also offer spectacular bird-watching areas where one can spot the Cayman parrot, a subspecies of the Cuban parrot that is found only on Grand Cayman.
www.botanic-park.ky

The eastern end of the island is the windward side and, as such, is strewn with shipwrecks. Lining the shore are old cannons, many of which were salvaged from the Wreck of the Ten Sail, a notorious disaster that took place when a convoy of 10 ships ran afoul of the reef on a dark night in 1794.

Rum Point is a well-known beach on the island’s northern shore where locals and tourists gather to enjoy a ration of rum. The signature drink at the on-site Rum Point Club is a mudslide finished with a shot of the beach’s namesake­ liquor inside the straw. Rent a Jet Ski or relax in an oversized hammock swaying gently beneath coconut palms while kids play in the shallow water, which extends 25 feet from the beach.


CELEBRATE
Each May, enjoy riotous fun at Grand Cayman’s Cayman Carnival Batabano. The centerpiece is a grand parade with floats and exuberant dancers in exotic costumes. Visitors are encouraged to get in on the action. www.caymancarnival.com

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a (mock) pirate invasion, make sure you attend Pirates Week, Grand Cayman’s biggest festival, held over 11 days every November. The festivities include a parade, music, competitions, games, local food, activities for kids and fireworks. www.piratesweekfestival.com