Ports Bahamas and Caribbean Best Grand Cayman Tips: 17 Top Things to Do and See

Best Grand Cayman Tips: 17 Top Things to Do and See

Planning a cruise or vacation in Grand Cayman? Here is everything you need to know and some recommendations for things to do.

Looking for things to do in Grand Cayman?  As the largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is one of the most popular tropical destinations in the Caribbean and a regular stop for cruise ships.
Grand Cayman things to do

Besides breath-taking beaches, pristine coral reefs, and exquisite wildlife you will find an abundance of things to do on this exotic island.    But there is no denying, Grand Cayman is famous for its crystal-clear waters and epic diving conditions.

If you’re looking for a great place to spend a vacation or stop on a cruise this list of things to do in Grand Cayman should give you some motivation.

First, let’s learn a little about this tropical paradise.

how big is grand cayman
Image Credit: Airbus, Map Data 2019 Google

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How Big is Grand Cayman?

The island is the largest of the 3 Cayman Island and is almost 76 square miles in size.  Grand Cayman is 22 miles long and about 8 miles wide.   The highest elevation is 60 feet above sea level.

How is the Weather in Grand Cayman?

It’s hard to beat the weather in the Cayman Islands.  In the winter you can expect lows in the 70’s (Fahrenheit) and highs in the low 80’s.  In the summer months it can get up to 90 and lows will be in the 80’s, so not much to complain about there.  September and October are the rainiest months of the year with the driest months being from December to April.

Getting Around Grand Cayman

Driving around Grand Cayman can be a bit different depending on what you are used to back home.  You drive on the left side of the road, but many vehicles are driven from the left and right side of the car.  While driving you will find a combination of center turning lanes, 3 and 4-way stops, and roundabouts.

You can take a taxi on the island and find a fixed rate on signs at both the airport and cruise port.  To avoid rogue operators, try to book in advance and be sure of the cost.

“Buses” on the island are more like long vans.  You tell the driver where you want to go, and it can be slightly cheaper than a taxi.  Most of these buses are privately owned and they will pick you up if you flag one down.

You can also use a bike, moped, or motorcycle to see the island.  While bikes are better suited for the sister islands, you can still find places for rental on Grand Cayman.

Grand Cayman Currency

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory.  The Caymanian Dollar is the currency of Cayman Islands.   At the time of this writing 1 Caymanian Dollar is equivalent to $1.22 US.   Typically, you can use US dollars on the island but you may receive KYD in exchange.  Some credit cards offer a decent exchange rate or you can go to a local bank ATM.

Flights to Grand Cayman

The most popular flight from the US to Grand Cayman is from New York to Georgetown with an average flight time of 4 hours.  Flights can be found for $200 – $300.  Jet Blue and Cayman Airways fly this route regularly.

Now, let’s find out what fun things there are to do on this enchanting island.

Ultimate List of Things to Do in Grand Cayman

1.Visit the Beaches

Here are some of the best beaches to visit in Grand Cayman Island.  This is not an exhaustive list as there are dozens of great quality beaches.  These are just some of the more popular for the reasons listed below:

grand cayman seven mile beach

  • Seven Mile Beach. Technically this is part of West Bay Beach, but Seven Mile Beach is the name most often associated with it.  (By the way, it’s really only about 5.5 miles long)  This is the most popular beach on the island and stretches George Town to Long Point.  Certain areas of the beach can be crowded but because it’s so long you can always find a nice secluded spot to relax.   There are a lot of activities to do at this beach and it’s usually very clean.
  • Smith Cove. A nice cozy beach on the southwest part of Grand Cayman.  You can enjoy a relaxing snorkeling day at the beach with great coral at Smith Cove.  Some have called it the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean.  There are showers and restrooms available.
  • Governor’s Beach. You can find shallow, calm water here most of the time, so it’s a great beach for families with children.   The water is very clear, and the sand is soft and white.   There are not a lot of places for shade so make sure you lather on the sunscreen.  You can find a good deal of fish in the waters, and some of reported some of the fish being aggressive so keep this in mind.
  • Cemetery Beach and Reef. This is another quiet beach that is perfect for snorkeling and enjoying the marine life.  It’s not usually crowded at all and it feels more like a private beach.   Some consider this beach the hidden gem of Grand Cayman.  The reef is a little ways from the beach itself and there are no bathrooms as far as I could tell.  Still worth a visit.
  • Starfish Point. Some have reported a recent decline in the starfish population lately, but Starfish Point is still an excellent place to see some of these amazing creatures and take a few pictures.  This quiet nature reserve is only a mile from Rum Point.  Be sure to keep the starfish in the water and not handle them improperly.

2.  Go Diving & Snorkeling

People come from all over the world to enjoy the exquisite underwater beauty of Grand Cayman.  We already mentioned Cemetery Beach as being a great place to go snorkeling.  The coral rests in about 20 feet of water and is a short swim from the shore.

grand cayman diving

Here are some of the best places to go snorkeling or diving off the island.

  • Cheeseburger Reef, Georgetown. This site is next to Burger King so you can probably guess how it got its name.  The fish here are not afraid of people and the reef sits in about 30 feet of water.   You only need to swim out about 20 yards and you will find amazing marine life as far out as 100 yards.
  • Wreck of the Cali, Georgetown. This is the site of an old freighter that sank in Georgetown.   There is legend of this vessel sinking from taking on water and carrying a load of rice, which then exploded the ship.   The wreck is not far from shore and is easy to view while snorkeling as it sits in about 10-20 feet of water.   The Wreck of Cali is home to a great variety of marine life and you can see the ribs of the ship sitting on the seabed.
  • Eden Rock/Devil’s Grotto, Georgetown. This is a perfect spot for snorkelers and divers alike.   From beautiful coral formations and underwater caves, you can see why this is such a favorite spot.  There are some small coves to explore and a lot of marine wildlife. Equipment is available for rent nearby.
  • Queen’s Monument, East End. This is the perfect spot for both diving and snorkeling.  There is a barrier reef, shallow reefs, and a wall that is about a 120-yard swim out.   The clarity of the water makes the drop-off even more spectacular.  No rentals are available on-site and the entrance to the reef can be a little rocky.
  • Colliers, East End. Because of the sheer size of this location you can spend your entire vacation just enjoying this spot.  This is also one of the lesser-known snorkel locations.  You can find some interesting marine here as well like lobster, conch, sea fans, and tarpons.  Just be careful of the current in the channel.
  • Rum Point. You can snorkel here almost year-round because it is inside the barrier reef.  There is a lot to do and see at Rum Point as well, with restaurants, beaches, and mansions all around it.   You will find fish, stingrays and coral and this is a popular snorkeling destination.  Rental equipment can be found nearby.
  • Kittiwake Shipwreck. This popular dive and snorkel site is a former US Navy ship that was purposely sunk near Seven Mile Beach.  It is the largest wreck in the Cayman Islands.

3.  Take a Submarine Tour

Atlantis Submarines Cayman Islands offers an unforgettable experience.  This high-tech, inviting submarine can hold 48 passengers and allows you to see some of the world’s most beautiful coral without having to get into a wet-suit.  So, if SCUBA diving is off your list but you still want to see the coral, this is your ticket.   Pick-ups are at Seven Mile Beach and the cost is around $110 per adult.

There is also a glass-bottom boat tour you can take for some of the more shallow reefs of Grand Cayman.

 4.  Visit Cayman Turtle Centre

grand cayman turtle center

The last time I visited the Turtle Centre at Grand Cayman was simply too short a visit.  It was on a tour of the island that did not allow enough time for this amazing place.  So, I would recommend booking a tour here by itself if you are interested in checking it out.

More than 300,000 visitors a year come to this attraction and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Grand Cayman for a reason.   You will find turtles both great and small and of every kind of variety.  In the lagoon there are some truly massive turtles, some being hundreds of pounds.   It is both an educational and hands-on experience with some of the turtles in smaller tanks.   You can even go swimming with some of the turtles if you so choose.  Don’t forget to check out the hatchery during breeding season.

5.  Visit Stingray City

stingray city grand cayman

Located in the north part of Grand Cayman, Stingray City is a series of sandbars where a multitude of stingrays can be found.   If you’ve never experienced a stingray encounter this is a great place to try it.   This place is about a 20-minute boat ride from Rum Point.  You can get out of the boat and walk along the sandbar to be up close and personal with these amazing creatures.   This is one of the highlights of Grand Cayman.

6.  Tour Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park


If you want to enjoy some vibrant floral gardens while in Grand Cayman this is the place for you.  Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a non-profit outdoor garden that is also famous for the Blue Iguanas you might be able to spot on the grounds.  The park also contains a Floral Color Garden, a Cayman Heritage Garden, a lake, and an orchid boardwalk exhibit.

It’s a great place for a more low-key, relaxing time in Grand Cayman and you can enjoy walking around the grounds, taking in some exotic flowers and wildlife.

The cost of a taxi from the cruise port to the park is about $50 per way, but make sure you confirm the price with your driver beforehand.   It’s about a 40 minute drive.

7.  Visit Cayman Crystal Caves

This cave attraction is one of the newest on Grand Cayman and is located near Northside.   There are actually 3 different caves here and one of them contains a body of water that is a gorgeous teal-blue.  The views here are absolutely stunning, and the tour guides are very knowledgeable about the history, wildlife, and vegetation in the caves.  During certain times of year the bugs can be an issue, but if you’re up for a unique non-commercialized adventure in Grand Cayman, this one might be for you.

8.  Visit Dolphin Discovery Grand Cayman

Located right near the Turtle Centre, this is a great place to visit if you have never gone swimming with dolphins before.  You can always stop in and see the dolphins for free, but if you want to get in the water and enjoy the fully immersive experience it will cost about $100 and up depending on what package you choose.   Guests really love the Dolphin Royal Swim that involves the dolphins pushing up on your heels and making you feel like you’re flying along the water.

9.  Visit a Museum in Grand Cayman

Adventure sports and beaches not your thing?  There are plenty of enriching cultural experiences you can enjoy while on the island.  Here are some of the best museums to be found on Grand Cayman:

  • National Gallery of the Cayman Islands – Now in a new 9,000 sq. ft. building you can find local and international art works, sculptures, and exhibits.
  • Cayman Motor Museum – Car enthusiasts will enjoy some of the rare auto collections this museum has to offer. You can find an exact replica of the first car to drive on Grand Cayman.  It is typically closed during the summer months so make sure you check the schedule first.
  • The Wreck View Art Gallery – Lots of local artwork from the Cayman Islands. It’s more of a shop than an art gallery but it’s a good place to pick up some souvenirs as well.
  • Pedro St James National Historic Site – This is the oldest building in the Cayman’s and is a sort of castle that is now a museum. Not only will you learn about the history of this fascinating building but also the history of the islands and its people.  The grounds around the museum are well-maintained and wonderful to see as well.
  • Cayman Islands National Museum – A visit to this little museum will give you a greater appreciation for the people of the Cayman Islands. Engaging displays and videos detail both the human and natural history of your surroundings.

10.  Tour the Island

grand cayman helicopter tour

Grand Cayman is one of the most beautiful, scenic places in the Caribbean.   And as such there are many ways to take in the views.   If you’ve never been to the Cayman Islands before I recommend doing some kind of total island tour so you can get a better scope of everything at once.

Here are some great ways to get tours of the island:

  • Via Helicopter – This is an exhilarating way to see Grand Cayman. Cayman Island Helicopters offers full island tours from the sky.  You can see the whole island in 45 minutes and then when you land you can check out some of the sights that were pointed out in the air.  There are shorter helicopter tours you can book as well.
  • Via Boat – Some of the boat tours around the island will include stops along the way at Stingray City, the beach, and some places where you can go snorkeling. There are even glass-bottom boats so you can enjoy the beauty of the coral reefs from inside the vessel.  On top of that there are private charters available that will take you all around the island and anywhere you want to go.  If you’re feeling especially adventurous you can even take a kayak tour around parts of Grand Cayman.
  • Via Boat/Bus Tour — Get the best of both land and sea with a bus that can drive on land and in the water. The Amphibious Bus City Tour is narrated as you go to some of the top sites on the island.  The tours last about 3 hours.
  • Via Land Vehicle – You can also just stay on land and see Grand Cayman from a bus or taxi. Many private operators offer these tours and it allows you a quick way of seeing what you might want to do later on that day.

11.  Check Out the Local Food

There are hundreds of places to eat on Grand Cayman so I can’t list them all here.  But if you’re a foodie who just wants to find the best local food the Cayman Islands have to offer, you can start with this list below.  Here are some of the best local restaurants on the island:

  • The Lighthouse Restaurant – A unique Caribbean and seafood restaurant that looks out over the water. There is even a dock over the water where you can eat some pizza and feel the sea breeze.
  • Casanova by the Sea — Known for its Italian food and seafood and great location on the sea for fine dining. Prices are reasonable for the quality of food offered.
  • Anchor & Den – Great place for sushi by the beach. Located at 7 Mile Beach Anchor & Den is part of the re-designed lobby at Grand Cayman Marriot Beach Resort.
  • The Brasserie – Located in Georgetown this restaurant is considered by some to be a hidden gem. You will find a lot of local elements in the food, and although there is no seaside view the food and service more than make up for it.
  • Sunshine Grill – Also part of 7 Mile Beach, this eatery offers world-class dining in a casual atmosphere. Find American, Caribbean and seafood cuisine here.
  • Tukka – Looks out over the Wreck of the Ten Sails and offers Australian, Caribbean and seafood cuisine. Some very unique food selections combine with the perfect location at Tukka.  Go meet the Aussie chefs.

If I didn’t list your favorite place to eat on Grand Cayman please leave it in the comments below so everyone else can benefit.

12.  Go Shopping

 

grand cayman shopping

Grand Cayman is known for its beaches and banking.  But there are also plenty of places to shop ‘til you drop.  Shoppers can find eclectic shops at Georgetown, Seven Mile Beach, and Camana Bay.  You can find everything to shop for like time pieces, fragrances, china, crystal, fashion wear, and fine jewelry.

Because of the rise in cruise traffic Georgetown has become a central hub for shopping on the island but other places like Bodden Town offer some unique shopping experiences as well.

If you have a favorite shop in Grand Cayman, be sure to list it in the comments below.

13.  Take a Hike on Mastic Trail

For all the nature-lovers out there this 200-year-old trail winds through a mangrove swamp that is surrounded by some of the island’s most beautiful plant life.  You’ll want to load up on bug spray and give yourself 2-3 hours to enjoy this trail.  It’s free to hike on your own or you can pay for a guided tour if you’d like.  It’s about 15 miles from the cruise port.

14.  Go Beach Horseback Riding

Several islands in the Caribbean offer horseback riding tours, but Grand Cayman’s pristine water, scenic views, and perfect climate make it a great destination to try this popular shore excursion.   Ride along the beach and in the water on a docile equine.  This will cool you off as well as the horse.  There is no experience required, and this is a unique way to explore the beauty of the island.   Many consider this a more tranquil way to enjoy an excursion on Grand Cayman and horseback riding in the ocean has become a fan favorite.  On some of the tours the horses will actually swim in the ocean as well.

15.  Enjoy the Bioluminescence

Grand Cayman is one of the amazing places on earth where you can enjoy a bioluminescence tour.  This is a nighttime activity which allows you to literally see the water glow with the vibrant plankton.  The Bio Bay (Bioluminescent Bay) is a man-made bay which has been dredged out.  You can see the bioluminescence from the boat, but you can see it even better if you wear a mask under the water.   It’s truly a remarkable experience

16.  Go Parasailing

Sure, you can do this at a lot of Caribbean ports, but you can truly appreciate the beautify and color of the water around Grand Cayman when viewed from above.  A great excursion for thrill seekers.

17.  Relax at the Spa

Just want to take it easy for the day and get treated like royalty?  Here are some of the best spas on Grand Cayman that will help you unwind on your vacation.

  • Hibiscus Spa – Located on Seven Mile Beach this spa is at the Westin. There are two steam and sauna rooms, women’s whirlpool and vichy showers and a seasoned staff to offer massages and a variety of treatments.
  • Touch of Tai – Located in Georgetown this is right near Seven Mile Beach as well and is a popular place for massages and manicures.
  • La Mer Spa – A little more pricey but luxurious experience here. Soak in a tub after your massage and melt your stress away.

Summary

There’s a reason Grand Cayman is such a popular travel destination.  We couldn’t list every single thing to do but this should get you started.  Have you been to Grand Cayman on a cruise or family vacation?  What do you like to do on this exotic island?  Let us know in the comments below.  We’d love to hear from you.
Best Grand Cayman Tips: 17 Top Things to Do and See

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J. Souza
Jon got hooked on cruising after his first cruise on his honeymoon, and today he is always looking for cruise deals and reading information about the cruise industry. Jon lives in the foothills of North Carolina and wishes there were a cruise port that far inland. Jon can be reached at [email protected]
Ports Bahamas and Caribbean Best Grand Cayman Tips: 17 Top Things to Do and See

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