The Cayman Islands are an island group in the Caribbean Sea, ninety miles south of Cuba. The outstanding coral reefs and outstandingly clear waters have made this island group a favorite destination of divers. Great beaches and fine restaurants and resorts make it an excellent tourist destination as well.
Grand Cayman - The largest island and home to most of the population and tourist facilities.
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 43 meters (141 ft).
Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) is near George Town on Grand Cayman and is the main airport. It is about a 65 minute flight from Miami, Florida. It is served by a number of international airlines, flying to destinations in the Caribbean, North America, Central America & Europe.
Aerocaribbean provides Caribbean Services to Havana
Air Canada provides North American service to Toronto
Air Jamaica provides Caribbean Services to Kingston and Montego Bay
American Airlines provides North American service to Miami
British Airways provides Caribbean Service to Nassau, The Bahamas and European Service to London (Heathrow)
Cayman Airways provides domestic service to Cayman Brac & Little Cayman, Caribbean Service to Havana, Kingston, and Montego Bay, year round North American service to Miami, Tampa Bay, Washington, New York (JFK) and seasonal North American service to Chicago & Orlando.
Continental Airlines provides North American service to Houston & Newark
Delta Airlines provides North American service to Atlanta.
Car rentals are readily available. You must be 21 years old to rent a car. Driving is on the left hand side of the road and seatbelt use is mandatory. Visitors must get a temporary driver's license from the police station or car rental agency. This is obtained by showing a valid drivers license from their home state, county or parish and paying a US$7.50 fee.
Mopeds and scooter rentals are available on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. Helmet use is required. Usual daily rate is US$25 for helmet and permit.
Providing air service between the three islands' airports is:
English is the official language and is spoken by virtually everyone.
Most shopping is in George Town and Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman.
Caymanite is the Cayman Islands' own semi-precious stone.
Black Coral is often used in jewelry here.
Rum cake from Tortuga Rum Company is very popular with visitors to Grand Cayman.
There are many tourist shops where you can buy t-shirts, hats, postcards, and much more. Don't buy any seashells though; beachcombing is much more fun, and cheaper too.
Almost everything must be imported and is subject to a 20% import tax, food and other items are relatively expensive.
US currency is accepted everywhere. Be careful and always know if you're paying in CI or US. The basic conversion is US$1.25 to CI$1 ($1=CI $0.80).
Many influences can be seen in Cayman cuisine. Local specialties such as fish, turtle and conch are delicious and may be 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 and 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 may range from $10 to over $30 per person at the high-end restaurants.
Alcohol is very expensive on the islands, even from the liquor stores. You can expect to pay approximately twice as much in the liquor stores as you would at stores in the United States, however it is still the cheapest way to purchase alcohol.
Typical drink prices in bars and clubs range from $4-$7 CI ($5-$8.75 US).
Liquor stores close at 7PM, 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 1 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.
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 barbeque 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.
Grand Cayman Beach Suites Hotel (Grand Cayman Resort Hotel), Grand Cayman Islands, West Indies Seven Mile Beach, KY1-1101, ☎ +1 345 949 1234, . The Grand Cayman Beach Suites (formerly Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman) is the island's finest all suite beach resort. Experience the sparking white sands of Seven Mile Beach and all that our beautiful and exotic Grand Cayman resort has to offer.(19°20'9.51N,81°22'51.64W)
Aqua Bay Club Ocean Front Condos on Seven Mile Beach, West Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach, ☎ Toll Free: 1 800 825-8703 (email@example.com, fax: 345 945-5681), . A Grand Cayman condo destination located alongside world famous Seven Mile Beach. 21 oceanfront apartments.$275-$625.
The Reef Resort 1 Queens Highway, East End, Colliers Bay, Grand Cayman, ☎ Toll Free: 1 (888) 232.0541 (firstname.lastname@example.org). A Grand Cayman all beachfront luxury resort located on an exquisite quiet side of the island. This boutique resort is perfect for its watersports, diving, world class snorkelling, pool facilities and its private patio views.$230-$645.
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.
The Cayman Islands is a very low-crime area.
However, you should use caution when traveling in Georgetown at night.
Hurricanes are possible from June through November.
The Cayman Islands is a perfectly safe place for Gay and Lesbian Tourists. However, openly homosexual behavior is not tolerated as in most of the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands do not accept gay cruises and the government has refused to let them dock in the past. It is best to avoid Cayman Islands as a destination if you are gay or lesbian and wish to publicly display such.
Many locals won't eat barracuda because it is likely that it is poisonous. Be aware of that. Other reef fish (groupers, amberjack, red snappers, eel, sea bass, and Spanish mackerel) are not likely to cause ciguatera (fish poisoning).
No natural fresh water resources; drinking water supplies are met by desalination plants and rainwater catchments.
Make sure you have sunscreen on if you plan on walking around town. It is sunny all year.
Caymanians are very respectful. 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.