Tourism pontoon project proposed for North Sound

An application is being considered to set up a 'tourism pontoon' near Stingray City Sandbar. - Photo: File

Plans to station a permanent “tourism pontoon” close to Stingray City Sandbar in the North Sound are being reviewed by government.

Marineland Tours has submitted a coastal works application for a multi-deck platform featuring a water slide, underwater observatory, scuba diving center and sundeck.

Documents submitted with the application indicate the pontoon, with a main deck of 150 feet by 50 feet, would be modeled on similar structures in Australia.

The concept is a first for Cayman, and the company in its application urges government to make “hard decisions” now to ensure the long-term sustainability of the islands’ tourism industry.

It suggests the pontoon would be a new attraction for Cayman and would drive visitation to the island, as well as offering something different to a new generation of tourists.

It adds that the tourism industry needs to look at new opportunities to diversify amid competition from new destinations for younger travelers.

“Some visitors may return year after year, suggesting little need to change things. The danger is that, as this group ages, there will be no one to take its place. Natural successors have become used to taking holidays elsewhere based on higher expectations,” the company, which is owned by the Eldemire family, stated in the application.

The pontoon would be built to withstand hurricanes and could also be used for interactive education and as a base for research, according to the application.

Docking at the site would be limited to Marineland’s boats. Other activities planned from the platform include semi-submersible tours and wildlife viewing.

The application states, “The outer reef on the North Sound offers beautiful coral and fish viewing. Since the proponents already operate trips in this area, extending opportunities to include a tourism pontoon destination seemed a feasible option.”

The proposed tourism pontoon on the North Sound would be similar to those seen on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, such as this Reefworld pontoon. – Photo: File

A separate document, submitted with the application, highlights the proliferation of such pontoons in Australia.

There are multiple structures in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which attract tourists for day trips to the outer reefs. Some are marketed as miniature floating islands featuring a host of amenities, including cafes and sleeping facilities.

The report indicates that design and regulatory systems in Australia have been developed to ensure minimal impact on the reef and could be transplanted to Cayman for the management of this project. The exact location of the site is not included in the paperwork, with the proponent indicating it would work with Department of Environment experts to select the most appropriate spot if the application is approved.

The document indicates it would likely be in shallow water close to the reef and close to Stingray City Sandbar.

Coastal Works Applications are decided by Cabinet, with input from various agencies, including the Department of Environment.

Curtis Eldemire, CEO of Marineland, said he had no comment to make at this stage, when contacted by the Cayman Compass.

17 COMMENTS

  1. For reference, the Great Barrier Reef is dying and ‘man’ is contributing. All I can say is that Stingray City is my favourite trip as a resident – Redsail Breakfast Cruise. Rather than thinking how it might ‘attract’ a new type of tourist, why not consider what it might lose, given its an absolutely World Class experience JUST AS IT IS!

    • This is the most attention to any article I ever seen here , and the 206 people who disagreed with the bad idea makes me feel good, but I don’t understand that 36 people who agreed with a bad thing . We should always be this aggressive on any bad idea or proposed action by anyone /government .

  2. I love the 4th paragraph, in the Company application they are urgeing the government to make some “hard decisions” now to insure the long term sustainability of the Islands tourism industry.
    I say destruction to the environment and tourism .

    I have talked with some of my friends who are still in the charter boat business , they said that on the weekend they have private charter , and the boat has garbage cans all over the boat to avoid the garbage from going in water , but the people just throw their garbage down all over the boat .
    These charter boat are less than half the size of this party raft that will be anchored permanently , and I believe that there would be food and drinks , and whatever served all day and every day . Can you imagine the garbage that would be in water in a short period of time .

    I will say that should be a easy decision-making for the government, but it is hard to believe that government would be thinking my way , because they would see $2.00 in revenue and a few work permits to be sold .

    Keep that kind of thing out of the north sound and off the Islands .

  3. To continue.
    It is not just this one ugly platform. Which would be torn to matchsticks by any hurricane anyway.
    This platform would only be for the use of the Marineland company.

    What about Captain Marvins? How about the other companies that run Stingray City tours? If Marineland can have a platform why not their competitors? It would not be right to deny them after approving Marineland.

    So soon we would have a proliferation of ugly swim platforms just like we have a proliferation of deckchairs at the public beach.

    Allow one and you must allow them all. And if it gets too much for the star attractions, the stingrays, they might even leave.

    • David , that’s not a wonderful idea or attractive , or enhancement . Just think about what everyone else is saying in their comments , and take it from there . You and the company is only thinking about the almighty dollar . And leave those kind of attractions in the Great Barrier reef , Cayman Islands DON’T NEED IT .

      To , Mr. Vincent the idea of feeding the stingrays breakfast , lunch , and dinner, is not a good idea too . Just think about the stingrays diet in natural life , they didn’t get 3 all you can eat meals a day , and that’s what that idea would lead to.
      We need to be very careful about over feeding the stingrays because we would have all fat and overweight stingrays at stingray city , then we would be wondering what is causing the stingrays to be dieing .

  4. Cayman is one of the few islands where nature still plays a big part of the total experience, and one of the things I appreciate most about the island as a resident . This is probably the worst suggestion I have ever heard… The reason why stingray sandbar is so popular is that is it pure, clean and natural.

  5. Honesty can’t believe something like this is even up for discussion. Our island’s natural beauty is already being taken away by all the new development on land, and now we want to take this away from the ocean as well? Tourists are not going to come to the Cayman Islands looking for something like that in the middle of north sound. They are going to come here for the serenity and peace of mind that comes along with experiencing our beautiful natural waters. There has never been a need for something like this, and there still is not. This is unnecessary and pointless. North sound is perfect the way it is, and this pontoon would ruin it, so lets leave the ocean untouched, because we have already done enough damage as it is.

    • Ms. Ehman , things like this platform needs / should be discussed by the people , because if the people who know that this platform to be put in the water near the Islands biggest tourism attractions would be bad/wrong for tourism, and didn’t voice their respective opinions on the matter , government would give the Company /person permission to do it . This is what we all should be doing , opening up our minds and looking at things like this one, and seeing it from many different angles, then we will see the reasons for discussion of the issue . And the discussion will open the eyes of the government and stop it .

  6. THIS IS DISGUSTING !!! ARE WE REALLY GOING TO DESTROY WHAT IS LEFT OF OUR BEAUTIFUL ISLAND JUST BECAUSE ONE COMPANY IS NOT MAKING ENOUGH MONEY !!!!! REALLY , THEIR BUS /BOATS ARE HORRENDOUS AND ARE CAUSING ENOUGH POLLUTION WHEN THEY DRIVE INTO THE WATER FROM THE STREET. MAYBE THEY SHOULD GET BETTER SALES PEOPLE INSTEAD OF TRYING TO DESTROY OUR BEAUTIFUL WATERS.THIS IS ALL ABOUT MONEY SIMPLE , AND IF WE AS A COUNTRY CANT STICK TOGETHER TO PREVENT THIS SORT OF THINGS FROM HAPPENING WE ARE NO BETTER THAN THE PEOPLE WHO DUMP GARBAGE IN THE OCEAN. #NOPOTOONBOBO !!!!