After recently spending some time on Grand Cayman Island, I would like to offer some tips for when your cruise stops in the Caymans. The Caymans are known for their crystal clear water, high-end shopping, awesome reefs for scuba diving and snorkeling, and the one of a kind Stingray City.
Due to the coral reefs, cruise ships that stop in Grand Cayman require that passengers be tendered to the island. Tenders are smaller boats that hold anywhere from 50-300 passengers that are able to navigate on the shallow waters near the port.
A great way to see Grand Cayman is to take a tour. A tour through the cruise line will cost around $50 each. However, the same tour can purchased through a local on the island for as little as $15-20 a person. The tours stop by the Governer’s mansion (you briefly stop in front of it), Hell, the Tortuga Rum Factory, Sea Turtle Farm/Dolphin Discovery Cove, and a stop at 7 Mile Beach. Your tour guide will also give you the history of the island and people as your ride from one stop to another.
Hell is a place with some pretty cool rock formations. A couple locals have a few shops set up here and it is a 10 minute stop on the tour. If it is included in your tour, it is worth seeing for a minute or two. It is NOT worth it to go out of your way to stop here. A taxi from the port to Hell and back is $12 a person and not worth anything close to $12.
The Tortuga Rum Cake Factory is really nothing more than a store where you can purchase some souvenirs and taste rum. They also sell the same rum cakes that are in the shops on your ship and in your grocery stores back home. This is a 15 minute stop on the tour.
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The Sea Turtle Farm and Dolphin Discovery Cove is a 25 minute stop on the tour. This is the only sea turtle farm in the world and there is an additional fee of $10 to enter. You have the opportunity to hold baby sea turtles in the touch tanks and see the turtles in their breeding ponds. The sea turtle farm also has a swimming lagoon where you can swim with turtles and colorful sea life. They also have an aviary, shark tank, the largest swimming pool in the Caymans, water slides and more. If you wish to go in the swimming lagoon and aviary, you will need to do an excursion here. (Start around $40 a person for roughly 4 hours)
Dolphin Discovery Cove gives you the opportunity to see dolphins. If you would like to get in the water and swim with them, you will need to do an excursion and not the tour of the Grand Cayman.
The last stop on the tour gives you the chance to get off at 7 Mile Beach. 7 Mile Beach is a beautiful beach with crystal clear water that is abundant with colorful sea life. It is $5 (per person each way) to take a taxi to this beach. There are plenty of taxis so getting one to ride back to the port will not be a problem. You can rent chairs, kayaks, and umbrellas from locals. Tiki Beach offers food, drinks and WIFI.
KEVROL Tours offers this tour for only $15 per person. You can email Reid at [email protected] or call him at (345) 324-7748.
The most popular attraction in Grand Cayman is Stingray City. Stingray City is a string of sand bars in shallow water where the stingrays have grown accustom to humans after being feed over time by fishermen. This excursions gives you the opportunity to feed wild stingrays, pet and interact with them. A boat will take you out to shallow water where you will stand in chest deep water as the stingrays come to you. I overheard a passenger on my cruise say that they only paid $20 per person to visit Stingray City by booking through a local instead of the cruise line.
The Cayman Islands are known for duty free shopping and all purchases have no sales tax. It is a great place to find luxury items at good prices. However, this is not the place to find lower end items at cheap prices. Gas was $7.20 a gallon, a can of Coke was $3, and 2 value meals at Burger King was $18 (in US Dollars).
Grand Cayman offers world class scuba diving and some of the best diving in the Caribbean. For those who are interested in snorkeling, there is a map of the island when you in port that shows the best spots/reefs to snorkel. The crystal clear water will allow you to see more colorful fish and coral than at other ports.