I was halfway through my 479th boat briefing when I realized that one of my new divers, a girl on the port side, was looking way too comfortable, snuggled into a stranger’s dive gear with her sunglasses on. She clearly thought that her “sunnies” were the perfect disguise for her cat nap, but there was no way she was going to fool me. Really? Hiding behind your sunglasses? Please, girl. If you’re going to blatantly ignore my briefing, at least show some respect and get your game face on. I can read through your shades like an open book. In fact, just assume we island girls helped write that book.

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There are few items of greater importance on a rock than your sunglasses. It’s not at all strange around here for someone to own multiple pairs (I have four, which is very minimalist… I know someone with 22!). You generally need: 1) a boat pair, 2) a going out pair (yes, I wear my sunglasses at night…), and 3) a pair that you really don’t give a hoot about and to which anything can happen to without it being a complete tragedy. Furthermore, you are very much allowed to have multiple pairs in each category. Ironically, it’s always pair number 3 that seem to stick around.

From practical to just plain vain, I have lots of reasons to profess my love for my sunglass collection…

Sunglasses make for great conversation starters.

“I love your new Costas- They’re so much thinner than mine! Are they new?“

“Yeah, I’m so glad I bought these Oakleys. I really needed a new beach pair. My tan line from the SunClouds was getting outta hand.”

“Ugh, the polarization is peeling off my new Mauis already! Bummer.”

You can’t tell if I’m upset, amused, or bored. Or sleeping, for that matter.

It’s an art form amongst divemasters. You think I’m bullshitting about the whale shark I saw last week? You’ll never know…

When I’m out for a workout, I look pretty “with it”.

Although really, I’m only waiting for that lone car to pass me by so that I can stop and desperately wipe the sweat dripping into my eyeballs.

You can’t tell how hungover I am.

That’s right! I stayed up all night, partied till 3 am, and managed to get to work looking acceptable! Just don’t make me remove the sunnies. They will Stay. On. All. Day. Including when I go to the restroom, because I don’t want to scare myself silly in the mirror when I take them off.

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I look so much slimmer and cooler through the lenses of my boyfriend’s sunnies than I do in real life.

It’s a good thing he always wears them.

The world is so so much prettier.

Polarized sunglasses are akin to stepping into a StarBrite acid trip. The blues are bluer! The greens are greener! The ripples from the waves refract like exploding diamonds! Just don’t, whatever you do, take the sunglasses off, because…

If you take them off and stare at the water too long, you may burn your retinas.

Really. It’s possible. I promise you.

It’s one of the best fashion statements you can make on an island.

Just because my boat pair is for practical use does not mean they can’t also be stylish. My non-boat pair is designed to break at the arms, which means that I can mix-n-match arms to the lenses. And my crappy pair from Cambodia, which aren’t even polarized, are awesome Gucci knock-offs. The ultimate island girl fashion statement is, of course, the sunglass tan.

There is true sympathy from friends when a pair gets claimed by the sea.

There is a definite mourning period, during which you could theoretically hold a good-bye funeral for your sunnies and no one will think you’re the least bit strange. The waters offshore have got to be just swimming with lonely sunglasses waiting to be adopted and loved, but unfortunately, the third deepest trench in the world (~23,000 ft) is just offshore from my rock, and it’s unlikely the sunglasses will ever have human owners again. Meanwhile, I like to think there are some truly hip sharks swimming around in my old Oakleys.

You can’t for sure tell whether that guy is checking you out, but you’ve been trying to figure it out from behind your own sunglasses.

I know that you know that we both know you’re checking me out, creepy person, but pretending not to.

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It’s one of the few things island girls don’t mind spending small fortunes on.

My multiple-drawer bikini collection aside, what else do island girls have to spend money on? We don’t have a good reason to have epic Sex and the City-style shoe collections, since it’s only a matter of time until the weather, the topography, or an animal will destroy them. Nor is there much point in working on our wardrobes, since our cute clothes will eventually be reduced to faded shadows of their former selves, complete with holes from some famished mystery creature.

–   –   –

Aside from an ever-changing rotation of bathing suits and flip-flops (anyone else have an “I <3 Havaianas” bumper sticker out there? Just me?), sunglasses are the best way to express your individuality and mood. And without them, you run the risk of burning your retinas under the harsh Caribbean sun, while with them, you can enjoy colors that run along the chromatic scale of the Care Bears. Plus, they’re just plain cool.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:

Miami, Florida

Approaching three years on the Sister Islands of the Cayman Islands (nearly two on Little Cayman and one on Cayman Brac), Roxane is rapidly approaching the point of no return to reality. While thankful to not be on Grand Cayman, where cruise ships spill out tidal waves of tourists and KFC’s get held up by machete-wielding locals demanding buckets of chicken, she has found that the Sister Islands function on a completely different level of quirky. Although she has a Master’s degree in marine biology (despite Murphy’s Law of power outages), she spends her working time doing SCUBA instruction or divemastering, chasing people and fish with her cameras, killing and cooking lionfish, and filling in as “dive shop girl”. When not working, she is likely still diving and chasing fish with cameras or spears, but, for good measure, has a few other hobbies such as: coming up with sarcastic answers to dumb tourist questions, creatively cursing her persistently failing internet service, denying that her red hair is getting blonder, desperately coveting her dwindling stash of chocolate croissants, and gathering inspiration from her longtime boyfriend, who is fond of delightfully hare-brained concepts like strapping SCUBA tanks to a tricycle to propel himself underwater (it failed, but bandaids were on hand, just in case).

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