The Cayman Islands are an island group in the Caribbean Sea, ninety miles south of Cuba. The beautiful coral reefs and outstandingly clear waters have made this island group a favourite destination of divers. Great beaches and fine restaurants and resorts make it an excellent tourist destination as well. It is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
Popular local gifts are Cayman Sea Salt and Cayman Logwood Products.
The other two islands are called the Sister Islands by locals and are also tourist destinations. They are:
The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries. Administered by Jamaica from 1863, they remained a British dependency after 1962 when the former became independent.
In addition to banking (the islands have no direct taxation, making them a popular incorporation site), tourism is a mainstay, aimed at the luxury market and catering mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 2.19 million in 2006, although the vast majority of visitors arrive for single day cruise ship visits (1.93 million). About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world. The Cayman Islands are one of the richest islands not only in the Caribbean but in the world.
Tropical marine. Warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, Great vacation spot, relatively dry winters (November to April). In 2004 the Cayman Islands, and especially Grand Cayman, were hit hard by Hurricane Ivan.
Low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs. Highest point: The Bluff on Cayman Brac, at 43m (141 ft).
Visitors from any of the countries listed below do NOT require a visa to enter the Cayman Islands.
•Andorra •Antigua and Barbuda •Argentina •Australia •Austria •Bahamas •Bahrain •Barbados •Belgium •Belize •Botswana •Brazil •Brunei •Bulgaria •Canada •Chile •Cyprus •Czech Republic •Denmark (including Associated Territories) •Dominica •Ecuador •Estonia •Fiji •Finland •France (including Overseas Collectivities and Communities) •Germany •Greece •Grenada •Guyana •Hong Kong •Hungary •Iceland •Ireland •Israel •Italy •Japan •Kenya •Kiribati •Kuwait •Latvia •Lesotho •Liechtenstein •Lithuania •Luxembourg •Malawi •Malaysia •Maldives •Malta •Mauritius •Mexico •Monaco •Mozambique •Namibia •Nauru •Netherlands (including Associated Territories) •New Zealand (including Associated States and Overseas Territories) •Norway (including Associated Territories) •Oman •Panama •Papua New Guinea •Peru •Poland •Portugal •Romania •Saint Christopher and Nevis •Saint Lucia •Saint Vincent and the Grenadines •Samoa •San Marino •Seychelles •Singapore •Slovakia •Slovenia •Solomon Islands •South Africa •Spain •Swaziland •Sweden •Switzerland •Tanzania •Tonga •Trinidad and Tobago •Tuvalu •United Kingdom (including Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories) •United States of America •Vanuatu •Venezuela •Zambia
Owen Roberts International Airport is near George Town on Grand Cayman and is the main airport. It's about a 65 minute flight from Miami, Florida. It's served by a number of international airlines, flying to destinations in the Caribbean, North America, Central America and Europe.
Owen Roberts Airport has plenty of taxi availability. Neither of the smaller islands have airport taxi services, however hotels pick travellers up:
Located at the western end of Cayman Brac.
A small grass strip located on the southwestern coast of Little Cayman.
The Commonwealth variety of English is the official written language and the local creole is spoken by virtually everyone. Native Caymanians have a pleasant and unique accent with many charming turns of phrase. For example, in Cayman rumours are not heard "through the grapevine", instead they're heard "along the marl road". Locals pronounce Cayman as Kay-MAN, and not KAY-min.
The Cayman Island's dollar (KYD) is the ninth highest valued currency unit on the globe and the highest-valued dollar unit; be careful and always know if you're paying in CI or US dollars!
In November 2014, KYD1 = USD1.22 (the inverse conversion was USD1 = KYD0.82).
The US dollar is ubiquitous and typically accepted by hotels, restaurants, and shops at the rate of one US Dollar for every 80 Cayman Islands cents, with change usually given in Cayman Island dollars.
Most shopping is in George Town and Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman.
Almost everything must be imported and is subject to a 20% import tax (sometimes higher, depending on the product); food and other items are relatively expensive.
The culinary influences of many regions are reflected in Cayman cuisine. Local specialities such as fish, turtle, and conch are delicious and often less expensive as they don't need to be imported. With more than 150 restaurants, unwinding with a good meal in the Cayman Islands can include chic five-star dining as well as a more casual venue under the stars, or even a themed event. From traditional Caymanian seafood to Caribbean to Thai to Italian and New World cuisine, discerning diners are sure to find something to fit their taste. Other exciting options include dinner cruises on luxury catamarans and even an authentic tall ship. Meal prices range from $10 to well over $30 per person at high-end restaurants.
While in Cayman ask your taxi driver for their favourite local Jerk Stand (a MUST try), and also ask them the tourist spot they suggest. A decent amount of Kosher Food is available at local supermarkets.
Finding budget food on the cayman islands can sometimes be a challenge as the cost of living is higher than most other countries including the united states. Most restaurants are expensive. However, there are still a few options for charming casual places to eat. Rackams is a local favourite for the scuba divers on the island thanks to its free chicken wings on a Friday night.
Alcohol is expensive on the islands, even from the liquor stores.
Typical drink prices in bars and clubs range from KYD4-7 (USD5-8.75).
Liquor stores close at 19:00, and are closed on Sundays.
Visitors flying into the Cayman Islands are able to bring either 1 bottle of duty free spirits, 4 bottles of wine or champagne, or one 12 pack of beer per person 18 years of age or older. Exceeding this duty allowance will result in substantial taxation to the excess items.
A variety of local drinking establishments range in price and consumer base yet all preserve a sense of Island flair. Rackams Waterfront Has the cheapest beer on the island each night during happy hour. And they have a reputation for the coldest beers too.Being right on the waterfront its a great place to catch a sunset.
Accommodations are ample but tend to be relatively expensive, even on the two smaller islands. There are several luxury resorts with all amenities, as well as other less expensive options. In addition, the cost of food and drink is high in Cayman, but many visitors stay in condominiums with kitchen facilities and take advantage of the first class supermarkets and cook and barbecue on the beach.
Cayman is not known for all inclusive resorts, but there are two smaller Caribbean style properties that do offer this option.
The majority of hotels and resorts are in Grand Cayman, where the main hotel "strip" is Seven Mile Beach, home to several major chain hotels and numerous condominiums. Seven Mile Beach is a public beach, so you are able to walk the entire length of the beach.
Off Seven Mile Beach are several dive resorts and, in the Eastern Districts, numerous private homes and villas, as well as several resorts and attractions for those preferring a more tranquil vacation.
Little Cayman focuses on dive vacations and has a unique charm, as well as some of the best diving anywhere.
Camping is illegal on all three islands at all times. There are no campsites on any of the islands.
Grand Cayman has growing offshore banking and tourism sectors. Tourism represents about 60% of the economy. About 30% of residents are expatriates working on "work permits" and unemployment is very low.
"However, that being said, crime is on the rise on Grand Cayman. Walking or riding a bicycle at night along dark roads (for example, along Courts Road) puts one at risk for assault and/or robbery. Pedestrians also need to worry about being hit by cars along soft shouldered roads. Drunk driving/Hit and Run accidents have been a problem. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) regularly conducts roadblocks to deter and detect drunk driving, making numerous arrests most weekends. DWI/DUI is a serious offence in Cayman.
The capital city of George Town is generally safe. Tourists should avoid certain areas (Rock Hole, Swamp, Jamaica Town/ Windsor Park, Courts Road, and Eastern Avenue) and this shouldn't be a problem as these areas are all well out of the way for most activities. In addition, George Town is virtually deserted at night as there are few centrally located restaurants, bars, or nightclubs.
One need not be overly concerned about miscellaneous belongings. While at the beach, no one will be stealing your lunch, towel or sneakers. Cayman thieves are not desperate individuals, and have no interest in normal personal effects or used snorkelling gear. Very likely the thieves are just local teens looking for items that they can sell to other local teens. Example: An average pair of sunglasses will not "grow legs"; But a flashy pair of Chanel knock-offs just might!
Special note to women: Women travelling alone should be especially careful at night, as sexual assaults do occasionally occur. Carry a cell phone capable of emergency calls to local 911. If you feel you are being followed or inappropriately watched, you should immediately call the police. The RCIPS is a very responsive and extremely professional organization. They will take your complaint seriously.
Grand Cayman is no longer a Camelot. But not to worry. You can enjoy a relaxing and "incident-free" holiday if you take care to be aware of your surroundings and lock doors and windows when possible.
Caymanians are very respectful and well known for being a very welcoming people. Greetings and pleasantries are common and expected, even to shopkeepers when entering their stores. Most islanders use titles of respect, such as Mr. and Miss, followed with the given or first name, when addressing other islanders. It is not uncommon on Grand Cayman island to hear the question "Who you fa?" (hoo – yoo – fah) It's part of the local dialect that means “Who you belongs ta?” Definition: 1. Who are you, and who are your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.