The relationship between Cayman and turtles goes back a long way. In fact, the islands were originally called Las Tortugas by Christopher Columbus and his crew when they passed through on 10 May, 1503.
The turtle has always been part of Cayman’s history, with a significant portion of the local population heading out to sea, in days gone by, to capture turtles for food and other uses, and though the islands were soon renamed, the turtle remains a huge element of Cayman’s identity (just check out Cayman Airways’ logo for evidence of that!)
The Cayman Turtle Farm: Island Wildlife Encounter is located in West Bay and is a must-visit for its plethora of attractions.
Kids and adults can get up close and personal with the critters in touch tanks and the big boys have a breeding pond to splash about in (that’s the turtles, not the humans). Fear not, though – if you want to get in amongst the turtles you can swim and snorkel in a saltwater lagoon full of young turtles and other marine life. There is also a predator tank with windows so you can catch a glimpse of the sharks as they swim by.
More recently, there’s been new addition to the park – a 9-foot crocodile called, appropriately, Smiley. Historically, too, ‘caiman’ is the Taino word for crocodile, which again gave the islands their current name. Smiley draws great crowds when she is fed every day at noon. It is quite an extraordinary thing to witness as she utilizes her mega-powerful jaws to grab the meat provided by her brave handlers. This saltwater crocodile, found in the waters off Grand Cayman, is a mix of American and Cuban crocodile species which environmentalists do not consider suitable to release in the wild. She is a living, breathing example of a vital part of Cayman’s past.
The Caribbean free-flight aviary is home to beautiful birds, including a pair of breeding native Cayman Green Parrots. Cayman Street, meanwhile, features a replica of old-style Caymanian houses. On special occasions, the park hosts local artisans demonstrating traditional skills such as thatch-weaving and much more. It’s a great way to experience living history.
If what you’re looking for is some splashing fun, there’s also Breakers Lagoon. The lagoon is the Cayman Islands’ largest freshwater pool, complete with waterfalls and the popular Turtle Twister water slide with a few loops and turns to keep you entertained on your way down to the water.
The 23-acre facility also features a bar and grill, and a gift shop where you can purchase cute versions of those amazing turtles and many more goodies to remind you of the time you came face to face with giant turtles, a crocodile and some sharks… and lived to tell the tale.
The Cayman Turtle Farm is offering a Stay-Over Visitors Summer Family Pass and a Residents Summer Family Pass. These are US$99 and CI$50 respectively, and cover entrance for two adults and up to three children. It’s a great deal you don’t want to pass up!