Here, I’ll do a quick take on the Western ports of Grand Cayman and Cozumel:
|Slice of the Grand Cayman waterfront|
Fish and other fun in Grand Cayman. Most ships dock in the center of George Town. The harbor
horseshoes around the blue waters, and provides plenty of shops—both high and low end—and a Margaritaville, as well as a bit of history in the form of (very few) remains of Fort George, originally built to protect the island from Cuban invaders.
|Take your pick among these fruits of the sea|
And if watching all this gives you a craving for fresh seafood, you only need to venture a bit further down Harbor Drive to find a restaurant sign beckoning with “You hook it, we cook it.”
Mexican mementos in Cozumel. The docking for most ships is Puerta Maya pier, two miles and about an $8 taxi ride into town. We did the walk a few times, but it’s not for the faint-hearted, especially under the scorching Caribbean sun. Perhaps the only benefit of doing so (along with walking off those newly accumulated calories) is the chance to spy an iguana scurrying in and out of the brush or check out the large modern supermarket (with public bathrooms upstairs) along the way.
Fortunately, a plethora of shops have sprung up at the cruise terminal and during a recent trip, we found ourselves so immersed in the shopping, we never left it.
|Tchotchke shopping at the pier in Cozumel|
If you want to spend a bit more, the jewelry store owners would be only too happy to show you their silver and stone. The shopkeepers can be quite aggressive, but it does work to your advantage. The price of a silver-and-lapis piece I was eying had dropped in half by the time I exited the store door. Needless to say, bargaining is strongly recommended.
Try to make it to the far end of the shopping village, where you’ll find Los Cinco Soles, the best of the shops. It’s an outpost of the bigger store in town, but has same higher quality of ceramics, jewelry, onyx, folk art, clothing and more.
|Fill your fruit bowl at Los Cinco Soles|
One unique offering at Los Cinco Soles is a huge variety of watermelons, mangos, red peppers and other brightly colored papier-mâché fruits and veggies. Filling a lovely wooden bowl from the Western Caribbean port of Roatan (watch for a future posting) with these makes a great centerpiece (and conversation starter) for your table back home.
And if shopping’s not your thing, the pier’s got several places to eat and drink. Or, get your photo taken with a modern Mayan, submerge yourself for an underwater oxygen infusion or turn yourself into mush with a massage by the sea.