The Cayman Islands are one of the Caribbean’s most sophisticated destinations. They’re located south of Cuba and were formerly known as ‘Las Tortugas’ meaning ‘the turtles’ due to past sightings. There are 3 islands, all of which are formed by large coral heads so are popular with snorkelers and scuba fanatics. The cosmopolitan Grand Cayman is the largest and most visited island, boasting culture, wildlife and the charming beach Rum Point. Cayman Brac is the 2nd largest island situated 90 miles away and is known for its fascinating selection of caves. Then just a further 5 miles away is the smallest island Little Cayman, which is truly enchanting.
Things to see and do in the Cayman Islands:
Attractions: One of the most popular attractions on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, is Stingray City and Sandbar where visitors can touch, feed and swim with approximately 75 majestic Southern Stingrays who are far friendlier and more accustomed to people than you may imagine. Another popular wildlife encounter on in island is Cayman Turtle Farm, where visitors can get up close and personal with baby turtles right up to adult turtles weighing more than 500lb. For a taste of the island’s historical past, visit Pedro St. James National Historic Site in Savannah, which is the island’s oldest building (now a museum) with beautiful grounds and some great photo opportunities. The Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile beach (which is actually 5 ½ miles long!) is a great place to hang out with a whole range of watersports on offer plus a lively restaurant and bar scene. On Cayman Brac, a short 30-minute plane ride from Grand Cayman, there are some fascinating caves to explore, including Bat Cave, Peter’s Cave and the Halfway Ground Cave. Little Cayman, the smallest of the three Cayman Islands at only 10 miles long, is home to some fabulous beaches and incredible scuba diving opportunities, most notably Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson’s Reef, where you will see a huge variety of fish, sea creatures and coral.
Events/festivals: Visit in January for a taste of the Caymans at the annual Food and Wine Festival where you can sample local dishes and listen to live music. Between April and May, the islands host the Batabano Carnival when the streets come alive with colourful floats and vivid costumes. Kids will love visiting in November during ‘Pirates Week’. Visitors will enjoy a parade, live music, fireworks, competitions and the piece de resistance – a mock pirate invasion from the sea!
Sports: The Cayman islands are home to some of the Caribbean’s (if not the world’s) best scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities. Not only can you discover an amazing underwater world complete with turtles, there is incredible visibility – in some parts you can see up to 100 feet in front of you. The waters around the islands also offer some great sailing.
Nightlife: Grand Cayman Island is the liveliest of all three islands, with the majority of the nightlife scene happening along Seven Mile beach. The island has something for everyone, from laid back bars to more sophisticated, glitzy establishments (thanks to its thriving offshore banking industry). If you happen to be visiting at the right time, try to visit a Full Moon party at one of the beach bars where you can dine under a full moon and party the night away.
Eating/Drinking: Fresh seafood can be found on most restaurant menus, including conch and tuna which are generally fried in coconut oil. Turtle is also a local speciality, eaten as a steak or in a soup or stew. Cayman cuisine has developed a Jamaican influence over recent years, with popular foods such as jerk, rice ‘n’ peas and plantains on the menu. The traditional Cayman desserts are ‘heavy cake’ made from cassava and rum cake. The official drink of the island is the Tortuga Rum Punch.
Shopping: The best of the islands’ shopping can be found in the capital, George Town. The Cayman Islands are famous for their duty-free shopping, including jewellery, watches and luxury brands.
When to go
The Cayman Islands enjoy warm temperatures all year round. The most popular and pleasant time of year to visit is mid-November – mid-April when there is little rain and lots of sunshine. May to November is the rainy season, however, the showers tend to be short and sharp. The islands are located in the western part of the Caribbean and tend not to be affected so much by hurricanes however, storms are still possible during the hurricane season from June to November.
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