Beach camping over the four-day Easter holiday has been a tradition on Grand Cayman for over 30 years.
Caymanians, as well as residents from numerous other nationalities who have joined in the fun, all come together to share in this unique custom.
The best part about Easter camping is doing it with friends. The camps are all open and everyone is typically welcoming, more than willing to share drinks and food with others.
Some camps are made for families of 20 and really capture the essence of “glamping” — short for “glamour camping” — with TVs, portable showers, generators and air conditioners in their tents. My family would take the more conservative approach — we had tents and air mattresses, but no generators, and we bathed with bottles of water.
Easter is the only time of the year where residents are allowed to camp on the public beaches and they take advantage of it. As Easter weekend approaches, tents pop up on beaches all over Grand Cayman, from West Bay to East End.
Camping typically begins on the Thursday evening before Good Friday. The traditional meals on Good Friday consist of bun and cheese and conch (stewed and marinated) and the evening is closed out with s’mores prepared by a bonfire. My family will decide ahead of time who is going to bring what for the rest of the weekend: drinks, snacks, meals like salt fish rundown, rice and beans, as well as corned beef and tuna fish sandwiches.
Playing games is also a part of Easter camping and the most popular game played is dominoes.
When I was kid, it was common for us to take fishing trips and spend the days on (and in) the water. Anything we caught naturally got grilled in the evenings. I remember pulling all-nighters on Good Friday with my cousins and being woken up by the smell of the grill firing up.
I would spend many an Easter weekend camping day snorkelling with a belly full of corned beef sandwiches. I remember listening to my dad smashing dominoes on the table with my aunts, my parents bickering about things I didn’t understand and the cool breeze in the evenings keeping us up as we told ghost stories.
Come Easter Monday, everyone packed up their campsites and headed home after a morning of leftover food, games and fun.
It’s been a long time since I last spent my Easter weekend camping, but driving past the crowds of tents on the beach always brings back fond memories of stress-free times of toes in the sand, water-logged fingers and the best Caymanian food outside of Christmas dinner.