What to See on Grand Cayman Island

What to See on Grand Cayman Island

Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, and it’s by far the islands’ main attraction. Though this island may be small, there is much to see and do – so, it’s easy to see why Grand Cayman is this British territory’s grandest place to explore.

Today, we’ll take you on a grand tour of Grand Cayman and show you how you can enjoy the grandest Caribbean getaway here. From swimming with stingrays and hiking through tropical forests, to tasting haute cuisine and sipping champagne by the pool, Grand Cayman might be that island where you can have it all. Here’s all you need to know on what you can see and do on Grand Cayman, and how to make the most of your Cayman Islands trip. 

A First Look at Grand Cayman

The Cayman Islands consist of three main islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Though Grand Cayman extends for some 35 kilometers (or 22 miles) in total length and expands to only 13 kilometers (or 8 miles) wide at its widest point, this island makes up 76% of the total landmass of the Cayman Islands. And though travelers can access Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Grand Cayman is by far the easiest for travelers to reach, as it has the territory’s largest international airport and sole cruise ship port. 

George Town is Grand Cayman’s largest city and territorial capital and is where you’ll find many of Grand Cayman Island’s top amenities and attractions. Extending north from George Town to the West Bay district is Seven Mile Beach, which has the island’s most famous beaches and resorts. The airport is less than four kilometers (or about two and a half miles) east of George Town. About 17 kilometers (or under 11 miles) east of the airport, you will find the smaller town of Bodden Town. Starting around 42 kilometers (or 26 miles) east of the airport, Rum Point and East End offer a more naturally exotic side of Grand Cayman.

As a British Overseas Territory, the Cayman Islands’ laws and customs are generally in alignment with those of the mainland United Kingdom, including driving on the left side of the road. However, the Cayman Islands does have its own currency—the Cayman Islands Dollar—and you will probably have no problem finding many American products and services here, since Grand Cayman is much closer to mainland US than the UK.

Great Activities Throughout Grand Cayman

Despite Grand Cayman’s small size, there’s never a shortage of exciting activities across the island. Let’s explore some top highlights of Grand Cayman, and we’ll clue you in on some amazing experiences that you can discover here.

Seven Mile Beach

If you’re planning to stay at one of the Cayman Islands’ various grand resorts, there’s a strong chance you’ll be staying on or near Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. Do you like beaches with light, soft sand? You will love the coral sand of this beach, which starts around four kilometers north of downtown George Town. If you like a beach with easy entry to calm water, you will love the calm waves and nearby coral reefs that make Seven Mile Beach great for swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking, and windsurfing. 

Even if you’re the type who prefers to stay on dry land and view the sea from the sand, you’ll likely appreciate much of Seven Mile Beach. Depending on where you land, the scenery truly looks and feels like an ideal, dream-like “tropical beach” landscape.

Unfortunately, due to the combination of climate change-induced coastal erosion and ongoing real estate development (including new seawalls), the south end of Seven Mile Beach has been losing sandy beach areas. Interestingly, some of the sand that used to fill the beaches down south has instead drifted north, so expect more sand at the beaches by the resorts at the north end (such as Kimpton Seafire) of Seven Mile Beach.

George Town

If you visit George Town, Grand Cayman, via cruise ship, you’re guaranteed to enter via the George Town Cruise Port. If this is your ship’s port of call, you can expect a safe area that’s loaded with shops and restaurants. You can find everything from jewelry and artwork to clothing and cameras in and around the port. Don’t expect any amazing bargains, but the prices are generally tax and duty-free. Even if you’re not on a cruise ship, you can still go downtown to enjoy some shopping, dining, and lovely coastal views.

For a more enlightening experience, head to the Cayman Islands National Museum near the cruise port to learn more about the unique history and culture of the Cayman Islands. This museum features everything from a virtual submarine journey to video re-enactments of court trials, along with a gift shop featuring some amazing hand-crafted artisan goods. 

About four kilometers north of the cruise port, you will land at The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, an art museum that sports a wide and impressive collection of works by local artists. Expect everything from traditional hand-crafted goods and traditional landscape paintings to striking contemporary paintings and sculptures. Really, this might just be the best art museum in the entire Caribbean! 

The Rest of the Island: Bodden Town, North Side, and East End

In case it doesn’t seem clear yet, I’ll add further clarity: George Town and Seven Mile Beach have the bulk of Grand Cayman’s touristy stuff. If you prefer a quieter getaway, you might want to consider spending more time east of George Town. You will still find some hotels and restaurants on this side of the island (see below), but the vibes here are even more chill and relaxed than the more built-up west side.

Perhaps the best place to experience on this side of Grand Cayman is not even on dry land. Stingray City consists of multiple shallow sandbars about 25 miles offshore, and as the name implies, this is the best spot to meet the local stingray community! Especially if you’re an animal lover, it’s easy to fall in love with these special creatures and the incredible aquatic environment they call home. Make sure to book a tour with a licensed and experienced crew, and make sure to follow the instructions they give in order to keep everyone safe.

For more exploring on dry land, head to Rum Point. (It’s a 42 kilometer drive from George Town, but it’s actually faster to take a boat here.) Though the beaches are not the biggest, they’re the perfect spots for kicking back and relaxing, and the calm and shallow water offshore is great for families with young children. At the same time, “kids at heart” seeking more grown-up fun and games can try some exhilarating watersports, including jet skiing and kayaking. For even more adult-oriented fun, the Rum Point Club is one of the best bars on the entire island. As you would expect from the name, their selection of regional rums and rum-based cocktails is always on point!

Eating Well on Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman may be a small island, but it packs a whole lot of big flavors! Below are a few of the island’s finest dining (and drinking) establishments. Yes, Grand Cayman has some easy and breezy beach bars, but this island also serves generous portions of haute cuisine. Whether you want a multi-course romantic dinner with lovely views or a simple plate of local seafood served with strong brews, you can find all of this and more on Grand Cayman.

George Town and Seven Mile Beach

For a casual and easy restaurant near Seven Mile Beach, Peppers Bar & Grill has some of Grand Cayman Island’s finest Jamaican jerk, and you can get it on chicken, pork, and ribs. For something more formal with incredible Caribbean Sea views, head to the Grand Old House. Not only does this century-plus old house have an amazing backstory, but they also have an award-winning wine list and a food menu full of tasty classics like seafood curry and lobster thermidor. And for something truly unique, The Brasserie may be Grand Cayman’s finest farm-to-table restaurant. Their seasonal menu features dishes made with ingredients from their own farm, and produce and meats they source from other local Caymanian farms. Plus, they catch their own fresh seafood every day.

When it comes to Seven Mile Beach’s resort corridor, the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has fantastic dining options. Coccoloba is perfect for casual meals by the beach. Their ceviches are constantly on point, their guacamole is surprisingly great, and their piña coladas might be the best I’ve ever had this far away from Puerto Rico. When you crave a nicer lunch or dinner, Ave has a rock-solid menu full of contemporary Caribbean treats. The lobster tail with truffle butter is delectably decadent, the chargrilled octopus is tasty, and the seafood risotto is certainly worth a try. If you’re here during the weekend, Ave’s weekend brunch is a must. They pull out all the stops with premium seafood, meats, vegan options, and desserts!

East End and Bodden Town

Heading east, you can never go wrong stopping at the previously mentioned Rum Point Club. The drinks here are so stiff and tasty that tourists often make their way here from the cruise port for a day trip. You really can’t go wrong with any rum-based cocktail at Rum Point Club (go figure!), but I especially like the Smugglers’ Rum with blackberry compote. For food, their burrata pizza is fantastic, the croquettes are quite yummy, and the ceviches are good alternatives when you can use something lighter and not fried.

In Bodden Town, the Czech Inn Grill has a seemingly simple menu, yet they do everything so impeccably well that this might be one of the island’s best-kept secrets. You can’t go wrong with Czech Inn’s classic burgers and ribs. For something a little more adventurous, try their schnitzel or their jerk chicken tacos. To drink, Czech Inn offers plenty of beers, including a great variety of European labels, as well as famous North American favorites.

Hotels Worth Checking Into

When it comes to great Cayman Islands hotels, the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa really excels in offering a sky-high caliber of personal service alongside all the top-notch amenities one expects from a high-end resort. Every room here is beautifully appointed with premium furnishings, while larger rooms and suites also get spacious sitting areas with cool couches, as well as extra large bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs. Kimpton Seafire’s beach is spectacularly clean and beautiful (with plenty of sand), the Spa at Seafire offers plenty of rejuvenating treatments and an impressive heated indoor pool, and Library by the Sea is a uniquely spectacular bar and lounge that must be seen (and tasted) to be believed.

Though the Cayman Islands is not exactly the ideal destination for budget-friendly Caribbean vacations, the Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town is a rare bargain. While accommodations at The Turtle Nest Inn tend to be simple and no-frills, where else can you rent a one-bedroom apartment on the beach for a week for under $2,000, and potentially under $1,000 if you stay during low season? And if you prefer peace and quiet during your trip, you may very well appreciate the very laid-back vibes of Bodden Town.

For maximum chill, it’s hard to envision a better place to stay than Rum Point Club Resort. This 31-unit boutique hotel has a casual residential feel while also providing the perfect setting for maximum rest and relaxation. Since Rum Point Club Resort is a condotel, you have your pick of one, two, three, and four-bedroom residences featuring spacious separate bedrooms, walk-in closets, bathrooms with separate showers and soaking tubs, full living and dining spaces, premium furniture and appliances, and furnished private balconies.

Everything Else You Need to Know About Grand Cayman

Transportation

With so many world-class amenities, so much spectacular natural scenery, and exceptionally friendly vibes, it’s easy to see why seasoned Caribbean travelers have come to love Grand Cayman. It’s within easy reach for cruise ships that do Caribbean routes, and Owen Roberts International Airport has regular flights to several major east coast hubs (along with new seasonal Cayman Airways flights to and from Denver and Los Angeles).

When it comes to transportation on the island, take note that the local bus system offers frequent service in the busiest parts of the island, but don’t expect to use it to reach very many places beyond George Town and Seven Mile Beach. Since rideshare services aren’t as much of a thing here, you may need to rent a car or utilize local taxis to explore more of Grand Cayman Island. 

Climate, Culture, and Currency

When it comes to Cayman Islands weather, expect plenty of warmth. Even in January, daytime highs average around 28° Celsius (or about 82° Fahrenheit) on Grand Cayman. With that said, also note that Grand Cayman gets pretty wet, as this island averages around 1,428 millimeters (or about 56 inches) of rain annually. Winter and early spring is the relatively dry season, while summer and fall typically bring the most rainfall. 

Here’s one other thing to keep in mind: while the Cayman Islands is fairly close to the US mainland, it is actually a British territory. Therefore, passports are necessary for US citizens and permanent residents. A $20 exit tax is also charged to all non-locals, though the airlines now tend to automatically include this in their airfares. English is the official language and the most widely spoken language. And since this is a British territory, expect more British laws and customs here, such as driving on the left side of the road and 18 being the official legal drinking age. 

Interestingly, the Cayman Islands does not use the British pound sterling, but rather their own currency: the Cayman Islands dollar. As of December 2023, the Cayman Islands dollar was worth $1.20 USD, and it’s almost always worth more than the US and Canadian dollars. So when you’re shopping and marveling at all the “great bargains” here, keep in mind that the “great bargains” may not be as great once you convert the price into US dollars. 

Conclusion

The Cayman Islands truly is one of the most underrated treasures of the Caribbean, and Grand Cayman really is a grand island full of wonderful surprises. Whether you’re here because this is one of your cruise ship’s ports of call or you’re here to spend a long week hopping across this island, you have plenty to see and do throughout Grand Cayman. 

Interested in learning more about other beautiful, tropical destinations? Check out this guide to visiting Humacao, Puerto Rico, or this article about planning a trip to Caye Caulker, Belize.

22 thoughts on “What to See on Grand Cayman Island

  1. I have to make sure we go to Grand Cayman Island for our next vacation! I love its mix of culture, history, architecture, and natural beauty.

  2. I’m not sure I would ever leave Grand Cayman Island if I got the chance to go. It’s just so beautiful there, and there’s so much history! Really geat read.

  3. I’ve had Grand Cayman Island on my bucket list for a few years. I really need to bump it up on my list after reading all these great tips and places to see and things to do. The pictures are amazing!

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit Grand Cayman Island, it sounds like an absolute dream! This has made me want to jump on a plane and fly there all the more.

  5. It looks like a trip to the Cayman islands should be on my list. One of these days I’ll make it there.

  6. I’ve been to Cayman island a few times and these are great recommendations. I loved hanging out at seven mile beach.

  7. Thanks for letting me peek at the Grand Caymans. Will serve me well in à port of call. Didn’t know there’s enough for à week, too!

  8. What a fun vacation spot! I love to travel and get in the culture of different places. This is on my bucket list to visit.

  9. I had the chance to visit Grand Cayman last year and your post just took me back! It’s such a magical place, isn’t it?!

  10. This looks like a beautiful place to visit! I am definitely putting it on my bucket list! Dreaming about my trip now!

  11. Wow! This place looks like a paradise, I want to visit that place. Will add it to my list.

  12. I have never visited the Cayman islands before, Grand Cayman really does sound lovely for a small island. The beaches look beautiful and seems like there is plenty of choices with the cuisine too!

  13. I’ve had my eye on visiting Grand Cayman for quite some time now. Hearing about the incredible time my friends had when they went last year only fueled my desire to go even more!

  14. Absolutely beautiful spot! The beaches and crystal waters cannot be beaten…looks like a dream vacation destination!

  15. Grand Canyon Island sounds absolutely amazing! Not to mention the food looks super super delicious.

  16. Now this sounds like a great place to go on holiday. I’d love to go and walk down the seven mile beach. I love beaches.

  17. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Grand Cayman! The crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches look absolutely stunning. I’ve heard so much about Seven Mile Beach and Stingray City – they’re definitely on my bucket list. Hopefully, I’ll get to experience this tropical paradise and its vibrant marine life someday!

  18. My husband and I want to visit the Cayman Islands so this post is perfect for me! The pictures are gorgeous and it looks like the perfect getaway for us!

  19. Grand Cayman island sounds like an awesome place to visit. I am particularly interested to have a look at the 7 miles beach.

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