July 3, 2013
If you travel at all in the Caribbean, you’ll soon encounter the word Cay. English speakers from the United States will be tempted to pronounce it as it’s spelled, cay, rhyming it with the word way.
Resist the temptation.
It’s pronounced key, just like those things we use in locks.
Here in the United States we tend to spell the term cay K-E-Y. Nearly every traveller here has heard of the string of islands in south Florida known as the Florida Keys, as well as the southern most city in the continental United States, Key West. Most of the Caribbean nations spell it C-A-Y though and pronounce it key.
If you cruise with Disney (which we really encourage) you will almost certainly pay a visit to an island in the Bahamas known as Castaway Cay. Other cruise lines have similar stops at cays of their own, and two of the famous Sandals resorts, in Jamaica and the Bahamas have private cays for the use of resort guests.
What exactly is a cay?
For the vacation travellers, it’s enough to remember that a cay is simply a small island normally a few miles in length or less with very low elevations. I have even heard a Bahamian say that if it’s less than a mile long, it’s a cay, more than a mile long and it’s an island.
Many places do have their own vernacular, and that’s one of the things that makes a place special. Here in North Carolina we refer to many of our small islands as banks – hence the term the Outer Banks. Many of which might be long, but are often low, narrow, and separated by inlets.
Next time you’re headed to the Caribbean, make sure and pronounce cay K-E-Y!
Remember, if you are on that wonderful Disney cruise you’ll likely be stopping at Castaway Cay, regardless of how it’s spelled!
And, don’t forget to
Relax…you can get there from here!