This year saw the opening of Cayman’s newest tourist attraction – the long awaited Boatswain’s Beach, the new home of the Turtle Farm.
In September 2005 Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford had officially opened the first phase of Boatswain’s Beach to the public during a Chamber of Commerce Business after Hours event at the new facility. This opening featured the new Turtle Crawl Deli, retail shop, reception building and turtle tanks including a huge and impressive turtle breeding pond.
In January the second phase of Boatswain’s Beach was to open, and then the opening was projected for the Spring of 2006, but this did not happen until the beginning of November when the park was declared fully open to host a night extravaganza there as part of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s annual conference, held in Grand Cayman. The night was hailed a big success by all involved.
In September the Legislative Assembly heard that completing the Boatswain’s Beach project on schedule for November would require an additional $8.8 million.
Inadequate preliminary budget estimates, the effects of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, and a March, 2006 budget reassessment were cited as the main factors for the shortfall.
The Legislative Assembly passed a motion releasing the funds needed to address further capital and operational requirements for the project, deemed essential for the island’s tourism sector. The amount was given as a 10-year loan.
In defending the move, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said the government was certain this would be the final time Boatswain’s Beach would be receiving any funds needed for the project to be completed on schedule for November 2006 opening.
Breakers Lagoon, a large fresh water pool complete with a cascading waterfall had opened in July.
The second phase involves a 1.3 million gallon salt water lagoon, a predator tank, two more restaurants, including fine dining, a free-flight bird aviary, an iguana habitat, nature trail and a historic Caymanian street with authentic porch side artisans.
The big delay with the opening of Boatswain’s Beach had been blamed on the difficulty of getting building materials following the 2004/05 hurricane season.
News broke in November 2006 that six sharks destined for the predator tank had died back in July and that Boatswain’s Beach won’t have any predators in the predator tank until at least February of 2007.
The sharks were in a quarantine facility on site, prior to being placed in the larger predator tank. Imported fish undergo a 30-day-quarantine period on arrival at the park.
The sharks died as a result of a malfunction with their life support system, from which the water quality was affected.
The park was also looking at introducing fish into the salt water lagoon for late December, 2006.
From August 2006 visitors to Boatswain’s Beach could enjoy a beer and listen to live music while at the tourist site following the granting of a temporary Liquor Licence and a Music and Dancing Licence. In September a full licence was secured by the park, which is now available for social events such as business functions, parties and even weddings.
In early December Boatswain’s Beach hosted an Open House when it welcomed members of the public to visit the park free of charge for a day. This resulted in 4,000 guests gaining free admission to view and enjoy the park.
The 23-acre adventure marine park is also, of course, home to the Cayman Turtle Farm, complete with an actual working farm and the chance for visitors to hold the turtles.
As of 4 December Boatswain’s Beach has been offering guided tours of the new attraction.
The tour details the park like a story through time. All tours include the Cayman Turtle Farm, the new interactive state of the art Education Centre, which now houses the turtle hatchery, the free flight Bird Aviary, with its colourful native and Caribbean birds, the Blue Iguana exhibit, the Blue Hole Nature Trail and Cayman Street. Guests can also enjoy a refreshing dip in Breaker’s Tidal Lagoon.
To find out more information on Boatswain’s Beach call the Box Office at 949-3894 or email [email protected]