Easter on Grand Cayman: Camping and More

(“Here Comes Peter Cottontail Hopping Down the Camping Trail . . .”)

by Anne Evans

Introduction  

The Cayman Islands are a predominantly Christian Community. Christmas is a big deal here – and so is Easter! Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays in the Islands which means nearly all businesses except restaurants are closed. Plan ahead for Easter grocery shopping as the major stores will be closed Friday, Sunday and only open for abbreviated hours on Monday.

Religious Observation

Although festivities abound during Easter on The Islands, it is a deeply religious occasion as well. You will find full churches on Grand Cayman year-round, and they will be crowded throughout “The Season” (November 1st to May 1st). However, from the beginning of Lent through Easter, places of worship are absolutely packed.

Personal Observation: Over the years of my church attendance in the US, I noted church attire becoming increasingly casual and decreasingly modest. But on this Island, Church is a place to dress up and people enjoy dressing up. It is delightfully common to see services filled with respectful, stylishness, and vibrant color.

American Easter Customs Observed on Grand Cayman

Any American – child or adult – who celebrates Easter will feel right at home on Grand Cayman at Easter with so many shared spring festivities.

Candy & Chocolate

The stores are filled with candy – with most of it familiar to any American with a sweet tooth.

Visits from the East Bunny

E. Bunny can be found everywhere, from posing as Blossom the Bunny (below) for selfies at the Camana Bay Cresent, to hosting afternoon teas at The Ritz-Carlton, to supervising egg hunts at the George Town Bayshore Mall, to jumping out of a cake – and he has even been known to join the Blue Iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Easter Egg Hunts

Easter Egg Hunts abound on Grand Cayman! They are held at the hotels and resorts, the churches, the parks, residential communities, and shopping areas. They are simply too numerous to list. However, what child or adult wouldn’t mind finding the 31” high, 50-pound chocolate “Ultimate Easter Egg” that the Easter Bunny left at the Grand Cayman Marriott Resort this Easter!

Brunch

Easter Brunch is “The” meal to be seen at and enjoyed. Females are “dressed in their Sunday Finest” – and even the guys put on an effort. Food is abundant and extravagant. The Bubbles flow (albeit, more likely it is bottomless Prosecco, rather than Champagne). 

Unfortunately, for Rick and me, Easter brunch is a bit of a letdown here. Is it because we’re over 60? We just cannot get excited about much more than black coffee and a smoothie for breakfast; maybe occasionally some eggs.

Dinner is a different matter, though. We are far more adventurous and as part of Easters Past in the US, we have generally dressed up and gone out to enjoy an Easter Dinner. There aren’t really any notably “special” Easter Dinner options on Grand Cayman. However, no tears were shed. We headed to one of our favorite little waterfront restaurants, Vivo in West Bay, and enjoyed a quiet dinner of Cayman Mahi-Mahi Tacos on their patio while watching the Easter sunset.

Easter Customs Unique to Grand Cayman

There are a number of Cayman Easter Traditions which visitors from the US would find unique – if not downright strange.

Camping

Every year hundreds of Caymanians descend on its beaches to set up camp for Holy Week. From East End to West Bay, from Barker’s Beaches to South Sound, the tents appear.  

Note: all of the beaches of The Cayman Islands are public, as marked by “the high-water mark”. This year, the first tent I saw was pitched at Governor’s Beach on the Monday in advance of Palm Sunday. By Easter Sunday, it had roughly a dozen or more neighbors.

I’ve tried to learn how, when, and why this tradition started. One reference I found suggested by a personal account that it was back in the 1970s as part of a summer boys’ camp outing at Rum Point, when the latter was truly an isolated part of the Island. However, back then the whole Island could be considered isolated from most of the “modernized” world.

I figured that securing a campsite came by a combination of “1st come, 1st serve” and “brute force”. As it turns out though, it is more akin to organized chaos as it is “governed” by Section 13 of The Cayman Islands Public Lands Regulation Act 2021. Key points include:

  • Only people who have resided in Cayman for 6 or more months prior to Easter may set up camp. Others must apply for a permit from the Public Lands Commission.
  • Campers have a period of 10 days to camp, either before Good Friday or after Easter Monday. Hmmm, so that first tent I saw this year appeared 12 days before Good Friday and was still standing on Easter Sunday . . .
  • There are fines of up to KY$500 for a first offense and up to KY$2000 for repeated offences. Considering the cost of the resorts neighboring Governor’s Beach, maybe it was worth the accumulation of fines for the early tent occupant.

These days, one has to ask what constitutes camping? I saw televisions, cell phones, iPads, gas grills, makeshift showers, coolers – and shopping carts from Cost-U-Less everywhere. Cannot comment if there was takeout from the nearby Westin Grand Cayman.

References:

caymancompass.com/2014/04/17/the-cayman-easter-camping-tradition/

caymancompass.com/2024/03/28/camping-a-cayman-tradition-faces-challenges-new-and-old/

https://legislation.gov.ky/cms/images/LEGISLATION/SUBORDINATE/2021/2021-0016/PublicLandsRegulations_SL%2016%20of%202021.pdf

Kaibo Kite Fest

Unlike in the US, Easter continues through and including Easter Monday, and what better way to celebrate than to go fly a kite!  Kaibo is part of the North East tip of Grand Cayman, the Rum Point area – which is worthy of a day trip any time of year. If one lives where I do, on the west side of the North Sound, it’s best to make it a double adventure by taking the Cayman Ferry to the Kite Fest.

Cayman Sailing Regatta

The Cayman Island’s Sailing Club holds its annual Easter Regatta Around the Island race on Good Friday. On Easter Saturday, some of the boats participate in the Back to the Sound Race, departing from the previous day’s finish line to race 12 miles to the North Sound to complete the circle around the Island. This is another long time Caymanian tradition with this year’s being the 58th Easter Regatta.

Easter Bun

How else would a baker end a blog about Caymanian Easter than with mention of the Cayman Easter Bun. This is not your “Hot Cross Bun,” but instead a dense, bready fruitcake that is served with cheese. Commercial brands of this bun flourish in the grocery and convenience stores in displays accompanied by cans of “Tasty Cheese.” No, I did not endeavor to bake my own Easter Bun this year . . . maybe next.

The Beginning of the End

Post Easter, the onset of the transition to off-season begins. Seven Mile Beach gradually returns to the realm of the locals, traffic begins to thin, dining out doesn’t require a reservation, grocery store chaos dissipates and by end of May, peacefulness prevails. Indeed, Mother Nature will provide reminders with intermittent rain showers that she can release her furry on us with a Hurricane, so it is wise to always treat her with respect and kindness. Another reason why our motto is “Cayman Kind.”

If ai cannot solve a problem by baking a cookie, I cannot deal with it

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