Two young women holding hands, skipping in the sand, a rainbow kite trailing behind them catching in the wind. They stop, turn and kiss each other. Two photographers click their shutters, capturing every moment.
“They’ve just become engaged,” explains one of the photographers in an American accent.
“Congratulations,” I say as the women pass.
“Thanks,” the women say in unison, without looking at me, only looking at each other, arms so entwined it’s hard to tell whose limbs are whose.
I watch as the group moves down the beach, the photographers taking picture after picture, turquoise waves rolling in the background. It’s a perfect day. Azure sky, palm fronds rustling, calm sea. I just pray there is no one around who will say anything, do anything to wreck their loving scene.
Grand Cayman is perhaps best known as a Caribbean tax haven where the world’s rich and infamous stash their zillions. But not all visitors come for banking. For a long time, I’ve been going for the beaching. For good reason. My grandmother used to manage a hotel on the island, but even though she’s long since retired, I keep going back because Cayman has the Caribbean’s best coastline, with miles of bright white sand next to turquoise water. Under the sea is even better: wildlife — turtles, eels, barracudas and rays — can be seen a short swim offshore, flitting between sea fans, shipwrecks and tons and tons of coral. The best part: I don’t use a pile of Scuba gear to take it all in — just a simple snorkel mask and flippers that I bought in Toronto. Here, my six favourite places to snorkel offshore in Grand Cayman.
In a sense, I grew up listening to Bob Marley’s music. My mother was born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica, and although I wouldn’t say she was necessarily a big fan — we probably listened to The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber more than Legend — I definitely wore a One Love t-shirt in grade school and could probably sing along to No Woman, No Cry, even if I didn’t understand the lyrics. My grandmother was the main source of exposure, though. She managed a hotel in the Cayman Islands where my brother and I would spend part of every summer. To satisfy rum-drunk Brits and Americans, the hotel played Stir It Up, Is This Love and Jamming on a seemingly endless loop. It’s because of this over-exposure that I developed a cynicism about Bob Marley in my teens. I didn’t really pick up on the poetry of his lyrics — the songs just felt like touristy kitsch to me.