Sportfishing in the Cayman Islands

It was a gloomy morning in Grand Cayman, and the tarmac was still wet from the rain that heavily poured the previous night. We grabbed a quick breakfast at a coffee shop in Camana Bay, awaiting impatiently 8 o’clock to arrive. At the dock, Captain Jon, owner of Slackem Charters, and his First Mate Peri welcomed us aboard the ‘Keeping It Reel’ and showed us our ride and roof for the next 4 hours. The 62′ Ocean Sport Fisherman vessel was equipped with a spacious air-conditioned cabin, including a galley (kitchen), 3 state rooms (bedrooms) and 3 heads (bathrooms). It was large enough to accommodate our group of 10, and the crew of 2.

Since the weather seemed to clear out, I decided to climb upstairs and sit by the Captain. We slowly cruised towards the deep ocean. The usual calm and turquoise water was then choppy with shades of dark blues and greys, yet I could see some clear blue patches as we passed shallow areas. It wasn’t raining, but the clouds darkened the sky ahead making the picture beautiful and serene.

The 7 lines trolled behind the boat at different depths, and everyone was eager to catch a monster.

At times the waves picked up, and if I only knew the trick of starring at an immobile point in the boat instead of watching the moving sea, perhaps I wouldn’t have lost my breakfast croissant in the toilet. While I tried to stabilize my motion sickness, laid on the couch in the cabin and starring at the ceiling, I heard the Captain scream: “Fish, fish!” I jumped off my safe zone and hurried to the deck. Kayla, whose sea sickness was beat by excitement to catch a prey, grabbed hold of the rod. After sweat and strong efforts, she victoriously brought back the first mahi mahi onboard.

Back to my couch and to my ceiling… until I hear the captain once more: “Fish, fish!” It was a big one. I was dizzy, could barely balance myself on the deck, but what the heck -I haven’t come here just to stare at a ceiling! I was in, rod in hand, and ready to fight the beast. This is the moment when you hate yourself for gaining those extra few pounds from wine and cheese and slacking on workout and exercise. Captain Jon strapped me to the chair. I wanted to strangle everyone for their endless encouragement words that didn’t help at all: “You’re almost there!” “Ya right”, I yelled between two breathes. “I can see the line 100ft away!” My whole body was shaking, already aching for days. I want to die. I want to quit. No, I won’t quit. I’m gonna get this fish into this boat and thank it for the good fight. Then I’ll eat it. After sweating the last drop of water I had in my already dehydrated body, I saw the end of the tunnel, or rather the tail of the catch. It took 20 min, and a load of sweats and swears, but I reeled it onboard, and all by myself!

I didn’t feel sick anymore. I was too excited! IMG_5795 Everyone got turns to reel the rods.

Captain Jon thought at one point we had a marlin. I’ve never seen someone so excited! I’m still not sure what he yelled at Peri, maybe some fisherman slangs in a Caymanian patois. IMG_5839 On our way back, the sky growled and the thick black clouds released themselves. We sheltered ourselves comfortably inside the cabin and shared our experience.

When we returned to the dock, Captain Jon offered to filet our fishes. I couldn’t resist and went ahead and ate a big piece. I was followed by everyone else.

We thanked our crew and left with our ziploc bags. It was an amazing deepsea fishing experience with Slackem Charters. Captain Jon and his First Mate Peri were very helpful and knowledgeable. Not only their patience and work ethic made us feel very safe and comfortable, but their passion for the fish and the sea, and their willingness to go the extra mile made this day at sea a memorable experience. That day, we caught 10 mahi mahi. IMG_5849 And not that I want to brag, but I got the biggest one 😉

Vacationing and Island Hopping Part II: US Virgin Islands

Our 20 seat aircraft put wheels down on the deserted landing of St-Thomas’ only airport. Our friend greets us as we step down the stairs of the small plane. Sebastian is a friend we met in Grand Cayman. He moved to St-Thomas after he was offered a very attractive position within the Marriott hotels. As a matter of fact, this will be our home for the next few days (remember I am vacationing and not travelling this time, so I can indulge myself with this extravagance).

St-Thomas is a small island of the Caribbean, neighbouring to the east of Puerto Rico. Along with the islands of St-John and St-Croix, it is known as the US Virgin Islands, an other unincorporated territory of the States. Even with its bitty size, St-Thomas has a ton of activities to do for everyone. From sailing, scuba diving, sightseeing, shopping or dining.  Families, honeymooners or vacationers like us girls will find something to suit our holiday wants and needs.

Before anything else, we need to cheers to our reunion with a refreshment. We stop at Hooters to try one of their famous cocktails. I choose the Tropical Rum Punch (of course I did), and am astonished by the quantity and quality of the 5 different local rums (yes, I did said 5) that this generously voluminous Hooters girl pours in my giant ”to go” cup (it is common to walk from bar to bar with a beverage purchased somewhere else. How convenient). The drink is tasty and is perfect to celebrate. We import our sippy cup to a local bar next door where we meet up with some of Sebastian’s friends. Again, to honor the moment, we cheers with a colossal shot of jager (it seems the smaller the island gets, the more the portions expand..)!

We wake up to a beautiful morning in the US Virgin Islands. Staying at the Marriott is indeed a real treat. Comfy beds, mouthwatering breakfast buffets, infinity pool with stunning views and of course, the pool bar. Amber and I decide to play the lazy tourists for a day and soak in the pool under the Caribbean sun rays, sipping on delicious tropical cocktails here and there, snacking on finger foods now and then and just splurging in every second of our amazing vacation.

When the night comes, we put our evening dresses and wander around the resort. The air is warm but fresh and we admire the lights beautifully reflecting on the outdoor pools as a cruise ship pass by. The Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort is a destination itself. With its 4 pools, a luxurious sea spa, great dining options and stunning views of the ocean and the island harbour, it is easy to forget about the outside world. After all, we are on vacations. We hang out at the Rum Bar, an area overlooking the harbour. It is a gorgeous evening.

But the bars in St-Thomas close late and the evening is young. Why not step outside of the resort and explore the local hangouts. We drive east, to the opposite side of the island and stop in the area of Red Hook. A few open air bars host a blend of tourist, expats and locals.

Today, we decide to go visit St-John. Aboard Sebastian’s roofless Jeep Wrangler we cruise up and down the hills of St-Thomas and catch the ferry towards the sister island.

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The Global Marine Tug’s life offers us a picturesque 25 minute cruise towards our destination. At arrival, we roam through the roads of St-John. The drive is spectacular: the waters are electric blue, the trees are vivid green, the sand is perfect gold. Just another piece of paradise on Earth!

Obviously, a day in St-John wouldn’t be complete without stopping at one the open air bar and enjoying their Happy Hour. From a variety of beers and cocktails to choose from, it is easy to get stuck there a whole afternoon sipping on 1$ bevies. Our stop to warm up the seats was at Woody’s where we enjoyed yummy… well you know, Rum Punches.

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The time has come to say farewell to our friend. We thank him for his generous hospitality and for the opportunity he gave us to touch sumptuousness. We definitely had a luxurious stay and could have not asked for more. We crack a bottle of red at a local pub to close our visit. Oh and of course, a shot of rum!

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This Caribbean island hopping was brief but surely filled with surprises and laughs and undeniable smiles. From the people we met and became friends, to the roads that lead us to the unexpected, to the vivid colours of the natural landscapes and to the true cheers to life we made, this vacation, with all its luxury, has been one of the finest!

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