The Cayman Islands
Where are the Cayman Islands?
The islands are some 500 miles south of Miami, Florida, or 100 miles south of Cuba. (Google map)
What kind of experience can I expect in Grand Cayman?
Grand Cayman is an advanced, inclusive, modern society. There is a very low rate of crime and while one should take normal precautions, it is a very safe environment for children. Construction is modern and high standards are required by both the Department of Planning and the Department of Tourism who regularly inspect facilities which cater for visiting guests. A wide range of gourmet restaurants are available along with many more casual beach enterprises. If you are a member of a service club, you will find Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs all of which welcome guests to their regular meetings.
Features which can make your visit special include the absolutely unique Cayman Turtle Farm, two Dolphin experience centres, the Cayman Ice Bar, Atlantis - the Cayman submarine, the Jolly Roger pirate vessel, one of the world's brightest bioluminescence bays - a spectacular evening excursion, a world-class assortment of dive companies and wonderful dive sites including recently sunken vessels. No visit to Grand Cayman can be considered complete without a visit to Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens situated about 3 miles from Crescent Beach - it is also the home of the Cayman Blue Iguana repopulation project - expect different!
What religious faiths are represented in Cayman?
The Cayman Islands is a Christian community with tolerance for people of all faiths. Leading Christian organisations include Roman Catholic, Church of England, Baptist, Church of God and Seventh Day Adventist. Associations also exist for other faiths all of whom are listed in the Yellow Pages or can be found by enquiring online.
What form of government exists in the Cayman Islands?
The Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands is a unicameral Legislature comprising 18 Members, 15 of whom are the Elected Representatives for the Islands' six districts, four each from George Town and West Bay, three from Bodden Town, two from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and one each from North Side and East End. This situation will change as the Cayman Islands move to a one man, one vote system after re-districting the islands into single member constituencies, to be completed before the next election (2017 or earlier). There are two Ex-Officio Members who are appointed by the Governor, the Deputy Governor and the Attorney-General.
What currency is used in the Cayman Islands?
The official currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) the value of which is officially fixed at USD 1.20 = KYD 1.00. All establishments also accept US Dollars but the rate at which each will exchange those dollars will vary from establishment to establishment. Expect a rate of USD times 0.82 to 0.84, and expect your change in Cayman dollars.
What is the time zone of the Cayman Islands?
Cayman time is fixed at GMT-5 hours. A recent attempt by certain business interests to change to DST (Daylight Savings Time) was dropped by government after strong popular opposition.
What is the cost of living like in the Cayman Islands?
You will find the cost of everything to be around 20% more expensive in Cayman Dollars (KYD) than its equivalent price in, for example, the USA. The reason for this is simple.
The Cayman Islands have no direct income tax. Instead, and with good reason, they have chosen to raise the funding required for government and services by means of (a) customs duty/consumption taxes, (b) fees from trade and business licenses for organisations operating in the Cayman Islands, and (c) fees from Work Permits for non-Caymanians working in the Cayman Islands.
The importance of the above is that a relatively high level of tax is collected on the things you need to buy. This, combined with the retailers mark-up, definitely makes Cayman a relatively expensive destination. Is it worth it? Oh, yes...
One thing to watch when dining out is that while the prices for dining are roughly comparable with anywhere, a high level of government tax on alcoholic beverages means that your drinks at the restaurant will be likely the most major part of your bill.
Cayman New Resident offers a comprehensive look at the cost of living in Grand Cayman.
Half Moon Bay
Where is Half Moon Bay?
Half Moon Bay is a development near the eastern end of the south coast of Grand Cayman, approximately 16 miles (22.5km) from Owen Roberts International Airport. Originally conceived as a planned development with clubhouse, the project was ended by damage caused by the Category 5 winds of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Crescent Beach is the name which we have given to our site (which would have been the clubhouse) and is just under one acre in size.
What is the driving time to/from the airport?
During rush hour (7am to 9am and 4:30pm to 6:30pm Mondays to Fridays) the trip in either direction can take as long as an hour. At other times, assume a half-an-hour for the trip in either direction. The major bottleneck is actually in the actual George Town area together with Prospect Park and Savannah where many roundabouts and merging traffic can create queues. You will need to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your departure flight time so as to check-in your baggage, clear security and immigration.
If you prefer to arrive really early for your departyure flight, there is the Hungry Horse restaurant (««) upstairs or take the courtesy shuttle to the George Town Yacht Club (««««) just 300 yards away from the Owen Roberts International terminal.
What would you say is special about Half Moon Bay?
Half Moon Bay is on the most picturesque part of the Grand Cayman coastline. It features a private sandy beach, spectacular ironshore with the occasional blow-holes, fan coral gardens which actually break surface at very low tides, and some of Cayman's best dive sites just offshore.
There is a very small population of homes in the area, just two, and as a result, a certain quietness, privacy and exclusivity can be expected.
Just 400 yards away, hidden by a hilly rise, is Health City, an advanced medical facility specialising in cardiac surgery but also open to patients with other needs. Crescent Beach would be a great location for a family accompanying a patient of Health City to stay if you do not want to reside at a hotel at least 7 miles away.
An abundance of great restaurants featuring both local and international cuisine are just a few minutes driving away.
Why did you call it Crescent Beach?
As we said above, the apartments Sand and Sky are on the one acre site which was originally intended to be the club house for the Half Moon Bay development. The coastline in this area is mainly ironshore, a hard, jagged rocky substance which is very picturesque but which makes it difficult to enjoy the water. The apartments and neighbouring house have the only actual beach in the development with gorgeous deep white sand deposited over the natural ironshore. Since the bay is slightly crescent-shaped, the name Crescent Beach followed.
While the beach is fine sand, the access to the water is a mix of sand and some broken coral. It is sensible to wear wading shoes when entering and leaving the water.
Which apartment should we choose?
That's a difficult one! The layout and equipment of both apartments is identical - actually a great facility for that large family that needs six bedrooms - three up and three down! But there are small differences such as furniture, decor and so on. Everything is of a high quality, and so at first glance there appears to be little to choose between them.
However, there are some significant choice factors:
Sky, the upper apartment is highly elevated and is served by a normal front entrance staircase of 21 steps, and a second circular staircase for emergency use and for quick access to the beach and ocean. On the ocean side, it features glass balcony balusters so as to provide as little interruption of the ocean view as possible. An impressive cathedral ceiling over the living/dining area provides a great sense of space and tranquility. It features an XBox360 game console with a racing wheel/foot-pedal attachment.
Sand, the lower apartment can be accessed by partially disabled guests such as persons able to walk with the assistance of cane or crutches. The step up to the front entrance and patio doors is about four inches. There are no internal steps within the apartments. The bathrooms are not equipped with assistance rails and so we would recommend that highly disabled persons may wish to choose an alternative accommodation more suited to their disability. It features a Wii games console.
Ceilings are at a height of at least 10' in all rooms. Sky also offers a cathedral ceiling in the Great Room with a height of over 18'.
I have heard that all beaches are public. Is this true?
Yes, it is true. Cayman law is based on British law and all beaches are public up to MHWL (Mean High Water Level). In other words, anyone can occupy the beach provided that they stay on the lower side of the beach underneath the zone where seaweed is deposited by the average high tides.
However, Crescent Beach is virtually unique in Grand Cayman since there is actually no walking access to its beach by the general public since it is surrounded by other Half Moon Bay properties all of which have coastal ironshore and are therefore "private".
It follows that the only persons you would encounter on the lower beach are persons staying at residences in Half Moon Bay who have made their way across the ironshore by permission of the individual owners. Of the other 17 properties in Half Moon Bay, only one has a residence and so to all intents and purposes, Crescent Beach is private and exclusive.
Having said that, fishing by Caymanians with a sprat net or a line are permitted and we welcome the few that visit because they very generously tend to donate a few sprats and are great fun to talk with.
Can I hold my wedding or a big party on the beach?
A large flat sandy area exists between the top rise of the beach and the house. It is very suitable for weddings or parties. However, so as not to inconvenience other guests, you must book both apartments if you intend to stage a wedding or party. This is actually a significant saving on expense since six bedrooms are then available. Please contact us before making a booking if it is your intention to get married or have some other form of party at Crescent Beach so that we can approve the event and provide further advice. Events which are not pre-approved are not permitted.
Is Crescent Beach kid-friendly?
We would guess that the answer is "Yes, but...". There are no fences or walls around the property and therefore a strong measure of parental control is required. Since you will be living right next to the ocean and a pool, it is vital that children are supervised at all times when they are in the water. The upper balcony rails are at or above the legally required safety height but again, perental discretion is important.
We provide cable TV, a DVR with a selection of DVDs, a variety of books and board games, and a Wii or XBox 360 depending on apartment. Please ensure that you bring your kid's favourite games with you.
We can also provide a cot, high chair, or whatever is required for your little ones given reasonable notice.
We will arrive on Sunday and shops are closed. Can you help?
As we write, the law in the Cayman Islands is being examined for a change to allow certain businesses to open on Sundays for a specified period of time. So we do expect that this will become less of an issue shortly. All gas stations carry a small (but more expensive than supermarkets) supply of groceries.
Of course, we can also assist by ensuring that a "starter pack" is available for you when you arrive. Just contact us to arrange this. There is a small charge for this service - the cost of the starter pack.
What supplies can we expect to find in the apartment for our use?
We provide bathroom and beach towels, bedroom linens, bathroom paper and soaps including shampoo and conditioner, dish washing liquid, soap for the washer/dryer, garbage bags, recycle bins for plastic/glass/aluminium.
The apartments are supplied from mains water which is then cold-filtered through the fridge. You do not need to purchase costly plastic-bottled water.
We leave sensible unused kitchen items from either previous guests or ourselves when we stay there - salt, pepper, spices, biscuit/cookie packs, breakfast cereals, other non-perishables - some tea, coffee and sugar sachets etc - it is entirely up to you whether you use them or not. And if you have a special need that must be in place on arrival, please discuss it with us and we will do our best to assist you.
Do we need to rent a car or can we use public transport?
In all honesty, many visitors are happy to go places on Grand Cayman's buses, but the scheduling of these buses leaves a lot to be desired. The East End bus service passes the front door and you can hail it down. It will take you to the central bus terminal next to Gearge Town Public Library. Go there to get a bus to return to Half Moon Bay. From there you can get buses to West Bay Road and the beaches and onwards into West Bay and the Turtle Farm and Dolphin establisments.
However, the most flexible option is to rent a car, especially since Half Moon Bay is fairly isolated. You cannot walk down the road to shop or restaurant unless you have good fitness. All of the international car rental companies are represented in Grand Cayman including Avis (our favourite), Budget, EuropCar, Hertz and Thrifty. In addition, you may be able to get a better deal from one of the smaller local companies such as Andy's and Marshalls.
I have heard Cayman has marine parks. Is Crescent Beach in a marine park?
Crescent Beach and Half Moon Bay have great snorkeling and are in a marine park called a Replenishment Zone. Click here to download a comprehensive map of our zones and other rules including the taking of items from our beaches. Briefly, the following rules apply:
Pricing, deposits and cancelations
What is the cost of short and long-term renting at Crescent Beach?
Please see our Bookings page for a complete list of rates. If you have special needs or circumstances, please contact us for a specific quote. We do not rent long-term. Our typical rental term is 7 to 14 days. We have had occasional guests who have stayed with us for three weeks to a month - standard rates apply. For non-refundable rental contracts for six to twelve weeks a small discount is possible.
What is your policy on cancelation of my reservation by me?
The deposit paid is non-refundable after 90 days before your arrival date since once we accept your booking we are unable to sell those dates. Please be certain of your travel dates.
You are strongly advised to take out travel insurance against any loss due to your inability to travel on the dates you have booked. Travel insurance is not expensive and will normally cover air and accommodation costs. Check with your local travel agent for a list of reputable travel insurers and check whether your credit card offers coverage against loss due to your changed travel plans.
AirBNB, TripAdvisor and VRBO may offer travel insurance. Please contact them directly.
Can you cancel my reservation?
It is possible that we may be forced to cancel your reservation for one of a number of reasons unusual beyond our control. This will always be as a last resort. As an example:
If we are forced to cancel part or all of your reservation through no fault of yours then we shall provide you with the necessary evidence required to make a claim against your travel insurance.
If we are forced to cancel part or all of your reservation because of your behaviour then there will be no refund and our evidence will include details of the reason for cancelation.
Terms and conditions of rental
What is the legal basis of renting at Crescent Beach?
Our rental agreement which you must sign and date is the legal basis for renting at Crescent Beach and is governed by Cayman Islands law. We do not recognise the courts of any other jurisdiction and any process under law by either party must be carried out in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands at George Town.
The courts should be an action of last resort and we will always negotiate in good faith within the parameters of the agreement and what is right and fair to all parties. The Cayman Islands are not a litiginous jurisdiction and we prefer to settle disputes amicably by discussion, understanding and compassion.
What are the terms and conditions for renting at Crescent Beach?
Our ("Owner") rental agreement which you ("Guest") must either physically sign and date or electronically accept by making a booking with a travel company specifies the terms and conditions of your rental. While each agreement may vary based on circumstances, the following general terms and conditions will always apply.