Campaigners who fought a brief battle to save Smith Cove from development enjoyed the spoils of their victory in a day of celebration at the historic, natural beauty spot Saturday.
Relaxing on the beach, picnicking in the shade, watching the sunset or diving and jumping acrobatically off the rocks, young and old came together to mark the occasion.
Some donned T-shirts with the slogan, “Saved the Cove, Jump the Rock,” while beachgoers signed colorful messages of thanks on newly donated picnic tables.
The event was originally scheduled as a protest against plans for a condo complex on the northern part of the property. But a groundswell of public opinion against the project prompted government to step in and negotiate to buy the land from the developer, who agreed to withdraw the plans.
Morne Botes, who started the Save the Cove group and helped gather more than 3,000 signatures protesting the plans in the week after they were made public, was among those taking a celebratory jump off the rocks, which were within the boundaries of the private developer’s land.
“It is just perfect. This was going to be a protest but now it is a celebration,” he said.
Mr. Botes said he visits the cove every Friday with his children and was concerned that access and the sunset views for all beachgoers would have been impacted by the development.
Taura Ebanks, another vocal advocate in the swift campaign, said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who had turned out to express what the beach meant to them.
“When I imagined what today would be like, I imagined it just like this, with everyone just doing what they always do and enjoying the beach, but being grateful and aware of what we have.
“We have got this beautiful cove and it is safe for everyone to enjoy as they have been doing for generations.”
Gabriella Hernandez, a supporter of environmental causes who also joined the celebration, said it was heartening to see public pressure make such an instant impact.
“This is one of the most frequented, picturesque and valued areas of Cayman, and I believe that the public opinion was something that contributed to the swift movement on this matter,” she said. “I am really happy that the community came together and that government listened.
“I hope now we can continue in this process and put proper protections in place so that it can’t fall back into private hands and that it really is preserved for the people for generations to come.”