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.
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).
The other two islands are called the Sister Islands by locals and are also tourist destinations. They are:
Visitors from any of the countries listed below do NOT require a visa to enter the Cayman Islands.
•Principality of Andorra •Antigua and Barbuda •Argentine Republic •Commonwealth of Australia •Republic of Austria •Commonwealth of The Bahamas •Kingdom of Bahrain •Barbados •Kingdom of Belgium •Belize •Republic of Botswana •Federative Republic of Brazil •Negara Brunei Darussalam •Republic of Bulgaria •Canada •Republic of Chile •Republic of Cyprus •Czech Republic •Kingdom of Denmark (including Associated Territories) •Commonwealth of Dominica •Republic of Ecuador •Republic of Estonia •Republic of the Fiji Islands •Republic of Finland •French Republic (including Overseas Collectivites and Communities) •Federal Republic of Germany •Hellenic Republic (Greece) •Grenada •Co-operative Republic of Guyana •Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China •Republic of Hungary •Republic of Iceland •Republic of Ireland •State of Israel •Italian Republic •Japan •Republic of Kenya •Republic of Kiribati •State of Kuwait •Republic of Latvia •Kingdom of Lesotho •Principality of Liechtenstein •Republic of Lithuania •Grand Duchy of Luxembourg •Republic of Malawi •Malaysia •Republic of Maldives •Republic of Malta •Republic of Mauritius •United Mexican States •Principality of Monaco •Republic of Mozambique •Republic of Namibia •Republic of Nauru •Kingdom of the Netherlands (including Associated Territories) •New Zealand (including Associated States and Overseas Territories) •Kingdom of Norway (including Associated Territories) •Sultanate of Oman •Republic of Panama •Independent State of Papua New Guinea •Republic of Peru •Republic of Poland •Portuguese Republic •Romania •Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis •Saint Lucia •Saint Vincent and the Grenadines •Independent State of Samoa •Most Serene Republic of San Marino •Republic of Seychelles •Republic of Singapore •Slovak Republic •Republic of Slovenia •Solomon Islands •Republic of South Africa •Kingdom of Spain •Kingdom of Swaziland •Kingdom of Sweden •Swiss Confederation •United Republic of Tanzania •Kingdom of Tonga •Republic of Trinidad and Tobago •Tuvalu •United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories) •United States of America (including Associated Territories) •Republic of Vanuatu •Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela •Republic of Zambia
George Town on Grand Cayman is a popular port for cruise ships.
English is the official language and 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.
Most shopping is in George Town and Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman.
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.
While you are in Cayman ask your taxi driver their suggestion on restaurants. Ask for their favorite local Jerk Stand (MUST TRY) and also ask them what tourist spot they suggest.
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.
You will of course want to check out some of the local drinking establishments.
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.
1 Queens Highway, East End, Colliers Bay, Grand Cayman, ☎ Toll Free: 1 (888) 232.0541 (email@example.com). 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.
"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 RCIPS regularly conducts roadblocks to deter and detect drunk driving, making numerous arrests most weekends. DWI/DUI is a serious offense in Cayman.
Burglary is also an escalating problem, with over 300 reported in the first 9 months of 2009/ lap tops and small hi-tech devices are key targets.
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 snorkeling 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 traveling alone should be especially careful at night, as sexual assaults do 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 when possible.
(This update on crime was originally added under the discussion section.)
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.