Finding the perfect gift for every friend and family member can certainly be challenging, especially when you’re shopping on a small island.
The choice of shops is limited, for starters. Then there’s the inescapable fact that some people just seem to have everything already. And, if you choose to order your gifts online, there’s always the risk they won’t arrive before April.
There is another option, though, which requires no trawling through online or bricks and mortar shops, and is pretty much guaranteed to be remembered for years to come: It’s the gift of experience.
How much more meaningful is it to give someone an experience – something to do rather than something to have? Forget little trinkets that they will never use; give them a few hours or a day doing something new, exciting and different. Isn’t that what gifts should be about, after all?
Here are some Cayman-based suggestions to get you started.
Pilot a plane
Take to the skies in a single-engine Cessna with a flying instructor at your side. The one-hour flying lesson will give you a taste of what’s involved in obtaining your pilot’s license if you’re interested, or just sit back and enjoy an exhilarating ride and incredible views. With space for three passengers plus the instructor, it’s a gift that can be divided a few ways.
The ideal day out for speed and adrenaline junkies, the Jet Ski safari allows your gift recipients to race up and down Seven Mile Beach Bond-style, or cruise in and out of the mangroves in the North Sound on one- or two-man watercraft. They’ll also get to view some underwater wildlife as tours include stops at some of Grand Cayman’s best reefs.
Cook with class
The perfect gift for foodies and home cooks, a cooking soiree with the National Trust will be sure to add some local flavor to friends or family’s cooking repertoire. Led by different chefs each time and with changing venues, the classes always offer something new to taste and different recipes to take home.
Taste of Cayman
With Taste of Cayman, just around the corner (Saturday, Feb. 8), you can’t really go wrong with advance tickets to the event for foodie friends. Dozens of local restaurants will be offering up small bites of some of their signature dishes, and purveyors of fine wines and beers will be on hand with plentiful libations. It’s an evening not to be missed.
Day trip to the Brac
A great day out for active people is a trip to Cayman Brac. It’s easy to get there and back in a day, and once there, your gift recipients can snorkel over massive wrecks, explore caves, hike nature trails, kayak and paddleboard in lagoons, or even take the free guided tour of the island with guides Keino and Greg.
The wonders of the underwater world await. Anybody over the age of 10 who is in good health qualifies to take a taster dive, known as a Discover Scuba course, and just about every dive operator in Cayman offers it. The half-day experience involves basic theory, a pool session to acquaint participants with the dive gear, and a real-life dive to depths of up to 40 feet. Be warned: this gift could lead to addiction.
Underwater photography class
For those who have already been bitten by the dive bug, the next logical step is to take a class in underwater photography. Taught by Cathy Church or one of her staff, lessons include shore-based theory, an hour-and-a-half shore dive and a follow-up critique – plus beautiful images to take home.
Snorkel through stars
Even the most jaded, hard-to-impress family member will be blown away by the Bioluminescent Bay if they have not seen it before. In this sheltered lagoon, the water magically lights up when disturbed, as tiny phytoplankton swirl around in shimmering, sparkling clouds. Snorkeling in the bay feels like gliding through a million shooting stars. The tour includes the return boat trip from the Yacht Club.
For those who are creative, an art class or course could open up a whole new world. Both the National Gallery and the Visual Arts Society offer classes, courses and workshops throughout the year, covering everything from sketching to stained glass, ceramics and photography.
The ultimate gift for tired, stressed and overworked individuals has to be the gift of a massage or pampering session. Cayman has many day spas that offer everything from deep tissue and aromatherapy massages to body scrubs, wraps, facials, manis, pedis and more. But you don’t have to decide on the right treatment – simply give a gift certificate and the choice is theirs.