Grand Cayman is the largest island in the Cayman Islands, which are located in the Caribbean Sea. It is a popular tourist destination and its capital, George Town, is a major cruise ship port. This island is known for its stunning beaches, water-based activities, and its vibrant culture. If you choose this as a destination for your vacation, then you will find plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy during your stay. So that you can plan your itinerary to get the best out of your time on this island, here are the 20 best things to do in Grand Cayman for first-timers.
20. Take a Helicopter Tour
An interesting way to see the island is by taking a helicopter tour. This will allow you to see many of Grand Cayman’s landmarks from an aerial view in just one flight. Something that you may notice from this bird’s eye perspective is the way the island is surrounded by bright blue waters that then suddenly turn almost black just a few miles from the coast. This is where the water suddenly deepens, and it is called the Cayman Trench. The Planet D says that it is this deep underwater wall that has made Grand Cayman one of the most popular diving spots in the world.
19. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
There are lots of cruises that you can take from various points around the island. A popular place to catch a cruise is at Rum Point. The cruises vary in length, and while some focusing on showing you the landmarks around the island’s coastline, others focus on wildlife spotting. One type of cruise to consider is a sunset cruise. These depart in the early evening so that you are out at sea when the sun sets over the island. Many of the cruises include food and drink, and some also have entertainment on the boat.
18. Drink in the Bars
Bars are some of the best places to absorb yourself in the relaxed Caribbean culture. According to Fodors, some of the best bars are in Rum Point. Two that you should try to visit are Kaibo and The Wreck. Both these venues also serve casual food, so you can enjoy the traditional cuisine of the Caribbean while enjoying a refreshing cocktail.
17. See the Birds
Grand Cayman is home to many rare species of birds, some of which are unique to the Cayman Islands. One of these is the Cayman Brac Parrot, which is a multi-colored bird that is extremely rare. Some of the best areas on the island for bird watching include Parrot Preserve, Mastic Reserve, Colliers Pond, and Salina Reserve. Each of these is a beautiful part of the island that are worth visiting if you enjoy the outdoors.
16. Go to Hell
The Culture Trip recommends seeing Hell while you are on this island. Hell is a rock formation that boasts unique geography consisting of eroded limestone rocks formed by natural elements and algae eating away at the rock. It is in a desolate area, and there are great views. Hell also has a small gift shop where you can buy souvenirs of your visit.
15. Stroll Around the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Gardens
A peaceful and beautiful place to include on your vacation itinerary is the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Gardens. Visitors start their exploration of this attraction at the visitor's center. They then take a circular woodland trail. This leads you to the lake and wetlands area. Along the way, you will see various gardens, each of which has a different focus. One of the most interesting sections is the heritage garden, which boasts a pretty old Cayman house that is surrounded by a sand yard and a traditional domestic garden with medicinal plants and fruit trees. This attraction also offers the Blue Iguana Tour. ON this tour, you get close to the iguanas and learn about the facility's breeding program.
14. Visit the Historic Grand House at Pedro St. James
Those who are interested in historical buildings should visit the historic Grand House at Pedro St. James. Englishman William Eden had this property built in 1780 using slave labor from Jamaica. Some of the locals call the house and its plantation a castle as it is much grander than the surrounding single-story properties. The central point of the house is a tower, and this is furnished in a traditional Caribbean style. The other rooms in the house boast décor and furnishings that reflect how people lived in the house throughout the 18th and 19th-centuries. Visitors can also tour the grounds of the Grand House.
13. Spend Some Time at Smith Cove
For those who prefer not to spend time on busy tourist beaches, a fantastic alternative is Smith Cove. Also called Smith’s Barcadere, this cove is just south of George Town. It is often missed by tourists, but it is popular amongst the locals. This pretty cove curves to surround a shallow lagoon that is fantastic for taking a dip to cool off. Along the beach, there are shaded areas below sea grape trees that are wonderful places to sit with a picnic. Although there are no beach bars and restaurants like at Seven Mile Beach, there are restrooms and showers.
12. Enjoy a Wildlife Encounter at the Cayman Turtle Center on Grand Cayman
If you enjoy spending time with animals, then a great attraction to visit is the Cayman Turtle Centre. This is in the West Bay neighborhood. The highlight of the visit is seeing the turtles in their enclosures, but this isn’t the only thing to enjoy at this attraction. There is also a lagoon for swimming and waterslides for you to have some fun.
11. Climb the Observation Tower at Camana Bay
Camana Bay is a fantastic spot for shopping and dining as it is filled with shops and restaurants. While you are visiting this part of the island, you should also climb the observation tower. Although this is a contemporary tower, the intention was to create a Caribbean version of the church towers of old Europe. The tower rises 75-feet from the ground, and it features slatted shutters that allow sea breezes to cool the interior. As you climb the double helix staircase, you will see colorful murals and mosaics on the walls that depict sea life. There are observation points on each level, and the higher you climb, the better the views. A lift is available for those who do not want to climb so many stairs but want the chance to observe the views across the marina.
10. Enjoy Some Retail Therapy in George Town
George Town, the capital of Grand Cayman, is the best place to enjoy some retail therapy during your trip. You will find shops selling designer watches and jewelry, and it is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs of your trip. Another great place to go shopping is Camana Bay, which has more shopping options. In both locations, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to grab a bite to eat while you are out.
9. Go to the Cayman Islands National Museum
Heather on Her Travels recommends visiting the Cayman Island National Museum during your visit to Grand Cayman. This is the best attraction to visit if you want to learn more about the culture and history of this part of the world. The museum is located in George Town, and it is housed in a distinctive building with a red roof and white painted shutters and shiplap. In addition to learning about the history of the islands, you will also learn about traditional trades, such as fishing, shipbuilding, and rope making.
8. Relax at The Spa at Ritz Carlton
If you want to stay in luxurious accommodation when you visit Grand Cayman, then the Ritz Carlton has plenty to enjoy. However, there are some facilities that you can use even if you do not have a room in this high-end hotel. One facility that non-residents can use is The Spa at the Ritz Carlton. Non-residents can book treatments and therapies at this spa, and it is the perfect place to spoil yourself, relax, and unwind.
7. Swim at Starfish Point
Starfish Point is an area of beach and waters on the north side of Grand Cayman. It is quieter than Seven Mile Beach, and it is famous for its starfish. The waters and clear and shallow, so you can see all the starfish on the seabed. Tourists are allowed to handle the starfish and take photographs as long as they keep these marine animals below the surface of the water. Taking starfish out of the water leads to them suffocating.
6. Explore the Crystal Caves
The Crystal Caves are located on the north side of the island. As they are privately owned, they have only been open to the public for a couple of years. They are an underground cave system that is magical to see, as the caves are filled with open ceilings, underground lakes, stalactites, and stalagmites. The guided tour of the caves also takes you around the outside so that you can learn about the flora and fauna.
5. Take a Tour of Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery
Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery was established in 2008. Despite being a relatively new distillery, it has already become famous. This is because it was the first distillery in the world to age their spirits on the ocean floor. Visitors can take a tour of the distillery to learn about the facilities and production. In addition to making rum, they also make flavored rum, vodka, and liqueurs.
4. Walk the Mastic Trail
If you enjoy the outdoors and nature, then you should add the Mastic Trail to your list of things to do. It is an easily accessible hike, even for beginners, as it is a 200-year-old gravel path that is only 2.3-miles long. The path takes you through a two million-year-old woodland area and a native mangrove swamp. Although the trail is short, you should set aside a couple of hours so that you can fully appreciate the surroundings.
3. Go Scuba Diving
One of the most popular activities in the Cayman Islands is scuba diving. There are many amazing spots for scuba diving off the shores of Grand Cayman, but one of the best is the USS Kittiwake Shipwreck and Artificial Reef. The shipwreck is that of a US Navy submarine called the USS Kittiwake that sunk in 2011, just off the coast by Seven Mile Beach. It is now part of an artificial reef that is home to a variety of sea life, including grouper, eels, shrimp, barracuda, and turtles. The wreck is considered a good dive for beginners due to its shallow placement. However, advanced scuba divers also enjoy this dive. A great dive spot for intermediate divers is Captain Keith Tibbets Wreck, which sunk off Cayman Brac.
2. Go to Stingray City
The most popular tourist attraction anywhere in the Cayman Islands is Stingray City. It is a shallow sandbar where visitors can feed and interact with the wild Atlantic stingrays, and there are no penned enclosures. There are instructors on hand to give you guidelines to ensure you stay safe in the water.
1. Spend Time on Seven Mile Beach
According to US News, the best thing to do in Grand Cayman for first-timers is to spend some time on Seven Mile Beach. This is considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and this crescent-shaped stretch of beach is lined by some of the island’s top resorts. You can relax, sunbathe, enjoy a stroll, or go for a dip in the clear blue waters. The beach boasts several beach bars, some food stalls, restrooms, showers, and a playground.
Written by Liz Flynn
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