On a small island, "new" attractions are something of a rariety. Major openings in the last 5 years include a new hotel opening and a decent scattering of new restaurants, but what about things to do? Just over a year ago the Crystal Caves opened to the public and although I've mentioned them in other posts I thought they were worthy of their own review. They receive incredible ratings onTtripadvisor but do they really live up the hype? Here's my honest opinion
1. It's a long drive to get there - but a beautiful one
If you're staying on (or live on!) the Seven Mile strip, you may not have much motivation to drive 45 minutes to the other side of the island for an excursion - but it's probably just the kick up the bum you need to get away from the "hustle and bustle" and see another, quieter and more "rustic" side to the island. The views from the road as you pass Bodden Town are spectacular and well worth the journey in themselves - and you HAVE to stop for a smooch at lovers wall!
2. Off roading is fun
After checking in and paying for your tour at the little ticket office, you'll be asked to wait in a car park and then given the choice of continuing on in your own vehicle or boarding a mini bus. Taking your own vehicle means you'll drive a dirt track inland which makes you feel a tiny bit like a rally driver (going 25 miles an hour in an SUV - but let's be honest is as close as you're going to get on a small island!)
3. The experience is incredibly well put together
The tours are very well designed and brilliantly run - tours depart on time and the gift shop is well stocked with water, souvenirs and bug spray (free to use and ESSENTIAL). The paths are well maintained and safe - everything is refreshingly professional without being uptight.
4. The caves are super cool - but you only see three of them
The underground caves really are spectacular. Formed millions of years ago the stalagmite and stalagtite crystal structures drip from the ceilings and sparkle as you walk through - plus, legend has it that pirates once used the caves as hideouts which is pretty awesome! However, they're still be excavated and in time a lot more of the network will open up expanding the tour so if you're not in a rush you might want to hold off.
5. Lake cave isn't actually that blue.
Sorry - major spoiler - but if you're as excited about I was about seeing the cave that's used in all the marketing with the electric blue water, It's actually brown and illuminated by different coloured underwater lights operated with the flick of a switch. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by this as it made the whole thing feel a bit man made.
6. You have to love a tour
Visiting the caves is only possible if you join one of the scheduled walking tours. I'm not one for organised tours and usually prefer to explore at my own pace but the guides are incredibly well informed and very engaging. At 90 minutes long I definitely couldn't have taken much more, but I was glad of the info on the way around and I'm sure there's a safety element to it too, so in this instance being on a tour is a good thing.
Overall, I'd say the Crystal Caves are well worth a visit if you are in Cayman for a while or are looking for something new to do, but certainly don't trade a day at Stingray city for them.
For other activities in Cayman check out my post here.
Have you been to the Crystal Caves? What are your favourite activities in Cayman?