June 7, 2009
Ports of Call
Warning about Jamaica: You'll meet some friendly types, and you'll meet some shady types. I would not go into Jamaica alone. Tourism is basically Jamaica's revenue, so the vendors are extremely pushy and some will even do sleazy things to try to get you to buy. The vendors weren't bad at Dolphin Cove, but the ones outside of Dunn's River Falls are another story. Also the drivers there are not kidding around, haha. It's pretty intense, so just be aware. And it's true that they WILL try to sell you ganja. Me and my father were both offered some on two separate occasions. It isn't that they're bad people, so there's no need to feel disrespect. The wealth is not evenly dispersed, so it's really just their way of life. Don't let it ruin your day.
Grand Cayman: Cayman is GORGEOUS. You'd be safe here going off on your own, with common sense of course. We did the Ray Runner Boat & Stingray City Snorkel tour and also went parasailing. Definitely my favorite excursion by far. You drive the boat yourself and there isn't a guide with you in the boat, you just follow them. My brother had a lot of fun with this -- maybe a little too much fun, haha. The stingrays are beautiful and fascinating. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and take tons of pictures which are affordable. The snorkel tour is great as well. The tour guides are very lax; if you are a strong swimmer, you don't have to wear a life jacket. This enabled me and a few other swimmers to lose the snorkel and go completely underwater, literally swimming right over coral reefs. The marine life is beautiful -- so many fish with neon colors, and the plant life is breathtaking; not to mention the entire time, you go WAY out into the ocean and it's chest-deep, turquoise water. The most beautiful water I've ever seen in my life, by leaps and bounds. Now to parasailing -- a lot of fun, pictures come on a memory card (about 150 pictures are taken, and you get to keep the memory card, for $25. Not bad since a 2G memory card costs about $22 or so), but take TONS of sunscreen. So many people got fried here. The winds make it impossible to tell you're being burnt, plus when you parasail, you also wait on about 8 other couples to parasail in your boat, plus 8 couples from another boat. Beautiful view, feels like you're floating in air. Definitely do not regret doing it, but probably would not do it over and over again personally as you parasail for about 7 minutes and then watch other people parasail for 2 hours. Eat at Senor Frogs if you're the fun-loving type. Amazing food, huge portions (the nachos are ridiculous), and a generally good time. Tons of opportunities for free shots.
A few tips I wish I'd known -- simply put, there's "something" about the food. Several guests mentioned it. Plan on more potty trips than usual. They have little amenities like toothpaste, razors, tylenol pm, benefiber (we understood it after our first few meals), pepcid ac, etc, so you don't really need to bring them unless you just want to. Bring enough clothes because laundry is quite the ordeal that you just don't wanna put up with on your vacation. Room service IS free, but you should tip the person who brings it. I would bring more than one bathing suit so you don't have to constantly hang them up. I didn't think I'd ever wear mine, but honestly there are people of ALL shapes and sizes -- nothing at all to be ashamed of (no one even thinks anything about it, it's vacation), so just bring it, wear it, have a great time.