Grand Cayman, shaped like a giant claw "pinching" the North Sound, is the largest of the three islands in the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory. 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.
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.), ☏ +1 345-949-5252 (Airport information), +1 345 949-7811 (Airport information), +1 345-949-7811 (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 rank as soon as you exit the terminal. Queue at this stand and they will direct you to a specific taxi and advise of the cost. 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 queue you see from outside looks short. To save money take the taxis to the George Town bus depot and then take 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 harbour 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 Harbour. Seven Mile beach is not within walking distance of the harbour cruise docks (unless you like long walks).
- Taxis are available at the cruise ship docks in central George Town, and at all resorts.
- Grand Cayman Public Bus Transport[dead link], Edward St. next to the library, Georgetown, Phone: 945-5100. Licensed buses are identified by blue licence plates. Daily service starts at 06:00 from the depot and the schedule is as follows from George Town to:
|Bus routes travelling 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 licence from the police station or car rental agency. This is obtained by showing a valid drivers licence from their home country 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.
- 1 Cayman Islands National Museum, Harbour Drive (George Town), ☏ +1 345 949-8368, fax: +1 345-949-0309, email@example.com. M-F 09:00–17:00, Sa 10:00–14:00. The Cayman Islands National Museum has reopened following damage during Hurricane Ivan (of 2004). It is well worth a visit and can be done thoroughly in 2–3 hours. $4/$2.
- 2 Fort George remains, Harbour Dr. and Fort St. (George Town). Remains of a 1790 fort built to protect the harbour.
- Cayman Maritime Treasure Museum, North Church St (George Town). Boat building, turtling and pirates. $5/$3.
- 3 Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park (North Side), ☏ +1 345 947-3558, fax: +1 345-947-7873, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-18:00. Much to see here, with a visitor centre, 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), ☏ +1 345 947-3329. 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, to get a laugh you can always tell people that you took the bus to Hell. 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, a beautiful spot with snorkelling 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 disembark at nearby Stingray Sandbar and squeal nervously while adjusting to the presence of large rays, which they can feed and "pet" while snorkelling 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; for the sake of the fish this is not recommended. Research by two US universities has raised concerns about the detrimental impact of such activity on the rays.
- Stingray City.
- Moby Dick Tours - Stingray City, ☏ +1 480-626-5429. Stingray city tours $40, under 12 $30.
- Carib Select Watersports, ☏ +1 888-452-7928. P.O. Box 30146. Carib Select provides trips to Stingray City that include free transportation to and from the Cruise Ship dock. Specialises in Stingray City tours and snorkelling at Coral Gardens/The Barrier Reef (snorkelling 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), ☏ +1-345-916-5027, toll-free: +1-203-681-8665, email@example.com. Stingray City, snorkelling and fishing tours. $45–70.
- Soto's Cruises, ☏ +1 345 945-4576, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 snorkellers) 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 research centre for 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, and remain so.
- Atlantis Adventures (South Church Street, George Town Harbour), ☏ +1 345 949-7700, toll-free: +1 800 887-8571. 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. $114 (dock), $109 (online).
- Silver Thatch Excursions, ☏ +1 345 945-6588. Walking tours and eco-tours to the rainforest or historical tours.
- Blackbeard's Nancy, West Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 349-949-8988. This replica schooner offers a variety of options, including a dinner cruise.
- Crystal Caves, ☏ +1-345-949-2283, email@example.com.
- Deep Blue Divers (George Town), ☏ +1 345 916-1293, fax: +1 345-947-0116.
- Sunset Divers (Sunset House, South Sound), ☏ +1 345 949-7111, fax: +1 345-949-7101.
- Red Sail Sports (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-5965, fax: +1 345-945-5808.
- Don Foster's Dive Cayman Islands, ☏ +1 345 945-5132, toll-free: +1-800-833-4837.
- Ocean Frontiers (East End), ☏ +1 345 947-7500, toll-free: +1-800-348-6096.
- Liz's Awesome Fun Bay, toll-free: +1-800-945-7884, fax: +1 345-945-6875. North Side.
- Living the Dream Divers, 1114B West Bay Rd, ☏ +1-345-526-3483, firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00 to 18:00.
- Nicki's Beach Rides, ☏ +1 345 945-5834.
- Honey Suckle Trail Rides, ☏ +1 345 947-7976.
- Pampered Ponies Ltd., ☏ +1 345 945-2262.
Skateboarding, BMX riding & inline skatingEdit
- The Black Pearl Skatepark, ☏ +1 345-526-3294, 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 are fantastic. Both pros and beginners will be impressed. Best time to go is in the morning before it gets too hot.
- Batabano. The Grand Cayman carnival, occurs near the end of April or early May. Batabano is a weekend of live steel band music, revellers parading the streets in colourful 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), ☏ +1 345-949-5859, fax: +1 345-949-5449. Mid-November. Fireworks, "pirate landings", street dancing, heritage day events in Cayman towns, more.
- Gimistory: The Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, ☏ +1 345 949-5477, fax: +1 3456-949-4519. Country-wide, Contact CNCF:. November.
- The Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts (Cayfest), ☏ +1 345-949-5477 (CNCF), fax: +1 345-949-4519. April. Celebration of local arts, crafts, music, dance, drama etc.
- Caymanite is the Cayman Islands' own semi-precious stone. It is a very hard stone which varies across the earth colours. Available at most jewellers. Black coral is also a Cayman jewellery staple.
- Tortuga Rum Company, ☏ +1 345 949-6322. Georgetown. A favourite 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, ☏ +1 345 945-1383. 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), ☏ +1 345 949-5747. Contemporary International, Menu changes daily. Great dishes include Lobster bisque in cognac cream and lobster quesadillas. Excellent service. $10–30.
- Casanova's by the Sea (Georgetown, beside the water). Excellent Italian food. Romantic.
- Chicken! Chicken!, West Shore Centre, West Bay Rd. (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-2290. Slow roasted and inexpensive.
- Cimboco (Seven Mile Beach, next to the Marquee Cinema), ☏ +1 345 947-2782. Eclectic, Caribbean café with exhibition kitchen; reasonably priced, local spot, all from scratch.
- Corita's Copper Kettle 1 and 2, Edward St or 32 Town Hall Rd (West Bay), ☏ +1 345 949-2696, +1 345 945-8552. 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), ☏ +1 345 945-5217. Good family restaurant with a nautical theme. $10–30.
- Lone Star Bar & Grill, West Bay Rd. (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-5175. Tex-Mex, burgers and steaks. $17–30.
- Portofino's (East End), ☏ +1 345 947-2700. Beautiful site by the ocean, 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, ☏ +1 345 946-8709. Great food and not overly fancy. $10–30.
- Reef Grill at Royal Palms, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☏ +1 345 945-6358. Indoor and outdoor dining. Great views of Seven Mile Beach and great seafood dishes. $20–30.
- Peppers, ☏ +1-345-943-3000.
- [dead link] Coconut Joes, West Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 943-5637. Grand Cayman's liveliest outdoor restaurants and bars.
- Pirates Den Pub & Restaurant, Galleria Plaza (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 949-7144. English-type pub. Good place to relax and watch sports.
- Billy Bones, West Bay Rd, Treasure Island Resort, ☏ +1 345-943-2663. Outdoor bar. Dine surrounded by palm trees with the sound of a cascading waterfall in the background.
- Legendz, West Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-1950. Extremely popular, busy sportsbar with a variety of entertainment.
- Fidel Murphy's Irish Pub, Queens Court, West Bay Road (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 949-5189. Enjoy the cosy atmosphere of the only Irish pub in the Cayman Islands.
- Sapphire Lounge, Seven Mile Shops, West Bay Rd (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 946-3496. The only martini lounge on the Island. Try one of the 130 different martinis or one of 225 cocktails.
- 1 Calico Jack's Bar and Grill, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach (near Kimpton Seafire hotel), ☏ +1 345-945-7850. 09:00-13:00. Relaxed beachfront bar. Frequented by expats; live music on Tuesdays.
- Craft, ☏ +1 345 640 0004, firstname.lastname@example.org. Lots of craft beers on tap, including most of the local ones.
- O Bar, Queens Court, 2nd floor, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ +1 345 943-6227. Open earlier than many other clubs, the O attracts a young, trendy crowd.
- Next Level, West Bay Rd, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ +1 345 946-6398. Very popular nightclub on the island.
- [dead link] The Attic, Queens Court, 2nd floor, Seven Mile Beach, ☏ +1 345 949-7665. Sports bar
- Corner Pocket, Allista Towers, 2nd floor, George Town, ☏ +1 345 946-8080. One of the few billiard halls.
Accommodation is expensive on Grand Cayman. High season rates are from 15 December to 30 April. 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 Georgetown).
- Eldemire's B&B Guest House, 18 Pebbles Way, Off S. Church St. (George Town), ☏ +1 345 949-5387. Six rooms.
- Rocky Shore Guest House, 30 Grass Piece La. (West Bay), ☏ +1 345 926-0119, fax: +1 345-946-0118. 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: +1-800-825-8703, fax: +1 345 945-5681, email@example.com. Offers 21 oceanfront apartments. $275–625.
- Sunshine Suites by Wyndham, West Bay Rd. (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 949-3000, toll-free: +1-877-786-1110, fax: +1 345-949-1200.
- Compass Point Dive Resort, Austin Conolly Drive, East End, ☏ +1 345 947 7500, toll-free: +1-800-348-6096.
- The Retreat at Lookout, 521 Lookout Rd, ☏ +1 705-719-9144. Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, Skype: retreatatlookout. Rates starting at $90/night including full Caribbean breakfast.
- Casa Caribe Condos, 833 West Bay Road (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-4287, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), ☏ +1 345 949-1234 (hotel), +1 345 945-5700 (Hemingway's), toll-free: +1 800-233-1234, fax: +1 345-949-8528. Outdoor fine dining at "Hemingway's" (at least once upon a time).
- Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, 389 West Bay Rd, ☏ +1 800-223-6388. Seven Mile Beach. Centrally located on Seven Mile Beach.
- 2 [dead link] Wyndham Reef Resort Grand Cayman, 2221 Queens Highway (East End, Collier's Bay), toll-free: +1 888 232-0541. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. Beachfront luxury resort 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), ☏ +1 345 943-9000.
- The Westin Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa (formerly the Westin Casuarina) (Seven Mile Beach), ☏ +1 345 945-3800.
- 3 Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, 60 Tanager Way (Seven Mile Beach; follow Esterley Tibbetts Hwy to Raleigh Quay in West Bay, turn west onto Raleigh Quay, destination will be on the left), ☏ +1 345-746-0000, toll-free: +1 888-226-4412. Grand Cayman's first "Luxury Lifestyle Resort" on Seven Mile Beach
Day and multi-day trips to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac are possible...especially attractive to divers and beach fanciers. Places to sleep (reservations recommended) and eat are quite adequate.