Are Cayman’s world-class beaches truly accessible to the public?
From Lacovia to the Ritz Carlton, a stretch of some 3,000 feet along West Bay Road, there are a grand total of zero marked beach access paths. Under the law, properties with more than 200 feet of beach frontage zoned hotel/tourism must provide a 6 foot public access path to the sea.
One man says one such property chased his family away when they attempted to cross the property to the beach.
“There is one beach access route next to Lacovia, and after that the next beach access route is after the Water’s Edge residences, which is a 3000 foot strip,” said Stanislav Zholnin, pointing to an aerial map of the area in question. “There’s not a single beach access sign on this strip.”
Mr. Zholnin told Cayman 27 when Beach Suites closed a couple of months ago, his family had to find an alternate route to Seven Mile Beach.
“We live in the snug harbor area and this was the most convenient spot for us to go to,” he explained.
He said a family day at the beach was ruined before anyone even felt the sand between their toes, by staff at the Colonial Club.
“We had a conflict with one of the property managers there who was trying to prevent us from passing, getting access to the beach, and we were told that police will be called and get involved,” said Mr. Zholnin.
He told Cayman 27 his family, especially the kids, were distressed by the confrontation. That’s when he reached out to Planning for more information.
“They provided us with a list of properties which on this specific strip of Seven Mile Beach are designated to provide a right of way to the beach, and the surprising thing was that the exact property we were trying to get access through, was on that list,” said Mr. Zholnin.
In an email, Planning Department Deputy Director Ron Sanderson named four properties that have registered public rights of way to the sea in that area. They are Watercolours, the Colonial Club, Casa Caribe, and Water’s Edge. Only one of these footpaths, between Water’s Edge and Coral Stone Club were marked with a beach access sign.
“The whole idea of putting up a sign is to inform people about their rights, this is what I would want to see is, properly set up signs and paths where they are required by law,” said Mr. Zholnin.
He told Cayman 27 says his family now uses the unmarked access path to the beach from Watercolours, but worries some properties could be intimidating those who attempt to use a registered right of way.
Cayman 27 reached out to The Colonial Club for its side of the story. A man, who refused to identify himself, recalled the confrontation with Mr. Zholnin. He acknowledged there is a registered beach access path, unmarked by signage, on the property’s north end. He said it is not the property’s responsibility to provide signage drawing attention to the beach access route.
The man said Mr. Zholnin and his family tried to cut through the south side of the property, which is not a registered access.
He said the Colonial Club does not interfere when the public uses the proper path.