The 2009 Beach Walk
Seven Mile Beach
is a long crescent of coral-sand beach on the
western shore of Grand Cayman island.
The beach is world renowned
for its beauty, recently receiving the honor of "The
Caribbean's Best Beach" from Caribbean Travel
and Life Magazine.
Seven Mile Beach
is the most developed area of Grand Cayman.
It is home to the majority of the island's
luxury resorts and hotels.
background to our story about the Beach Walk, a
group of SSQQ cruisers first discovered Seven
Mile Beach back in 2007.
not a part of the group. Marla and I were off
kayaking somewhere. I learned about their
adventure at dinner when Jean Wind told me what her
group had done.
Apparently Jean and a group of friends had taken a
taxi to an outdoor cafe along Seven Mile Beach. After they finished eating, they were getting ready to find
a taxi when Phyllis Porter pointed out the Conquest
cruise ship was docked in plain
sight just up the beach.
A big smile crossed Jean's
face. She had an idea!
Jean suggested the group try walking back to the ship. It
didn't seem that far away.
had plenty of time and there was no way they could get lost
- the ship was always in constant sight. Since the highest
point in the entire island was only 50 feet, there was no way a
colossus like the Conquest was going to disappear.
I heard this story, I was instantly envious. Marla
and I love to hike. It is one of our favorite
things to do on our cruise trips. I
decided that I absolutely had to try to walk this
same beach when we returned the following year.
ABOUT GRAND CAYMAN
The island of
Grand Cayman is the peak of an massive underwater ridge that barely
juts out above the water line. I think the tallest
landmass is only about fifty feet above sea level.
The "North Sound" is a massive bay that fills the area that
seems like it was once the cone of the volcano.
This is just a
guess on my part, but when the thinnest
part of the cone's exterior eroded, the sea water rushed in
to create a large bay.
Today the North
Sound is the home to the world famous "Sting Ray City" as
well as many yacht marinas.
Seven Mile Beach
is formed on the outer edge of the volcano cone. The
"isthmus" that connects Georgetown to the
West Bay is a fairly thin stretch of land that is
about a mile wide.
There is one
point where only a quarter mile of land separates the Seven
Mile Beach from the marinas on the other side.
picture shows that in that marina area, only 400 yards of land separates
Seven Mile Beach from waters of the marina.
picture above shows Seven
Mile Beach on the left and the North Sound on the right.
The large picture also illustrates a protected cove area.
The marinas on the bottom left of the large picture are the
same as the small picture. As you can see, the marinas
are within easy walking distance of Seven Mile Beach.
You can have your beach on one side your estate and your
yacht on the other side. As you might gather, Seven
Mile Beach is an area where the rich feel very comfortable.
The nice thing
is that cruise ship visitors are allowed to view these
magnificent homes right up close. The beach in Grand
Cayman belongs to the world. Therefore anyone who
wishes to walk the beach is welcome. Since Seven Mile
Beach serves as the "back yard" for all the condos, hotels,
and private residences, a visitor is basically walking
through the back yards of the rich. It is sure is fun
to see what money can buy. If you can handle the envy,
then this walk is a real treat. It is thrilling to
see the beautiful homes and hotels as you pass by.
You will quickly
notice how flat
everything is. There is a sand bluff on the eastern
end of the island that measures about 50 feet high.
That is the tallest natural point on the island. Since
Cayman is so flat, it is effortless to see the massive
cruise ships from practically any point on the island.
Grand Cayman is cursed to be in the center of the
Caribbean's Hurricane Alley. The island of Grand
Cayman, which lies largely unprotected at sea level, has
been brushed or directly hit by a hurricane every 2.23 years
on average. Due to the tropical location of the
islands, more hurricane or tropical systems have affected
the Cayman Islands than any other region in the Atlantic
basin. That's 4 hurricanes every nine years.
2004, Grand Cayman suffered a direct hit by Hurricane Ivan,
the tenth most powerful hurricane on record. Ivan's storm
surge completely over-washed Grand Cayman. Practically
the entire island was underwater! An estimated 95% of
the buildings on the island were either damaged or
Power, water and
communications were disrupted in some areas for months. Ivan
was the worst hurricane to hit the islands in 87 years.
Grand Cayman began a major rebuilding process. Within two
years, its infrastructure was nearly returned to
you begin to feel sorry for the Caymans, it might help to
remember this island is home to the highest standard of
living of all the Caribbean islands. Everywhere you
look, there are impressive signs of wealth.
Islands are a major international financial center with the
fifth-largest banking sector in the world.
Cayman lacks anything even remotely approaching the natural
beauty of its neighbor Jamaica with its stunning forests,
mountains, and rivers, this country has more registered
businesses than they have people.
I have long had
a hunch that some of the people who wait on the cruise
tourists in the shops are far wealthier than the visitors.
discovered in the 1500ís on the fourth voyage of Christopher
Columbus, the Cayman Islands were uninhabited until the
early 1700s. They came under British control in 1655
and were administered as a dependency of Jamaica until 1962
when Jamaica attained independence. The Cayman Islands chose
to remain tied to Britain and are now a British Overseas
poverty of Jamaica, it is hard to believe that the Caymans
were once a dependency of their neighbor. When Jamaica
declared independence from British control in 1962, the
Cayman Islands (there are three) decided to go a different
route and become a direct dependency of the British Crown.
Good decision. While Jamaica floundered, the Caymans
flourished as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
Many of the same
people who took the walk in 2007 returned on the same cruise
the following year. However, they wanted to visit
Sting Ray City first and then do the Beach Walk later in the
I fumed and
fretted. I didn't want to divide my day. I wanted to take the Beach Walk! This
detour to see the sting rays was cutting into my
majority ruled, which is another way of saying that Marla
decided she and I would stick with the group.
agreed to cut our day in half and cooperate.
feared, after the Sting Ray event, our group was in no mood for an aggressive beach
hike later in the day. When we got to the Royal
Palms on Seven Mile Beach, they just
wanted to eat lunch, have a margarita and relax.
I didn't blame
them one bit. But I was unwilling
to wait another year to have my Beach Walk. Over the
strong objections of Marla, I said despite the late hour in
the day, I was going to cut loose from the group and head
down the beach on my own.
The last thing I
remembered was watching Marla shake her head in disgust.
This was not the first time-related gamble I had ever taken,
but this time she was absolutely convinced that I was in
deep trouble. I had a long way to go and only an hour.
Marla was right, I immediately began to trot. Then I
actually began to run. I was soon thirsty and
exhausted from the constant sun. I was quickly running
out of energy.
Then the strap
of one my sandals snapped. I would have to run with
one foot barefoot the rest of the way. I was in
serious trouble. So how did I escape my dilemma?
Well, all I will say is that I had a very close call.
You are welcome to read the story -
2008 Beach Walk
The 2009 Beach Walk
narrow escape in 2008, I was determined to devote my
entire day to walking the beach. During my
desperate 2008 sprint to reach the ship and escape the wrath
of Marla, I was at least able to confirm what I had
suspected - this was one hike that was definitely
Thanks to its beauty,
Seven Mile Beach is
the most popular real
of Grand Cayman. It is home to
an unending array of the island's luxury
resorts and hotels as well as expensive homes for the
rich and famous.
walking this beach is the same as walking through
luxurious River Oaks here in Houston. It is
fun to combine exercise and sightseeing together in
such a glamorous location.
its "7 mile" name, the beach is only about 5.5 miles long.
Sadly, the beach falls victim to annual erosion which has reduced its
size in some areas. Like the rest of Grand Cayman, the development
Seven Mile Beach was severely damaged
by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Reminiscent of our own recent shared Hurricane Ike
memories here in Houston,
Ivan is a nightmare shared by all. This intense
hurricane damaged every single structure on
The only saving grace was that unlike Houston they
didn't have any huge trees to make things worse. Fortunately since then practically everything has
been rebuilt. All the condominiums
and hotels are running at full capacity.
year I planned to make my walk twice as long. As
they say, why not double my pleasure? I made a
point to invite my friends from the cruise group to
join Marla and me for the big walk. There
would be thirteen of us.
We got an early start.
Here we are taking a 'tender'
which transports us from the cruise ship to shore
Next we had to find a
van. I have read there are city buses
which will do the job just as well for a fraction of the cost.
That will probably be my strategy for our 2011 Cruise.
Mark in front, Marla,
Elizabeth in red, Roberta w hand extended,
sisters Mary and Frances behind Marla, Peggy, Carol,
in back Sam, Wendy, Kevin, Edward
When we got to the
beach, I was immediately worried we had bitten
off more than we could chew. This time the massive
seemed really far off. You can see the ship directly
Cemetery Beach gets its name from this large cemetery.
There is a location in
the Caymans known as 'Hell' that gets its name
from extremely ugly black limestone formations. Someone
"This must be what Hell looks like!" The name stuck.
The large cemetery was
easy to spot using Google Earth. Half a mile
up the road, the West Bay Road forks off. This fork is
known as the
"Road to Hell". And that's where our 2011 beach walk will
When we got to Cemetery Beach, I noticed a long stretch of beach
to my right. Hmm. Very walkable! I had
just been given
a preview of the area between the
two-thirds mile stretch of beach between the
Road to Hell and
Cemetery Beach we will add to our walk in 2011
It bugged poor Marla no
end that I pulled up the rear for most of the
day to take
pictures. After my narrow escape the previous year, Marla
convinced I would do something equally stupid again this year.
Sometime ask Marla if she ever worries about me on our trips and
will certainly get an earful. She has one horror story
Drifter's Cove was the
first condo we passed.
To keep track of our
progress, let's use Google Earth
Sam and Mary
Private home with pool
and Red stucco roof
And why is this woman
happy? Because she lives here.
Talk about 'bronzed'. This woman is about as dark as any
white woman I have ever seen.
Be still my beating
heart... a sand volleyball court.
Too bad I didn't bring my volleyball. Can't think of
These are the
"sand volleyball" condominiums.
This was a very big place. It had seven buildings creating
a crescent with the swimming pool in the middle. I am
surprised there was no obvious name. There weren't any
As I pointed out
earlier, Marla hates it when I get so far away.
This time even Sam is worried about me.
But I have to take pictures! Then I run like crazy to catch up.
I probably cover an extra mile just scurrying about taking
The next condo... we
will call it the "swimming pool" condo.
Considering practically every condo has a swimming pool, this
isn't a distinctive name. Tough. These places should
put their names in the back.
Following our progress
with Google Earth...