It’s a tropical paradise that might as well be synonymous with the word vacation; it’s nearly an archetypal tourist haven with its crystal blue waters, white sands and dancing palm trees. If you ever decide to visit the Cayman Islands, it will be an adventure you’ll hardly ever forget. However, we should all learn a thing or two about the place we intend to visit, so make sure to read on for your ultimate Cayman Islands vacation guide that will cover a bit of everything.
Cayman Islands Vacation Guide
It’s a location that has served as inspiration for countless pirate movies, with its coral reefs, concealed coves and shipwreck sites. The three islands that comprise this small group offer resplendent fun for thrill-seeking adventurists, as well as those who just want to lay back and enjoy some leisure away from their everyday lives.
The Cayman Islands were first spotted by none other than Christopher Columbus himself. It used to be a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean. It is located south of Cuba and north of Panama. The capital city is called George Town and the total population that lives on the 264 square kilometers (102 square miles) is circa 56,000.
Surprisingly, its history wasn’t that hectic. The Islands remained mostly uninhabited until the 17th century. It used to be a temporary home for pirates, sailors and deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s Jamaican army, until England took control of it, along with Jamaica, in 1670.
Under English rule, things were mostly peaceful there despite the historically tumultuous surroundings. Many slaves were brought here from Africa before slavery was abolished in 1833, so the majority of the natives are of African and English descent.
Grand Cayman is the biggest of the three islands, located to the far left. This is where the capital George Town is located, and it’s known as the hub of tourism and commerce. The population of the city is around 28,000, which makes up about half of the entire population. Tourists and other visitors mostly arrive via cruise ships that sail into the harbor Tuesday through Friday, but there is also the Owen Roberts International Airport (named after British Royal Air Force Wing Commander Owen Roberts, the founder of Caribbean International Airways in the 1950s).
The city itself is naturally not particularly big and it takes a casual stroll to cross it. If you want, you can use a small network of taxi minibuses around the urban area. The price for a basic drive is between $1.50 and $2.
However, the relatively modest size of the capital does not mean there’s a lack of activity for visitors. Some of the more popular activities include glass bottom boat tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, as well as tours of historical museum, art galleries and the rum distillery.
The Cayman Island National Museum, along with the Cayman Maritime Treasure Museum count themselves among the first obligatory stops for all tourists. As you’ve probably noticed, many of the activities offered are related to some sort of water activity. One of the arguably biggest adventures you can embark on is a tour of aquatic exploration with Cayman turtle divers, who know hundreds of dive sites around the islands that will take your breath away.
There are two sister islands that are grouped a little bit further to the right – Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. These are mostly rural and sparsely populated, but they are a great spot for getaway tourists. You can reach them via boat or plane as Cayman Brac, the larger of two, has a small airport. One of the main appeals of these islands are the offshore reefs and shipwrecks. Little Cayman is one of the top diving vacation destinations in the world, with over 50 dive sites that can descend up to 6000 feet. Of course, snorkeling, fishing and other beach activities are also very popular.
Places and events
Boatswain’s Beach on Grand Cayman is the world’s only commercial Green Sea Turtle farm and home to over 16.000 turtles. People can actually swim with the turtles and other marine life here.
As far as maritime life goes, don’t miss Stingray City, a sandbar near the channel in Cayman’s barrier reef. It’s a popular attraction, because you can touch and hold a stingray. There are also five main Beaches you can choose from – Seven Mile Beach, Cemetery Beach, Governor’s Beach, Smith’s Barcadere and Spotts Beach.
On Cayman Brac, don’t miss out on the Bluff and Christopher Columbus Gardens, the Lighthouse and eating out in a Brac Reef Restaurant and Bar. As far as Little Cayman goes, you should eat at Hungry Iguana Restaurant and, of course, dive at one of the countless locations around the island. These islands hide a lot of secrets that are waiting to be discovered.
Festivals are a big thing in the Caymans. Batabano, the Grand Cayman carnival, usually occurs near the end of April or the first half of May; and Gimistory, the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival is really unique. Try to plan your trip ahead to make the best out of these festivals and rent a hotel room in one of the many establishments the Cayman Islands offer.
You’ll be safe
From the luxurious Grand Cayman Beach Suites to the more modest Jeff’s Resorts; you are bound to find interesting accommodation that will fit your wallet. Cayman Brac also has several hotels as well as condominiums like the Cayman Breakers and Brac Caribbean and Carib Sands.
The island itself is pretty safe, you can dial 911 for emergencies and local policemen are reliable. Both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac have medical facilities for emergencies that fulfill high standards, so you should be safe.
The Cayman Islands are a perfect place to visit. The islands are beautiful, the sea is clear and the locals are very welcoming. In fact, they are very respectful and greetings are common and expected among everyone, so keep that in mind. It almost sounds like a place that is too perfect to be true. If you have any doubts, why not give it a visit?