Grand Cayman is a wonderful vacation destination, both as a port to visit on a cruise and as a place to spend a week. Most people think of Stingray City or Seven Mile Beach when they think of Grand Cayman but there is so much more to see and do!
The Grand Cayman Turtle Centre is the island’s largest land based attraction. The emphasis of the park is on research and conservation, not only for the many species of turtles, but also birds, iguanas, and more. The centre was founded as a turtle farm to provide meat to local restaurants and citizens to decrease the need for hunting turtles in the wild.
On our recent visit, we booked an excursion through our cruise line. The visit included all activities at the Centre as well as transportation.
Our first stop was the breeding pond, which is home to almost 400 green turtles. The breeding pond has led to in over 31,000 turtles being released into the wild. There are a few turtles that weigh in at over 500 pounds!
Our next stop was the turtle tanks where we observed younger green turtles as well as Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. The guide talked to us about their life cycles, why green turtles are called “green” even though they have brown shells, how important turtles are to the Cayman culture and more.
Next to the turtle tanks is Smiley. Smiley may look like your typical crocodile, but in 2006, she was the first crocodile to be seen on Grand Cayman since 1950. DNA testing was done to determine where she came from and they discovered she is actually a hybrid of two species of crocodile. Since she is a hybrid, she has a permanent home now at the Turtle Centre.
The next stop was the touch tanks. The touch tanks are home to yearling green sea turtles. Here you can watch them swim and play and you can also touch and even hold them (if you can catch them, which does take some patience).
After the touch tank, we were free to explore the rest of the park. We chose to head straight to Boatswain’s Lagoon. Boatswain’s Lagoon is a snorkeling lagoon where you can swim alongside hundreds of turtles, as well as the other local flora and fauna. The turtles in the lagoon are juveniles who are learning to find their own food so they can be released to the wild.
We had so much fun swimming with the turtles that we didn’t get to explore the rest of the park. There is a swimming pool, the largest on the island, with a water slide and a viewing window into Predator Reef. Predator Reef is home to sharks, barracuda, tarpon, and a loggerhead turtle. The park also has an aviary, an iguana exhibit, and a nature trail with a butterfly exhibit. If you get hungry, you can head to Schooner’s Bar & Grill to sample local favorites like conch fritters.
We ended our visit with a stop in the education center which is occasionally home to the center’s eggs and you can watch them hatch (we were there during off season so there were no eggs) and of course, the gift shop. The gift shop has many items made by local artisans, from soaps to hot sauce to pieces of artwork.
We had a wonderful day at the Cayman Turtle Centre. It was a very fun and informative excursion. The facility was clean and well kept. The changing areas by the lagoon had showers which were nice after snorkeling and being on the sandy beach. The snorkeling is very popular, so you may have to wait for equipment.
Do you want to swim with turtles? Let’s plan your Cayman Island getaway today! Email me at Amy@TravelWithTheMagic.com or you can find me on Facebook. You can also call me at 1-800-670-4312, ext 129. I can’t wait to plan your MAGICAL vacation!