West Bay

Cayman Turtle Farm.Cayman’s premier attraction, the Turtle Farm, has been transformed into a marine theme park. The expanded complex now has several souvenir shops and restaurants. Still, the turtles remain a central attraction, and you can tour ponds in the original research–breeding facility with thousands in various stages of growth, some up to 600 pounds and more than 70 years old. Turtles can be picked up from the tanks, a real treat for children and adults as the little creatures flap their fins and splash the water. Four areas—three aquatic and one dry—cover 23 acres; different-color bracelets determine access (the steep full-pass admission includes snorkeling gear). The park helps promote conservation, encouraging interaction (a tidal pool houses invertebrates such as starfish and crabs) and observation. Animal Program events include Keeper Talks, where you might feed birds or iguanas, and biologists speaking about conservation and their importance to the ecosystem. The freshwater Breaker’s Lagoon, replete with cascades plunging over moss-carpeted rocks evoking Cayman Brac, is the islands’ largest pool. The saltwater Boatswain’s Lagoon, replicating all the Cayman Islands and the Trench, teems with 14,000 denizens of the deep milling about a cannily designed synthetic reef. You can snorkel here (lessons and guided tours are available). Both lagoons have underwater 4-inch-thick acrylic panels that look directly into Predator Reef, home to six brown sharks, four nurse sharks, and other predatory fish such as tarpons, eels, and jacks. These predators can also be viewed from terra (or terror, as one guide jokes) firma. Make sure you check out feeding times! The free-flight Aviary, designed by consultants from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is a riot of color and noise as feathered friends represent the entire Caribbean basin, doubling as a rehabilitation center for Cayman Wildlife and Rescue. A winding interpretive nature trail culminates in the Blue Hole, a collapsed cave once filled with water. Audio tours are available with different focuses, from butterflies to bush medicine. The last stop is the living museum, Cayman Street, complete with facades duplicating different types of vernacular architecture; an herb and fruit garden; porch-side artisans, musicians, and storytellers; model catboats; live cooking on an old-fashioned caboose (outside kitchen) oven; and interactive craft demonstrations from painting mahogany to thatch weaving. | 825 Northwest Point Rd., Box 812 | West Bay, Grand Cayman | 345/949–3894 | www.turtle.ky, www.boatswainsbeach.ky | Comprehensive ticket $45 ($25 children under 12); Turtle Farm only, $30 | Mon.–Sat. 8–4:30, Sun. 10–4. Lagoons close ½ hr to 2 hrs earlier.

Dolphin Discovery.If you ever dreamed of frolicking with Flipper, here’s your (photo) opportunity, as the organizers of this global business promise a “touching experience.” The well-maintained facility, certified by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, offers three main options, essentially depending on time spent splashing in the enormous pool with the dolphins and stingrays. They range in price from $99 to $169 (kids receive a discount but must swim with an adult). The premium is the Royal Swim, which includes a dorsal tow and foot push, showcasing the amazing strength, speed, and agility of these majestic marine mammals. Other options offer a handshake, kiss, even a belly ride. All participants receive free entrance to their choice of Stingray City or the Turtle Farm across the street, taking some of the sting out of the high prices. | Northwest Point Rd. | West Bay, Grand Cayman | 345/769–7946, 866/393–5158 toll-free from U.S., 345/949–7946 | www.dolphindiscovery.com/grand-cayman.

Hell.Quite literally the tourist trap from Hell, especially when overrun by cruise-ship passengers, this attraction does offer free admission, fun photo ops, and sublime surrealism. Its name refers to the quarter-acre of menacing shards of charred brimstone thrusting up like vengeful spirits (actually blackened and “sculpted” by acid-secreting algae and fungi over millennia). The eerie lunarscape is now cordoned off, but you can prove you had a helluva time by taking a photo from the observation deck. The attractions are the small post office and a gift shop where you can get cards and letters postmarked from Hell, not to mention wonderfully silly postcards titled “When Hell Freezes Over” (depicting bathing beauties on the beach), “The Devil Made Me Do It” bumper stickers, Scotch bonnet–based Hell sauce, and “The coolest shop in Hell” T-shirts. Ivan Farrington, the owner of the Devil’s Hang-Out store, cavorts in a devil’s costume (horn, cape, and tails), regaling you with demonically bad jokes. | Hell Rd. | West Bay, Grand Cayman | 345/949–3358 | Free | Daily 9–6.

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