Television Host. Filmmaker. Blogger. Producer. Traveller. Writer. And you may have even noticed that she is the cover girl for our blog and website. The list goes on and on.
The moment that Monica Walton walked into our Beach House, she impressed us with her laid-back, approachable and compassionate personality. There is no doubt that she has a beautiful presence. But the one thing that struck us the most upon meeting her is the love she has for her home country. She moved back to Cayman three years ago to re-ignite her relationship with the place where she was born and reconnect with her Cayman roots. In just a short space of time she has become a wonderful ambassador for the islands. And she has only just started.
When asked what Monica loves about living in Cayman, she highlights the relaxed island lifestyle, along with the country’s natural beauty. She said: “From the incredible clear waters, the tropical fruits and flowers, the amazing marine life and the laid-back chilled out vibe – Cayman is perfect.”
Monica was born in Cayman but moved to the UK with her family when she was three. Throughout her childhood, she would come back to Cayman for the holidays. She spent the majority of this time in Cayman Brac, where her father’s family is from. The Brac is what Monica describes as the ‘real’ Cayman. She added: “It is all about the barefoot beaches, fishing, family and food. And it is about pure relaxation. I love that part of it. And family is a big part of our culture so I love hanging out with them and cooking food on a barbeque and hanging around and talking on the beach.”
Monica didn’t officially move back to Cayman until 2012, after she finished her University studies and spent time working in London. She decided to return to her roots and connect with family members who she hadn’t met before. When she arrived she was given the chance to be the Host of the tourism channel Discover Cayman, as well as Producer. It was an opportunity she couldn’t resist and she felt that it was meant to be. The rest is history.
She elaborated: “I love what I do – it is hard work at times but I get to play tourist and show people the best places to see and go to in our stunning islands. It is something that I love to do because I have this renewed appreciation of Cayman. Sometimes people stay here for a long time and they take it for granted a little bit. I love showing people the different sides of our beautiful country. It is my dream job.” Adding to her already inspiring list of talents, she recently started the website Caribbean Life + Travel. It gives an insider’s view on living and travelling in the Caribbean, with photos, videos and articles on food, fashion, travel and wellness.
When asked what her favorite part of her job is, she answers without hesitation – the food. She explained: “Cayman is so diverse in the culinary scene and there are so many amazing restaurants. I love meeting people, especially the local characters that you encounter down in the Fish Market or outside Heritage Kitchen. I feel that the real essence of Cayman is showcasing people’s characters and personalities, which is a big part of what Cayman is.”
When asked what is her fondest childhood memory of Cayman, she reminisced to a particularly beautiful day that took place when she was 15 years old. She said: “It was one of the first times that I came back to Cayman. My uncle and aunt in Cayman Brac took me to Little Cayman on a small boat. I remember being blown away by the natural beauty over there. The blue waters, the flying fish I saw along the way, the conch on the seabed. I felt really at home, being with my family and being in such an awe-inspiring place. I had been away for so long, but it felt really familiar being on the beach and swimming around in the clear crystal blue waters, picking up conch shells on a secluded beach. It was magical and was probably the moment that I felt a deep and real connection with the place I am from.”
Fast-forward to 10 years later. That connection never faded and now she is living back home. So what is Monica’s current state of mind? Feeling grateful. She elaborated: “Gratitude. I think that is so important. Sometimes you have a really bad day and you feel stressed and busy but I feel like we should be grateful for being able to live in a place like this, especially when you see how difficult other people’s lives can be. Getting to write and reminisce about my experiences in Cayman always makes me feel grateful that we get to live on such a beautiful island. I believe that you should always take a moment to be grateful everyday.”
It is only natural that her greatest extravagance is travelling. Monica continued: “I feel like memories and experiences are more important than material possessions. I had a real spiritual connection with India. I was there for a month and I was really sad to leave. I did some volunteer work at an orphanage teaching children Maths and English. We talk about gratitude and you absolutely feel that way when you see young people who are so underprivileged but so happy. And you see a community who have nothing but they are happy to have each other. I love that aspect of India. There are so many other countries that I adore – every place has its own draws and attractions. But India is definitely one that resonates with me. And obviously Cayman and the Sister Islands are very close to my heart!”
Her most treasured possession? It makes sense that it speaks of her strong sense of wanderlust. She explained: “My collection of photos from my travels and experiences. I love old cameras like Polaroids so I have tons of random photos scattered across my house. I feel like I am a hoarder in terms of experiences and I want to remember the things that I have done.”
And when asked what her idea of perfect happiness is, she told us very simply: “Feeling free, loved and surrounded by nature and art.” We couldn’t agree more.
Monica In A Nutshell:
Personal motto: Words I live by from author Jack Kerouac: “Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry.”
Brand of sunscreen: Burts Bee’s have great 100% natural products.
Sunset drink: A “Watermelon Lush” from the Bistro, it’s made with fresh local products so it’s really refreshing.
Summer scent: The sea air… it’s beautiful so get out there!
Brand of sunglasses: Peripheral Life + Style are a cool local brand that gives back to various charities across the island. They look good and I love the concept.
Summer book: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Song of the season: Anything from Bob Dylan, but one of my favorites at the moment is Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.
Flip flops or bare feet: Barefoot always. If I could go to work with no shoes I would.
The Voices of Cayman’s Endless Summer