CAYMAN'S SEVEN MILE BEACH
Story written by Rick Archer
First Published April 2009
years in a row, the annual SSQQ summer cruise did not make it
to the Cayman Islands. Every time we were scheduled to
go there, a hurricane was either threatening the place or
had recently knocked it for a loop.
We missed the Caymans three years running. I
began to tease that the Cayman Islands didn't really exist.
Then one day it dawned on me that maybe the Caymans did
exist, but that a small Mexican cruise town named Costa Maya
had put a curse on the place.
I wrote a story
suggesting that a Costa Mayan voodoo ritual was responsible for
sending an annual hurricane to the Caymans so the cruise
lines would skip the Caymans and come visit Costa
Maya instead. (you should read it; this is my
all-time favorite cruise story).
2007 - The Discovery of Seven Mile Beach
One of the big problems of all cruise trips is fighting the
"Pound a Day" headache. Faced with the opportunity to
eat food 3, 4 times a day plus the constant
resist the tempting desserts, many cruise passengers go
bonkers when they return home and take a peek at the scales.
The only solution that makes any sense is to step up your
I have learned to take advantage of the ship's running track
during our days at sea. That helps fight the problem
some. Others use the gym. However when we are in
some ports - Costa Maya to name one - there
isn't much to do. Many people get off the ship, wander around for 15 minutes, buy a teeshirt, hit the nearest Carlos and Charlies,
and head back to the ship. Time for dinner. That's when the pounds begin to
During our 2007 visit to the Caymans, Marla and I were
determined to find a way to get some exercise on the island.
We had a great time taking a kayak trip through the
beautiful waters of the Cayman Islands. I was proud
since we had found a way to do something physical and enjoy
the island at the same time. However, that night I heard an interesting
story that sounded even better.
At dinner that evening, Jean Wind told me a
marvelous story about what her group had done. Apparently
her 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 Phrog, our famous Center of
Attention and Troublemaker Numero Uno, pointed out the Conquest 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. They
had plenty of time and there was no way they could get lost
- the ship was always in constant sight. The highest
point in the entire island is only about 50 feet; no way a
colossus like the Conquest was going to disappear.
So that was how the group decided to embark on a marvelous
two-hour walk along one of the most beautiful beaches in the
I don't know who all was in the group, but I know that Kurt and Jean Wind,
Phyllis Phrog, Patty Harrison and Joe Lachner went.
Judging from the
pictures, surely Mr. Handsome George Sargent went too.
Also pictured are Alf (Leslie Goldsmith), Peggy McElroy, Ron Fiske, John Frierson,
and Danny Hurdy Gurdy Man. I assume most of
these people were part of the 2007 Cayman Beach Walk as well.
As Jean spoke to me of the long walk, she could not even begin to
explain how much fun she had. Oh sure, everyone
complained along the way... "it's too far, I'm tired, it's
too hot, how much longer, can we phone ahead and get the
ship to send a small boat, blah blah blah."
the good-natured grumbling, the consensus was that this walk
was a real hit with everyone.
Jean said the
walk did turn out to be longer than she had expected.
In the beginning the ship didn't seem that far off. After
all, it was right in front of their noses in plain sight.
However as the walk
progressed Jean began to wonder if someone was moving the ship
because they weren't getting any closer. The walk ended up
taking a couple of hours. Jean said she couldn't have
cared less how long it was. That walk was so much fun
she wished it would never end! When it was over,
everyone was in such a great mood. They were proud of
their big accomplishment!
As I listened to
the story, I couldn't help but think this was a marvelous
discovery. A long walk is healthy in so many ways. For
one thing, it is a great way to get to know
people on a much deeper level. Jean noticed that various people took
turns walking side by side. They would strike up the
best conversations! And then as if by some invisible
cue, they would change partners and start up a conversation
with their new partner. Jean said she learned more
about people during that walk than all the time she had
known them at the dance studio combined.
In addition, there is something pretty romantic about a long
walk on a beautiful beach. Once in a while, her handsome
husband Kurt would stride up beside Jean. The next
thing she knew they were holding hands just like teenagers
again. Jean said she couldn't stop smiling the entire
As I listened to Jean, I was so envious! This sounded
like the most fun of all. Mind you, I had thoroughly
enjoyed my kayak trip. It was great exercise and all
that. However, it had also cost Marla and me $200.
I asked Jean how much her walk had cost. She looked at
me funny. Jean replied, "Well, if you count the taxi
ride, I guess it was $5 a person. But the beach is
public. It is open to anyone who wants to walk on
A free beach!
I was impressed. This was exactly the kind of neat
thing that a lot of the SSQQ people would enjoy doing on
future visits to the Caymans. Not only would the
walk be a simple and inexpensive way to get some exercise,
it sounded like a marvelous experience. I made a personal vow to
retrace this walk the following year and see for myself what
it was like.
Here is a picture of Phyllis and Jean walking
together on their 2007 trek back to the boat. There is
another couple up ahead of them. Now doesn't
that walk on the beach look like fun?
2008 - Kurt Wind,
Albertin Gharcheghah, Rick Elizondo,
Marsha Baxmann, Jean Wind, Tiffany Wind, Patty Harrison,
Leslie Goldsmith, Phyllis Phrog, Marla Archer, Joe Lachner,
Rick Archer. The reason Albertin's lips are sealed
is she had just kissed a Stingray. She wanted to keep the
memory alive as long as she possibly could.
2008 - Stingray
As the 2008 Trip
rolled around, I still had Seven Mile Beach
penciled in as my Cayman activity for this year's visit.
No kayaking this time. This year I was going for a
walk! However, first things first. Our Group
wanted to visit the Stingrays in the morning. So it
was off to Stingray City, a famous tourist spot in the
I had some misgivings
about this adventure. After all, who can forget the
tragic death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin? He
was killed when a stingray's venomous barb pierced his heart
back in September 2006.
I knew that his death was the result of a highly unusual
accident, but I couldn't forget the footage that showed
Irwin pulling the stingray's barb out of his chest before
losing consciousness. There was no denying it -
Stingrays got their name for a reason. Their barbs are
It turns out that stingray deaths are absurdly rare.
In Irwin's case, there was speculation that the stingray
felt threatened because it was boxed in. Irwin was
alongside and there was a cameraman directly ahead filming.
That made some sense - Irwin got his fame due to his uncanny
ability to get right in the face of one lethal creature
after another. Plus it was a shame the barb had to hit
his heart, the most vulnerable part of his body. It
was a freak accident, one that saddened us all.
However, this tragic accident ran just the opposite of the
reports that stingrays are very gentle creatures. I
decided as long as no one asked me to hug one, I would give
it a try.
Indeed, our Cayman guide addressed the safety concerns right
up front. He warned us not to make any sudden
movements. As long as we stood still, we would be
safe. That warning proved trickier to adhere to than I
guessed. As soon as they tossed some food in the
water, an entire ARMY of stingrays came hurtling in out of
nowhere. Dozens of these large fish came darting right
I wanted to flee that very moment. Instead I kept
repeating over and over, "Stand Still. Stand Still."
Then one stingray came right at me. I mean - dead on.
"Dead on"? I stood still and crossed my
fingers. That stupid stingray
swam right into me! Stingrays are pretty big fish and with
momentum behind them, the collision had the same effect as a
football player taking out my legs. I went crashing
under the water. This fish could play for the Texans.
Fortunately the stingray had no intentions of killing me.
It just wanted to eat. Unbeknownst to me, one of the guides
was feeding the fish right behind my back. The
stingray that tackled me was merely taking the most direct
route to the food - straight through me.
It is pretty obvious these guides and the stingray group
have a good thing going. The stingrays get a daily
meal and the guides make a steady living. I was
surprised when our guide picked up one stingray and called
him by name. These stingrays are like pets to these
As you can see, not everyone in our group had the same
qualms about getting close and personal with stingrays that
I did. In one picture, you can see Albertin preparing
to smooch a stingray. She later said it was 'special',
almost like being kissed by Elvis. How would she know?
Kurt Wind was another courageous member of our group.
Kurt participated in stingray osculation. He held the
stingray in his arms and planted a wet one smack dab on the
stingray's lips. I couldn't help but be jealous.
Those handsome guys get all the fish.
Seven Mile Beach,
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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. Due
to its beauty and fame,
Seven Mile Beach has become
the most developed area of Grand Cayman.
It is home to the majority of the island's luxury
resorts and hotels.
Despite the name, the beach is only about 5.5 miles (8.9 km)
long. The beach falls victim
to annual erosion, which has reduced its size in some areas.
Like the rest of Grand Cayman, the development around
Seven Mile Beach was severely damaged in Hurricane
Ivan in September 2004. Fortunately
many condominiums and hotels are
now back and running at full or
almost full capacity.
Seven Mile Beach is public property.
It is possible to walk the full length past many
hotels and villas. There are restaurants open to the public
at most of the resorts, and several public beach bars. Some
small reefs are located just off shore which offer good
snorkeling, most notably by the Marriott
Hotel (an artificial
reef), the Governor's Residence,
and just north of the public beach.
There are few restrictions on use of the beach. Open
grilling is allowed, and pets are free to roam the beach off
leash. Loud music and public nudity are, however, strictly
Directly to the south of Seven Mile Beach is
George Town, the capital city of the Cayman
Islands. To the north
of Seven Mile Beach is the town of
West Bay, which features a turtle farm and the
limestone formations of Hell. One thing you
must remember is not to purchase any turtle shell items.
Though precious and beautiful, they are illegal in the US
and many other Western countries.
of Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman's west coast is dominated by the
famous Seven Mile Beach -
actually a 6.5 mile
long (10km) expanse of powdery white sand overseeing
lapis water stippled with a rainbow of parasails and kayaks.
The width of the beach
varies with the season; toward the south end it narrows and
disappears altogether south of the Marriott,
leaving only rock and ironshore. It starts to broaden into
its normal silky softness anywhere between Tarquyn
Manor and the Reef Grill at Royal Palms.
Free of litter and pesky peddlers, it's an unspoiled (though
often crowded) environment. Most
of the island's resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers
sit along this strip. At the
public beach toward the north end you can find chairs for
rent ($10 for the day, including a beverage), a playground,
water toys aplenty, two beach bars, restrooms, and showers.
The best snorkeling is at either end, by the Marriott
and Treasure Island or off the northern
section called Cemetery Reef Beach.
Rick's Note: #39 is where my walk began. #26
the walk ended. That left one more mile to the ship.
Question and Answer About Seven Mile Beach
(this is an edited
version of useful
internet email exchange I found)
If you have been to Seven Mile Beach within the last
year, would you tell me if it is worth going to?
If so, do you go by tour
guide or taxi? Also, other
than booking by ship, is there a good tour guide to use
Answer 1 - My wife & I were
in Cayman 11 years ago. I'm sure that
seven mile beach is as awesome now as it was then.
I highly recommend that you take a bus out to Cemetery
Beach. Someone can help you with the location for the bus
but it is fairly simple. Just tell the driver you want to
get off at Cemetery Beach. It is on the northern portion of
Seven Mile Beach and you will have
most of that area to yourself.
And the fish! Wait till you see the fish ... just 5 yards
into the water. I've seen many beautiful beaches in the
world but none compare with Cemetery Beach and its beautiful
fish!! You will love
Seven Mile Beach is
so beautiful. It's
one of the top 5 of all the beaches I've seen
around the world! Not only is the
beach and the Caribbean Sea beautiful, but so are the
expensive condos that line the beach. There are parts of
Malibu Beach in California where I come from that are
off-limits to the public. These are the homes of the "rich
and famous" with their own private beaches complete with
armed security guards and guard dogs. god forbid that
we should touch their precious sand!
Not in Cayman - you can walk right in front of million
dollar condos and ogle till your eyeballs drop out.
And the only dogs you will see on Seven Mile Beach will wag
their tails and ask to be petted. Much better.
You can swim anywhere you want. You can have your
picture taken anywhere you want. The beach is free to
the wealthy and poor alike... except poor people are nowhere
to be seen. I never did figure out where they hide
them. (Rick Archer's Note: I found a picture of
some poor people!)
Answer 2 -
There is nothing like a day at the beach, and this is even
more true at Cayman Islands Seven Mile Beach. The sands are
white, clean and beautiful. The Caribbean ocean is calm and
clear. Perfect for tanning, sculpting, or any other beach
and sun activity. Plus there are plenty of places to
get a bite to eat.
There are many "van buses" leaving from the center of
Georgetown in the area of the harbor. Last time we were
there it was only 3 or 4 dollars per person to go to Seven
Mile Beach. I am sure that there is probably regular bus
service as well, probably cheaper. There is a tourist
information station right near the main pier, and they will
tell you how to proceed.
You must be going on a cruise? Seven Mile
Beach is within walking distance of the main pier, if
you love to walk, but if you want to see the far end of the
beach, you will want to get a bus or taxi.
The beach is free, and as you walk down the street you will
see small signs indicating public access points for the
beach. That was not made clear to me when I went on a
cruise. I do agree with others that the fish are incredible!
Are you going to Sting Ray City? I would recommend it!
If you do a little online
research, you will find some good recommendations. And
probably a lot more personal and less expensive than the
ones suggested by the cruise
lines. Have fun! Wish I
could go again.
Answer 3 - Many people use a taxi if you are only
there a day. If you are familiar with Cayman, use the bus, it
is a lot cheaper than a taxi.
The island is not that large that
you would need to rent a car, not cost effective.
Lots of motor scooters
around, rentals of those cost less but I think they were too
If you have time, have them drop you at Cemetery Beach
at the end and snorkel out to the reef. It is quite a swim.
The last hurricane did
considered damage to that reef, but it is coming back. Also
there is a beach restaurant just past downtown--walking
distance from pier-for a bite to eat and terrific snorkeling
off their area. You just swim a way out. There are huge
tarpon there and the water is clear.
This place is a real paradise.
Note: My 2008 walk started at the area titled Royal Palms
(see the red arrow). My walk
terminated at the yellow arrow. Using Google Earth to
retrace my walk, I could have
extended the trip a little further, but not much. The last mile
from the yellow arrow to the ship would definitely have to use the sidewalk of the
nearby West Bay Road (long road in red).
By my estimate, my Beach walk was about two miles long
(based on the mileage marker in the map above).
Jean's 2007 Group took about two hours. I think I did
my 2008 trip in one hour, but then I ran a good part of the
way to make up time. These times are not scientific;
neither Jean nor I actually timed our trips.
Rick's Walk on Seven Mile Beach
LUNCH AT THE ROYAL PALMS
Stingray adventure, The Stingray tour bus dropped us off
back in Georgetown near the cruise ship. Now it was
time to eat. We were all pretty hungry.
The group took a ten-passenger taxi van to the Royal
Palms, an outdoor cafe. Splitting the fare, it
cost us each about $5 for the three mile ride.
Our sumptuous meal was pretty wonderful. It was
complete with Margaritas, Mai Tais and Daiquiris.
Pretty soon, we were a very happy bunch indeed. We
were also stuffed to the gills.
Now it was time for our Group Beach Walk to begin. We headed
north, the direction away from the ship. Along the
way, we oohed and aahed at the spectacular condos that lined
the beach. This place was like the River Oaks of
Cayman. There were some very expensive structures
One thing weird about the day was that we all knew
there was a hurricane headed this way. We weren't the
only people who knew. I don't know if the other people
in our group noticed, but I spotted workmen boarding up
windows throughout the day. In fact, our cruise ship
completely bypassed our scheduled trip to Jamaica to avoid
getting too close. Even with this safety measure,
Hurricane Gustav was still only about 48 hours
behind us. This massive Category 3 storm would dog us
for the entire trip. In fact, there was a lot of
concern among all of us whether it would hit Houston or not.
Sad to say, Gustav hit the Cayman Islands right on the nose.
Sure enough, two days later I saw CNN hurricane footage
filmed on Seven Mile Beach. The Cayman Islands are
like a Ten Pin in the
middle of the Caribbean Sea's Hurricane bowling alley.
The Caymans get hit at least a partial hit five times every ten years. I wonder how these people feel about
risking their million dollar homes in such a vulnerable
area. They may have a million dollar view, but their homes are
very exposed to damage.
When Gustav did eventually hit the United States, it made
landfall in Louisiana several hundred miles west of New
Orleans. We all breathed a sigh of relief, figuring
had dodged a bullet for another year. Three weeks
later came a storm known as Ike. But that's another
Tired from the visit to Stingray City and with our bellies
full, we weren't making much progress. In fact, I
don't recall making any progress at all. I was itching
to go, but glaciers move faster than these guys did. The main
activity was posing for pictures. That's Kurt (Mr.
Stingray) in the white shirt on the left, Tiffany, Jean,
Marla, Rick, Phyllis Phrog, Alf, Peppermint Patty, Joe, and
PHYLLIS GETS A NEW NICKNAME
Some of you
might be asking where the name Phyllis Phrog
came from. Good question. I have been
unhappy with Phyllis' Center of Attention
nickname for some time now. Let's face it, the name is
accurate, but it isn't very catchy.
Recently I noticed Phyllis' email name is P Phrog.
I have no idea where this moniker came from, but this
peculiar email name definitely works for me.
Perhaps it dates back to Phyllis' wild adventures at
Senor Frogs in Cozumel. Don't worry; I am sure
Phyllis will have something to say about it soon enough.
In the meantime, I am not going to make any jokes or any
comments. I am just going to announce that the
Center of Attention nickname is being retired and
replaced by Phyllis Phrog or P Phrog
for short, sort of like her idol P Diddy. I just hope P Phrog isn't
hopping mad about this important decision.
TO MAKE MY MOVE
As I said,
posing for pictures had become our group's favorite activity. That's the Carnival Conquest in the background.
I estimate it was about three miles away.
It was about this point that I was getting restless.
This group was moving at the speed of molasses.
If you are wondering where the "Action" shots are, don't
hold your breath. My friends were thoroughly content
to enjoy the warm Caribbean waters and the wonderful
Caribbean winds. It was balmy and breezy.
Everyone wanted to kick back and be lazy. Every single
one of them acted like they were out at sea or on vacation
or some equally lame excuse.
There was only one person bristling for action - me.
That is because I had agenda. I had been looking forward to the long trek back to the ship
for an entire year. This was my golden opportunity.
I wouldn't have this chance again for another year.
And if another hurricane came along, it might be several
years before I got another crack at taking my walk. It
was Elvis time - Now or Never.
I asked Jean if she thought we had enough time to duplicate
the previous year's walk. Jean frowned and shook her head.
She didn't think so. Last year's walk had started much
earlier in the day. In addition, since they didn't
visit the stingrays last year, everyone had a lot more
energy than our current bunch of sand slugs. The
looked like they were stuck in quicksand. Quicksand?
Not these guys. This group was stuck in
I was discouraged. This year's walk was doomed. Or was
I pulled Marla aside. She already knew this was
supposed to be the highlight of my trip this year. I explained to her that
with or without the group I really
wanted to take this walk. Did she mind if I cut
loose and went on ahead by myself?
Marla gave me one of those "Are you out of your mind?"
looks that I am sorry to say I have seen several times in
the past. In fact, now that I think about it, I see
that look at least once every trip we take. By
coincidence, I even got a photo of "The Look".
If you study the picture, Marla has turned around to stare
at me like I am crazy with her head half-cocked.
Marla reminded me it was getting late. We had maybe an
hour to get back to the ship. Did I honestly believe I
could travel that kind of distance in one hour? What
if I was wrong? What if I missed the last tender boat
back to the ship? She stated I probably didn't have to
the time do this.
Marla added that since I had never done this before, I had no idea what I was getting myself
into. Was I prepared to take this kind of chance?
I frowned. I hate it when Marla uses that "voice of
reason" approach with me. Of course she was right.
Why take a chance on being late? Why not just stay
with the Sand Slugs, chill out and enjoy the lazy day like
But in her heart Marla knew what I was going to do.
She knew full well no matter what she said I was planning to
take off. She just had to say what she had to say for
the record. This was what is known in our family as "The
If this turned out badly, Marla wanted to make sure she had
dotted my eyes and crossed my tees so there wouldn't be
any whining from me later on. She wanted to make it
clear that I should not to expect even a drop of sympathy from her if I
screwed up. Just go straight to the doghouse.
I nodded. Message received. And off I went.
RICK'S BIG ADVENTURE
I was on my own
now. I wasn't worried about getting lost. After
all, the ship was clearly visible.
I just didn't know if I had enough time.
As a way to share my long walk with everyone back home,
I decided to photograph every condo I passed. I didn't
have time to inspect them for names, so I decided to give
each building a special unique name of my own creation.
One, Two, Three, Four...
I was able to identify to only one structure. The
Marriott Hotel was the fourth building I passed.
Who could miss the large construction crane next to the
Marriott? I used this crane throughout my trip as a reference
point since I could always see it. The crane was the
tallest structure in all of Cayman.
Along the way, I marveled at the beautiful condos.
Wouldn't it be nice to own of these?
At a certain
point, I decided to turn around and photograph where I had
That large crane was involved in the construction of Condo
5. This is the same crane that was in the 2007 picture
of Phyllis and Jean walking on the beach. I guess this
means some condo projects take more than a year to build.
For fun, count four condos to the left of the crane.
The condo with the blue roof on far left of the picture is
next to the Royal Palms where I started my trip.
According to the map, it is half a mile from the Royal Palms
to the Marriott. Since I passed 17 condos in all, this
suggests my trip was about 2 miles long.
THE GREEN THUMB
can see, the next few hundred yards of my trip
wasn't very glamorous. There was practically
no beach at all. I had read that the
Seven Mile Beach constantly suffers from an
erosion problem. At the time, I assumed I was
getting a first hand look.
However it wasn't till I wrote this story that I
realized the lack of beach had nothing to do with
erosion, but rather human stupidity.
This beach problem was caused when the owner of the
property built his fence right up to the edge of the
waterline and fenced his property in. Then to
ensure privacy, he created a green wall. To
accommodate his wall of foliage, a lot of beach was
This house went so clearly against the "open beach
policy" that I got the feeling that security was a
major concern for this property.
I had heard
the Governor's House was on Seven Mile Beach.
Maybe this was it? That might explain why an
exception was made in allowing the beach to be
destroyed and letting a chain link fence be built as
all this thanks to Google Earth.
As I wrote this article in 2009, I used Google Earth
to attempt to retrace my steps.
I couldn't find any in-depth maps of Seven
Mile Beach on the Internet to help me
understand how the long beach is laid out.
That's when I got the idea to zoom in using
What an amazing tool! In this case, Google
Earth gave me a clear picture of what was going on.
Immediately I was allowed to walk the beach again.
Guess what? You can do it too!
Google Earth is free to everyone. Real Estate
people love it.
aerial picture of this property, it is evident that it
wasn't nature that extended the foliage to the sea
line, but rather a human hand.
As you can see, the properties on either side had a
good forty feet of sand.
As a result, this particular fenced-in property
stuck out like a "green thumb".
After I passed the
Green Thumb property, I saw more beach again
in front of Condo Nine.
My spirits lifted. When I first saw the fence, I had been worried the Beach had
However this was
the point when I began to really worry about the time.
I didn't have a watch. Marla's words kept ringing in
my mind - "Are you out of your mind? You
probably don't have enough time to do this! Are you
prepared to take this chance?"
I had been jogging most of the way. This was about this point when I decided it might be prudent
to start jogging FASTER. The ship was getting closer, but not
fast enough for my comfort.
had some odd rock barriers in front of it.
Looking below, the photo on the left shows an artificial
barrier. The picture on the right using Google Earth
shows the same barrier from an aerial perspective.
Unfortunately I didn't have a clue what the purpose of this
barrier is. The water is no deeper than a wading pool.
Not only was it ugly, it didn't seem to accomplish a thing.
Now look at Condo Twelve again (above). Notice the
red roof. Now look at the Google Earth photo.
There is no red
roof to be seen. The
yellow arrow marks where the red roof should be.
said it was using 2007 imagery. I can only assume that
the red roof structure wasn't around in 2007.
Condo 13 had
a swimming pool just 20 feet from the ocean. Notice the
Google Earth aerial shows this same swimming pool from
above. I was really hot. There was no one in sight.
I was sorely tempted to jump in and cool off. Only my
growing sense of emergency stopped me from doing just that!
In fact, I was so
worried about being late that I wasn't "jogging" any more.
Instead now I was running just as fast as I had the strength
Unfortunately, my sandals weren't up to the task. The
strain of running full out was too much for one of the
shoes. A major strap broke. This sandal was
useless. I was only halfway there and now I was down
to one shoe.
Staring at my broken sandal, an odd memory stirred in the
back of my mind. I recalled the Greek Myth about
Jason and the Argonauts, one of the greatest
"Quest Sagas" in literature. According to
Greek Mythology, Jason had lost a sandal as he carried
an old woman across a river. That old woman had turned
out to be Hera, Queen of the Gods, in disguise.
She was testing him. After
the good deed, Hera promised Jason that if he ever got in
trouble, she would come to
By chance, an ancient oracle had predicted that one day a handsome youth
wearing one solitary sandal would
someday enter the Kingdom of Iolcos to
reclaim his rightful throne and meet his future bride as
well. That youth, of course, turned out be none other
than Jason himself.
I smiled grimly. I didn't have any throne to reclaim.
I certainly didn't have any youth. And I definitely
didn't have Hera to bail me out. All I had was the
And the only thing I was certain of was that I would
have to find a new bride
if I missed the boat!
I knew I was in trouble. Big trouble. My ace in
the hole all along had been my ability to make up time by
wasn't going to do me a bit of good now. Now that I
was getting to the end of the Seven Mile Beach,
there were hundreds of rocks sprinkled throughout the sand.
There was practically no safe place to step any more. I knew this for a
fact because I was constantly stepping on small rocks in the
sand with my bare foot.
There was no way I could run on this surface.
Furthermore the constant heat of the sun
was really taking its toll
on me. As a fair-skinned Nordic, throughout my life I always wilt any time I get an overdose of sun.
Today was no different. I was fading fast.
Plus I was getting sunburned.
As exhaustion took hold, I realized my ancient weakness to
the Sun was kicking in again.
Plus I was thirsty. Very thirsty.
Every part of my body ached in some way. I was beginning to feel desperate.
For the first
time, I wasn't so sure I was going to make it back to the
ship on time.
After I passed
Condo 15, I stopped at a sandy curve to
assess my situation (see picture). As I stared out into the
distance, I could see the Conquest on the other side of the
bay. It looked like the ship was a good mile to two miles
I gulped with fear. This was going to be really tight.
Just past the sandy curve,
the terrain changed dramatically.
There was about 400 yards of barren wasteland filled with
all sorts of nasty rocky areas. Plus there was a
series of strange and quite ugly artificial reefs in the
seemed to serve no purpose. This barren landscape
could not possibly be part of Seven Mile Beach.
No way. Yuck.
Way up ahead, I spotted a very pretty condominium (#16).
I guess that was where I was headed next. Although
there were rocks everywhere, there was enough sand for me to
carefully tiptoe my way across this desolate section to get to
Condo 16. But first I wanted a closer look at the
Here are two
different views of the strange artificial reef.
The Google Earth picture on the right gives a very clear
idea of just how ugly this particular area was.
The Google Earth pictures confirms I left the Seven Mile Beach far behind.
This certainly was not an inviting stretch by any means.
The first picture
on the right offers a look at a second artificial reef. I got the
impression that these ugly rock and cement structures in the
water had out-lived their purpose long ago. Now they were just
waiting to be torn down by the next developer.
This barren area was pretty long, maybe the length of four football fields.
As I looked around, I assumed this area would be occupied by
a beautiful hotel someday. Just bring the crane over
when you are through at the Marriott.
However at the moment this area
was not a pretty sight at all. Note how rocky the sand is in these pictures. I had
an absolute fit weaving my way through this stuff.
More than once I grimaced as I stepped on a hidden rock with
my bare foot. I got lots of scrapes, but fortunately I didn't cut myself in the
The hardest part to cross was that dark area in the picture. That stuff was
like lava rock. Not only was it jagged, there was no
way around it. I literally had to hop on one foot for
twenty yards! Once I lost my balance and stepped on
that stuff with my bare foot. I scraped it really bad. Ouch!
Fortunately, once I passed the nasty rock
field, things got pretty again. The sand returned and
the lovely Condo 16 beckoned to me.
When I got to Condo 16,
I noticed the beach had mysteriously disappeared. If you look
at the picture carefully, that is a long seawall stretching out in front
of the building. Someone had extended this structure
right out over the waterline. No beach. I didn't see what choice I had, so I
climbed the steps and walked up past the seawall.
I got the impression that Condo 16 was special in some way.
This place seemed more like a Pavilion than it did a Condo.
If you look at the closeup, you will see lovely outdoor decking complete with
tasteful fences. This place seemed brand new. It
didn't look occupied at all.
Perhaps this Pavilion was meant to be a restaurant or a
community clubhouse. I honestly didn't know what to make of the
place. Too bad I didn't have the time to figure out. Maybe
I was able to walk on a lovely cool brand-new tile surface
in the Pavilion.
Now that the surface was smooth again, my tender bare foot
was much happier. As I crossed under an outdoor roof,
something jumped on top of my shoulder out of the
rafters. I saw it coming but had no idea what it was.
I was so startled I swear I nearly jumped in the water!
My attacker turned out to be a little bitty lizard.
Stupid lizard. Why the heck the lizard jumped on me was a mystery. I do remember thinking this
wasn't a particularly good omen. Too weird. Things weren't
looking very good.
Once I passed
the Pavilion, I discovered there was yet another long
stretch of barren land. There were no more pretty
structures to photograph. There was sand, but definitely no
pretty beach. As you can see, huge nasty rock fields
separated the sand from the water.
I assumed I had left the Seven Mile Beach long
ago. However, as long as there was sand, I would keep
I was weary, I was hot, I was thirsty. My bare foot
burned with pain from the scratches and the hot sand. I
felt the back of my neck searing with sunburn. The Sun
was beating me down and robbing me of all resolve.
Plus I had been attacked by a killer lizard. This
adventure was supposed to be fun, but it wasn't fun
I wasn't going to give up without a fight though. I
gamely hobbled across this new barren area.
300 yards past the Pavilion, I came to the end of the line.
There was a massive rock field in front of me. The
rocks were so thick I
had no hope of continuing on my bare foot.
I decided it was time to pack it in and look for the road.
As you can see,
Condo 17 was a much more modest structure than
the beach-side palaces I had seen along the Seven Mile Beach. This
place looked like four separate apartments for middle class
As the red arrow indicates, I passed Condo 17
and turned left on my way to West Bay Road.
It was time to start the final leg of my journey. I
was feeling pretty grim. Nevertheless I stopped to
take a picture of the Kentucky Fried Chicken building to use
as a landmark for future trips.
Just as I took the picture, a van suddenly veered out of traffic
(I actually got a picture of it!) The van was aiming right
It was such an awkward and sudden motion
that I honestly thought the driver had lost control and
was about to hit me.
Frightened, I jumped behind a parked car for cover!
THE GANG IS HERE!
To my absolute
shock, the van was filled with the SSQQ group I had left
behind an hour ago. They were
heading back to the ship. When they saw me taking the
picture, they ordered the driver to turn. What
incredible luck. If I had been
just 10 seconds later to this spot,
they would have already driven past me.
So why did the cab nearly kill me?
What I didn't know at the time was there was a difference of
opinion going on in the cab. Jean Wind told the driver
to pull over. Marla told him to keep going; it would
teach Rick a lesson he needed to learn. She was fed up
with my foolhardy ways.
for me, the rest of the group were a little more
sympathetic. The cab driver added it up: more money to
pick me up than to ditch me.
At the last second he decided to swerve and come get me.
An eerie feeling came over me. This was not an
accident! I was Jason with the broken sandal,
a Greek hero who had overcome a great ordeal! The
attack lizard was the mighty Hera in disguise. Hera was
testing me to see whether I would try to hurt the little
lizard. When I showed that I meant no harm, the mighty
Hera guided the van to my rescue. It was all so clear!
Marla snapped me out of my reverie. "Rick Archer, you
have to be the luckiest you-know-what on the entire planet. I
cannot believe you got away with this stunt. One of
these days, you are going to try one stupid trick too many
and that's when you will watch as your ship sails away!"
Marla had a point. I was extraordinarily
fortunate. Thanks to the magic taxi ride, I was able
to catch the last
shuttle to the ship with ten minutes to spare.
Had I remained on foot, I
seriously doubt I would have made it to the
ship in time.
My 2008 walk started at the Royal Palms
and ended at the yellow arrow. By my estimate, my Beach
walk was about two miles long (based on the mileage marker
in the map above). Jean's 2007 Group did this walk in
about two hours. I think I did my trip in one hour,
but don't forget I ran most of the way to make up time.
keep in mind the speed of a large group is limited by the
speed of its slowest member.
As I stare at the map above, the next time I take this trip,
I am tempted to try an all-day adventure. I could have
the taxi drop me off at the Public Beach area
(see map). A four mile walk will take me to the Royal
Palms for lunch followed by a three mile walk to the ship.
Less adventurous people can start their walk at the
Royal Palms and retrace Jean's 2007 footsteps.