Our final port of call was Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, famous for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and sea turtle populations. The highlight was getting to snorkel with sea turtles at the Cayman Islands Turtle Centre. This unique facility not only raises sea turtles but also plays a vital role in their conservation efforts. The guide explained to us that after the turtles breed and lay eggs, the eggs are moved to a temperature-controlled room, since the resulting gender is influenced by the ambient temperature the eggs are exposed to. They raise green sea turtles and release them back into the wild when they deem them ready.
The real magic was underwater, where we had the privilege of witnessing sea turtles in their habitat. As we donned our snorkeling gear and plunged into the clear blue waters, these majestic creatures glided gracefully around us. Watching them scratch an itch against the walls, munch on algae, and move with such carefree elegance left us in awe. Their innate graceful movements were mesmerizing.
Apart from the aquatic wonders, Grand Cayman also runs a bird sanctuary. Its aim is to protect these winged creatures from poachers. The guide mentioned an old tradition where people used to catch and gift birds, a practice that has evolved over time. While this tradition is no longer seen as appropriate, some individuals still engage in it, posing challenges for the sanctuary’s conservation efforts. A cool trick I learned is that they don’t teach their parrots how to talk since it would allow poachers to draw them out of hiding.
We also visited an interesting tourist attraction called Hell. Despite the ominous name, Hell is a small area of eroded limestone formations. The porous, dried lava rock looks almost moon-like. Adding to quirky ambience, the gift shops sell stuff like postcards joking about sending greetings “from Hell”.
Snorkeling with the turtles was definitely the highlight of the entire trip hands down. We actually almost missed the excursion because of inclement weather that made it difficult for the cruise ship to send smaller ships to drop tourists off on the shore. I’m super glad that the weather cleared up, but we almost missed this amazing experience.
See more of Grand Cayman here