Cayman eroded

| 19/02/2024 | 67 Comments

MDR writes: The Cayman Islands, with its stunning coastline and pristine beaches, has been a popular destination for tourists and expatriates alike, most of whom have become Caymanian by way of status. The allure of living or vacationing in close proximity to the ocean has resulted in the development of shorelines throughout the islands. However, the flat terrain of the Cayman Islands, combined with the threat of hurricanes and other severe weather conditions, poses a significant risk to properties built too close to the ocean.

The issue of shoreline development in the Cayman Islands has been a topic of concern for many years, particularly among the older generation, who were well aware of the potential dangers associated with building too close to the ocean. Traditional wisdom dictated that homes and developments should be set back from the shoreline to mitigate the risk of damage from storms and to preserve the natural coastal environment.

However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards building properties to maximise profit rather than considering the practical and sensible implications of shoreline development. As a result, many structures now stand perilously close to the water’s edge, leaving them vulnerable to erosion, flooding and other storm-related hazards.

During hurricane season, as well as during the occurrence of nor’westers, these properties are at a heightened risk of significant damage. The lack of adequate setback from the ocean magnifies the potential for destruction, not only to the structures themselves but also to the natural beaches and coastal environment. Shoreline development without proper consideration for the potential impact of severe weather conditions not only endangers the properties themselves but also compromises the integrity of the natural landscape.

One of the most evident consequences of unrestricted shoreline development is the erosion of beaches due to the construction of walls and buildings too close to the shoreline. This erosion not only affects the aesthetic appeal of the coastline but also has broader environmental implications, such as the loss of marine habitats and the depletion of natural resources.

To address the challenges posed by shoreline development in the Cayman Islands, it is imperative that comprehensive measures be implemented to promote responsible and sustainable coastal development. Proper setback regulations, requiring properties to be situated at a safe distance from the ocean, should have been in place years ago to protect both the homes and the natural environment. Additionally, the construction of artificial barriers, such as seawalls, should be carried out in such a way as to minimise their impact on the coastline and the marine ecosystem.

Furthermore, there needs to be a reevaluation of the current approach to shoreline development in the Cayman Islands, with a stronger emphasis on long-term sustainability and resilience to the effects of severe weather. This may require changes in the regulatory framework governing coastal development, as well as a broader shift in mindset towards responsible and sensible construction practices.

In conclusion, the issue of shoreline development in the Cayman Islands is a matter of great importance, given the inherent risks of building close to the ocean in a region susceptible to severe weather events. The absence of proper setback regulations and the pursuit of profit-driven development have led to the endangerment of properties and the deterioration of the natural coastal environment. It is imperative that steps be taken to address these concerns and to promote responsible and sustainable coastal development in order to preserve the beauty and integrity of the islands for future generations.


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Category: development, Viewpoint

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Too bad Caymanians are forbidden from learning and following any other place on Earth when trying to fix problems. Take a look at famous Waikiki beach in Hawaii. It used to be a swamp just like Cayman Island. They fixed the problem a long time ago and made it one of the most visited beaches in the world and there are many other beaches in many different parts of the world who have solved the problem of all the sand escaping. Never going to happen here under Caymanian leadership. Third world is not without its charms though it does come with lots of limitations.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not only our beaches have eroded…. Caymanian quality of life also!!

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      Spot on here. I only came here in 1968 but of all things that I see has happened is that the quality of life is not what it was then. People may have much more money but so what.
      The days of people helping each other out in all walks of life have gone.
      How I wish we could turn the clock back.
      Thank you Cayman for the wonderful experience.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The “older generation” were no brighter than any other. They too built on the attractive coastlines and got ravaged by dozens of storms, taking refuge in other peoples homes. There’s a reason why there is a Rebecca’s Cave in the Brac. $3bln in coastal damage from Ivan a generation ago. Know your own history before yammering on and wagging your finger.

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  4. Anon says:

    the greed and ignorance of the few, overtly supported by successive governments and our own planning department costs us all financially too: all the insured losses caused by storms to these ill conceived properties and their adjoining, previously less problematic properties translate into higher insurance risk for the Island and higher property insurance premiums for everyone.

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  5. Caymanian says:

    Every oceanfront property from Dart’s beach houses to the Mariott must be forced to remove any structure, sea wall, patio and swimming pool that is too close to the shoreline.

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    • Anonymous says:

      LOL

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    • Anonymous says:

      They are the only thing protecting your precious West Bay Road at this point.

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      • Anon. says:

        Clearly you’re new around here. If the seawalls from Dart’s house to the Marriott are removed, the natural ebb and flow of the ocean would return the beach that area. You probably haven’t lived here long enough to know that the erosion in that area began when the sea walls went up. That area once had the widest beaches on Seven Mile.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Clearly you’re an idiot.

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          • Anon. says:

            You can’t support your position with an intelligent argument based on fact, but instead can only hurl juvenile insults. But I’m the idiot. Got it.

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            • Anonymous says:

              And you did? Idiot.

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              • Anonymous says:

                I’ve learnt over the years to never argue or debate two types of people. Idiots and newcomers to the Cayman Islands. History starts when they say so and they are pretty much immune to facts it seems. Especially concerning the Cayman Islands.

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                • Anonymous says:

                  Well, Caymanians are clearly not immune to ignoring facts. Maybe because some like yourself have no desire to learn from others. Cayman is a young territory, it does not have a lengthy history to guide logical decisions; you really need to be more open-minded and listen and learn what can be useful.

    • Breezy-E says:

      Never gon happen unless Mother Nature does it

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  6. Bruce Lee says:

    5 years tops.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Umm, Mr/Ms Viewpointer, you failed to mention something probably a lot more important, – the mangrove buffer. 🌊

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Completely agree with your assessment, but I fear it is too late… If this is 30 years ago, I would have hope that things get turned around, but it is too late now…

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  9. Anonymous says:

    With proper setbacks from the ocean there should be no need for expensive sea walls. Cost saving at the beginning and during the life of an ocean view property.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Proximity means close. Close proximity is redundant.
    Chai means tea. Chai tea is redundant.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I really don’t see why Cayman should pick up any costs to these places on the beach that get hit and eroded away, they were built too close to the shore, hope they become unsafe and are not rebuilt. Then the land should be returned to nature and we could all enjoy a better bigger beach.
    Any costs should be on the owners and developers for being so close, not insurance not government. the owners have seen millions in gains on SMB they dont offer that to others….

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  12. Anonymous says:

    About 30 years ago I was driving around the island looking at oceanfront development sites with architect Burns Connolly, may he rest in peace. As we continued, he gave me some words of advice and I quote “Anyplace on the ocean that should be built, has been built. Anywhere else you’re fighting nature and will eventually lose.” Wise words in the early 90’s…. Even more so today.

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    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      The next Hurricane Ivan, which will inevitably come, will take care of the issue of oceanfront development once and for all.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Very true but we will pay through our a$#@ several times over. Similarly to the Mariners Cove debacle. Insurance paid out owners which we paid for through increased premiums. Then the property was purchased by government by the public purse. History has proven, the developers always win.

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        • Anon says:

          “We do not wish to be controlled by commercial enterprises, big developers or other people interested in developing the Island[s]….Our duty, Honourable Members is not to make money, our duty is to be responsible and protect the 10,000 people who live in these Islands who will not be aware in detail of what is happening, who rely on us here to see that they are not exploited and that their land is not used wrongly.. ” Mr. A.C.E. Long in the Legislative Assembly in 1969.

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        • Anonymous says:

          History, and in particular recent history, has proven that politicians and too many of the people they appoint to public bodies, are for sale. Until we stop electing criminals and start putting corrupt politicians and those that buy them in prison, nothing will change.

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      • Anon says:

        I heard this rhetoric a lot. Oh, wait for the next Ivan. But I do not think another massive hurricane is going to be quite the reckoning that it may be believed to be. Regular Caymanians are not going to have the money to buy back the beachfront properties that went for bar tabs in the 70s. The real winner after a hurricane is going to be Dart and other major developers like him. He will have the capital to buy all of the damaged properties. I heard someone once say that Dart doesn’t care about today, Dart cares about legacy. That is it, he cares about his name being spouted much longer, when no one will remember that there was an actual person, like Morgan Stanley or Rockfeller. But the name will live on.
        Cayman, unfortunately, made their bed in the 60s and 70s.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Except that the West Bay Road/Northwest point area was one of the least affected by said hurricane.

        It’s all about the angle of approach my friend, you may have known that had you been here.

  13. Anonymous says:

    About 30 years ago I was driving around the island looking at oceanfront development sites with architect Burns Connolly, may he rest in peace. As we continued, he gave me some words of advice and I quote “Anyplace on the ocean that should be built, has been built. Anywhere else you’re fighting nature and will eventually lose.” Wise words in the early 90’s…. Even more so today.

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  14. Anon says:

    Well said, now we just need to get the National Development Framework in place to deal with this and the host of other issues that we are reacting to rather than dealing with head on.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, our morals have eroded much faster than the shoreline. Until they are addressed there will be no improvement in the shoreline.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    ‘The issue of shoreline development in the Cayman Islands has been a topic of concern for many years, particularly among the older generation, who were well aware of the potential dangers associated with building too close to the ocean.’

    Is it not the ‘older generation’, many still in power today, permitted and are still permitting all this development…

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Every time one of these multi- millionaire persons is given permission to build in close proximity to the sea, every time their property get damaged by the sea, every time they claim on their house/ hotel/condo insurance it negatively impacts my little 1500 sq.ft.,house located in the rural area, far away from the sea. I am tired of paying higher premiums on my house created by the damages they incur by building on the beach. I probably won’t be able to continue insurance coverage. There are thousands of us in this situation- can we bring a class action law suit against these rich people who have more money than common sense?

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Excellent and sensible viewpoint. It would also be sensible that all of the structures on the coast that were damaged be rebuilt for safety and compliance with the codes that every other business or home has to follow.

    There are photos being passed around of a restaurant deck that looks quite dangerous for patrons.

    Were these places inspected by any government agency?

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  19. Anonymous says:

    what sea walls or development that has been built has caused beach erosion?

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    • Michael says:

      I had the same question. I’m sure there’s much to be said for setbacks for a number of reasons, but I don’t understand how they’d reduce beach erosion?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Obviously you either haven’t been paying attention or you are a Johnny-come lately, which means you don’t really have prior knowledge of how it was.

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      • a says:

        You are correct: you ‘don’t understand.’

    • Anonymous says:

      The Marriott.

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    • Anonymous says:

      https://explorebeaches.msi.ucsb.edu/beach-health/coastal-armoring

      Its from California, and local conditions vary, but the principles remain.

      For 12:41 – Setbacks work because the wave hits the beach, stirs up sand, rolls up the slope and leaves the sand as it washes back. So wide beaches in storms get an accumulation of sand upslope that works its way back down over time. Compared to seawalls where the wave hits the beach, stirs up the sand, hits the wall, rebounds back out with the sand still stirred up, and then takes the sand offshore, leaving a reduced beach at the end of the storm.

      Again, local conditions, storm direction & intensity, etc., mean its more variable than the above, but that’s the underlying principles at work.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ask Marnie Turner

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    • Anonymous says:

      Been to Royal Palms recently?

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    • Anonymous says:

      anon@9:59. All of them. They are obstructing the natural ebb and flow of the waves. Yes the waves will take the sand out but if left unhindered the waves will bring it – sometimes in bigger quantities. Just don’t try to control the sea and build further away from the shore.

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    • Anonymous says:

      3 easy exampls are the Marriott hotel, Tiki Beach, and Boggy Sands

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    • Anonymous says:

      The groyne at Treasure Island is the original culprit. Yet it’s still there for some reason.

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      • a says:

        If you have ever snorkeled there you would easily see that the rocks have gaps where the water, sand go through. I was there this January and it was clear that the surf was going over and through the groynes. Sorry, but your opinion is not accurate. A porous structure is not equal to a solid wall on the beach.

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        • Anonymous says:

          If you had a grain of intelligence you would understand that any obstruction, be it total or partial, limits the natural north to south and south to north movement of the sand.

          The TI groyne was the first such obstruction to be installed.

          Prove me wrong.

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          • a says:

            You simply are uninformed of how the structure of the groynes work, and their history. OK, so they were the first (actually only half for a few years). But for the next 20 years little erosion occurred – – -until the solid sea walls started to be granted approval from CIG. Please research the science and history before you toss out speculation. Simply; porous structures 50 meters out from the shoreline do not act the same as a solid 3 meter high rock/cement wall extending from property, to property, to property.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure about viewpoint, more like simple facts.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    you are trying to flog a dead horse sir. The train is already a runaway at full speed. Everyone trying to grab what they can in the next 20 yrs before it hits the wall. When that happens even the foregin police force will leave the island because it will be ruled by pure corruption and violence.

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    • Green Hornet says:

      20 years….you’ve got to be kidding. We’ll be lucky if it ain’t 10 when we hit the wall. Or it hits us!

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