The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean are a trio of large land masses (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman) collectively recognized as the Caribbean’s financial hub. It’s common to see executives dressed in business suits walking around with their suitcases and glued to their cell phones yet there are just as many people wearing bathing suits and swimming gear lounging on the Cayman Islands world class beaches and snorkeling in the amazing coral reefs.
Before they received their collective title of Cayman Islands, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus gave the Cayman Islands the name of Tortugas, the Spanish word for turtles after he came across a group of them on Little Cayman during the early 1500s. It wasn’t until English privateer Francis Drake visited almost a decade later that Tortugas were renamed Caymanas, the word the Carib tribe used to refer to crocodiles. The British eventually took possession of the Cayman Islands in the late 1600s.
Diving has a longstanding history in the Cayman Islands, dating all the way back to the 1950s yet despite its current popularity local residents (usually referred to as Caymanians) initially refused to allow outsiders to pierce the islands’ tranquil isolation. Tough financial circumstances eventually lead to the Cayman Islands opening its doors and today, not only are the Cayman Islands among the best in Caribbean tourism, they have more financial institutions than the state of New York City in the United States.
The Cayman Islands thrive heavily on tourism these days, over a million people visit the trio of Caribbean islands each year. As a result, there are a number of shopping, entertainment, dining and recreational activities to enjoy, the highlight being Seven Mile Beach which is considered one of the best beaches in the world and the most beautiful Caribbean beach. This is where visitors will find the majority of resorts and hotels as well as a collection of waterfront villas. The islands are also considered one of the best spots in the world for scuba diving and the islands offer complementary attractions for these activities such as allowing tourists to swim alongside stingrays at Stingray City in Grand Cayman Island. There is also plenty of nature to explore from a large variation of wildlife to the fascinating limestone formations of Hell.
The majority of Cayman Islands residents speak English although there are notably distinct dialects and accents depending on where visitors choose to go, Jamaican patois also being quite prevalent in various areas. The people of the Cayman Islands are also known for being very cordial and respectful, usually addressing fellow foreigners and fellow islanders with a “mister” or “miss”. Pirate’s Week, Batabano, and Brachanal are some of the annual festivities and events held in the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands are known for their acclaimed waterfront real estate. The standard of living in the Cayman Islands is the highest of any Caribbean Island, leading to well developed residential communities and commercial areas. Cayman Island estates are often ideally located on the oceanfront or intercostals and have lush landscaping, multiple floors as well as a dock, porch and terraces. Resort-style communities can be elaborate and have long stretches of private beach. The buildings are very well maintained and implement modern amenities and features while not diverting far from the Caribbean-style designs that makes these properties appealing.
The Cayman Islands have a variety of different styled property, the most popular being coastal homes. Cayman Island waterfront homes can have as many as six bedrooms and like the Cayman Island estates, are several stories high with spacious balconies, a pool, patio and private beach area. Having a large Cayman Island property gives you the privacy and seclusion most are looking for when planning a Caribbean vacation. Smaller Cayman Island vacation villas are available and can be found on some of the more secluded islands. Two bedroom island homes often have large patios and can be located right on the sands of the sunny Cayman Island beaches.
Resort-style communities like the Hyatt Regency, Ritz Carlton and Westin Casuarina in the Cayman Islands are oceanfront condominiums with hotel-like amenities or even individual properties in a beachfront housing community. The appeal of Cayman Island resort-style living is that the communities are often on great plots of land and offer services that provide security and enhance convenience. Amenities include concierge services, 24-hour security, multiple pools and tennis courts, beachside and poolside attendants with restaurants and taverns nearby.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman Beach Suites
The Grand Caymanian Resort
The official currency of the Cayman Islands is the Cayman Island Dollar (CI$)
Calling Code: 1 (345)
Top Level Domain: (.ky)
The Cayman Islands is an overseas territory of Britain, but is headed by a local governor and Leader of Government Business.
Valid Travel Documents: Required upon exit and entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
Climate: The temperatures average is 75°F (23.9°C) during the day and 68°F (20°C) during the night. During the off-season, temperatures average 83°F (28.3°C)
Tips when you get there:
The Cayman Islands has an international airport and has numerous direct flights, especially from cities in the U.S. like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Memphis and Boston. When you arrive in the Cayman Islands the most efficient form of transportation is to rent a car. Unless you're staying in George Town, taxis and public bus services aren't very reliable. After you check into your hotel or residence, the island's flat landscape is ideal for bike riding and it’s also a popular method of perusing the islands.
What to do:
The Cayman Islands, positioned between Cuba and Jamaica, obviously have year-round beach weather. Cayman Island beaches have white sands and blue waters and depending on where you are you can see beautiful coral and marine wildlife just off the shore. But if guests want to take a break from the beaches and see what else the Cayman Islands offer, there is more than plenty to see.
Turtle farms, art galleries, historical structures, national parks and famous shipwrecks are all unique and interesting places to visit. The famous Wreck of Ten Sails Park features a shipwreck sight with ten ships in a convoy that tragically ran aground at night in 1794. The turtle farms in the Cayman Islands are also incredibly popular featuring many different kings of Caribbean turtles.
Additionally, annual events such as the Carnival-like festival of Batabano, pirate week, and an international fishing tournament spread out throughout the year offer special celebration opportunities for visitors.