Caribbean / Mexico

Cayman is a Grand Experience

George Town Harbour, Grand Cayman
Photo credit: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

On May 10, 1503 Christopher Columbus sailed along his fourth and final voyage to the New World when a wind blew his ship off course.  Intending to sail to Hispaniola (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he was blown westward toward “two very small and low islands, full of tortoises. He called these islands “Las Tortugas” after the thousands of turtles on shore.

The two islands sighted were Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. By 1530, the islands were called the “Caimanas”, derived from the Carib Indian word for the marine crocodile that formerly inhabited the islands. “Caimanas” evolved to become the Cayman Islands, and we’ve been calling it that ever since.

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. The first known settlers arrived in Little Cayman and Cayman Brac around 1658; it is likely these were deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in the British colony in Jamaica. Many of the early inhabitants were also Brits from Jamaica. As well, some other early residents were believed to be pirates that settled looking for a more peaceful life.

Cosmopolitan Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands. Whether you are looking for relaxation, exquisite dining, exciting nightlife or the awesome underwater sights of easily accessible reefs, there really is “something for everyone” here.

Grand Cayman is approximately 76 square miles. It is on Grand Cayman that you will find some of the most popular Caribbean activities, attractions and festivals, including the Pirates Week and the colourful and exciting Batabano. Other popular attractions include the Cayman Islands National Museum, Rum Point, Pedro St. James, Bodden Town (which was the first capital of the Cayman Islands) the Cayman Turtle Farm, and the National’s Trusts Mastic Trail, a 2 mile footpath through unspoiled woodlands.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Caymans
Photo credit: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

On the west side of Grand Cayman you will find the famous Seven Mile Beach, the crescent-shaped natural wonder that has made Grand Cayman famous. With sand stretching as far as the eye can see, Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is often rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

But you must also take an excursion to the North Sound and visit Stingray City and the Sandbar where you and your group will have the rare opportunity to play with friendly Southern Stingrays.

When you’re looking to get off the beach, get lost in the luxury of George Town, the capital city of the Caymans, where colourful traditional Caribbean-style buildings meet high finance corporations.

The Eastern districts of Grand Cayman features natural beauty and grace beyond the azure waters and white sand beaches. Tour the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park and learn about the rare Blue Iguanas, visit the Wwreck of the Ten Sail, and dine on freshly caught fish in a local restaurant.

Tourists also visit the Sister Islands, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Known for being outgoing, Caymanians love to strike up a conversation and direct you with some local knowledge about the best spots on the island. A devout church-going people, Caymans emphasize kindness, community, and hospitality, solidifying its place as one of the top Caribbean destinations for families and adventurers alike.

Grand Cayman is also a quintessential cruise port: clean, safe, easy to get around and filled with white sand beaches. Fortunately, the island is small enough and most port visits long enough that it is possible to combine multiple activities into a single day.

One of Grand Cayman’s most unusual sightseeing opportunities is the tiny town of Hell. The town is named for its field of short, jagged limestone formations that apparently reminded its earliest settlers of descriptions of hell. Today you can send a postcard from Hell at the local post office or pick up a T-shirt from any of several gift shops. Submarine tours, scuba diving trips and botanical gardens are among your sightseeing options in Grand Cayman.

And like most Caribbean ports, Grand Cayman offers a plethora of duty-free shops. The main shopping street is Cardinal Avenue, where you can find everything from inexpensive trinkets to high-caliber jewelry.

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