I just returned to Grand Lake from Grand Cayman. If you are looking at a map, these three little British Overseas Territories are too far to swim from Cuba. 101 square miles of land mass makes Grand Cayman the grandest and the shoreline can’t even begin to compete with Grand Lake miles. Around 66,000 people call Grand Cayman home and more than that will visit.

We hung out on a small portion of Seven Mile Beach. Georgetown, Since Grand Cayman is a very popular port of call for cruise ships, I’m sure many are familiar with this white sand playground. In fact our NCL Getaway in January will have a day in the Caymans. You should start thinking about swaying palms, island life and join us.

Grand Cayman has been known down through the years as a financial haven. Banking is a huge industry on 22 mile long piece of real estate. Word on the tropical isle is that there are a lot more money agents now, checking on those “off shore banking accounts” featured in movies. Tourism is the thing anyone can bank on.

There are all kinds of water sports to enjoy. We saw fellow tourists of all ages balanced on paddle boards as the quiet surf makes it manageable. Heads bobbled all around as snorkelers enjoy this diver’s paradise. Surrounded by walls of coral reef, you don’t have to swim too far out in the Caribbean Sea to hover over colorful fish, and crazy coral shapes. The water is salty enough to keep you afloat, so a mask, snorkel and fins will have one feeling like an underwater explorer in a short time! I took the opportunity to refresh my scuba diving license and went a little deeper. Lobsters, Moray Eels, and even an octopus were on my “I saw” list.

While we didn’t get time to do it again this visit, swimming with the stingrays is very popular. This ‘hands-on’ experience gives you the opportunity to feed them, have them “hug” you and get your photo sharing the crystal clear water with these magnificent sea creatures. If it’s your first time to Grand Cayman, be sure and add this excursion to your list of “must do”.

We even did an evening cruise that gave us the chance to see where Red Cushion Starfish feed and overnight. We waded in looking for them like Easter eggs. We were allowed to hold them underwater and having them suction onto your palm is a weird feeling. They were as individual as fingerprints in their exoskeleton designs. Then we cruised over to Bio Bay where after dark, we could swim with the bioluminescent phytoplankton. This popular night time activity is very unique. One cove has an extremely high concentration of glow-in-the-dark microorganisms. The visibility is best seen when snorkeling in the water with a mask. And full body gear, since jellyfish like to come to the light as well. It’s hard to describe, something like magic pixie dust underwater, yeah, that’s about right.

If you want to stay dry, crawl on over to the Turtle Farm where Caymans have been helping the giant sea turtles with their hatching and surviving for years. Educational and fun, there is even a touching tank for you to handle these creatures.

And of course, you must visit Hell. This very touristy spot is really named after the unusual black limestone formations, but the souvenir shops provide some fun stuff to blow your money on! There is even a tiny post office in case you want to send a postcard to a friend from Hell. But you may be surprised, Hell isn’t nearly as populated as you might expect!

My biggest surprise was the crazy number of wild chickens roaming the island! Everywhere! The locals had a few urban myths of hurricane damage to coops and no preditors, etc, etc...but these bad boys and bad girls aren’t to be messed with! Throw in a clutch of chicks and you should let them cross the road or eat your dropped french fries. A feral fowl in your face might be more dangerous than Hell!

Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or pb@goodtogowithpb.com.