Grand Cayman offers a beautiful vacation experience. Juanita Copeland, Turtle Nest Inn frequent guest, talks about her experiences while vacationing in the Cayman Islands. Listen or read more to find out about the beauty of the Cayman Islands.
John: 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 today with one of Turtle Nest Inn’s guests, Juanita Copeland. Welcome, Juanita.
Juanita: Thank you.
John: Juanita, what made you choose the Cayman Islands for a vacation, and how long have you been going?
Juanita: Well, my first trip there was in 1992, and I actually had been given a pair of tickets for anywhere in the U.S. or Carribean, and a friend of mine had mutual friends that lived on Grand Cayman and he suggested that I take my free trip down there. They lived in Bodden Town, that’s right where Turtle Nest Inn is, and my friend lived down the beach from Turtle Nest and that’s when I started going, in 1992.
After Hurricane Ivan, my friends left the island and because I had seen the Turtle Nest the years that I was going and staying with them, after they moved I made Turtle Nest kind of my destination of choice as far as hotels because it was in Bodden Town and I prefer the native side of the island. I don’t like the seven-mile beach area because it’s way too touristy for me. I prefer the intimacy of Bodden Town.
Fun and Shopping in Grand Cayman
John: Tell me a little bit more about that, what draws you back to Turtle Nest Inn & Condos rather than, like you said, seven-mile beach and the hotels and the big resorts and things like that.
Juanita: Well, it’s just like being at home, literally. I always stay in the condos because it’s like having your home picked up and put on the beach there. You can walk out the back door and some of the best snorkeling on the island is out there and I’ve seen some of the most amazing things.
I’m not able to dive because of a hole in my left eardrum, but the snorkeling out there is just unbelievable, and they have kayaks that they make available for their guests and you can take a kayak up and down the water. The beaches are just amazing and there are great restaurants that are very close, and just the little area of Bodden Town there’s all kinds of little shops and there’s a great little soap place across the street, I think it’s called Beach Bubbles, and I always get gifts for people from there. There’s little markets there in Bodden Town, and it’s just a really cool part of the island.
Areas of the Island to Explore
John: Do you explore other parts of Grand Cayman or even other Cayman Islands when you’re down on your trips?
Juanita: Yes, I always go everywhere on Grand Cayman. I love Rum Point and Cayman Kai, and always make a trip down to what used to be called Smith’s Cove, but I’m not sure what they call it these days. I go snorkeling other places and always have to go to Stingray City that kind of feeds my soul out there, those stingrays are amazing. I go all over the island, but prefer to stay in Bodden Town.
Grand Cayman Watersports and Attractions
John: You said that you take a kayak out as well, what other kinds of watersports or activities do you take part in when you’re there?
Juanita: I love — even though it’s very touristy — I love the Atlantis submarine, especially the night one. It is so amazing to stay completely dry and see what the divers see because I’m not able to dive. Everyone I bring to the island, and I’ve been bringing people to the island since 1992, I always make sure to take them on the Atlantis submarine dives because it’s just a really cool experience.
There are eco-tourist things that you can do as well. They’ve got a bioluminescence kind of tour that’s up in the Rum Point area that you can do at night and there are just a lot of really cool, amazing things. The botanical gardens, and then you can also walk the Mastic Trail. Whatever your tastes are, you can find something to do on Cayman, and it’s all safe so that’s important.
John: When you do the submarine, you’re actually taking it underneath the water and going down? Tell me a little bit more about that.
Juanita: Oh yes, absolutely. I think you go down beyond 100 feet, they take you down The Wall which is a very famous dive site in Cayman. The day trip goes through the harbor, the night trip you go down into The Wall and it’s pretty amazing what you can see at night, but yes it’s super cool.
John: Tell me a little bit more about Stingray City, too.
Juanita: Stingray City is incredible. I usually take Captain Marvin’s, they’re my favorite boat operators, and they have three stops on the boat. You go to the coral gardens, to the reef, and then to Stingray City and it’s shallow water. It’s not over maybe, mid-waist there you know between your shoulders and your waist. You get to interact with stingrays in the wild. I do not believe in the swim with the dolphin programs or any of the stuff where animals are in captivity. So, having the stingrays in the wild is so very important to me. They interact with the humans, by choice, nobody makes them. They come up to you, they’re kind of like, you know, dogs in a way because they’re so tame and very safe, and it’s just truly a religious experience to have a giant female stingray come and let you put your arms underneath them and just feel them, and they’re amazing.
Turtle Nest Inn & Condos Experience
John: That’s just amazing, yes. Tell me a little bit more about staying in the condos at Turtle Nest Inn & Condos. You said that you prefer the condos, does it have a kitchen available and do you tend to do some cooking while you’re down there?
Juanita: Yes, absolutely, and because the Cayman Islands are not a third-world country; I’ve gone there many times by myself, that’s how safe I feel there. But, because of that, it can be pricey if you’re on a budget to go out and eat all the time. Generally when I land I go by and grab some lunch, and then I’ll go to one of the local grocery stores and stock up and have my breakfast and lunch at the condo, and then I’ll go out to dinner.
There’s so many amazing restaurants on that island it’s hard to really make a choice at night — all fresh fish and just amazing local dishes. But having the option to cook at the condo also — and you can do your laundry too, and I think that’s an important point. You know, there’s nothing worse than going on vacation and coming home and having to do laundry for two days. Especially when you snorkel as much as I do, I’ll snorkel sometimes two and three times a day, you know I’ll come in and have wet clothes from that and you can wash them. You’ve got a full washer and dryer right there, and every amenity that you can think of from ironing boards to the entire stocked kitchen, all the comforts of home literally.
John: That would make it really simple to pack very lightly too when you’re on your trip, and you know just bring a couple of changes of clothes maybe, and just kind of plan on washing them. You don’t have to check on a bag or anything.
Juanita: Yes, yes, and you don’t have to worry about taking an iron, or taking hairdryers because all of that is furnished in the Inn. You don’t even have to take beach towels because they’ve got the beach towels there available for you.
Best Restaurants in Grand Cayman
John: That’s great. What are some of your favorite restaurants on the island?
Juanita: Well, I love the Lighthouse, I think it’s in East End, and then Beyond the Edge which is up kind of going toward Rum Point. The Brasserie which is in town. There is an amazing sushi restaurant, the name is escaping me, but it’s over — Yoshi is what I believe it’s called. Then you’ve got Papa Gallo, and even though it sounds touristy and silly I love the Hard Rock that’s down right there in the harbor. It’s kind of my go-to place when I land. I’ll go sit down there and have lunch and look over the harbor, and it’s kind of like, “Okay I’m here now.”
But there are a lot of really amazing little local places, too. There’s Rankine’s Jerk Center which is going toward Bodden Town from Georgetown, and there’s a little Grape Tree Cafe which is right down from Turtle Nest. You can walk right down there and it’s right on the beach, and they have fresh fish and fresh local dishes.
Being a Valued Guest at Turtle Nest Inn & Condos
John: Any sort of final thoughts for me in terms of what keeps you coming back to the island, and what keeps you coming back to Turtle Nest Inn? What makes it so special for you?
Juanita: Well, Alain and Marleine and Duane that run the inn, they truly treat me like family. Marlene has become very dear to me over the years, she’s such an amazing, warm host. The way that they take care of you, and they offer you a glass of wine when you check in, and you really feel like you matter. I just cannot think of a better way to start your vacation.
They’re there to provide anything you need, and they’re always awesome to accommodate me because I have a funky schedule, and I can usually only do a few days at a time, and they’re always somehow available to accommodate me. You kind of don’t get that with a big chain that’s like, “These are the days you have, and you can have these or not.” They’re just incredible humans to deal with, and I can’t say enough about the safety. I don’t want to go on vacation and feel like I have to look over my shoulder, and Turtle Nest you can walk out at night and walk up and down the beach and not have to worry.
John: That’s great information, and great tips and good stories. I really appreciate you speaking with me today, Juanita.
Juanita: Absolutely, thank you so much.
John: For more information about the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, and Turtle Nest Inn & Condos visit TurtleNestInn.com, or call 345-947-8665.