Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Coral Stone Club)

Coral Stone Club Infinity Pool

Seven Mile Beach (note the the right of the photo where people are packed in at the Ritz Carlton) 

This was not a destination that "wow’d us" upon arrival.  But rather, it quickly grew on us.  Some discerning friends of ours had sung the praises of Grand Cayman and this complex in particular.  This trusted recommendation from parents with a daughter the same age as our busy 5 year old was the primary reason for our booking it.  We stayed at the Coral Stone Club condominium complex located along the pricey Seven Mile Beach area of Grand Cayman Island.  It is quite expensive at $1200/night all-in and we thought, believe or not, worth every penny.

The complex, like all on Seven Mile Beach, is quite close to the busy road it sits on.  This was the source of our initial concern.  It left us a little bit wondering when we immediately arrived.  How is it that Seven Mile Beach is in general on top of a such a busy road and yet is heralded as one of the most desirable spots in the Caribean?  You soon however forget this question.  They have done an excellent job of ensuring there is no noise from the road in most of these high end complexes.  In general, your condo quickly becomes the beach sanctuary you had hoped it to be.  It took the first day to get my head wrapped around this.

The Coral Stone has an excellent setup, and particularly so for the ground floor units such as we stayed in - unit 21 to be specific.  All units are as beachfront as it gets and 6 feet from our screen door was the zero entry end of an infinity pool that our kids spent 75% of their waking hours in.  The pool literally sits on the beach and there are plenty of chairs, lounges and shade available at any time of day.  This is in contrast to the frenetic Ritz Carlton next door to the Coral Stone where I discovered that people would wake at sunrise to “stake out their lounger” with a ball cap or towel.  Many a morning our 10 month old daughter would wake at 615am, we would take a sunrise stroll along the beach, and I would see those paying $3000/night (yes, $3000/night) sauntering out to stake their claim in the sand.  Meanwhile 100 feet down the beach at the Coral Stone you need not fuss this.  Sit back on your porch, drink coffee, and watch the sun rise in your 1300 sf 3 bedroom condo that has everything your could ever need.  And at your leisure, at any time, pick a spot on the pool deck or at the beach.  You drive the agenda instead of the requirements of the resort or complex.  

The Seven Mile Beach Beach surf is known to be incredibly calm and we had both our kids playing in it, baby included, with no fear of a rogue wave.  Let’s face it, a rogue wave for an 11 month old is little more than a ripple!  The water is that dreamy light blue color and you can see right through to the bottom.  The calmness of the beach is soothing in a way that I have not experienced at other destinations like the Dominican Republic or Mexico.  Don’t get me wrong, you’ll be sharing the beach with a “few” other people but it’s not a 'crazy party busy’  beachfront such as those that are littered with all inclusive resorts.  Seven Mile beach has a good balance of hotels and condo residences and it creates less of an atmosphere of frantic tourism and more of one where owners have returned repeatedly and thus are settled and laid back.  Serenity it is.

I mentioned the Ritz Carlton and we used its restaurants a fair bit, another perquisite of the Coral Stone’s prime location.  One does not need to be a guest to have a drink at the beach bar or have dinner there.  And what is more, they have movies under the stars for kids.  Every night, just after sunset, Periwinkle’s restaurant (back of the Ritz property) has beach chairs, a cinema sized movie screen complete with surround sound and food service for adults and kids.  My 5 year old and I saw Pinocchio while eating a yummy ice cream desert, under a starry sky, with a warm soothing evening breeze and sand at our feet.  We had a lovely evening and it is one of the most magical experiences of all of our vacations.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention two other experiences on Grand Cayman.  The first is the sea turtle farm which allows kids to pick up and pet baby sea turtles.  It is a soul-touching experience and it’s not to be missed.  This attraction exists for the preservation of these gentle creatures and it can easily take the better part of a day if you choose to settle in at its restaurant with great food or its large lagoon style pool.  And speaking of food, this brings me to mention another experience.  There is a restaurant that many locals will refer you to, the Sunshine Grill.  The food is of the burger and fish taco ilk and is absolutely outstanding.  Bring your bathing suits with you and sit by the pool and swim while you wait for your food in this casual environment.  Our kids loved this place and for good reason, they knew how to handle kids.  Every meal finishes with a mini ice-cream cone.  And well all know kids love mini everything!

In general, it is the the ease of this vacation that is its charm.  Stepping out your door to a fantastic beach, infinity pool, ultra-reliable weather, safe tap water, a wealth of great luxury kid-friendly beach hotels to walk to, and virtually no crime make Grand Cayman a combination that I would say is not easily duplicated just anywhere.  

With such a convenient way of spending our time, we were able to focus on being in the moment instead of planning the logistics of the next nap, meal, or outing.  All in all, this is family vacation bliss!  

  The View from Coral Stone Unit #21

© Paul-Sarah 2013