Consider traveling to the Cayman Islands -- Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac -- if you’re looking a vacation that includes some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches and some of the world’s best scuba diving.
Cayman Islands Basic Travel Information
Location: In the Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba and west of Jamaica.
Size: Grand Cayman 76 square miles, Cayman Brac 14 square miles, Little Cayman 10 square miles. See Map
Capital: George Town
Religions: Mainly Presbyterian
Currency: The Cayman Islands dollar (KYD). U.S. dollar widely accepted
Telephone/Area Code: 345
Tipping: Tips often added to bill; otherwise, tip 10 to 15 percent. Tip taxi drivers 10 to 15 percent
Weather: Temperatures vary little seasonally; highs in the low to mid-80s to lows in the 70s. Summer is hurricane season.
Cayman Islands Activities and Attractions
The islands' outstanding spots include Stingray City, the Keith Tibbetts shipwreck off Cayman Brac, and Bloody Bay Marine Park off Little Cayman. Stroll around George Town on Grand Cayman to check out the historic sites. Other attractions include Cayman Turtle Farm and the Mastic Trail, a forested hiking trail to the island's unspoiled center. Bird and nature lovers should head to Little Cayman's Booby Pond Nature Reserve, home to 5,000 pairs of nesting Red Footed Boobies.
Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with turquoise water lapping at the pure white sands. Many of the island’s hotels and resorts are along this beach, as well as many watersports operators. If you want to escape the crowds, try either Sandy Point on Little Cayman's east coast or Point of Sand, also on Little Cayman but at the southeastern tip.
Throughout the three islands, visitors will find a variety of places to stay, ranging from grand, full-service resorts to guesthouses with kitchens. On Grand Cayman, high-end resorts are run by the likes of Hyatt Regency, Westin, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton. Peaceful Little Cayman's properties are good if you’re looking to avoid hustle and bustle, while Cayman Brac has a larger selection of resorts, hotels, and condos.
Cayman Islands Restaurants and Cuisine
Not surprisingly, seafood is a staple here, particularly turtle and conch, a large, chewy mollusk that appears in soup, fritters, chowders, and salads. Dorado, tuna, eel, and mackerel are often prepared Cayman style, with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Spicy chili peppers and tangy jerk preparations are also frequently seen, in a nod to the islands’ historical ties to Jamaica. Restaurants are excellent and varied, many with European-trained chefs. There are plenty of affordable spots that serve local fare.
Cayman Islands Culture and History
Following Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Cayman Islands in 1503, pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors and slaves all settled here. Britain took control of the Caymans in 1670, making them dependencies of Jamaica. In 1962, Jamaica separated from Britain. The Cayman Islands, however, decided to remain under British rule. Today, the culture mixes influences from America, Britain and the West Indies.
Cayman Islands Events and Festivals
In the fall, the Pirates Week Festival celebrates the island's swashbuckling heritage. The Batabano Carnival in spring has a typically Caribbean flavor with parades, costumes, and steel drum music.
Cayman Islands Nightlife
Nightlife is not big in the Cayman Islands, but you can find a few fun bars (try Macabuca Oceanfront Tiki Bar and Grill) and dance clubs, plus a couple of comedy clubs and theaters. Check out the Cayman Compass for entertainment listings once you’ve arrived in the Caymans. There are no casinos.