The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a tropical outdoor garden and wildlife facility located on Grand Cayman. A green, colorful, respite tucked away from the hum of the city, it is a must-see for visitors on a Grand Cayman sightseeing tour. A great place to experience nature, birdwatching, and Cayman Islands heritage.
Named for Queen Elizabeth II, planning commenced in the 1980’s and on completion of the Woodland Trail in 1994, was officially inaugurated by the Queen. The Park comprises a huge lake, lush tropical feature gardens of native and endemic plantings, and a Habitat & Recovery Center for the endangered native Blue Iguana. Supported by the Cayman Islands Government and the National Trust, the aim of the Park is to preserve and display historically significant flora and fauna of the Cayman Islands.
Some key attractions that make the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park an enjoyable, informative, and contemplative places to visit in Grand Cayman are:
The primordial chunk of this park, the Woodland Trail exhibits an array of native flora of the Cayman Islands. The trail is about a mile in length, consisting of lush natural landscape and houses the Blue Iguana Habitat & Recovery Center. The Blue Iguana is on the endangered list and the park operates a recovery center aimed at rescue, preservation and increase of the specie population. It is the only location in the Cayman Islands where the endemic Blue Iguana can be observed.
The Heritage Garden is a showcase for the rich agricultural heritage and culture of the Cayman Islands. In the past and to some extent in the present, large-scale farms did not exist. Individual farmers cultivated their own small inland plots with crops for personal use. The main crops being plantains, bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, breadfruit, and yams, comprising the typical Caymanian diet. These were accompanied by fish, conch, lobster, whelks, pork, and beef, the latter traditionally reserved for important celebrations and calendar holidays.
The centerpiece of this garden is a replica of a Cayman gingerbread cottage, painted deep bright-hued tropical pinks, blues, greens, and white. It sits in a traditional Cayman sand yard paved with fresh powdery white sand, and foot paths outlined with beautiful pink queen conch shells. The sand yard also houses a Caboose-a small shed set apart from the main cottage for meal preparation and cooking. In the back yards, homemakers tended small vegetable and herb gardens. The remainder of a typical Cayman sand yard would have fruit trees such as mango, almond, breadfruit, ackee, bananas and plantains, guinep, sweet & sour-sop, and naseberry.
The Herb Garden features a wide variety of endemic and native medicinal herbs, shrubs, and trees and aromatic herbs used in cooking in the old days.
The Floral Garden comprises a wide, vibrant, colorful, tropical collection of native and endemic flowers such as flamboyant, oleander, and frangipani to name a few, that still beautify the yards and landscape on all three islands today.
The Butterfly Garden’s main attraction is the approximately 56 colorful species of butterflies that flit about freely among trees and shrub, specifically handpicked and cultivated to attract them.
Adjoining the Floral Color Garden pictured below, is a huge lake covering and area of approximately 3 acres. Filled with aquatic plants, the lake provides a natural home for birds and other small fauna, and is an attractive spot for picnickers, and photographers.
The beautiful, colorful, scenic Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a quiet contemplative nature park replete with exotic tropical flora, fauna and island history. Be sure to include it and other natural local attractions on Grand Cayman such as the Cayman Crystal Caves and Hell in your tour itinerary.
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