Beach Walk 1
Home Up Beach Walk 2

   

The 2009 Beach Walk Part One

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.

As background to our story about the Beach Walk, a group of SSQQ cruisers first discovered Seven Mile Beach back in 2007.

I was 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. 

The group 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. 

So when 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.

   


The small picture shows that in that marina area, only 400 yards of land separates Seven Mile Beach from waters of the marina. 

The large 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. 

In September 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 completely demolished.

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 pre-hurricane levels. 


However, before 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. 

The Cayman Islands are a major international financial center with the fifth-largest banking sector in the world. 

While Grand 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.

Though 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 Territory.

Given the 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.

 


Rick's 2008 Beach Walk

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 day.

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 long-anticipated adventure.

However, the majority ruled, which is another way of saying that Marla decided she and I would stick with the group.

Reluctantly I agreed to cut our day in half and cooperate.

As I 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.

Terrified that 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

After my 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 worth repeating!

Thanks to its beauty, Seven Mile Beach is the most popular real estate area 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.

To me, 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. 

Despite 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 around 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 island.

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.

This 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 Conquest ship
seemed really far off.  You can see the ship directly behind Sam.

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 exclaimed,
"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 begin!
 

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
was convinced I would do something equally stupid again this year.  Sometime ask Marla if she ever worries about me on our trips and you
will certainly get an earful.  She has one horror story after another.
 

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

Silver Sands
 

 

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 everything.
 

These are the "sand volleyball" condominiums.  Very lovely.
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 people either.

 

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 pictures.
 

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...
 


BEACH WALK 2009 CONTINUED - The Second Leg of our Trip

   
Beach Walk 1 Beach Walk 2 Beach Walk 3 Beach Walk 4
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ