Cayman Islands: 10 Reasons to Go

Grand Cayman Island and its quieter siblings, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, are islands that combine familiar comforts and upscale options with the natural attractions of bright sand beaches and clear waters. Long a favorite with divers and water lovers, it’s a family-friendly destination that offers a little bit of something for everyone.

1  Dual Personality

George Town and the Seven Mile Beach metro area are centers of commerce, tourism and resort activity, providing all the amenities needed for a memorable beachside vacation. Head east, however, and you’ll discover a different side of the island. Here, quiet coastal villages dominate, and resorts are replaced by more isolated and personal accommodations that deliver water views of the barrier reef and green spaces to landward.

2  Undersea Ramparts

The Cayman Islands are the exposed tops of steep underwater plateaus, with submerged cliffs that begin just off shore and plummet to depths of a mile or more. This topography not only provides divers with dramatic vistas as they hover weightless on the brink of the abyss, but also ensures that clear, oceanic waters flow in from deep water to delight beachgoers.

3  Good Eats

With more than 120 restaurants offering everything from Caribbean street foods to fine dining, you won’t go hungry on Grand Cayman. Seafood in various iterations is abundant on menus ranging from traditional to fusion, but equally tasty are island-style jerked chicken and ribs or local dishes such as cracked conch, sea turtle steak and goat stew. For the less adventurous, numerous casual dining spots and sports bars serve familiar favorites.

4  The Golden Strand

Though technically a couple thousand yards shy of its namesake measurement, Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach measures up to a vacationer’s expectations as one of the finest swaths of sand in the Caribbean. The entire length is public property, creating delightful opportunities for long walks, with refreshment stops at the many beachside eateries and hotels along the way.

5  Sister Islands

For those seeking solitude, Grand Cayman’s sister islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are just a puddle-jumper flight away. Quiet Little Cayman has no street lights and fewer than 200 residents, while slightly more populous Cayman Brac has a wild side complete with tall limestone bluffs. Both are ringed by secluded beaches, with intimate beachfront properties where bicycles are the preferred mode of transport and nightly noises are limited to trade winds rustling the palms.

6  Shipwreck Treasures

Grand Cayman is an active market for gold and gold coins, but the real treasures aren’t the modern currencies or the replica doubloons. It’s possible to buy the real thing—historic coins lost at sea when Spanish treasure galleons faltered, then recovered by intrepid salvors. Genuine articles don’t come cheap, but when accompanied by certificates of authenticity, they are not only things of beauty, but good investments.

7  Rooms for All

Grand Cayman and the sister islands offer everything from secluded beachfront cottages to cost-effective condos and luxury resorts. Avoid peak season and you can score a water view condo on the east end or at the northwest point for around $100 a night—or you could splurge for ten times that rate and book a beachfront villa at the five-star Caribbean Club right on the prime part of Seven Mile Beach.

8  Drinks and Dessert

The Tortuga Rum Company not only blends up some of the tastiest distilled spirits in the Caribbean, it also adds a generous pour of the amber blend to their coveted Tortuga Rum Cakes. These confections, based on a fourth-generation family recipe, are shipped to connoisseurs worldwide and have become the island’s number one export. You can nibble on samples and buy freshly made confections direct from the bakery in George Town.

9  Bank on It

Forget what you’ve seen in the movies. The financial institutions of the Cayman Islands aren’t just currency shelters for cartel kingpins and crooked politicians. Instead, most who open accounts are simply savvy investors who are exercising legal money management strategies that take appropriate advantage of international financial regulations that provide stable or beneficial portfolios.

10  Arts and Crafts

A growing community of local artisans offers up a range of items that go well beyond the usual waterfront souvenirs. Among the signature pieces local to these islands are jewelry creations adorned with polished caymanite. This marble-like stone is harvested from cliff faces on the island of Cayman Brac and then polished to a high sheen before being placed in settings for rings, necklaces, earrings and more.