Back on land, the North Sound Club is the only 18-hole championship golf course on the Cayman Islands. The course offers challenging fairways with native mahogany trees, coconut palms, tropical birds, and sunbathing iguanas of all sizes. The par-71 course is set against the North Sound, making for both interesting play and panoramic vistas of the sea.
Pedro St. James, on the southern coast east of George Town, also offers stellar views from its perch at Pedro Point. When the former great house was constructed in 1780, it was the Caymanian equivalent of a European villa: a three-story structure accented by sweeping verandas, large, shuttered windows, and a roof of imported slate. Locals still refer to it as Pedro’s Castle. The property is best known as the birthplace of democracy on the Cayman Islands. The decision to form the first elected parliament was made during a meeting here in 1831. Over time, Pedro’s Castle has been reincarnated as a government center, a jail, a courthouse, a private home, a hotel, and a restaurant.
In 1996, the National Historic Site completed an $8 million restoration of the seven-acre grounds, which include carefully manicured gardens leading to a dramatic viewpoint atop Pedro Bluff.
Continue east along the island’s southern coast to Bodden Town, the Cayman Islands’ original capital, and enter an intriguing world filled with pirate lore. In an old roadside cemetery, gravestones are said to mark the remains of real pirates, and legend has it that pirates’ treasures still lie buried in the natural limestone caves below the southern part of town. The two and a half acre family-friendly park is home to the Pirate’s Caves attraction, where stalactites shimmer with an exquisite range of colors. In the sand-floor gift shop, a pet cockatoo welcomes visitors who come to wonder at the pirate paraphernalia and the exotic birds.
At the island’s appropriately named East End, a stone monument of Queen Elizabeth II marks the entrance to the queen’s namesake botanical park. Nearly 65 woodland acres and botanical displays frame a restored Caymanian farmhouse complete with original furnishings. In the Floral Color Garden, blossoms grouped by color run the full spectrum of the rainbow from soft red to deep violet.
However, bright blue is the color to keep an eye out for here—in the form of a bright blue iguana, of course. Grand Cayman’s largest native land animal was once extremely close to extinction; in 2002, the total Blue Iguana population was little more than two dozen, and in 2005, the unmanaged wild population was considered to be functionally extinct. But thanks to the conservation efforts of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, almost 300 blue iguanas now roam free in Grand Cayman’s protected nature reserves.
Visit Cayman Turtle Centre, home to more than 11,000 green sea turtles. Swim with yearlings in the lagoon. Enjoy lunch at Schooners Bar and Grill, then continue to the town of Hell to see a unique rock formation said to be over 2 million years old.
Board the Atlantis submarine for a 40-minute underwater voyage where you’ll be enveloped in a rainbow of tropical fish at a depth of 100 feet. It’s a photo op like no other.
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