Camping in Cayman at Easter

One of my most lasting memories of time spent in Cayman is witnessing their revered Easter camping tradition. From Holy Thursday to Easter Monday, the beaches are transformed into active campsites where families spend their days and nights fishing and chilling, and eating and grilling.  Friends often drop by to share a meal, play cards or join a spirited game of dominoes. After a few hours, the passersby move to another spot for more of the same.  Everybody – native and tourist alike – is welcome. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. It is such a refreshingly authentic destination experience!

Camps on beach in the district of East End
Camps on the beach in the district of East End

If I had to sum up the event in one sentence, I’d say the four-day holiday is defined by good food, good friends and good fellowship. Kids frolic in the water while adults catch up on news from the marl road (i.e. gossip mill). Even grandpas and grandmas get in on this fun in the sun.

Group playing dominoes while others chill at Smith Cove beach ( close to GeorgeTown)
Group playing dominoes while others chill at Smith Cove beach ( close to George Town)
Kids having fun at Smith Cove
Kids having fun at Smith Cove

What’s also interesting is that these camps become more sophisticated each year.  In some instances, we are talking generators, solar water heaters and gas operated barbeque grills. Plus blow-up air mattresses, hammocks and fancy flat-screens.

Solar heater panels
Solar heater panels
Lights? Check.
Lights? Check.
Fresh Water? Check.
Fresh water? Check.
Cooking facilities? Check.
Cooking facilities? Check.
Barbeque grill
The ever-so-important barbeque grill. Yes, check.

Lunch is served! [L-R: Bean Stew, White Rice, Curried Chicken, Potato Salad]
A quick look at the check-out lines at local hardware stores like A.L. Thompson and Cox Lumber demonstrate the purchasing power of the avid Easter camper.

Below are a few more scenes from this cultural phenomenon.  Check it out in person one year if you can!

Base camp gathering.
Base camp gathering.
Multi-generational chillaxing
Multi-generational chillaxing

Editor’s Notes:

The most popular camping spots in Grand Cayman are at Cayman Kai, East End, Smith Cove and Public Beach. If you want to partake in the fun click here.for more information on the process and guidelines.

Other cultural and heritage-based activities must-sees outside of Easter include:

  • a visit to Pedro St James, a Great House that showcases the splendor of its 18th century heritage;
  • a tour of Cayman National Museum;
  • a walk through of Miss Lassie House, one of the most unique and traditional Caymanian homes;
  • or, a  visit during the second week of November to participate in the country’s annual Pirates Week festival that features heritage days in each of its main districts in addition to street parties and the reenactment of a pirate ship landing.


The traveler’s Instagram guide to understanding Jamaican slang

Other than the gaudy floral shirt, straw hat, ankle socks and sandals combination that so many people visiting the Caribbean seem to love, nothing screams TOURIST to us Jamaicans quite like the museum-worthy phrase – irie mon.

Are you guilty of either transgression? Here’s a friendly tip: It is way past the time to drop those two little words from your lingo. And please, go donate the Hawaii Five-O wardrobe castoffs to your closest charity right now!

So as not to leave you hanging, I’ve compiled a few phrases to help you ‘kick it’ with us locals, and impress the people you meet on your next trip. In each instance, I’ve also added Instagram posts from popular Jamaicans to help you get a better understanding of local context.

1. What a gwaan? OR How yuh stay?

Pronunciation: For what a gwaan – as it reads. For the second, use  a short ‘u’ sound.

Meaning: How are you? What’s happening?

Context: Use in conversation as a general greeting with someone who would be your peer.

Usain Bolt: World's Fastest Man
Usain Bolt, World’s fastest man

2. Parri OR bredrin

Pronunciation: Paa-ri and Bread-drin

Meaning: A buddy; friend. Parri Is gender neutral while bredrin is specifically used to refer to men. The female equivalent is sistren.

Context: You can show your street savvy by referring to your friends (old or new) and travel companions this way. Please note that if you’re speaking to Jamaicans under 30, it’s best to use parri. If you are engaging with persons older than that, bredrin or sistren is more common.

Kaci Fennel: Miss Jamaica Universe 2015
Kaci Fennel: Miss Jamaica Universe 2015.

3. Shampoo and condition OR looking sharp

Pronunciation: As it reads

Meaning: Well-dressed, nicely styled, looking good

Context: Out at a local bar or beach and feel like flirting? You can use it to compliment the object of your desires. (It’s likely that you will win a grin but don’t be surprised if the response to that might be, “yuh have lyrics, ennuh”, which loosely translated means “you are full of compliments but I am not sure they are genuine”.

Dutty Berry: Popular YouTube Vlogger
Dutty Berry: Popular YouTube Vlogger

4. It sweet

Pronunciation: As it sounds

Meaning: This is really good

Context: This phrase can be used in many settings – to refer to the feel good vibe you get  from a delicious meal, a good party, an outdoor concert, your favorite sports match etc.  For additional emphasis. add “yuh fret”.

Lisa Hanna: Miss World 1993 and current Government Minister of Youth & Culture

5. Mek wi reason

Pronunciation: As it sounds

Meaning: Let’s talk; as in have a heart-to-heart discussion

Context: A sit-down chat with friends or a group of people. Typically, this conversation will take a little time; it is not a quick exchange. It also can be used in reference to a discussion with someone senior and more experienced. Use it as a conversation starter with your hotel staff. It should bring a smile to the face of your tour guide on a day-long excursion, or the watersports team whose job is to entertain you on a long boat trip.

Tessanne Chin: Winner of NBC's Season 5 of The Voice
Tessanne Chin: Winner of Season 5 of NBC’s – The Voice

6. Big up

Pronunciation: As it sounds

Meaning: An indication of praise

Context: This phrase can be used to show thanks to all the hotel staff that made your stay wonderful.  Did the concierge give you great restaurant suggestions for dinner? Tell him, “big up my yute the food did sweet“. [My yute is equivalent to my compadre, my colleague etc.]  Did your housekeeper have your room cleaned on time?  Earn extra towels in your room the next day with a simple “Big up mi sistren”.  You can add “nuff respect” for emphasis.

Finally, Big up yuself (yourself) for completing your first Jamaican slang tutorial! Nuh seh nutten mi sistren or bredrin. (i.e. All is well)

Christopher Martin - singer
Christopher Martin – singer

Note: Jamaican slang changes frequently, as it is heavily influenced by our dancehall culture. So my Jamaican peeps, I know that this compilation is only the tip of the iceberg. Tell me, what are some of the good ones that I missed?