Cayman Islands Travel Tips

Cayman Islands Travel Tips 2014-10-16T11:00:53+00:00

The Cayman Islands are a little group of islands that sit just below Cuba. Grand Cayman (which is the only island I’ve visited) is famous for the wealthy trying to hide their money and has been synonymous with tax evasion. Grand Cayman is rather small at only 8 miles long and 22 miles wide. The Cayman Islands are a little different from much of the Caribbean countries as it’s also part of the British Commonwealth (head of state is Queen Elizabeth). Cayman Islands are actually the richest Caribbean country and with its major economic drivers being banks, insurance companies, along with tourism. More than likely you will only visit Grand Cayman but the Cayman Islands also have to little known islands called Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. If you come to Grand Cayman there are two things you absolutely need to do. Visit Stingray City and go to Seven Mile beach. Stingray City you can actually touch and pet stingrays as well as snorkel. Seven Mile Beach has been named one of the most desired beaches in the Caribbean. Of course enjoy the small charming capital of Georgetown and dive into some authentic Caymanian food.

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Noteworthy Places
Getting to/around Cayman Islands
Breakdown of Costs
Cayman Islands People
Cayman Islands Language
Definitely Do’s and Don’ts
From Splurging to Saving
Good for Gay Lifestyle?
Random Advice

Noteworthy Places I’ve Been To

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Grand Cayman – This is the only island I’ve been in the Cayman Islands but it’s really the only island that most people visit. Over 95% of the population of the Cayman Islands lives here with the capital being Georgetown. A lot of what to do here involves beach, sand, sun, water sports, Stingray City which sits off the northern part of the island, the blowholes to the east, snorkeling, scuba diving, and shopping in Georgetown. Like I said the island is not very big and you can trek the island in a single day. And perhaps you’re a banker and looking to avoid store some money… well Grand Cayman is perfect with having 43 of the 50 major banks represented on the island.

Getting to/around Cayman Islands

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By Plane – From plane you will arrive at Georgetown International Airport. From the United States/Canada you can arrive from Miami, Toronto, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tampa, and Chicago (some of these are only seasonal). From Georgetown Grand Cayman you can reach the other Cayman Islands like Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

By Cruise – Since the Cayman Islands are islands the only other way is by boat or a cruise. Grand Cayman is reached by tendering (or getting on a smaller boat from a cruise ship).

Getting around the Cayman Islands is pretty straight forward. You can get around Grand Cayman by using the local bus system (identified by a blue license plate), renting a car (must be 21), taxis (can be expensive depending on where you are going), mopeds, scooters, or by foot if you’re staying around Georgetown.

Getting to the lesser known islands is a bit of a challenge. Only option would be by flight or renting a boat.

Breakdown of Costs

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Hotels – Don’t expect to come to the Cayman Islands and find a bargain. Most of the western chains hotels are on the Cayman Islands and they charge just as much if not more compared to hotels back in the States. There are many hotels that line the Seven Mile Beach area as well as in Georgetown. Expect to pay anywhere from $150-$500 for a decent hotel in the Cayman Islands. The times I have come to Grand Cayman I have come by a cruise. Grand Cayman is on most of the Western Caribbean cruises itineraries and the island is accessed through tendering. The great benefit about this is that you don’t have to pay for a hotel price (because you have a room on the cruise), and can spend your money on one of the many excursions to choose from.

Food – Food is not really cheap on the islands and expect to pay the same if not a little more compared to what you would pay back in the United States. Supermarkets are pricey, going to restaurants are pricey… this is something you really can’t escape. But if you’re coming on a cruise you could eat the food on the cruise ship and then do your excursion (many times food is provided for you) and not have to pay that much for food. I remember eating at a café in Georgetown and remember the prices being a little more expensive than a normal restaurant back in the States.

Other Activities – Of course if you want to do anything on this island, it’s going to cost you. If you’re looking for a just a beach there is plenty of variety to choose from. Probably the best beach though is Seven Mile Beach and there are plenty of hotels to choose from. But you don’t need to stay in one of the hotels to enjoy the beach. A lot of hotels give access to the amenities so people can use the chairs, bathrooms, and bar service… (all beaches are public but to use the amenities you must pay). Taxi’s are a tad expensive and usually the taxis have a fixed rate to a certain destination. If you would like there are buses that service the whole island of Grand Cayman. Also you can rent mopeds and scooters which run around $25.00 dollars a day. A Stingray city tour is going to cost around $40-50 dollars. If you’re coming on a cruise it may cost you a little more but keep in mind that they are always probably providing you food as well. Of course there are places to rent snorkel and scuba diving equipment (around 100 dollars for scuba diving and 45 for snorkeling).

Cayman Islands People

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In the Cayman Islands people are very respectful and actually one of the most liberal people of the Caribbean (it’s surprising how conservative the Caribbean actually is). Greeting are always made when walking into a shop and it’s proper to call people by Mr. or Miss. The great thing about the Cayman Islands are the islands are known to be one of the safest in the Caribbean. Just to note that sometimes violence does occur and it’s always best to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Most people have some sort of money, so theft is never really an issue (although it can occur). The Cayman Islands people are overall very down to earth and have relaxed attitude like much of the Caribbean.

Cayman Islands Language

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The official language of the Cayman Islands is English. In the Cayman Islands there is a slight accent compared to North American English. They tend to pronounce the last part of a word more than the first part.

Definitely Do’s and Don’ts

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Do visit Hell… the city that is. Hell is known for the nearby limestone formations that occur near by that many say resemble Hell.

Don’t miss Stingray City. Stingrays will come up to your leg and you can even get a picture with one of them. Definitely a cool experience.

Do eat at Breezes By the Bay… a restaurant in Georgetown that overlooks the water (pricey but worth it).

Don’t forget to shop around in Georgetown. Usually things are duty-free and you can find a few things that a good souvenirs from Grand Cayman.

Do visit Boatswain’s Beach, home of the Turtle Farm on Grand Cayman (if time permits of course).

Don’t come during the hurricane season. Or if you do be weary that the Cayman Islands are one of the most hit islands in the Caribbean by hurricanes. Plan accordingly and know that there is always a risk!

Do go to Seven Mile Beach. It has been named one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and in the world.

From Splurging to Saving

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Cayman Islands are expensive so this is not really a place for a backpacker. First off it’s expensive to fly to the islands but on top of that you’re going to pay a lot for the hotels, food, and any excursions you would like to do. I think for people looking to splurge, this is easily done by staying in hotels like the Ritz that lies on Seven Mile Beach. Also you can find expensive jewelry shops that line Georgetown. Food is always pricey and they are going to be expensive at restaurants and at the grocery stores. Basically you won’t be finding a deal (everything is imported therefore the prices are higher in the Cayman Islands). Honestly I’m not sure you can come here and save money. You’re going to pay about the same you would pay in the States if not more. But that is kind of the point if you’re coming to the Cayman Islands. I would recommend that you save your money (or come on a cruise), and enjoy all of what Cayman Islands are about. Because in reality the Cayman Islands are expensive, one of the nicest destinations in the Caribbean, and most items are a premium. Basically this is not a backpackers dream destination.

Good for Gay Lifestyle?

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Out of all the Caribbean countries, the Cayman Islands are one of the most liberal… but that doesn’t  mean you can flaunt homosexuality. Much of the older generation will just not understand homosexuality and don’t want to. Many of the younger generation are changing their views and among that crowd homosexuality is more tolerated. As for a gay scene… there really isn’t any. The Cayman Islands are not really a gay destination place. The government officially denounces it and in general people do not have favorable views of homosexuality (if you’re gay don’t worry about getting attacked as most people have non-discriminatory views but in general people do not like when straights or gays display public affection).

Random Advice

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Hurricanes are possible from June to November.

Drink plenty of water… it gets hot in the Cayman Islands and dehydration can set in quick.

If you have time try to visit all parts of Grand Cayman.

US dollars are accepted but you will be paying a worse rate than if you were using the Cayman Islands dollar.

Souvenirs include Caymanite, Black Coral, and Rum.

Local Cayman Islands dishes usually have turtle, conch, and fish.

 

 

 

images by: Stephen, shawnvoyage