What’s better than a one-island adventure? A three-island adventure, of course! This is one reason why I love visiting the Cayman Islands. They are one of my top Caribbean destinations for diverse wildlife, outstanding natural beauty, a relaxed lifestyle and friendly residents.
Totally tremendous Tortugas!
Before the Cayman Islands became the playground of the rich and famous, the cluster was notorious for attracting pirates and being the home of shipwrecked sailors. The ‘Golden Age‘ of piracy in the Caymans Islands spanned from the 1650s to the 1730s, primarily due to the promise of capturing Spanish ships full of treasure and being a great landing spot with fresh water and turtle meat. The most notorious pirate to operate in the islands was Edward Teach, but, you’ll more likely know him as ‘Blackbeard’. Today, this self-governing British Overseas Territory is, controversially, a financial haven for international businesses and millionaires. So, in some ways, the pirate legacy lives on.
You’ll fly into Owen Roberts International Airport, which is the main hub and located on Grand Cayman. You can transfer easily from many US states and airports while British Airways offers direct flights from London as well. Local taxis are conveniently located just outside airport arrivals and can take you straight to your hotel.
Here’s a pro-tip: Renting a moped or car will grant you more freedom to explore the island. Providing you feel comfortable, I personally recommend renting a moped because this adds to the laid back island vibe and nothing beats the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair!
Enjoy the Caymans where you can lay on a beautiful beach!
There is an abundance of outdoor activities on the islands and I always find myself spending a lot of time in the water during my visits. Here are my recommendations:
- Seven Mile Beach – Enjoy seven miles (almost… technically it registers 5.5 miles) of stunning white sand and aquamarine waters. This beach has everything you could need; palm trees, sun beds, water sports and the clearest water for swimming and snorkelling.
- Cayman Spirits Co. – Experience the lively vibe of this spirits distillery and learn about the brewing process behind their rums, vodkas, and liqueurs. Tours gives you the chance to sample handcrafted concoctions including the famous Seven Fathoms rum.
- Cayman Brac – You might find pirate treasure on this island. Legend holds that Blackbeard may have buried his treasure on this 18 km long island. He was captured and killed before he could return to claim his booty. Even if you don’t find any gold, however, this hiking paradise is still perfect for outdoors enthusiasts.
- Diving – An entire underwater world begs to be explored in this archipelago which offers outstanding scuba diving. You’ll find me at these sites whenever I’m visiting:
- – The Bloody Bay Marine Reserve is one of the most coveted scuba spots in the world, located on the coastline of Little Cayman. The reef wall drops down into the ocean for hundreds of metres, but certified divers will find there are beautiful shallow shelves at just 20 metres below the surface. Expect to see schools of colourful fish, sea turtles, sponges, lionfish, sharks, and even sea lions.
Here, kitty, kitty, Kittiwake!
- – The USS Kittiwake Shipwreck is a former US Navy ship that was decommissioned and purposefully sunk in 2011 to create an artificial reef. Conveniently located just off Seven Mile Beach, you can swim through the ship and witness the resident sea life which includes turtles. You can even strike a pose at the captain’s wheel!
- – Stingray City – Surely one of the most enjoyable dive spots in the world, Stingray City gives you a chance to mingle with sting rays! A boat will take you out to a series of shallow reefs and sandbars that are just 1-4 metres deep, making it easily accessible for novice divers.
- Cayman Turtle Centre – This conservation and research centre is a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles, and beyond. Attractions include educational talks, swimming in the lagoon with turtles, and nature trails. You can also access the largest swimming pool on the island, Breakers Lagoon, which features two waterfalls and an underwater view of the predator tank.
- Hell, Grand Cayman – Ever wanted to visit hell? You can in the Caymans! This eerie landscape is the result of years of geological evolution, featuring black limestone rocks estimated to be between 10 to 15 million years old. It’s definitely something a bit different to do during your visit and you can even take a selfie with Satan.
If you love the ocean-to-table vibe then you’ll love dining in the Cayman Islands. From fine-dining to food shacks and culinary festivals, here are my recommendations for foodies:
- The Lobster Pot– A perfect sunset spot, this restaurant offers an upscale dining experience. This family-owned restaurant has been dishing up their famous Cayman-style lobster since 1965 and it’s never failed to please.
Cayman lobsters tell no tails!
- Heritage Kitchen– Located on Seven Mile Beach, this colourful hut is one of the best spots to find fresh fish cooked with island ingredients and flavours. Try the pineapple-topped fish fritters, for the ultimate Caribbean flavour.
- Anchor & Den– Located in the Grand Cayman Marriott, this stylish restaurant offers a fresh juice bar, gelato stand, creperie station and a raw and sushi bar.
Here’s another pro-tip: If you’re visiting the islands in January then don’t miss the world-renowned Grand Cayman Cookout Experience. Located on Seven Mile Beach, this food festival attracts world famous chefs, mixologists and culinary celebrities for a week of cooking demonstrations, classes, lunches and dinners.
I’m sure you’ve already heard rumours about the Caribbean nightlife scene. Besides partying, here are some of my other favourite activities:
- Sunset Helicopter Tour– Book an exhilarating helicopter ride over the islands for a luxury experience with a beautiful view. Opt for a scenic tour or upgrade to include dinner at the Ritz-Carlton or Camana Bay.
- Bioluminescence Kayak Tour– Watch the tiny phytoplankton, Pyrodinium Bahamanse, light up the water after the sun sets. This is a wonderful way to meet new people and enjoy nature’s light-show.
- Coccoloba Bar– Located on Seven Mile Beach, this Mexican street food restaurant serves excellent cocktails. Sip a Pina Colada in their open-air bar overlooking the shore and listen to the sound of the waves as you bop along to live bands.
After a hard day of exploring and relaxing, you’ll need somewhere to rest. The Caymans offer an array of resorts, villas, and guesthouses. It’s all about nature, relaxation, and that barefoot island vibe. Here are my top stays:
Rush hour at Stingray City!
- Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa – This hotel chain has all the luxuries, with a private beach and swimming pool right on Seven Mile Beach, complimentary bicycles, and nature at your doorstep. If you love fine dining as much as I do, you can sample their three restaurants.
- Addison & Lee Cayman Villa – This recently renovated holiday home boasts tasteful guest rooms and a lovely patio area with a swimming pool that makes you feel at home. You can book an individual room or rent the seven-bedroom villa in its entirety.
- Regal Beach Club – A great stay if you want all the comforts of home. This accommodation offers apartments as well as two and three-bedroom villas with a kitchenette and a lovely balcony dining area. This classic beach front property features swimming pools, a jacuzzi, and a tennis court.
So, I suggest you grab an eye-patch and a tri-corner hat and practice your pirate speech. Arrrr, me maties! I’ll see you in the Cayman Islands!