Art is very important on the Cayman Islands and local talent is abundant. As you peruse the island's galleries, you might want to remember the names of painters who define the Cayman Islands as their home and, often, as the source of their inspiration.
Canadian-born, silver-haired, and elegant, Joanne Sibley lived for 25 years in Jamaica, and has dwelled for the same length of time on Grand Cayman. She's noted for her luminous portrayals of light on West Indian landscapes, creating canvases that seem to glow. Although her works are for sale at some galleries, she welcomes interested visitors into her studio for private showings if they phone in advance. Contact her at tel. 345/947-7273 before heading out to see her at 1342 Bodden Town Rd., 3.2km (2 miles) east of Bodden Town, 21km (13 miles) east of George Town.
Charles Long (tel. 345/917-5741; www.charleslong.ky) is another well-known Caymanian painter, celebrated for his use of solid, bright colors in paintings that often depict Cayman flora and fauna. He is happy to give tours of his studio to art lovers who call in advance. His home is at 114 West Lane, off Pedro Castle Road, in the hamlet of Savannah, about a 15-minute drive southeast of George Town.
Al Ebanks Studio (tel. 345/945-8278) gives you a chance to visit the atelier and studio of this talented artist, Luelan Bodden. His studio is a flamboyant display of paintings, sculpture, and mosaics in a riot of color and form. He's a master of painting everything from an island iguana, to carnival time when locals don their most colorful apparel. He can brilliantly depict the plants and flowers that make the Caymans so vivid. Call for an appointment to visit his studio at 186B Shedden Rd., George Town.
Caymanian Artist Miss Lassie -- No retrospective of Caymanian art would be complete without the artfully naive paintings of Gladwyn Bush, known to most of Grand Cayman by her affectionate nickname, Miss Lassie. Born on Grand Cayman in 1914, she left the Cayman Islands only once in her life: to attend an exhibition of her works in Curaçao. Displayed in galleries as far away as Baltimore and Paris, her paintings depict, among other subjects, God talking with Elijah and Nicodemus chatting with Jesus. She once described her paintings as visions that came to her "in the state between sleeping and awakening." She died in 2003, at age 89, and since then her works have become increasingly difficult to find in the public domain. Count yourself lucky if you see her work on display in a local gallery, but don't count on buying one. Miss Lassie's paintings would sell for upward of CI$8,000 -- when she was alive.
Lighting Up a Stogie for the Castro Brothers
Although you can buy Cuban cigars in the Cayman Islands, it is still illegal to bring them (or any Cuban products) back to the United States. If you want to enjoy one of these prized stogies, you'll have to smoke it on the islands.
The Diamonds of the Sea
It is said that even the simplest meal tastes better with just a pinch of Cayman Sea Salt. With this in mind, mother-and-daughter team Monique and Vanessa Polack came up with an idea for a cottage industry. They started harvesting sea salt and using it as a cooking spice. Eventually they began to use these chunky crystals, which they call "diamonds of the sea," to make skin-softening, scented bath salts. Prices range from US$5 to US$30. For information, call tel. 345/943-7258; www.caymanseasalt.com. These salt products are available at the Cayman Sea Salt Booth at the Craft Market on the waterfront in George Town, at the Ritz-Carlton and Westin hotels, and at various other outlets around the island.
Many visitors, especially cruise ship passengers, don't go to the independent stores, but do one-stop shopping at Grand Cayman's heavily patronized malls. Lying south of the cruise ship docks on Harbour Drive, Harbour Place is the newest of them. Stores here range from the chic, such as Natalie Bishop Designer Clothes, to the sophisticated, including the Winery.
In George Town, at Carnival Avenue, stands the long-enduring Kirk Freeport Plaza, which carries all types of luxury items ranging from Gucci leather to duty-free china. Lots of designer labels are found here, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, TAG Heuer, Omega, Roberto Coin, and Mikimoto. Near the Grand Cayman Beach Suites on West Bay Road is Galleria Plaza, opening onto Seven Mile Beach. Outlets here sell books, liquor, mobile phones, lingerie, sports equipment, and even cosmetics. Also opening onto Seven Mile Beach, West Shore Shopping Centre is known for its artwork and casual sports clothing. The Centre also has a pharmacy, candle shop, and diving equipment store. Finally, consider Queen's Court Shopping Centre, another mall opening onto Seven Mile Beach. It boasts an eclectic collection of shops that sell everything from T-shirts with your favorite dogs printed on them to beauty products. Handicrafts and gifts are also sold at outlets here.
For the philatelist in the family, Grand Cayman's main post office in George Town, at Edward Street and Cardinal Avenue (tel. 345/949-2474), sells the Cayman Islands' beautiful stamps at the on-site philatelic bureau, open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 1pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.