I began 2019 in paradise. Moving from New England to Ohio, I was in for a cold and snowy winter. However, instead of bundling up, I was blessed to be able to spend five weeks in Grand Cayman. The largest of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman was a sunny 80 – 84 degrees my entire visit.
Before you get on the plane, it’s important to know that Grand Cayman is EXPENSIVE! It’s not one of those places where the US dollar will stretch. Most places will take the US dollar, however, they will give your change back in CI AND it will be SIGNIFICANTLY less because of the exchange rate (approx. 100 USD = approx. 82 CI$).
Secondly, you’ll want to book accommodations early and NOT during peak tourist season. The island attracts the luxury travel crowd so the prices reflect this. I was fortunate to stay with an ex-pat friend who lives RIGHT on the ocean.
Lastly, you’ll want to rent a car unless you stay on Seven Mile beach and don’t mind paying exorbitant taxi fees. Uber and Lyft have not made it to Grand Cayman yet. If you rent a car, just know you’ll be driving on the left side of the road.
Top things to do
There are so many things that did not make my list. I am more interested in engaging with culture and finding little hidden gems that are off the beaten path. With that being said, here are my top six things to do in Grand Cayman:
Crystal Caves – These were absolutely breathtaking. The caves by themselves are works of art. We had a knowledgeable tour guide who gave some Caymanian history as we explored the surrounding grounds. Entrance fees were reasonable and it was great fun for any age. Comfortable shoes are HIGHLY encouraged!
BEACHES– US News and World Report named Seven Mile Beach the number 1 beach in the world. Interesting fact, Seven Mile Beach is NOT seven miles long. It is only 5.5 miles long. Who knows where the extra mile and a half came from. Although Seven Mile is the most famous, it is not my favorite. Spotts beach is my go-to for an out of the way relaxing place to watch the sun go down. Rum Point is my absolute favorite because of the intimate vibe of the cove.
Stingray City – A sandbar located in the middle of the ocean is the site to some of the most beautiful stingrays in the world. Visitors can swim with, hold, touch, and kiss these odd looking creatures in clear blue/green water. Snorkelers love to dive in this spot. This is a MUST DO for visitors to Grand Cayman!
Cayman Turtle Centre – A fascinating look at the wildlife on the island. Turtles, exotic birds, sharks, and blue iguanas are among some of the beautiful creatures you’ll encounter. The entire family can swim alongside turtles and touch 500 lb turtles.
Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Garden – This 65-acre botanical garden is lush and serene. This was one of the most peaceful afternoons of my trip. Exotic flowers, waterfalls, colorful landscapes, and a beautiful gazebo make this a must see for all nature lovers.
Pedro St. James Castle – A rich historical experience that is dubbed the “birthplace of democracy” on the island. It is one of the oldest buildings and transports the visitor back in time. I was able to attend the “Cocofest” at the Castle while I was in GC. It was a grand celebration of all things coconut and local vendors displayed crafts, jewelry, food, and art.
Food and Regrets
Brunch is a BIG DEAL on the island! Most every hotel had some type of brunch special. Some were more affordable than others. All were pretty good, but the one that stood out the most is
- Cimboco – Great Breakfast!
- Andre’s – A little roadside jerk chicken and pork shack
- Burger Shack – Best burger on the island
- Coccoloba – Located outside the Kimpton Seafire hotel, this Mexican restaurant had a great Friday night happy hour that includes live music.
Regrettably, there are some places and things I didn’t have an opportunity to pursue. If you have time, I’d strongly encourage a visit to the Cayman National Museum. Also, if you’ve never driven on the opposite side of the road, you should do it! Lastly, I couldn’t quite get up the nerve to go snorkeling or diving, but Grand Cayman is definitely a divers paradise.