Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know…?
- Hurricane Ivan destroyed some 85% of all structures in the Cayman Islands (2004).
- The 1966 Batmobile, in the Cayman Motor Museum, was based on a $250K “concept car” created by Ford.
- Southern stingrays use electroreceptors on their snouts (as well as smell and touch) to locate food.
- Due to hurricane damage, Seven Mile Beach is less than six miles long.
- Grand Cayman iguana hatchlings are about seven inches long.
Stingrays in the shallows
Grand Cayman, at about 76 square miles, is the largest of the three-island Cayman Islands archipelago. The island group, a British territory, sits in the western Caribbean south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica.
At first glance, Grand Cayman is unremarkable for its flatness, but the natural attractions are there, mostly under the water.
Not far offshore, coral reefs and walls drop dramatically into the deep, as a result of which diving and snorkeling are major reasons tourists choose this destination for their holidays. Visitors also explore and admire the spectacular coral and marine life by joining outings on a submersible vessel or a glass-bottom boat.
Grand Cayman wins further points big time for duty-free shopping, deep-sea fishing, unspoiled beaches and a very low crime rate.
Additionally, unique attractions include the friendly southern stingrays found in Grand Cayman’s North Sound. Visitors can dive or snorkel with the animals at Stingray City in water about 20 feet deep, or simply wade with them in waist-deep water at Stingray Sandbar.
Visitors can go to Hell, too. In this case, Hell refers to a small town, probably named for its curious attraction — an area of black, razor-sharp rock called ironshore.
Other popular touristic diversions include the Cayman Turtle Farm, the Cayman Motor Museum, the Mastic Trail for hiking, plus sightseeing in George Town, the territory’s capital, and in the first capital, Bodden Town, noted for colorful houses with fretwork verandas.
Grand Cayman’s top festivities include Pirates Week, celebrating a swashbuckling past; Batabano, the local version of Carnival, and Gimistory, a storytelling festival.
Grand Cayman is a popular cruise destination. At least one passenger ship is in the George Town port most days of the week, which means, most days, the ships are bringing thousands of cruisers to the island.
The Cayman archipelago, an international financial center, enjoys a standard of living that is among the highest in the Caribbean. Hurricane Ivan devastated these islands in 2004, but Caymanians soon busied themselves with reconstruction.
Things to do for Venturers
- If you have the background and skill, participate in Gimistory, the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival. Or, time your visit for the November-December event dates and be mightily entertained.
- Do your parasailing or windsurfing at Grand Cayman’s East End or North Sound.
- Strap on the gear and dive from Grand Cayman’s shore, but boat trips provide more choice. The North Wall and East End are considered to have the island’s best dive sites but, be aware, these areas generally have rougher sea conditions.
- Come for Batabano held in the spring. Rent a costume and get a new perspective on Carnival revelry.
- Sample the mudslides around town. These are not sissy drinks, mixing vodka, Kahlua and Baileys with a little chocolate syrup and lots of ice.
- If motorized transport is an interest, discover the eclectic and cleverly presented collection of cars and motorcycles at the Cayman Motor Museum. And, have lunch at the on-site 1950s diner.
Things to do for Centrics
- Swim and snorkel with the southern stingrays at Stingray City on the island’s North Sound.
- Arrange for a day of fly-fishing. Alternatively, head to the deep waters for the big ones.
- See the mock pirates’ invasion — with “kidnapping” of the governor — during the November Pirates Week, which lasts more than a week and celebrates a past when pirates were real. It features competitions and games, street dances, local food and more.
- Go horseback riding on one of the island’s beaches. And, walk the two-mile Mastic Trail, a traditional footpath through woodlands.
- Plan your self-guided walking tour of George Town.
- Tour the distillery, Seven Fathoms Rum. Sample rum there — and in drinks anywhere on the island.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take advantage of the duty-free shopping. Also, check out the Cayman Craft Market for traditional products.
- Learn about sea turtle conservation efforts and enjoy personal encounters with the animals at the Cayman Turtle Farm. The facility includes aviary and shark sections, too.
- The beaches are wide and fringed with palm trees. Choose one.
- Send someone a postcard from Hell, the town, that is. Hell’s unique attraction is the black rock formation called ironshore.
- Explore the underwater reefs in a submarine. Or study that scene from a glass-bottom boat.
- The Cayman Drama Society provides live theater. Get tickets.
For more information, consult the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism at www.caymanislands.ky