Discover Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman island, the largest and most cosmopolitan of the three Cayman Islands, is about 22 miles long with an average width of four miles. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman. The wide diversity found in Grand Cayman is a blend of rich local tradition with international influences resulting in a truly unique atmosphere. From the crystal blue water and powder-white sand of Seven Mile Beach and the shopping and financial hubbub of George Town, to the quiet, undeveloped expanses of East End, Grand Cayman offers something for everyone. Dive, snorkel or simply splash in the warm, crystal-clear waters that are the islands' hallmark. Considering the size of the island, Grand Cayman provides a dizzying array of activities to sustain a huge range of interests. Whether you're looking for the adventure of a lifetime or just a few days of respite, Grand Cayman is the quintessential "place to be."
The Caribbean is famed for the beauty of its iridescent seas and there are innumerable trips and tours available on the water. Scuba diving and snorkeling lure many visitors to the island but there are many, many more adventures to be had on the open seas! No trip to Grand Cayman would be complete without a visit to the sublime Stingray City sandbar. There is a range of trips and tours that will include an encounter with these gentle creatures, so try to combine it with another stopover, perhaps to Rum Point or Kaibo.
The deep waters surrounding Grand Cayman provide exhilarating opportunities for deep-sea fishing; wahoo, tuna, mahi-mahi and marlin are just some of the big catches you could make. Join a trip or charter your own boat with friends for a day that perfectly combines relaxation and adrenaline.
For non-divers there are two fabulous options operating out of George Town harbour offering a glimpse of ‘what lies beneath’. The Atlantis Submarine descends along the coral reef and journeys to the edge of the wall that drops to thousands of feet. While the pilot navigates the submarine through the underwater treasures, a trained guide will give you an informative commentary on the coral, sponges and wildlife you see along the way. The Nautilus is a semi-submersible submarine that glides across the reef in George Town. A diver feeds fish from the side of the boat and then passengers have the opportunity to snorkel in the crystal clear waters themselves.
With a history of piracy on the island, it is no wonder that there is the chance to re-enact your pirate fantasies with a tour on the ‘Jolly Roger’ or the ‘Valhalla’. These beautifully crafted replica vessels run trips from the South Terminal in George Town. You can choose a daytime encounter with our very own ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. The crew will greet you dressed as pirates and you can either be a spectator or choose to get involved with the crew and be tied to the mast, scrub the decks, walk the plank or fire canons at the cruise ships moored in the harbour. The companies also run sunset cruises with an open bar. The Jolly Roger and the Valhalla play a key role in the festivities and recreation of the 'trial of the pirates' during Pirates Week held each November.
Sightseeing and Historical Landmarks
Many people come to Grand Cayman and spend all their time on the cerulean seas. While this is a worthy use of vacation time, you may also want to hire a car and leave the azure waters behind to discover the green interior of the island. Leave George Town and take a journey across the island. Visit the home of Caymanian democracy, just past Savannah, at Pedro St. James – a delightfully restored traditional West Indian great house. Before wandering through the house take the time to watch the informative video tour, it is a digital masterpiece. In Bodden Town itself, the recently restored Mission House has an interesting selection of historical artefacts and provides another insight in to the history of Cayman. There are many sign-posted areas of interest along the way.
The Botanic Park is located along Frank Sound Road that dissects the island. There are new treats here throughout the year and it is always wonderfully maintained. The Botanic Park is one of the few places on the island where you are guaranteed a sighting of the rare blue iguana. Walk quietly through the park and you may also be rewarded with a view of an agouti. For keen hikers, the Mastic Trail is a must. Continue through the island towards Northside, Old Man Bay and then on to Rum Point or Kaibo. The Over the Edge restaurant is a scenic stopover and a chance to sample local dishes with an unbeatable view; spotted eagle rays and manta rays are often seen in the waters here. Adventuring ‘off the beaten track’ of the main roads provides an interesting insight to the stark interior of the Cayman Islands and a chance to see many plants and birds in their natural habitat.
The Cayman Turtle Farm
At the other end of the island in West Bay the Turtle Farm at Boatswains Beach is distinctly Caymanian. There are nature trails, an aviary, restored Caymanian cottages and a predator tank, and that’s before you have even seen the turtles! You will have the opportunity to handle turtles of various sizes and this is also a working farm where turtles are farmed for commercial sale – principally to local restaurants. A trip to “Hell” is extraordinary. Take the postcards you have written and send them from the Hell Post Office having met the devil himself. This is a truly quirky trip - take your sense of humour and a camera and have a ‘helluva’ good time.
In addition to its many natural wonders, Grand Cayman also has a very active arts scene. The National Gallery always has interesting exhibitions as do the ever-increasing number of commercial galleries and they are certainly worth a visit. Many hotels and restaurants also showcase local art and much of it is for sale. Check local press for current listings.
The only real choice is what to do in so little time. Many people return year after year to take advantage of the innumerable activities available on the island, to try out new trips and tours, to revisit old favorites or to discover a whole new side to this remarkable island.