What To Do For Summer In The Cayman Islands
Ungratefully whinging over endless scorching summer days will not be graciously received by our friends across the pond. But...summer is well and truly here in the Cayman Islands and it is dam hot! It's painfully humid and sticky; even simply running lunch-time errands involving quick walks to the car are being reconsidered in office clothes. Kids are off school, getting burnt to a crisp in the sea all summer long and running out of entertainment that won't break the bank or cause all involved to melt into a lethargic pool of 'I can't be bothered'.
With every (lack of) cloud, there is a summer silver lining to your purse. The local tourist attractions are in slow season and desperate for your support - most are offering more than half price off entrance fees, some $5 each, so it's the best time to spend a Sunday exploring what we have on offer locally. Stefan and I took off for a drive the other morning to tour Pedro St James Castle and Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens and they were well worth our while - here's our take...
PEDRO ST JAMES CASTLE - SAVANNAH
Having grown up in Cayman, I've been to "Pedros" many times for school trips and events. However, I've never really visited the 18th century Great House with an adult mindset.
With my architectural real-estate beau by my side, we quickly appreciated how well-designed the old building is - it was breezy, cool and felt very spacious even on a sticky summer day! No air conditioning and all wooden structures makes you squirm at the idea of walking into a spa style-sauna. But it was exactly the opposite. The raised three story home is based on ground floor sporting stone walls 18 inches thick. The first level has stunning sweeping verandahs, enclosed by large shuttered windows, which keep the core of the building cool and yet allow for stunning ocean views shaded from the piercing heat. The renovated slate flooring is cool underfoot and creates a striking contrast to the wood.
I was genuinely blown away by how such a historic, simplistic building can work so well with modern comforts and design. The idea of having no air conditioning during our summer months is laughable and yet in this 18th century building all we would add would be a few fans! Stefan and I will be designing a new-build project sometime in the future and designing a home to meet the demands of our environment will be a top priority. I left slightly confused why all modern builds in Cayman, and further a field, do not reflect these simple but smart design features. Going home to our air conditioned concrete apartment made for a stark contrast. And so will our CUC bill!
QUEEN ELIZABETH II BOTANIC PARK
In case you haven't noticed, since Hurricane Ivan, Cayman has been seriously lacking in greenery. It's such a shame as the island was much more luscious before - it's coming back but it's a slow slow game. Entering the Botanical Gardens is like stepping back in time. Huge trees, some 30 feet high, tower above layers and layers of green foliage - it's beautiful!
The Botanic Park is mapped out across several acres of lush landscaping and woodland trails located in North Side on Frank Sound Road. The array of local and international flora and fauna is pretty spectacular and makes for great inspiration for our current garden project! Think low maintenance xerophytic gardens and wild bamboo trees. If you can't make it this summer, every year the Botanical Gardens host an amazing Orchid Show where you can pick up some great bargain orchids to brighten up any size of space.
"The Botanic Park is owned jointly by the Cayman Islands Government and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands a non-profit, statutory body dedicated to preserving natural environments and Places of historic significance in the Cayman Islands for present and future generations."
Simply put - it's worth exploring and supporting!