Making The Most Out Of A Long Weekend
In Europe we are lucky to be graciously granted multiple weeks of vacation time. Our North American counterparts unfortunately tend to fall short in the work leave department, so it’s imperative to utilize your time off optimally.
Many airlines fly direct to Grand Cayman, with a flight time of 4 hours or much less. Miami is a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes away; I’ve waited for a table in a restaurant for mediocre food longer than that.
Much to the shock of my poor North American geography skills, I discovered that direct flights from New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Toronto all take less than four hours. That’s less time than it takes to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Although for some of our Canadian friends, it’s probably a bit quicker when you throw it in a deep fryer vat of bubbling oil.
Anyway, we have established that travel time is favourable in making a long weekend to Grand Cayman work. Depending on your local airport flight schedules, we get a lot of customers that fly down Thursday - Monday, leaving 2 and a half days for diving.
After checking in to your hotel, food is normally top of the priority list. Have a look at our restaurant picks, or while you’re at it, why not check out one of our recommended happy hours to unwind and send you off early to a good night's sleep before waking up bright eyed and bushy-tailed for your first day of diving.
For the hardcore divers out there, a Thursday night dive may be your first port of call post-landing before that midnight snack.
Depending how early you want to get up, many operators run boat trips every morning. Divetech's two tank boat leaves at 7.30 AM every morning, giving plenty of time to fit in two 60 minute dives with a 45 minute surface interval and get you back on land in plenty of time for lunch.
For those that like to sleep in a little longer, shore diving around the island is plentiful and great for working on your own schedule.
Our afternoon boat schedules vary and offer trips to our signature wreck dive - USS Kittiwake, Stingray city, or you can even take on our West Bay Express challenge and see if you can earn a place on our DPV leaderboard.
If complete rest and relaxation by the pool in your downtime is not your thing, top side there are plenty of things to do around the island to fill in your gaps. Many that don’t even require eating or drinking, although they are both very big parts of our culture here.
Those not already nitrox certified should maybe think about getting certified beforehand to get the most out of your bottom time. Theory (the most time consuming part) can be done back home online in your own time, and the practical work can just be finished here before your first dive.
But if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to actually plan your holiday, I’ve done all the hard work for you. Here’s Kim Hanlon’s recommended schedule for an action packed weekend in Grand Cayman
Afternoon sometime - Land at Owen Roberts Airport. Get your bags while avoiding eye contact with the Customs Officer in the hope they don’t confiscate that extra bottle of Whiskey you’ve packed “for medicinal use.”
4:00 PM - arrive at your hotel. Inspect the quality of the free goodies and make a mental note of what to accidentally slip into your luggage.
6:00 PM Get picked up by your enthusiastic guide for a night dive at our Lighthouse Point shore site. See octopus, slipper lobster, sleeping turtles and other critters of the night on the house reef. Get lucky enough to be there around a new moon and you might get to see the infamous bioluminescence just off of our pier. Be thankful you aren't wearing a wet suit when the fright of coming face to face with a tarpon under the dock hits you and your undergarments.
8:00 PM Order room service and crack open that crafty smuggled bottle for a night cap and an early bedtime for some well deserved rest, while trying to figure out the WiFi password.
6:45 AM - hit snooze for the last time, roll out of bed. Sleepily grab a coffee and a pastry from the breakfast buffet and munch it in the back of the complimentary shuttle van on the way to your 2-tank morning boat trip. Make sure to admire all the roadside scenery as you gaze out every window while you chew, ensuring to spread the crumbs around the interior as much as possible. On your dive, be amazed by the orange cup coral that covers the northwest point of Grand Cayman Island.
Noon: Grab a quick lunch at nearby West Bay Diner. Learn that oxtail soup isn’t as horrible as it sounds.
1:15 PM : Enjoy the island’s favourite spectator sport of watching your revered dive guide get munched on by yellow-tailed snappers, whilst they put on their show at Stingray City.
5:00 PM (ish) - Head to Macabuca for the islands best sunset. Annoy Todd the bartender whilst enjoying their acclaimed Big Maca burger and heavily discounted happy hour drinks.
7:15 AM - Realize that hot oatmeal isn’t the best breakfast to eat in the van. Mumble an apology to the driver as you bail out the door for another 2-tank morning trip. Be amazed at the canyons of Trinity Caves, learn who Mitch Miller was, and why his balls made him famous enough to have a dive site named after him.
11:40 AM: Grab some lunch at Vivo (The Vivo Piadina is the staff voted winner meal of choice.)
12:30 PM - Fill your days diving quota with a 2-tank trip to the Kittiwake and nearby reef.
5:00 PM (ish) - If you woke up feeling a little rusty and want to avoid the bars, look into doing a bioluminescence tour at Bio Bay. Pretty memorable!
9:00 PM - Bring your Divetech customer only 20% off discount card and enjoy a late waterfront dinner at Catch (Seared tuna is my go to entree choice - yum!)
8:00 AM Get geared up and ready to jump in for a guided scooter dive to have the most fun you’ll have with your clothes on. Note: wear a rashguard, or when the scooter prop wash hits your ill-fitting bikini, you may no longer have clothes on.
10:00 AM - Do a second shore dive, as you want to go back and look for the garment you lost during your scooter dive. Also admire the Divetech house reef at slow speed this time!
1:00 PM: Arrive fashionably late to one of the islands many brunch destinations. Treat yo self! This will write off the rest of your day.
Wake up. Try to remember where your cell phone and dignity were left. Hastily pack (the roll and stuff technique is my method of choice ) and head to the airport. Hope they mistake the smell of alcohol on your breath for ketosis.
Go home. 10 dives and a pack of Advil later - It’s been a slice!