If you’re thinking about visiting The Cayman Islands for the first time, you’re in for a treat. You’ll be spending time in one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, popular with people from all walks of life and all ages. Grand Cayman boasts better developed cities and safer streets than other areas in the Caribbean. More than 2 million people come here for both work and play each year, due to the vibrant atmosphere and unique personality of the place that shines through. Here, we’re going to talk about some of the best and worst things to do, where to stay, and everything else you could possibly think of to make your trip more enjoyable.
Read on to learn more in this first timer’s guide to Grand Cayman!
How To Get To Grand Cayman
Getting to Grand Cayman is fairly easy via Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town. Most major air carriers offer their services here, however, some may only offer 1-2 flights per day.
Lots of flights to Grand Cayman from the USA are via Miami, which is about an hour away. You will find several car rental options at Grand Cayman’s airport, but make sure you book as early as possible, because inventory is extremely limited and it’s on a first come first served basis. Booking in advance as much as possible is always recommended as options can be limited.
Many get confused because driving on Grand Cayman is on the left side of the road, but there are arrows to help you make your way around. Driving there is safe and laid back, but you may spot somebody driving on the wrong side from time to time. Try not to panic. The most dangerous things you’ll probably find in the road are crabs and chickens.
What To Do On Your Trip To Grand Cayman
While there are lots of things to do on your trip to Grand Cayman, one of the best things you can spend your time doing is relaxing. Taking the time to de-stress and relax here is a must. Grand Cayman is an amazing place for a true vacation, rather than trying to fill your vacation with activities.
That being said, here are some things you can do in the area:
Visit Rum Point
This is a great lounging space, consisting of a waterfront open-air restaurant, gift shop and more. If you want to simply kick back and catch some rays, rum point is one of the best places to do it.
Go To Starfish Point
Although it is often described as such, Starfish Point is no longer a hidden gem. There are plenty of tourists, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. A great place to see beautiful starfish up close.
Head To Stingray City
Stingray city is very touristy, but awesome all the same. The location is gorgeous, there are a ton of stingrays, and the interactions with them are exciting. You won’t find anywhere else like this - consider it a must see. Red Sail Sports is one of the best companies for trips to Stingray city.
Every beach is gorgeous in Grand Cayman, but some are more relaxed than others. Beaches in less developed areas are often the better choice if you want relaxation and minimal chaos.
Smith Cove is a great spot for snorkeling, having a barbecue, or just swimming in the calm water. The place doesn’t get a load of tourists, so it’s perfect if you want to stay away from the crowds. It’s also an amazing spot for photographing the sunsets. If you’re a budding photographer or you simply want to snap some beautiful memories, this is the place to do it.
Grand Cayman is without question one of the best places for scuba divers to visit. The visibility is excellent, there is amazing diversity among the Cayman Islands’ dive sites, and there are relatively inexpensive dive companies that pick up guests from their resorts even if you're staying a little out the way. It’s the perfect place for experienced scuba divers to up their diving game.
Scuba diving in Grand Cayman gives you the opportunity to see beautiful fish and 365 engaging dive sites that you won’t forget in a hurry. Here are some ideas for your dive sites:
- Kittiwake artificial reef
- Babylon canyon
- Devil’s Grotto
- Eden Rock
If you have your diver’s license, you should consider this a must.
Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park is worth the visit anymore. The offering is incredibly weak, as you can no longer see the famous blue iguana. They are now kept locked in cages due to dogs eating them. You can stand by their cages, but it hardly makes it worth the trip. The trails are nice and there’s some flora, but that’s about it. We recommend spending your time doing something more exciting and worthwhile.
If you’re not a scuba diver, you can always try snorkeling instead. In Grand Cayman you’ll find exceptional snorkeling all over the place, and you can see a variety of vibrant tropical fish, huge Tarpon, beautiful reefs, and even nurse sharks.
Hell is a pointless place located in West Bay. All of the jokes are tired an unfunny, and it’s only worth a visit here if you absolutely must send a postcard from hell back home. If you want to do fun stuff and avoid terrible dad jokes about being in ‘hell in paradise’, then you should probably avoid Hell.
The Best Places To Stay In Grand Cayman
There are many 5 star and 4 star resorts in Grand Cayman. However, you can expect to spend a fortune if you stay on Seven Mile Beach. Just about everything is inflated in that area. Airbnb is a popular option and definitely worth a look, as you can save more than a third on accommodation prices. You could also look at a place like ChristopherColumbusCondos.com if you want total privacy during your stay. Where you stay all depends on your tastes, who you’re traveling with, and priorities. A private condo could be a good place to stay for couples on a honeymoon, or even families.
Where to Eat In Grand Cayman
We’ll be honest; it’s tough to find great food to eat in Grand Cayman. For the price you’d expect a lot more. The Woodfired pizza is ok from some outdoor eating spots, but make sure you pay Kurt’s Korner a visit. There’s no indoor seating, and there can be bad bugs, but you can count on cheap and delicious food here. The rotating specials are all good, as well as any of the curries. Expect to pay $100 per person anywhere else you decide to eat.
There’s a nearby supermarket called Hurley’s that you should look for if you plan on making some of your own food. Making your own food is a very good idea if you don’t want to blow your budget almost straight away!
Random Things You Should Know About Grand Cayman
Of course, there are also a few random things that you should know about Grand Cayman. The US dollar is accepted in Grand Cayman, so if that’s where you’re coming from you won’t need to go through currency exchange. Many places will also accept credit cards, but be sure you won’t have to deal with foreign transaction fees before you use it.
Tipping is important to people on the Cayman Islands. 10-15% is the recommended amount. Don’t forget this when settling up your bill.
Atlantic hurricane season runs from the first of June through November, so expect rain if you visit during this time. The off season in the Cayman Islands is around mid-April through mid-December, but family resorts will have more guests during summer. The best times for visiting are going to be the beginning and end of off-season in order to avoid both the rainy season and hottest months of the year. Aim for late-April to early-May, which can be considered the ideal time to visit.
For anxious travellers; be assured that Grand Cayman is relatively safe. You are unlikely to encounter the same pickpocket problems found throughout the Caribbean, but this doesn't mean you shouldn’t be on the lookout for isolated incidents.
The one thing to stress here is that the Cayman Islands are known for being expensive. Seven mile beach will cost you a fortune if you stay, eat, and scuba dive there. Staying elsewhere is much better for tighter budgets. If you can get away from the notion that you have to spend so much time at Seven Mile Beach like the majority of tourists, you’ll save a fortune.
Hopefully, this first timer’s guide to Grand Cayman has helped you to figure a few things out. Put a loose itinerary together so that when you get to your destination you can chop and change as you see fit. You don’t want to plan too many activities to interrupt your ‘me time’! Have an amazing time, and leave your thoughts below.