- Recently Updated: November 2022
Cayman Islands has long been one of the most popular British territories to visit for weekend getaways. The family-friendly island resort has become one of the most popular British vacation destinations from US.
The Cayman Islands are the perfect vacation spots to relax by the beach, explore nature or enjoy a nice bonding time for family with kids as well as touring the beautiful islands.
The beach vacations are the Caribbean’s most picturesque tourist places, popular with travelers and cruise-goers. The islands are just off the coast of Cuba and not far from the US Virgin Islands
Why Visit The Cayman Islands
- Cayman group of islands are unlike any other Caribbean destinations. For starters, Grand Cayman is the biggest of the 3 islands, safer and more developed.
- The currency is the CI dollar which has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar.
- The US dollar is accepted in Grand Cayman, no need to convert money.
- Most locations, aside from small mom & pop shops, accept credit cards issued by US banks.
- It’s customary to tip in restaurants, varying from 10-15%, rather than the 15-20% in the US.
The Cayman Islands get over 2 million visitors each year but seems less touristic than other Caribbean islands. There’s something special about this beach destination compare to other island holidays.
Travel and tourism are a major part of the economy as they are on other Caribbean islands, although there is less of a sleazy side and more of a middle to high-end side.
Cayman islands vacation has as much in common with Hawaii than it does with the Bahamas in this respect. Like Hawaii, it has a lively indigenous culture that gives the islands a rich and distinct personality.
This tourist destination is now the number one British territory in terms of visitor numbers. In 2012, over 3 million people visited the Cayman Islands.
The main reason is because it’s now entirely a duty-free territory, meaning that people can bring in as much cash as they like without the need for a VAT refund.
This openness has made the Cayman Islands one of the most popular beach destinations in the world with tons of travelers visiting the islands throughout the year.
What Is Cayman Islands Known For
Grand Cayman is an ideal location for a genuine holiday with festivals and events rather than just relaxing by the beach.
The famous Batabano Carnival happens on the first week of May in George town Grand Cayman island.
Two weekends are dedicated to Batabano festival: one is family-friendly and the other is a more typical adult-focused event.
Masquerade bands, with their elaborate costumes and street parades, are particularly popular at the Batabano celebrations.
The real draw, though, is the Pirates Week Festival in November, when Grand Cayman transforms into a massive 11-day bash.
Parades, costume contests, street dances, simulated pirate invasions, outdoor activities, fireworks, and sumptuous local food are all part of the festivities. Totally great family vacations to consider.
If you’re looking for things to do in George town Grand Cayman, “nothing” isn’t a good idea, so yeah, here’s some more stuff instead of just having a laid-back time.
When To Visit Cayman Islands
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, and rain is more frequent during this period. Winter is traditionally the high season in the Cayman Islands, lasting from December 15 to April 15.
This is the best time to visit but accommodations booking are super high especially at popular tourist places and top beach vacation spots. Advance booking up to 3 months are a norm.
The Cayman Islands’ off season runs from mid-April to mid-December, although there is a small increase in visitors throughout the summer especially at family-oriented resorts.
Within a week from April 15, hotel prices drop by 20%–50% and airfares and cruise tickets drop as well. Avoiding the rainy season and warmest months, the best times to visit will be at the start of the off-season.
Late April to early May which is more or less perfect despite the fact that the noon heat may be pretty hot by May. The sea is much calmer in the summer, making it great for scuba diving.
From May to July, the water is pretty clear for snorkeling and calmer for sailing. If you are a fishing enthusiast, the big game fish are plentiful during this time of the year.
How To Go To Cayman Islands
Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town is serviced by most major airlines despite being a tiny airport with just one runway (some have only 1-2 flights per day, though).
Many flights from the United States to Grand Cayman pass via Miami, which is little over an hour away.
When looking for flights to Grand Cayman, suggest using ITA Software. The easiest method to discover airline deals for certain trip dates is to use ITA.
Use Airfarewatchdog fare alerts if you’re just starting to look for travel options. You can customize the alerts and get email notifications when prices are found to be low.
The cost of a flight to Grand Cayman varies, and it is more dependent on demand via Miami than on your departure airport.
The airport in Grand Cayman offers a variety of vehicle rental choices, which like flights, vary greatly in price. Book as soon as possible and cancel if you discover a better deal.
Driving in Grand Cayman is on the left side of the road because it’s a British Overseas Territory. For many Americans, this is alarming and perplexing.
Because Americans make up the majority of tourists to the Cayman Islands, many roadways have “convenient” arrow-painted on them.
Driving in Cayman is usually safe and relaxing (there are a lot of roundabouts), but every now and then you’ll come across someone who is driving on the wrong side of the road.
Watch out for crustaceans and domestic chickens on the road which can be a pretty common danger.
Best Area To Stay In Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman resorts such as Morritt’s Tortuga Club is quite a big property that is located next to Wyndham Reef Resort. Apart from these two resorts (both of which are timeshares), there isn’t much along this stretch of beach.
Morritt’s is pretty nice and the Wyndham Reef Grand Cayman resort seems to be excellent as well. Neither is posh nor does it provide the kind of luxury seen on Seven Mile Beach.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Hotel, Kimpton Seafire Resort and Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort are just a few of the properties with excellent beach holiday vibes.
These are 3.5-star hotels with 4-star service while the East End Grand Cayman resorts village provide 4 or 5-star service and facilities. All are mostly family -centric.
In comparison, Morritt’s and the Wyndham Reef have a significant benefit in terms of seclusion. The stretch of beach between the two is peaceful with no crowds, jet skis or boats.
If you want to get away from the throng, go beyond the resorts to a stretch of beach that is almost entirely empty (something that is not possible in the Seven Mile Beach vicinity).
Outside of the East End village, there are a few other places that provide comparable, secluded resort experience but I have not visited any of them.
Choosing the ideal Grand Cayman resorts boils down to a choice between the popularity and luxury of Seven Mile Beach against the solitude and tranquility of another location such as East End.
Which Grand Cayman resorts that you prefer depends on your preferences, however after seeing East End village isolated and peaceful vibes, Seven Mile Beach may not be that fascinating.
Best Things To Do In Cayman Islands
- Rum Point is the beach from where you will depart for touring Stingray City.
- There’s much to do here, with plenty of lounging areas, a waterfront open-air restaurant, a gift store and more.
- This location appears to be a great family beach vacations especially on less crowded days.
- It’s busiest when cruise ships dock in Grand Cayman (it’s a popular port stop), so check the George Town Port Schedule on when is the best time to go.
Marine life visit to the Cayman Turtle Centre – This is also known as the Cayman Turtle Farm and is a popular boat tour. After Hurricane Ivan, things altered drastically.
It used to be an intimate experience where you could get up close with the turtles while also learning about their protection. The experience has become considerably more touristic in recent years.
The farm provides a fun family vacation for the kids to know more about the turtle species and how climate change have impacted their natural survival.
The Blue Iguana in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a popular attraction with hundreds of enormous blue iguanas wandering freely. This sounds great but sadly its no longer true.
Most of these iguanas were in “protective custody” because local dogs had been devouring them. You can pay more to go closer to their cages but it’s not the same seeing them in the wild.
This Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is woefully inadequate as a botanical park. The paths are pleasant for a stroll and there is a nice garden but nothing particularly noteworthy.
- East End Blow Holes
Because the signage is tiny, they may be difficult to locate but they are very beautiful. On a good day, a handful of blowholes along the jagged coastline rock shoot water up to 20 feet into the air.
Sitting and watching the action, especially around dawn when there is almost no one else is totally surreal. They have a relaxing feeling to them and their repetition of water shooting out is pretty soothing.
- Colliers Beach
I recommend Colliers Beach because it’s directly enroute to the Blow Holes (about 7 km away). It’s usually empty and away from the crowds (except for the chickens)
The route is well shaded with trees and it’s on a lovely length of coastline. It isn’t the most spectacular beachside road in the world but it is pleasant driving experience.
There are a few more places you can visit, most notably the Cayman Crystal Caves and Pedro St. James Castle and these are the main vacation spots for visitors.
Swimming And Snorkeling
- Scuba Diving
The visibility is good, the diving locations in the Cayman Islands are diverse, and there are a number of reasonably priced dive companies that pick up visitors from their hotels (even off the beaten path on the East End).
Beyond excellent visibility, the dive sites in the Cayman Islands feature a wealth of beautiful fish and 365 engaging dive sites. Kittiwake artificial reef, Babylon canyon, and Devil’s Grotto & Eden Rock are some of the best scuba diving sites.
Even if you aren’t qualified to scuba dive, you’ll want to go snorkeling. You may view a variety of colorful tropical fish, big Tarpon, gorgeous reefs and even nurse sharks when snorkeling all around the area.
Many operators offer a snorkeling stop near Cayman’s barrier reef when booking a trip to Stingray City. Smith Cove and Spott’s Beach are two more places to visit.
However, there is something to do just about everywhere. Even beneath the dock at Morritt’s is a good place to go fishing.
One of the coolest things for a family holiday is visiting a sandbar where stingrays congregate. It’s one of Grand Cayman’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s very touristy and also totally beautiful.
The setting is stunning and the encounter with the stingrays feels pretty calming. I’ve seen stingrays up close before but nothing compares to Stingray City. It’s difficult to put into words how fascinating this experience is.
You will typically warm up to the stingrays here in a matter of minutes since they are so lively. Boat tours to Stingray City are available from a number of operators.
The boat crew have been really fantastic; they are very pleasantly experience in their assignment, well educated about stingrays and seem to enjoy what they do.
Smith Cove, Smith Barcadere
I suppose Smith Cove, Smith Barcadere is nearest to Seven Mile Beach. It’s still in George Town and it’s close enough to Seven Mile Beach for guests staying at those hotels but far enough to avoid the crowds.
This is an excellent location for snorkeling, barbecuing, and just swimming in calm water. This is also, in my opinion, the finest location on Grand Cayman for watching sunset.
You have some interesting cracks formations under the rocks itself and the beach faces the direction of the sun set.
Seven Mile Beach also faces the same direction but you’ll have a hard time finding a spot for photographs as other tourists might be in your camera shots.
Seven Mile Beach
According to several of the Cayman Islands tourist books I’ve read, Seven Mile Beach has won a slew of “best beach in the world” accolades.
It’s a lovely beach but I believe that much of these praises come from the fact that it’s Grand Cayman’s most well-known beach as well as the location of the majority of Grand Cayman luxury resorts.
In that sense, it’s similar to Waikiki Beach in Hawaii which isn’t Hawaii’s finest beach but is the one that everyone knows about since it’s next to so many super popular resorts and hotels.
Almost every beach in Grand Cayman is extremely stunning. Apart from its shoreline, Seven Mile Beach distinguishing feature is the quantity of high-end tourists that visit it.
There’s nothing wrong with Seven Mile Beach, but if you’re seeking for a relaxing experience, I’d prefer any of the beaches in less-developed beachtowns.
Relax at Starfish Point
In almost every Grand Cayman travel book I’ve read, this area is mentioned as a hidden treasure. My travel buddies have been coming here frequently and claims that it was once a hidden treasure.
This is no longer the case. There are tons of jet ski and boat tours that stop here, and it was completely crowded during my recent visits.
This isn’t to say it’s a dud, it’s a lovely small beach with a plethora of starfish. Arriving early in the morning or going just before sunset is my suggested strategy.
The aim is to stay away from the periods when tour companies are bringing tourists. You can still have the beach to yourself if you drive there (there’s a tiny parking lot) and arrive after 5 p.m.
Where To Eat In Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman local cuisine are plentiful but they are overpriced and disappointing. We’ve eaten at Kaibo Restaurant (their beachside bar is a nice choice for wood-fired pizzas) but nothing great.
Agua Restaurant and The Wharf are all disappointing. Not because the meal was terrible but because it didn’t live up to the price tag (even if you’re paying more for stunning beach views).
The Caboose is located in the center of Grand Cayman. It has a trendy outdoor sitting area with friendly staffs and the service is pretty excellent. Their specialty are slow-smoke meat.
Whereas most places on Grand Cayman charge a premium (ostensibly because food costs more on an island), Caboose is a cheaper suggestion by almost any measure.
It’s high-quality meats are raised without hormones or pesticides in a natural environment and the organic veggies are harvested from their garden next door. So yeah, local organic food is perfect.
Caboose is one of the few places on Grand Cayman that we have any desire to return to. Its pricing are comparable to those of nearby top eateries and the service is excellent.
When it comes to the neighborhood Wendy’s near to Hurley’s grocery. And if you intend on cooking any of your own meals, this shop has a few locations on Grand Cayman that you should visit.
Smaller convenience shops may be found all around the island especially near hotels and timeshare complexes, although they are usually overpriced.
Cayman Islands are a popular vacation destination and it’s easy to see why. One of the most beautiful places on earth, the Caymans offer a serene tropical paradise where every day is a holiday.