Cayman Islands holidays

Experience Cayman Islands

Best Places to Visit

Grand Cayman is the main island and the biggest draw for tourists heading to the Cayman Islands, as it’s home to the gorgeous Seven Mile Beach and the bustling capital George Town. Together these are two of the Cayman Islands' biggest tourist attractions, and the beach alone is more than enough of a reason to pay a visit. George Town features traditional buildings and cruise liners regularly pull in at the harbour here, adding to the sense of vacation even if you arrived via a different mode of transport.

The town has striking landmarks such as Fort George, along with fantastic shopping, eating and museums, while beaches can be enjoyed island wide. Grand Cayman offers the best in entertainment too, so if you want a more active holiday, this is the place to be.

Seven Mile Beach is the islands' top beach and many visitors choose to stay here. It has clear, warm water, great sand and lots of luxury resorts, restaurants and bars. The full length of it (now measured as just over six miles) is open to the public, so you can take a leisurely walk from end to end if you wish.

Stingray City, where visitors get to pet stingrays in waist-deep water, is a major destination for families of all ages. You can even feed the rays - don't worry, they don't 'sting'! The Stingray Sandbar is near to George Town and Seven Mile Beach, while the east coast (or East End) is home to an array of nature areas and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Cayman Brac is the second most visited island of the trio and the farthest afield. It is serene with quiet beaches and has some of the best snorkelling and walking areas in the region, making it a great option for activities that are a little less demanding. There are plenty of resorts and nightly entertainment is quite low-key.

Little Cayman is near Cayman Brac and is the smallest, least developed of the Cayman Islands. It is surrounded by quiet beaches and has rich coral and marine life. Little Cayman is especially popular with couples looking for seclusion, as well as divers and naturalists. Just offshore is Owen Island, which is close enough to swim or kayak to. Offering relaxation and adventure, there is always something to do.

Top Landmarks

Beaches are the must-see landmarks and Grand Cayman has many, including Seven Mile Beach. The largest island also has the pick of the attractions. George Town, the capital, has several worthy sights such as Fort George, hailing from the late 1700s, and the National Museum on Harbour Drive.

Head out of town and you are sure to pass Pedro St. James Castle, a plantation house in Savannah district. A drive around this area will reveal the Salina and Blue Iguana reserves, while Rum Point offers sublime views and shallow, turquoise water. Just beyond this heritage site is the lush Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Other Grand Cayman landmarks include the Turtle Farm and aptly-named Hell Rock formations at Boatswain's Beach. You will also find at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach is Cemetery Beach.

Cayman Brac has many caves to the west of the island. Visitors can walk through caverns here as well as dive in them. Skull Cave and Rebecca's Cave are most popular here. The Bluff and Christopher Columbus Gardens are nearby while the Cayman Brac Museum and the Parrot Reserve are near the island's centre. If you have a car, be sure to see the lighthouse on the eastern tip.

Little Cayman has the best dive sites, with Bloody Bay Wall one that all visiting divers must experience. Vertical walls and great visibility make for excellent diving, with a vast collection of fish and sponges to hand. For nice sand and views of Cayman Brac, visit Point of Sand Beach or the Booby Bird Nature Reserve for its colourful parrots.

Entertainment

West Bay Road at Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, has easily the best nightlife. There are some lively bars and nightclubs along here, as well as in George Town, including terrace bars, sports bars and a traditional Irish pub. Expect lots of reggae and commercial 'DJ' music along with expensive alcohol.

Seven Mile Beach also has the pick of the nightclubs, including Next Level, the best-known club here. The Attic, meanwhile, is good for beer, dancing and billiards.

You can also enjoy the theatre on Grand Cayman at Harquail Theatre, near West Bay Road, among others, as well as cinema at Camana Bay. Cayman Brac offers local cultural performances at the Aston Rutty Centre.

Most of the action on Cayman Brac is in the small town in the west where most of the hotels and restaurants are located. It can be fun on a weekend but the scene here is a lot quieter than on Grand Cayman. The Brac Reef Bar has live music while the Coral Isle Club is the most frequented disco.

Little Cayman, in comparison, is relatively quiet, with the entertainment mostly resort-based. The Birds of Paradise Restaurant in the west is a popular choice.

Apart from the nightlife and theatre, dinner cruises are popular, in particular, the old Jolly Roger party galleon that departs George Town. Festivals are also lively; the Cayfest (April) and the Cayman Jazz Fest (June) are fun and lively affairs. Many visitors also opt to relax in spas that can be found at the big hotels, especially along Seven Mile Beach.

Dining Out

The Caymans are expensive for just about everything, however it's not all five-star, as there are plenty of fast food outlets and jerky stands hidden among the fine dining experiences. Standards of quality and service are overall very high.

Traditional Caymanian cuisine takes inspiration from the sea and is very similar to Jamaican food. Local dishes worth trying include conch chowder, stews, fried plantain, lobster and of course, jerk chicken and tacos. West Indian dishes and plenty of other cuisines can also be enjoyed, including British, American, Italian, German and Thai.

Rum is the national alcoholic drink and is surprisingly pricey, so you may find yourself testing the local Caybrew beer which is served in all restaurants along with imported beers.

Dining experiences are best enjoyed in George Town or along the main strip (West Bay Road) of Seven Mile Beach. There are some fabulous waterside restaurants along the latter, as well as overlooking the harbour in the capital.

One of the best restaurants is Blue at the Ritz-Carlton, West Bay Road, which does delicious seafood on a prix fixe menu and has an extensive wine list. Jerky stands are ubiquitous on all islands and it is best to let your nose do the choosing.

Beach

Seven Mile Beach is the best known beach of the archipelago. Located on the western side to the north of George Town, it has miles of lovely white sand backed by eateries, bars and hotels. Quieter beaches dot the southern shore, while Cayman Brac is best known for its quiet beaches on the southwest coast. Brac Reef Beach Resort is well situated for accessing these beaches. The pink sand of Little Cayman's Point of Sand (southeast) is the best choice on this small island.

Romance

The Caymans is a popular destination for weddings and newlyweds, with many hotels offering tailored services and special facilities for honeymooners. There are a number of churches and chapels in which to get wed, such as the Bride House or gazebos on the sand. All islands have secluded beaches, while walks along the Bluff on Cayman Brac or amid the tropical flowers of the Botanic Park of Grand Cayman are romantic. Sunset cruises go from both islands.

Family

Snorkelling at Stingray City is perfect for kids as they get to pet friendly rays in their own environment, in calm, shallow waters. The Atlantis Submarine is another star family attraction, taking visitors under the waves to take in the marine beauty for an hour. The Cayman Turtle Farm is home to thousands of turtles, from babies to huge males. All of these draws can be enjoyed at Grand Cayman, the best island for families, though all islands have suitable beaches and cruises.

Adventure

Diving is the number one activity, bar lounging on the beach. The waters are warm year round as well as calm, with great visibility and numerous marine species. There are dozens of dive operators and scores of reefs, caves and wrecks. Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall is the best site, while Cayman Brac has a famous Russian warship. The East End of Grand Cayman has the best surf in late summer/autumn and the tank at Black Pearl is fun. For hiking, visit the Mastic Trail on Grand Cayman or the Bluff on Cayman Brac.

Our best deals in Cayman Islands

Need to know

Language

English is the Cayman Islands' official language and most people speak it, including those involved in the tourist industry. The local accent is a combination of English, Scottish and Southern American. Along with Jamaican twangs, visitors may also detect a hint of Spanish. The popularity of the islands means that you will likely hear multiple languages during your stay, with tourists travelling far and wide to witness the Cayman’s beauty.

Currency

The Cayman Islands dollar (KYD, CI$) is the official currency, although US dollars are routinely used. The local currency is historically worth more, so be careful not to get the rates mixed up. Shops tend to use local currency while hotels often prefer US dollars. Banks offer the best exchange rates, though ATMs are widely available and tender both currencies. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the Cayman Islands, as are travellers' cheques in US dollars, while prepaid currency cards offer an alternative form of plastic that many travellers consider more secure.

Visas

UK, EU, US, Canadian and Australian citizens can all visit visa-free for up to 30 days. This length of stay can be extended for six months. Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of departure and immigration may check this along with return flight tickets. To be sure, try to schedule your return trip with at least several days before your passport and documentation expire, as any delay could leave you in the unfortunate position of trying to leave the islands with expired documents.

Climate

Temperatures are quite uniform throughout the year, with the hottest days during the wet summers (June to September). Summer is considered the low season, which is hot and wet, and is sometimes prone to hurricanes (July to October). Consequently, hotel rates are cheaper at this time. Holidays to the Cayman Islands are best enjoyed from December to April during the drier winter. Rainfall is only an inch per month on average while the mean temperature is 25°C (77°F).

Main Airports

Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman is the main gateway, receiving flights predominately from the UK, and US. The airport is located in the south-west of the island, well within reach of beaches and resorts. The other two islands in the chain also have airports, including Gerrard Smith International Airport on Cayman Brac and Edward Bodden Airfield on Little Cayman.

Flight Options

British Airways flies from London-Heathrow via Nassau, Bahamas, every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Flight time is 10 hours. BA also flies to Miami, from where numerous connections are made with Grand Cayman. Other leading airlines include Air Canada from Toronto, American Airlines from Miami, Continental from Houston and US Airways from Philadelphia. Local carrier Cayman Airways, also serves the nation from several US and Caribbean cities.

Travel Advice

The Cayman Islands has two seasons - high and low. Lower fares and decreased hotel rates can often be had in summer (May to November), but it's usually best to avoid July and August. Booking online is the best bet for cheap deals on flights and hotels, while the Cayman Summer Splash package has cheap rates for kids.

Other Transport Options

The Caymans are a major cruise destination, with liners docking year round in the capital George Town (Grand Cayman) from Europe, the US and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Holland America and Celebrity Cruises all operate inclusive services. Visiting other islands is possible by air or charter boat.

Getting Around

Most visitors to the Cayman Islands travel between the three islands by air or charter boat. There is no regular ferry service. Other than taxis and scooters, getting about is by private minibus, although many visitors choose to hire a car as the roads are reasonably safe.

Bus

There are several minibus services on Grand Cayman that serve the main beaches and towns on the island. They run daily to around 23:00 and are cheap but slow. The main terminal is on Edward Street in George Town.

Car

You can rent a car on all islands as they are sizeable (even Little Cayman is over 10 miles across). Road conditions are excellent and all islands have coast-hugging routes; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman with complete loops. The roads are paved and it's even easy to drive around George Town.

Air

Cayman Airways connects Grand Cayman with Cayman Brac and Little Cayman several times a day. With the exception of a flight between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman with Cayman Airways Express, all flights call at Grand Cayman. Flight time to Cayman Brac is 40 minutes while it takes 35 minutes to reach Little Cayman.

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FACTS

  1. The landmark of Seven Mile Beach is now thought to be closer to six miles in length - it's not clear if this was an honest mistake or some creative marketing was used.
  2. Cayman Brac takes its name from its sloping landscape, which rises to a 43-metre bluff or 'brac' at the eastern tip of the island.
  3. Visit the south coast of Cayman Brac and you will see the remains of the Teignmouth Electron – a boat that Donald Crowhurst used to try and sail around the world.

FACTS

  1. The landmark of Seven Mile Beach is now thought to be closer to six miles in length - it's not clear if this was an honest mistake or some creative marketing was used.
  2. Cayman Brac takes its name from its sloping landscape, which rises to a 43-metre bluff or 'brac' at the eastern tip of the island.
  3. Visit the south coast of Cayman Brac and you will see the remains of the Teignmouth Electron – a boat that Donald Crowhurst used to try and sail around the world.

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