We talked with one of our guests, John McDougall, about his stay at the Turtle Nest Inn, and he gave us a list of 6 things that he loves about vacationing in the Cayman Islands. So don’t take our word for it — listen to what John has to say about his recent trip!
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. We’re talking about the Cayman Islands and Turtle Nest Inn & Condos on the island of Grand Cayman. I’m here with a guest of the Turtle Nest Inn, John McDougall. Welcome John.
John McDougall: Hey John.
Maher: So John, what enticed you to a vacation on the Cayman Islands?
McDougall: I love snorkeling, but I’m not a huge fan of the formality of dive trips, so I research where you can snorkel from the shore and that’s when I discovered Cayman Islands. I realized that’s a great place to explore and it’s pretty simple to navigate. Once you’re there it’s manageable to drive around the whole island and explore. I was looking at St. John. That looks really fun. I’d like to try that sometime, but it’s a little more hectic in terms of flights, and availability, and having to trek around to go to the different places, so I wasn’t thrilled with [it being] a little bit more complicated.
There’s just so much to do there. The Rum Point with beachside places to eat and drink. Stingray City, you can have an adventure swimming with stingrays and feeding them. We went to a very cool turtle farm; you can pick up the turtles and feed them, there’s just all different sizes. And botanical gardens. Also, the city of Georgetown has a few shops, and a tiny bit of city life if you want to mix it up, so it’s not a huge city, but there’s some of that.
Maher: I know you’re a fisherman. Did you do any fishing while you were there?
McDougall: Yes, there’s actually really good fishing. The front desk at Turtle Nest Inn helped us book a reasonable trip, reasonable price, because sometimes trying to book fishing charters are super expensive. They have this guy, Captain Hermann nearby. We caught various fish like barracuda. This guy was really fun to hang out with, a real local fisherman, but he was awesome. His boats aren’t mega luxury yachts but it suited me perfectly, and we were able to go out with just the two of us and Hermann. When we got back he cooked up the fish at his fish shack with french fries and a salad. Yummy. You can’t beat that.
I’d just be careful of eating the barracuda. In some places I guess that can be not good. I also brought a couple of saltwater fishing rods and tried some fishing from the rocks. I only caught a handful of fish, but it was fun just to have my own gear there. There are some docks and places you can go, but I probably should have done a little more research in advance. There’s also bone fishing. I couldn’t find any to cast at but it was just fun looking around, walking around the places where the bone fish were. Next time I might try a day on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. I hear it’s a fun side trip with almost nothing there but casting a fishing rod and snorkeling.
Maher: Speaking of snorkeling, how much snorkelling did you do while you were there and how was it?
McDougall: We did a ton. My wife can’t swim actually yet she wore a life jacket and snorkelled every day with me and fell in love with it. Whereas here in New England she gets in the water for two minutes up to her waist basically. That’s about it.
Maher: You have no visibility up there. You can’t really see anything.
McDougall: Yes, pretty limited.
Maher: Not as fun.
McDougall: I still do it, but nothing compared to crystal-clear water. 20 feet from shore right off of Turtle Nest Inn Beach which is 20 feet from my sliding glass door [chuckles] from my condo, I saw a big tarpon. I was little nervous at first. I saw it out of the corner of my eye; I thought it was a shark or something.
Maher: Those are big.
McDougall: Yeah, it was just an awesome tarpon, went right through the eel grass right off the condo. Spiny lobsters, really colorful Caribbean lobsters. I also snorkeled with a reef shark by Captain Herman’s boat after we went fishing. I was standing on the dock and a couple of people were saying, “Look, there’s a shark.” Two guys jumped in that had snorkel gear and just jumped right in with the shark. I’m like, “I got to do that,” so I grabbed my GoPro and put it on, and jumped in, and followed these guys a little bit. I got it within, 20 feet or so. The shark came up to me, I got a couple clips of that, so that was fun. Pretty exciting just right off the dock.
Maher: You said that the snorkeling, you really liked the fact that you could just go right off of the beach as opposed to having to book a boat, and go out to a reef that’s further off the shore.
McDougall: Yes. Turtle Nest Inn actually when I was reading about it, it said that that’s some of the best snorkeling on the whole island really.
Maher: Right off the beach, right there.
McDougall: Literally right off the beach, it’s awesome. You can swim out just a real small amount and see a little bit; and you can swim a little further, and there’s a ton. I don’t know how many yards it is but maybe a couple hundred yards or so. I’ll put up some some photos so we can add to this. You see that the reef starts — you just walk in and there’s already little fish, but then you swim out a little ways, it’s great. I did it alone as well, but when my wife was there, or someone else was there, it’s just awesome, because you can just go all around and there’s plenty to see. You can spend hours.
Rum Point was another place we spent hours snorkeling and then feasting on fresh seafood, toes in the sand, right on the beach. Rum Point had, if I remember correctly, it was a big long dock. To the right of it you’d swim along, and you’d look at the cement pylons that held up the dock and see all fish under there. A lot of people, not hundreds of people, but just enough people were also snorkeling, so it just made it real fun.
Maher: That’s cool. Why did you choose a Cayman Islands condo like the Turtle Nest Inn & Condos over, say, a hotel on Seven Mile Beach which I know is really popular?
McDougall: Well, really for the seclusion and nature. Seven Mile Beach is really pretty crowded and hectic. It’s not really so much for me. We walked it for maybe a half hour and felt it was more than we needed, even that. There’s nothing wrong with it, and that’s what a lot of people think of. You go to the Caribbean, and people are partying on the beach, and it’s crowded. It’s fun, but I just wasn’t really there for that. I’ve been there and done that kind of thing. Again, nothing wrong with it if that’s your mode, but there are some nice hotels on the beach there, but we enjoyed having a smaller beach to ourselves.
Turtle Nest Inn’s beach, it’s just a nice small beach. There’s nothing like just having that seclusion. Then again, you can just drive around and go to any other beach you want when you feel like it, so it just depends on what your interests are.
Maher: Say you wanted to have a little bit of the seclusion, but you still wanted to have some of that nightlife, are the Bodden Town hotels and condos too far from those main attractions to do that?
McDougall: The island is small enough where you can get anywhere pretty quickly. We enjoyed the feeling of living like the locals. We were within an easy drive of pretty much anything. The drives were actually half of the fun. Every day was basically an adventure, or something different to do. Instead of just lounging, or partying in one loud, or busy spot, every day we’d say, “Hey, today let’s go over to Rum Point and spend half the day,” or, “Let’s go to Stingray City in the afternoon. Hey, on the way back let’s drive along the coast and check out the waves, and then stop at a place like — I think it was Tukka — there was an awesome seafood restaurant. We had so many great meals. There were just tons of cool, little funky restaurants. We preferred that experience, more like a local experience.
Maher: Did you rent a car while you were there?
McDougall: Well, the Turtle Nest Inn actually gives you a car as part of the package. Just made it so easy. You know you have a car already lined up that’s part of the price, so it was really a good deal.
Maher: Nice, so you don’t have to worry about that. You’ve already booked the vacation, and it’s part of it, and you don’t have to try to set something up.
McDougall: They know that it’s a little further from other stuff, but that’s the point of it is you have that nice nature and seclusion, the beach, snorkeling right there, a pool, everything you need, but then if you have the car, now it’s…
Maher: Everything is just a quick drive away.
McDougall: Everything’s a pretty quick drive away, and again it’s actually fun to explore all around the island, so it’s a good home base at Bodden Town.
Maher: Do you think that the Cayman Islands are a good place for a kid-friendly vacation?
McDougall: Yes, definitely. Now that I have a baby, I can’t wait to go back when he’s one or two, because I know how calm and super-fun it is. Again, some islands, Jamaica for example, I went to, that was certainly fun but it was hectic. I remember hearing a gunshot on the beach one time when I was there. That’s like, “Whoa.” [laughs] Some islands are pretty intense. There’s a lot to offer in Jamaica. I’m not dissing it, but if I’m going to bring my baby somewhere, a one or two year old, Cayman Islands, again, Grand Cayman, you’re just driving around pretty peacefully. For kid-friendly for me, I’m still just new to that, but definitely good for me. Again, getting from point A to point B, like I’ve been to Puerto Rico, and there’s a ton there. It’s fun. There’s a rainforest, and bioluminescent bays, but when you want to go somewhere, there’s a bit of a trek, and it’s larger, or you got to take a ferry over to this other place, so that’s a little more hectic.
But on the Cayman Islands, just enough to do without feeling like you’re packing up everything, and doing major excursions to get anywhere. My wife misses picking and cutting open coconuts to drink, and gathering and eating our own fresh conch, which we caught some snorkeling. We looked on YouTube how to open them up, and pull out the conch meat. You have to pound it and then tenderize it. We cooked it up and made our own conch. I’m sure we will be back. Turtle Nest Inn makes it so easy to have a home base with snorkeling and a pool, helpful staff. There is a reason they have a gazillion positive reviews.
Maher: Absolutely. All right. That’s great information John. Thanks for speaking with me today.
McDougall: Yes, absolutely.
Maher: For more information about the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman and the Turtle Nest Inn & Condos, visit www.turtlenestinn.com or call 345-947-8665.