10 May 2021
When Christopher Columbus first saw the Cayman Islands — Little Cayman and Cayman Brac to be exact — on 10 May, 1503, the islands he named "Las Tortugas" were very peaceful. The Cayman Islands, and especially Grand Cayman, have evolved significantly in the 518 years since, but there are still places residents can find peace on the islands — and without the scourge of mosquitoes Columbus would have dealt with had he visited after the start of rainy season.
As residents of Cayman observe Discovery Day on 17 May, Camana Bay offers several spots that are as peaceful and even more attractively landscaped than the inhospitable desert islands Columbus passed.
Nestled behind the Camana Bay Observation Tower is Canella Court, named after Canella winterana — or the pepper cinnamon tree — that grows at the Market Street entrance to the courtyard. Here you'll find four small, walled terraces at which to sit and listen to the tinkling water in the fountain features while you feel the cooling winds coming through the breezeway leading to the Crescent. Rose cacti climb up the far wall, sporting deep orange flowers in the winter months that eventually bear yellow, bell-shaped fruits.
The northern and middle sections of the Crescent are usually hopping with activity — children playing in the fountain, people eating at the restaurants or visiting shops and others heading to boats in the harbour. But the southern end of the Crescent, near the bridge to the Festival Green, is usually quiet. Here, interspersed in the shade provided by tall date palms and sea grape trees, you'll find tables for two where office workers might quietly relax or have a bite to eat while enjoying the gentle breezes coming off the North Sound.
Set against the backdrop of a cascading wall of water near the entrance to the Terraces apartments, Cassia Court is dominated by a Cassia fistula tree. When it blooms, the tree — often called the "golden shower tree" — is covered with bright yellow flowers that flutter to the ground in the wind. In this courtyard, which is cooled by the breezeway on the northern end of the Crescent, people sit to enjoy a lunch or to take a break during their workday.
Crossing the bridge that provides access to the harbour docks from the Crescent, you'll find the sandy oasis known as "the Island" in Camana Bay. Here you'll find hammocks on which to laze while you bask in the cool North Sound breezes in the shade of large palm trees. You might even catch a whiff of the fragrant sea lavender shrubs planted in the beds at the entrance to the bridge as you nod off into a peaceful nap.
Behind Next Chapter is the most versatile of Camana Bay's courtyards. Gardenia Court offers a tranquil space for people to enjoy a cup of coffee or to read a book on its wooden deck. Its grassy lawn has provided the setting for small music concerts, pilates classes, author talks and culinary events. The highly landscaped courtyard looks very much like a garden, complete with a small, crescent shaped water feature. Particularly in the spring and summer months, the most noticeable feature of Gardenia Court is the paper rose tree near the deck. Its many small, yellow flowers are surrounded by pink, papery bracts that fill the courtyard with colour.
The main purpose of the Rise is to allow pedestrians to safely walk from the Camana Bay Town Centre to West Bay Road by crossing over the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. But in addition to its functionality, the densely landscaped journey is equally delightful. On either side of the walkway are colourful bougainvillea shrubs covered in splashes of red, purple, orange, pink and magenta. All along the Rise are benches at which you can sit and enjoy the scene and smell the fragrant aroma of blossoms. At the top of the Rise coming from the Camana Bay side, where the path splits in two directions, there's a small garden in which to sit under the shade of trees and feel the breezes afforded at its 36-foot altitude.
Named after an orange flower planted in its beds, Heliconia Court is the longest courtyard in Camana Bay, winding its way from Market Street in between the 18 Forum Lane and One Nexus Way buildings to Emeritus Drive. In the flower beds of Heliconia are the numerous arborsculptures, trees bent to grow in various shapes at the Dart nursery more than a decade before they were replanted in the courtyard. Sitting in Heliconia Court looking at these carefully shaped trees is as peaceful as sitting in an art gallery, quietly appreciating a beautiful painting.
This article originally appeared in the May 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for four years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 17 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for the Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. Alan is passionate about food and wine and he loves to write about both those subjects. He is also the leader of Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Chapter. One of Alan’s favourite ways to relax is to catch a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!