The Cayman Islands is a beautiful place to port & is just 90 miles south of Cuba. The first thing I noticed when I got to the port was how blue the water was…a picture perfect shade of turquoise. My first adventure was taking a bus from Grand Cayman, through Georgetown to a sea turtle farm in West Bay. Sea turtles and the Cayman Islands go together like a redhead and sunscreen. They are everywhere and almost all the excursions had something to do with turtles….it’s just what you do, a “when in rome” kind of thing. Before this trip, I wasn’t aware of how popular sea turtles were and when I realized I’d be swimming with some I was ecstatic. Second to dolphins, sea turtles are my favorite animal of the ocean so I’m not gonna lie, I was a fan of the turtle trend.
At the Cayman Turtle Farm they had to have had hundreds of sea turtles that came in every shell pattern and size. It’s the only sea turtle farm in the world! Right when you walk in there is a dock you can walk up to and overlook the breeding pool that holds all the oldest & biggest turtles there. Before this, I hadn’t seen a sea turtle that close and didn’t realize how BIG they could get. At first, I noticed a few heads pop up out of the water and noticed there were a few swimming around. Okay, cool. But the more you looked, the more turtles you saw! So many sea turtles drifting amongst each other…just looking for love in the breeding pool.
The smaller & younger sea turtles were separated my size into several “touch pools” to the side. You can step down into these pools and see the turtles at a more personal level, while they wonder who you are coming in their house. At first I was hesitant to pick one up because 1) for being so small they swim pretty fast 2) I wasn’t sure if they would slip out of my hand. Finally, I reached down and grabbed one to hold… and let me tell you they like to flap their flippers! One little guy I picked up was putting on quite the show with his choreography. After I got my baby sea turtle fix, IT WAS TIME! Time to snorkel with the sea turtles and tropical fish of the Cayman Islands!
I grabbed my snorkel gear and headed straight for the Turtle Lagoon, seconds away from swimming eye-to-eye with a sea turtle. As soon as I got in the water, all I could think about was what I would do if a turtle tried to snap at me? Like, they have pretty strong beaks. Next thing I know one swam up right next to me, and all I could notice was how gracious and beautifully it swam. I saw a couple more and from a distance they just look like they’re floating along… but I tried to keep up with one and they coast pretty fast. Most of the turtles in this area of the farm are rescues from the ocean with hopes of one day being released back. The workers at the farm are trying to help expand the sea turtle population since they are endangered from poaching days. Being rescued, some of the turtles had scars which I thought gave them character. Some were shy, some were friendly…. I guess that just depended on their story and what’d they’d been through in the big blue.
While snorkeling in the lagoon I also saw many different tropical fish and it was an exhilarating experience to swim through a school of them. I finally got out when my fingers were raisins and wondered over to the water slide pool, which featured a palm tree island in the middle and multiple waterfalls. It was the most exotic designed pool I had ever been to and reflected the environment for a sea turtle…appropriate. The Cayman Turtle Farm was an extraordinary experience and gave me a different perspective of how gentle sea turtles are and how we need to continue restore their population! This is the only place you get this opportunity so I highly recommended coming here when visiting Grand Cayman!!!
Some advice I took with me from the sea turtles- swim with the current, be a good navigator, stay calm under pressure, be well traveled, think long term, age gracefully, and always return to the beach. Words to live by my friends, ’til the next time Cayman Islands!!!!