One of the most beautiful and most storied destinations in the Caribbean is that of the Cayman Islands or Grand Cayman Island. This magnificent group of three islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, are the center of the pirate stories that are the basis of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The islands were historically called the Tortugas, which is the basis of the island of Tortuga that is referenced in the movies.
These British controlled islands are the site of some of the best diving in the Caribbean, rivaling the likes of Cozumel, Aruba, and other Caribbean hot spots. They are also the home of Tortuga Rum and Rum Cake, and hold many more sites and experiences for their visitors. They are visited by thousands of tourists every week from cruise ships from every cruise line as well as those who fly in for extended stays. Whether you are headed there on your first cruise, or have visited the Caymans many times on various cruise lines, there are always great places for you to visit and experiences on the island to be had. Below are some of the best sites to visit and some helpful tips for your visit to Grand Cayman.
Places To Visit In Georgetown, Grand Caymans Capitol
If you are visiting Grand Cayman via cruise line, you will be brought to the port area via small passenger boats. The port area that services all of the cruise lines that visit Grand Cayman is located all along the shore next to the heart of Georgetown. From here, there are many shops and other attractions within a short walk. Shopping here may not be as cheap as Cozumel, but you will find more high end merchandise. Although many of the excursions will take you away from this area of the island to experience diving, snorkeling, beaches and more, you will want to save time at the end of your visit to wander the shops for both food and souvenirs.
Here in Georgetown, you can visit the Hard Rock, Margaritaville, Harley Davidson, and more. There is excellent shopping, great food, and all within sight of one of the most beautiful shores in the Caribbean. Along the shopping areas you will also find several rum cake shops, most of which are owned by the Tortuga Rum Company. Be sure to stop in and sample the cakes! You may even decide to bring back one or two, along with a bottle of flavored rum! I personally like to bring back my favorite, Pineapple Rum.
Great Beaches To Enjoy On Grand Cayman
The most widely known and visited beach on Grand Cayman Island, by far, is that of Seven Mile Beach, also known as West Bay Beach. Seven Mile will be one of the main destinations for excursions offered before and on board your cruise to Grand Cayman. Although this beach will be the first one on the island to get crowded, it also has the most amenities, and is also the best for families and new or non-swimmers due to its light tide and gentle waves.
Another great beach with excellent snorkeling and other amenities is the beach at Rum Point. On the north side of the island, Rum Point has a great nearby reef to snorkel over, and you can also take advantage of watersport activities provided by Red Sail Sports. With on site bar, changing and showering facilities, and areas for eating, Rum Point has everything you need without the crowds of Seven Mile Beach.
A few other great beaches, such as Smith Cove, Spotts Beach, and Cemetery Beach, each offer decent amenities, but are much more remote and offer greater peace and quiet.
Other Great Grand Cayman Destinations
Destination number one for most cruise ship tourists to Grand Cayman is definitely Stingray City. At this area in North Sound, a visitor can swim with hundreds of wild stingrays that will congregate around, waiting for you to feed them. This is an excellent underwater photography or video opportunity for any tourist, family or single, and will definitely be an experience remembered for years.
Another great visit on Grand Cayman is that of the Cayman Turtle Farm at Boatswain's Beach. Once named for its numerous sea turtles, Tortuga , Grand Cayman has a one of a kind turtle farm, where visitors can even hold baby sea turtles. This visit is great for families and anyone else who takes interest in wildlife and conservation.
There are plenty of family friendly beaches on the island to choose from and most include snorkeling, diving, fishing and more. Be sure to check out all of your options prior to committing. Although the cruise line's website is a good resource, there are plenty of websites that strictly sell cruise excursions.
History Of Grand Cayman
Sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the Cayman Islands were given the name "Las Tortugas" for the many sea turtles that live in the Caribbean waters around the islands. Soon after, the islands became known for the lizards and large reptiles that lived on or near the islands and were called the Caymanes, for the Carib word for the salt water crocodile's that lived there.
Since among it's earliest inhabitants were many pirates, refugees, shipwrecked sailors and slaves, there is much folklore surrounding the islands, along with many accompanying historic sites to visit. The Islands were once even described by a historian as a "pirate's paradise" in the early 1700's.
Tolovaj on April 09, 2014:
This is looking like my kind of vacation. Snorkeling with stingrays should be a spectacular experience!