Unlicensed Seven Mile Beach vendors told to close or face fines

Beach vendor Reuben Woodman holds up a warning notice he got from the government last week. - PHOTOS: BRENT FULLER

Warning citations were handed out to more than a dozen vendors along Seven Mile and West Bay Public Beaches over the past week as the Department of Commerce and Investment responded to long-standing complaints about unlicensed or even dangerous activities in the popular tourist areas.

On Thursday, a week after the first round of tickets were handed out – telling vendors to cease operations within 14 days or face fines – most of the Seven Mile Beach vendors remained operational.

“Some of us got homes and mortgages, where are we going to find the money to feed our kids?” said Andre Woodman, one of the admittedly unlicensed vendors who rents everything from beach chairs to Jet Skis on Seven Mile Public Beach.

Mr. Woodman’s brother Reuben displayed a copy of the warning citation he received from a commerce and investment enforcement officer on May 12. The ticket stated that the business the brothers own – Ride with Us Motorsports – was operating without a valid license.

The warning states: “By way of this notice, the department is offering you an opportunity to become compliant with the requisite sections of the law. You are hereby given 14 days to cease the above identified infraction. Failure to comply will result in a notice of a ticket or fine under section 35 of the law and legal action may be taken …”

- Advertisement -

Department of Commerce and Investment Head of Compliance and Enforcement Claudia Brady said the department’s officers issued about 16 warning notices on May 12 and May 17 to individuals who have been operating without a trade and business license. She said other citations could be sent out in the coming weeks.

The warnings went to a variety of unlicensed vendors, including individuals renting beach chairs, umbrellas, floats and Jet Skis and those selling food and beverages along the beach. Some souvenir sellers on West Bay Public Beach also received warning tickets.

A number of Seven Mile Beach vendors, including the Woodman brothers, Daphne Bennett, Michael Morgan and George Brooks, all said they have received warnings.

Mr. Brooks, who said he started renting beach chairs and umbrellas on Seven Mile Beach in late 2011, said he submitted an application and documents for a trade and business license at least three years ago with the $25 fee, but he never heard back.

The West Bay man said he earns about $800 to $900 a month renting the chairs and doubted he could afford a $500 fine. He also expressed doubts about whether he could find another job.

“I had a juvenile record,” Mr. Brooks said. “It was kind of hard for me to get a job. [Beach vending] is the only thing I got to do.”

Condo owners on Seven Mile Beach say deckchairs hired to tourists are an eyesore.
Condo owners on Seven Mile Beach say deckchairs hired to tourists are an eyesore.

Andre Woodman said his business had a license at one stage but was denied a renewal. He believes he was not given a trade and business license because his company was operating on Seven Mile Beach, where a number of condo owners have complained about vendors for years.

“If you tell [the Department of Commerce and Investment] you’re not selling on Seven Mile Beach, they’ll give you a license,” Mr. Woodman said.

The beach vending issue came to the fore again in March when condo owners, including those at Harbour Heights and the Avalon Condominiums, which are near Public Beach, voiced concerns to government officials about illegal vendors “overrunning” Cayman’s pristine Seven Mile Beach. “The very symbol of this beautiful island and the magnet that draws both Caymanians and multitudes of tourists is being destroyed before our very eyes,” read an eight-page letter sent to Tourism Ministry Councilor Joey Hew in March by the Harbour Heights development’s strata management council and signed by council member Bob Loverd.

“The beach … does not seem to be regulated by law [and] government officials do not appear to have the authority to act,” the letter states, adding that the revamped Public Beach area just south of the Kimpton hotel under construction seems to have become a haven where “unlicensed vendors aggressively compete with each other to offer a carnival of competing services.”

The Avalon Condominiums strata council supported the Harbour Heights organization’s comments.

“We too have observed the gradual, but steady increase in commercial activity at the Public Beach, and for the first time in my nearly 20 years of wintering here, we have had vendors peddling their wares to people on our beach,” said Warren Nock, chairman of the condo management strata.

“The beach experience here has been unique in the Caribbean. In addition to the wonderful natural elements, guests have felt welcomed, safe, and left in peace to rid themselves of the stresses and pressures of life at home.”

Residents have also complained about some of the water sports vendors – particularly those who rent Jet Skis – operating far too close to shore to maintain the safety of swimmers. The Cayman Compass observed one Jet Ski passing near tourists at the shoreline Thursday morning.

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. I don’t know why is it so hard to understand that when you have something that no one else has, but many want, you can sell it a premium.
    There is a growing demand now for an exclusive, ecologically pristine vacation destinations. Free from the usual Caribbean crowds, vendor’s harassment and plastic littered beaches.
    Grand Cayman can provide it all, but ecologically pristine environment with the Dump in the SMB vicinity. It might be invisible, but it is right there, silently and slowly poisoning air and water.
    By the way a small tax on plastic ware can provide enough money for beach maintenance jobs these men would qualify.

  2. I don’t understand the Cayman Islands Government . They want the cruise ship visitors , but don’t want to cater to them so they have a quality experience of their visit. We need to provide the amenities such as towels, beach chairs , umbrellas and ect . , from quality licensed vendors.

    Why doesn’t government have vendors license with special criteria such as , clean and sanitary booths, no indecent conduct, quality wares , and limited vendors, no stepping out of your booth to sell , watersport vendors must be experienced and responsible .

    Government must correct this situation on the beaches now , it doesn’t take 14 days to do it .

  3. The Government Department handling this is doing the correct thing in issuing tickets to persons who are unlicensed to carry on these activities without proper license. Every Tom Dick and Harry will be setting up an ICY MINT STAND, or a BAG JUICE STAND. Nip this in the Bud now, or Government is going to get in Hot Water over it.
    I love to see the tourist on the beach enjoying themselves, but for Pete’s sake there are laws and rules that must be applied. There are hundreds of Caymanians who cannot feed their children and have bills , mortgage to pay, but we must not think that we can take the law in our hands. Beside we should not be encouraged by persons to feel we are doing the right thing not obeying the laws and rules..
    I see nothing wrong with the cruise tourist going to this beach, because many of these people are budgeted for their holiday, and we MUST understand they are ordinary people just like most of us; just cannot afford the high prices of private beaches.
    Although I love to see them there, I would prefer the Government Department to close the Beach Temporarily to this entertainment/vending until persons have proper license things are under control. If it is not handled properly now, I see big problems arising on that beach. Do the correct thing.

  4. Public Beach should be exactly as its called Public. That means there for the public be you Caymanian, resident or visitor. There are enough business’s on SMB already offering chairs, umbrella’s and jet ski’s. No need to crowd tone of the last beaches with over zealous vendors. I say this with first hand experience after going early to Publuc Beach one day with visitors I was told by a specific vendor that I was in his spot and that I could lay there. Needless to say he was politely told to go away in not such a polite manner. This sort of confrontation left a feeling of embassment. Being a Caymanian and being told that I couldn’t put my
    belongings down on Her Majesty’s Bottom by an unlicensed vendor who only had one thing in mind and it was my welfare it was simply to extort dollars out of everyone and anyone who crossed his path.
    Being in the tourism industry here for over 20 years one of the major plus’ Cayman has is the fact that beach goers are never approached or harassed as I was. If I want to rent a beach chair I will simply go to a beach where they are available and do so. KEEP PUBLIC BEACH COMMERCIAL FREE!!

  5. Ok readers listen to this and form your own opinion what happened.
    Four years or more ago, the government before the Progressives, the one in between UDP and PPM, built some Koshia Huts on the Bodden Town Coe Wood Beach to be used by vendors for things similar, selling arts, crafts, fresh fish, fresh fruits and juices.
    When the Progressive government got into power, they stopped it by writing to the planning department making objections . This person who was and still is a representative of the Bodden Town MLA and owned the Texaco Gas station, objected by writing a letter. The owner of the other Gas station which was the ESSO also wrote objecting to Bodden Town residents selling anything on the Coe Wood Beach. Their objections were that it would take away from their business.
    I can write about this because I was one of the persons who approved of the Local activities on the beach, which would have been a few days a week.
    I attended the meeting at the Planning Board to listen to the objections of the MLA of the TEXACO and also objection letter by the ESSO Manager.
    After some smooth talking and promises, the MLA for Bodden Town who owns the TEXACO promised me in front of the Chairman and board of the planning Department that HE did not meant any harm and would work with me and the others in getting things up and going now that his Government was in Power.
    I waited one month and sent a letter to the MLA owners of the Gas stations and was told out rightly that he was not going to allow anyone to sell anything on the Beach. He had previously objected in the Planning department, saying that he had his business for more than 40 years and the vendors would cause him to loose money. A MLA who owns the Gas station, a mini supermarket, Liquor store and Grape Tree Restaurant on the same premises. Yet a few vendors who would probably make 50.00 or one hundred dollars a day to be objected to. How greedy can we get.
    Now Every beach on the Island sells on the beach except the Bodden Town Coe Wood Beach. Why because objections from both Gas station that vendors would make a few dollars.
    Now Go undercover at the Beach and see what is entertained at the by the same MLA on his Beach Restaurant. Anyone who want to feel cut up because I have let the public know about this, tough luck. It is the truth, because I was at the planning meeting, and heard it all.

    • Framed as a democracy, suggesting that the people govern its country and elect its officials, but the truth of that matter is that a democracy does not exist. Ultimately it would not matter who is in office because the people campaigning would be controlled and influenced by those controlling the money.
      You are not alone. That goes for most countries.

  6. Mr Deegan comment really explains the situation on the public beach and government needs to close this public beach “TODAY “. Take control of all public beaches and enforce the use of the beaches .
    The Government has no other option but to use the public beaches for commercial use by licensed vendors 5 day’s a week for accommodation of the cruise ship passengers with strict rules and enforcement.

  7. I agree with Paul. Vendors need to register with the DCI, if the beach gets too crowded with Vendors then people will simply stop going. We should be pushing for sustainable products and services, we should be trying to keep the aesthetics of our beaches intact. I wish the beaches looked how they were in 50’s. Now that was true paradise, all this urbanization is going to kill our tourism product.

    If you really want to have services on public beach, then setup a section on the beach for vendors and keep it sectioned there so that it’s not an eye sore.

    Keep It Simple Stupid!!!

  8. @ C Wood , the codo assoc. Has caused the government to start acting on this issue, and i think that we citizens of Cayman Islands need to continue to pressure the government to regulate the public beach , or we citizens would not have any public beaches .