For exemplary scuba diving and beautiful beaches, discover all Grand Cayman has to offer. Jean Kunzelman and John Maraventano have frequented the Cayman Islands for decades. Listen or read more to find out what these experienced travelers have to say about Turtle Nest Inn and their favorite spots in Grand Cayman.
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. We’re talking about the Cayman Islands and Turtle Nest Inn & Condos in the Island of Grand Cayman. I’m here with guests of Turtle Nest Inn, Jean Kunzelman, and John Maraventano. Welcome, Jean and John.
Jean: All right.
John: Thank you.
John Maher: Jean, what made you choose the Cayman Islands for a vacation and how long have you been going?
Jean: Well, my husband and I have been going down there since our first trip was in 1982, it was actually on a scuba diving trip and that’s why we went there, and when we talked to people on Grand Cayman they’re amazed that we were there in ’82. It looks a lot different now …
John Maher: … I bet.
Jean: … then it did then. As a matter of fact, it’s funny now when you drive down Seven Mile Beach there’s all big hotels and restaurants and fancy places and back then, there was one hotel. It was the Holiday Inn which is no longer there and you could see the water and everything. Very, very different place. There were probably two restaurants on the whole island.
Scuba Diving on the Cayman Islands
John Maher: John, when did the two of you learn how to scuba dive?
John: Probably a couple of years before we went down to Grand Cayman the first time. Probably late ’70s/early ’80s.
John Maher: Compared to some of the other places that you’ve been to, the Cayman Islands are a great place for scuba diving?
John: Yes. Yes. We’ve been to quite a few islands. We’ve been to Florida, the Keys. We’ve been to Hawaii. Out of those, we enjoy Grand Cayman the best out of all of them, and there’s certain areas on Grand Cayman that are better than others such as the North Wall. It seems to be probably the best diving that we’ve seen.
Choosing Turtle Nest Inn & Condos
John Maher: Jean, what drew you to Turtle Nest Inn & Condos as the place to stay rather than say a big hotel or a resort on Grand Cayman?
Jean: Actually, when we first started going to Cayman, we didn’t stay at Turtle Inn. It wasn’t in existence then, but over the years we had been to some of the bigger hotels and a place up on the north side, which isn’t there anymore, and in travelling around the island we just saw Turtle Nest Inn & Condos and we were really attracted to it and this was back in 2008, 2009 and we loved the location. It just — it looked pretty.
It’s right on the beach and I think the biggest part too it was away from the crowds of Seven Mile Beach, which is very nice. There’s some beautiful hotels there, but we tend to like much quieter, calmer, have the ocean and beach to yourself. That’s really what attracted us to — actually just drive by and looking and then we checked out a lot of the reviews and we’ve been going there ever since.
The Quiet Side of Bodden Town
John Maher: John, tell me a little bit more about Bodden Town and that area and how it compares to the rest of the island?
John: I was going to add to what Jean said that Bodden Town, to me, is the way Cayman used to be, as opposed to the way Seven Mile Beach is now. To me it was very laid back, very comfortable — the way the Caribbean is supposed to be. Yes, Seven Mile Beach is very nice if you’re into a party scene, and they’re like that, a lot of activity and such, but when you prefer going to an island and enjoying what the island itself has to offer, and Bodden Town does have that. It has a small-town charm which, again, we think all of Cayman used to have when we first started going down.
Exploring Grand Cayman
John Maher: Yes, that makes sense. It’s a little bit of a throwback to, like you said, the way that the Caribbean and Cayman Islands, in particular, kind of used to be. That’s really cool. Jean, do you also explore other parts of the island though when you go down there on your trips?
Jean: Yes. We drive all over from one point all around to the east side to the Seven Mile Beach area and we do have a car when we’re down there. It’s a good idea to have a car because there’s a lot to see, and we’ll often go over to Seven Mile Beach area, to West Bay, South Sound for restaurants or for dinner and also a lot of the shore diving is at various places around the island. We’ve explored probably every inch of Grand Cayman over the years.
Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Grand Cayman
John Maher: John, what are some of your favorite places to go scuba diving? I know you mentioned the North Wall?
John: For deep diving for diving off the edge, the North Wall to me seems to be the best. The Walls are great. You’ve got a lot of marine life, a lot of lodge life. For shallow diving, we enjoy the Turtle farm area … Macabuca, right.
Yes, we enjoy that because there’s a large school of tarpons that are always there. I mean you’re talking 50, 60, 70 fish which are always there and you can swim right up to them. Also, everybody says it’s beat up, but to me, I enjoy it is Devil’s Guano and Eden’s Rock. The trick to going diving there is to go always before the cruise ship passengers get there because it’s in that area and to me, that’s a very good dive also.
John Maher: Jean, do you guys sometimes just throw on your snorkels and go in and on the beach in front of Turtle Nest Inn as well?
Jean: That’s something I do. I am forever in the water and I’m always going out. John will be relaxing or something, I say, “I’m going snorkeling and back to the Condos”. I’ve seen all the stuff that you see on the big dives. It’s only four or five, maybe six feet deep, so it’s great for — even if somebody’s not that comfortable in the water, it’s real calm because it’s inside the reef and you see a ton of things. I mean everything from the small fish and lobsters to — there’s tarpon back there. I’ve seen a stingray. I’ve seen turtles back there, so yes, I’m snorkeling back there all the time. We tell people too, “Hey if you’re going there, you’ve got to go snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn because it’s probably one of the best places to get in the water where you’re not going to have a lot of crowds and you can see everything. And there’s no current or anything there. It’s very easy and it’s safe.
John Maher: What are some of the other things that you do while you’re on Grand Cayman? Do you tend to cook meals yourself at Turtle Nest Inn, or do you dine out a lot?
John: It’s sort of a combination. We more or less eat lunch at Condos and we usually go out and there’s a great restaurant right in Bodden Town to check in. It’s fantastic. I used to be the head chef for Morgan’s Harbour and he opened his own place and it’s right down the block from the Condos which is excellent. Many of the places, many restaurants on Seven Mile Beach — I cannot say that we’ve had a bad meal. Pretty much all the restaurants are good. I don’t know what Jean feels, but that’s the way feel about it.
Jean: We don’t go out for a lot of real fancy meals. There’s plenty of places on Grand Cayman that you can go to — The Ritz Carlton, or some of the other places and have very fancy. We typically don’t do that. More casual. It’s good food. And that place, the Czech Inn, it’s funny. It’s a little island place, you sit outside at the casual thatch bar type of thing, which is great, or you go over to Seven Mile Beach and there’s a barbeque, there’s fish, there’s tacos. There’s really anything you want, so if you don’t want to go for the big fancy restaurant and, frankly, spend a lot of money with that, you have a lot of choices.
What to Know about Grand Cayman
John Maher: Jean, any final thoughts on staying at Turtle Nest Inn & Condos or just vacationing to Grand Cayman that you want a potential person who is checking it out to know before they go?
Jean: Yes. We’ve actually been there with … we’ve been at the Turtle less than four times. As a matter of fact, today I was checking out flights and such, we usually go down on Cayman Air because one reason, direct from New York and they don’t charge for luggage and we carry a lot of dive gear on Cayman Air.
John Maher: Yes, nice.
Jean: You save a lot of money that way. But we’re actually checking the times for probably in June going down again. I would say this, we’ve been to a lot of islands in the Caribbean, a lot of beautiful places. Grand Cayman, it’s safe, you feel comfortable, you can go outside at night. There’s a lot to do and it just really is a nice place. The people are nice. You have everything from the casual — you want to eat a jerk chicken stand, you can do that or if you want to go to Ritz Carlton, you can do that too. I mean with the Turtle Nest Inn, we’ve been staying at the Condos and even though there’s only the two of us, we’ve got two bedroom, two and a half bath condos. We love it. It’s like having you own home there. Like kitchens, the kitchen there, everything … pots, pans, everything you can imagine. It’s a nicer kitchen there than I have at home.
There’s granite and steel. It’s beautiful [laughs]. The stainless steel, everything, granite. Beautiful. We like that. It’s very nice. It’s very comfortable. It’s private. There’s no noise. Then, the pool right out back, actually, two pools one at the condo and one at the end. They let you use both of them, which is really nice. As I said, we’re already planning our next trip for May or June.
John Maher: Sounds great. John, any final thoughts for people checking out Turtle Nest Inn?
John: Well, the other thing I would say is the staff is amazing. If you want to do anything, if you need reservations made, they will take care of it. Also, the locals. If you need any information, they know the ins and outs of the local culture. Again, there’s two pools. They’re very accommodating. Whatever you need, they’re willing to take care of it for you and point you in the right direction. They’ll tell you what restaurants to go to, what restaurants not to go to depending on your price lines and stuff like that. We’re very satisfied. To us, there’s really no place else that we’d stay on Grand Cayman. You’re almost treated like family.
John Maher: That’s great. Well, thank you both so much for speaking with me today. I really appreciate you taking the time out and for telling me a little bit more about Turtle Nest Inn. Thank you, both.
John: All right. Thank you.
John Maher: For more information about the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, and Turtle Nest Inn & Condos, visit TurtleNestInn.com or call 345-947-8665.