Grand Cayman, shaped like a giant claw "pinching" the North Sound, is the largest of the three islands in the Cayman Islands, a rich territory of the UK. George Town, at the southwest "knuckle" of Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman Islands and its largest city. Grand Cayman's Seven Mile beach, on the west coast north of George Town, is one of the finest beaches in the world.
Since 1972 the Cayman Islands has its own currency, whose basic unit is the dollar, issued in notes with denominations of CI$100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 and coins valued at 25 cents, 10, 5 and 1 cent. The CI dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar of CI$1 equals US$1.20. Or, the US dollar equals CI $.83.
There are five districts on Grand Cayman; from west to east:
- West Bay
- George Town
- Bodden Town
- North Side
- East End
The main town is George Town, which also contains the main seaport and airport. The main tourist stretch is Seven Mile Beach, which straddles West Bay and George Town. The eastern part is much less dense.
George Town on Grand Cayman is a popular cruise ship destination, so on days when there are many ships visiting, the town and tourist attractions get very busy. You can see official Ship Schedules and plan around cruise ships.
- 1 Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM IATA) (Located 2.5 km (1.6 mi) east of George Town.), ☏ (Airport information), (Airport information), (Flight information). The airport has one runway and one terminal. Taxis are easily available with fixed rates to all island areas. There is a taxi stand that you encounter as soon as you exit the terminal. Stand in-line at this stand and they will direct you to a specific taxi with the amount that you will need to pay in order to get to your hotel. Amount varies by hotel location. Hotels are not allowed courtesy shuttles. Note that it can take an hour to get through security and Immigration even though the part of the line you see from outside looks short. To save money you could take the taxis to the George Town bus depot and ride Bus 1 or 2 (they will guide you to the correct bus) for $2.50 per person. They are the same Toyota vans.
Cruise ships anchor offshore and tender passengers to the harbor dock by downtown George Town. George Town is a very popular port of call and is included by many cruise lines in "Western Caribbean" itineraries. There are no berthing facilities at this location, but ships can anchor at one of four points.
- There is a small walkable area of shops around the George Town harbor. Seven Mile beach is not within walking distance of the harbor cruise docks.
- Taxis are available at the cruise ship docks in downtown George Town, and at all resorts.
- Grand Cayman Public Bus Transport, Edward St. next to the library, Georgetown, Phone: 945-5100. Licensed buses are identified by blue licence plates. Daily service starts at 6AM from the depot and the schedule is as follows from George Town to:
|Bus routes traveling through George Town|
|Route 1||George Town to West Bay.|
|Route 2||George Town to West Bay.|
|Route 3||service between the depot in George Town and Bodden Town|
|Route 4||service between the depot and East End.|
|Route 5||service between North Side and East End.|
|Route 6||service between North Side and West Bay.|
|Route 7||George Town inter district service.|
|Route 8||service between the depot to Hutland in North Side.|
|Route 9||service between George Town through Frank Sound North Side.|
Car rentals are readily available. You must be 21 years old to rent a car. Driving is on the left hand side of the road and seatbelt use is mandatory. Visitors from certain countries must get a temporary driver's license from the police station or car rental agency. This is obtained by showing a valid drivers license from their home state, county or parish and paying a CI$16 fee.
Mopeds and scooter rentals are available on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. Helmet use is required. Usual daily rate is US$25 for helmet and permit.
- The first three sites below are within walking distance in George Town.
- 1 Cayman Islands National Museum, Harbour Drive, George Town, ☏ , fax: . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. $4/$2.
- 2 Fort George remains, Harbour Dr. and Fort St., George Town. Remains of a 1790 fort built to protect the harbor.
- Cayman Maritime Treasure Museum, North Church St, George Town. Boat building, turtling and pirates. $5/$3.
- 3 Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9AM-6:60PM. North Side. Much to see here, with a visitor center, short walking trail, endemic blue iguanas, and a c. 1900 Cayman farmhouse and sand garden. Adults $6, age 6-12 $3.50.
- 4 Pedro St. James Castle, Pedro Castle Road, Savannah, ☏ . This 1780 stone structure, surrounded by a preserve, has hourly multimedia shows.
- 5 Hell, West Bay. This is a common tour stop, often shrugged at by those who go there. However, if you take a tour bus there, you can always tell the folks back home you took the bus to Hell to get a laugh. Hell consists of black volcanic rock formations that are thought to resemble what Hell might be like. You can get postcards postmarked there, and there are a couple of gift shops selling all the Hell-themed souvenirs imaginable.
- 6 Cemetery Beach, Seven Mile Beach. This is the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, beautiful spot with snorkeling right off shore. Access is off the road through a small path. Next to a small island cemetery, hence the name.
The island's most famous excursion is to Stingray City, where boatloads of tourists debark at nearby Stingray Sandbar and squeal nervously while adjusting to the presence of large rays, which they can feed and "pet" while snorkeling in waist-deep water. Once fed, the rays will placidly let you do just about anything to them, including being lifted up to pose for photos while jetting water out of their mouths.
- Stingray City.
- Moby Dick Tours - Stingray City, ☏ . Stingray city tours $40, under 12 $30.
- Carib Select Watersports, ☏ . P.O. Box 30146. Carib Select provides trips to Stingray City that include free transportation to and from the Cruise Ship dock. Specializes in Stingray City tours and snorkeling at Coral Gardens/The Barrier Reef (snorkeling equipment and refreshments included), with photo packages of the excursion burned to CD and ready for purchase on board as you return to the dock.
- Native Way Watersports, Cayman Islands Yacht Club (Inquire by email or phone), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Stingray City, snorkeling and fishing tours. $45.00 - $70.00.
- Soto's Cruises, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Seven Mile Beach. Stingray city tours. $30.
- Boatswain’s Beach (Cayman Turtle Farm). 24-acre marine park. The world’s only commercial Green Sea Turtle farm, it is home to over 16,000 sea turtles, ranging in size from six ounces to six hundred pounds and now even houses an alligator. Boatswain’s Beach features a 1.3 Million Gallon Saltwater Snorkel Lagoon where visitors can swim with turtles and other marine life; a Predator Tank (viewable by snorkelers)is filled with sharks and huge turtles; an Aviary and Iguana sanctuary; a Nature Trail and “Blue Hole” Sunken Cave, turtle farm tours with full access around the breeding ponds; Caymanian Heritage Street with porch-side artisans and crafts and restaurants featuring classic and contemporary Caymanian cuisine;a large pool with a waterfall and a state of the art research and educational facility focusing on the conservation of sea turtles. $12.
- Dolphin Discovery. Across from Boatswain's Beach is where people are allowed to swim with dolphins. There are two dolphin parks in Cayman which were very controversial at the time of development.
- Atlantis Adventures (South Church Street, George Town Harbor), ☏ , toll-free: . See the reefs from a 48-person Atlantis-class battery-powered submarine. This is similar to Disney's former "submarine" ride at Disneyland and Disney World, but the submarine and coral reef are real. Passengers sit back-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder, facing outboard with large portholes allowing a good view. Not for claustrophobes, though. $114 (dock), $109 (online).
- Silver Thatch Excursions, ☏ . Eco-tourism award winning biologist Geddes Hislop. Walking tours and eco-tours to the rainforest, or historical tours.
- Blackbeard's Nancy, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . This replica schooner offers a variety of options, including a dinner cruise.
- Deep Blue Divers, ☏ , fax: . George Town.
- Sunset Divers, ☏ , fax: . At Sunset House, South Sound.
- Red Sail Sports, ☏ , fax: . Seven Mile Beach.
- Don Foster's Dive Cayman Islands, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Ocean Frontiers, ☏ , toll-free: . East End.
- Liz's Awesome Fun Bay, toll-free: , fax: . North Side.
- Living the Dream Divers, 1114B West Bay Rd, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9am to 6pm.
Skateboarding, BMX Riding & Inline Skating
- The Black Pearl Skatepark, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Eclipsed in size only by the SMP Skatepark in Shanghai, the Black Pearl is an enormous concrete park that, due to its remote location, is almost never crowded. The flow and lines in this place are fantastic. Pros and beginners alike will be impressed. Best time to go: in the morning before it gets too hot - this is, after all, the Caribbean.
- 1 The Cayman Islands National Museum, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The Cayman Islands National Museum has reopened following damage during Hurricane Ivan. It is well worth a visit and can be done thoroughly in 2-3 hours.
- Batabano. The Grand Cayman carnival, occurs near the end of April or early May. Batabano is a weekend of live steel band music, revelers parading the streets in colorful costumes, and eating exotic foods. Cayman Brac holds a celebration called "Brachanal" the next Saturday after Grand Cayman's.
- Pirates Week Festival, George Town with events country-wide, Tel: 345-949-5859, Fax: 345-949-5449. Mid-November (2008: November 6–16). Fireworks, "pirate landings", street dancing, heritage day events in Cayman towns, more.
- Gimistory: The Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, ☏ , fax: . Country-wide, Contact CNCF:. November.
- Cayfest: The Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts, fax: . Celebration of local arts, crafts, music, dance, drama etc. Contact CNCF: +1 345-949-5477 . April
- Caymanite is the Cayman Islands' own semi-precious stone. It is a very hard stone which varies across the earth colors. Available at most jewelers. Black coral is also a Cayman jewelry staple.
- Tortuga Rum Company, ☏ . Georgetown. A favorite stop of many for their rum cakes. Free tasting of the cake and rum.
- Farmer's Market Cooperative, Thomas Russell Way. Local produce, jams, sauces.
- Rumstop, Harbour Drive, George Town. Surprisingly decent prices for a good selection of liquors.
Any restaurant food can be expensive on Grand Cayman, even fast food.
- SeaHarvest (at Sunset House), South Church St, ☏ . Spectacular Seafood and East and West Indian dishes Great value, menus on website. $10-$28.
- Bacchus Restaurant & Wine Bar, Fort Street, George Town (across from Senor Frogs), ☏ . Contemporary International, Menu changes daily. Great dishes- Lobster bisque in cognac cream and lobster quesadillas. Excellent Service. $10-29.
- Casanova's by the Sea, Georgetown, Awesome Italian food, right on the water. Romantic.
- Chicken! Chicken!, West Shore Centre, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Slow roasted and inexpensive.
- CIMBOCO - a Caribbean Cafe, Seven Mile Beach (next to the Marquee Cinema), Phone: 345-94-PASTA (947-2782), . Eclectic, Caribbean Cafe with Exhibition Kitchen; reasonably priced, local spot, all from scratch.
- Corita's Copper Kettle 1 & 2, Edward St or 32 Town Hall Rd West Bay, ☏ , . Reasonably priced, tasty Caymanese food by the friendly Corita Mendoza. Recommend the turtle stew.
- Cracked Conch by the Sea, N. West Point Rd (next to Turtle Farm, West Bay), ☏ . Good family restaurant with a nautical theme. $10-$28.
- Hemingway's, ☏ . Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach. Outdoor fine dining. $20-$30.
- Lone Star Bar & Grill, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Tex-Mex, burgers and steaks. $17-$28.
- Portofino's, ☏ . East End by the ocean. Beautiful site, view of the famous "Wreck of the Ten Ships", casual, friendly family atmosphere. Cayman style cuisine: jerk chicken, excellent fish, mixed drinks. $4.50-$28.
- Neptune's, Trafalgar Place, West Bay Rd., West Bay, ☏ . Great food and not overly fancy. $10-$30.
- Reef Grill at Royal Palms, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Indoor and outdoor dining. Great views of Seven Mile Beach and great seafood dishes. $20-$30.
- Peppers, ☏ .
- [dead link] Coconut Joes, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Grand Cayman's liveliest outdoor restaurants and bars.
- Pirates Den Pub & Restaurant, Galleria Plaza, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . English pub type. Good place to kick back and watch sports.
- Billy Bones, West Bay Rd, Treasure Island Resort, Phone: 345-943-BONE (2663). Cayman's most exciting and relaxing outdoor bars. Dine surrounded by palm trees with the sound of a cascading waterfall in the background.
- Legendz, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Extremely popular, busy sportsbar with a variety of entertainment.
- Fidel Murphy's Irish Pub, Queens Court, West Bay Road, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the only traditional Irish pub in the Cayman Islands.
- Sapphire Lounge, Seven Mile Shops, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . The only true martini lounge on the Island. Try any one of the 130 unique creations of martinis or any one of the 225 cocktails.
- 1 Calico Jack's Bar and Grill, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . 9AM-1AM. Relaxed beachfront bar near Kimpton Seafire hotel. Frequented by expats; live music on Tuesdays.
- Craft, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Lots of craft beers on tap, including most of the local ones.
- O Bar, Queens Court, 2nd floor, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Open earlier than many other clubs, the O attracts a young, trendy crowd.
- Next Level, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Very popular nightclub on the island.
- [dead link] The Attic, Queens Court, 2nd floor, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ . Sports bar
- Corner Pocket, Allista Towers, 2nd floor, George Town, ☏ . One of the few billiard halls.
Lodging is expensive on Grand Cayman. High season rates are from December 15 to April 30. You can find discounted rates by either searching on a hotel's website or by using a travel agent such as the websites below.
- Grand Cayman Resorts, 101 West Bay Rd (On left of Seven Mile Beach Strip coming in from Geogetown).
- Eldemire's B&B Guest House, 18 Pebbles Way, Off S. Church St., George Town, ☏ . Six rooms.
- Rocky Shore Guest House, 30 Grass Piece La., West Bay, ☏ , fax: . Four rooms, with two of them sharing baths.
- Aqua Bay Club Ocean Front Condos on Seven Mile Beach, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers 21 oceanfront apartments. $275-$625.
- Sunshine Suites by Wyndham, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Compass Point Dive Resort, Austin Conolly Drive, East End, ☏ , toll-free: .
- The Retreat at Lookout, 521 Lookout Rd, ☏ . Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, Skype: retreatatlookout. Rates starting at $90/night including full Caribbean breakfast.
- Casa Caribe Condos on Seven Mile Beach, 833 West Bay Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Casa Caribe Condos is located on the best beachfront of Seven Mile Beach. It is also walking distance to restaurants, supermarkets and night life.
- 1 Holiday Inn.
- Grand Cayman Beach Suites (formerly Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman), West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, 389 West Bay Rd, ☏ . Seven Mile Beach. Centrally located on the world-famous Seven Mile Beach.
- 2 [dead link] Wyndham Reef Resort Grand Cayman, 2221 Queens Highway (East End, Collier's Bay), toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. An all-beachfront luxury resort located on a quiet side of the island. Watersports, diving, world class snorkelling, pool facilities and its private patio views.
- Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ .
- The Westin Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman (formerly the Westin Casuarina) (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ .