In addition to its proven formula of sun, sand and sea, the Cayman Islands is offering a new diversion among its family-themed vacation options this summer: skateboarding.
Located on Grand Cayman is Black Pearl Skate Park, 60,000 square feet of challenging, multilevel concrete skateboard terrain where the 11-week Skate Cayman day camp program will launch on June 8 as the first skateboarding camp of its kind in the Caribbean.
Top professional and amateur skateboarders, coaches and instructors will descend on Black Pearl throughout the summer as part of the Skate Cayman program to give demonstrations and lessons, hang out with kids and help them, and skateboarders of any age, improve their boarding skills.
"With skateboarding now a recognized sport and poised as a possible entree into the global mainstream arena in London's Summer Olympic Games in 2012, we're hopeful that Skate Cayman will positively impact summer tourism business and provide value in tough economic times," the Department of Tourism said in a statement.
Tourism officials are promoting Skate Cayman in conjunction with the Cayman Summer Splash family program and Cayman Airways' Kids Fly Free promotion, in which one child under age 11 per paying adult flies free from the airline's gateways in Miami, New York and Tampa. (See box below.)
"With a skate-heavy twist on the family vacation, the camp program could draw a new market to the Cayman Islands this summer of families who are looking for unique kids' activities during the day and time together after the skateboarding sessions," according to tourism officials.
The sport of skateboarding boasts a following of about 20 million worldwide, according to the International Association of Skateboard Companies.
"Even if we tap into just a fraction of that market, it will benefit us in highly measurable ways, impacting hotel occupancies, restaurant revenues and island attractions," officials said.
During its first week, Skate Cayman will feature Olympic gold medal snowboarder Shaun White, who will skate, sign autographs and offer hands-on instruction and trick tips for the campers on June 12.
Each of the 11 weeks of Skate Cayman will be hosted by a different skate team or skater, including Bucky Lasek, Rune Glifberg, Brian Sumner, Josh Harmony and the Shut Skates team.
Skate Cayman will offer hands-on instruction for campers on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sessions are priced at $63 a day or $282 for the week.
Marquee weeks, beginning June 8 and 22 and Aug. 3 and 17, will ramp up the action a notch with Friday night skate parties under the lights, movie screenings and Caymanian food served at Black Pearl.
The challenging but rider-friendly park offers three main courses -- expert, intermediate and beginner -- with concrete bowls, half- and quarter-pipes and flow and street courses for each level.
Campers will be broken out by skill levels with trained coaches leading the instruction throughout the day.
All skate demos and autograph signing sessions will be open to the public, and there is free skating at Black Pearl for anyone who wants to experience the park without the camp instruction.
Adjacent to the skateboard park is Black Pearl's surf park, a self-contained wave machine that generates 11-foot waves in a 16,000-gallon wave pool.
Wave riders attempt to hang 10 on surfboards as the gigantic waves and surf crash around them.