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Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman Travel Tips

Grand Cayman Attracts Many Cruise Ships with Stingray City and Other Major Attractions
Stingray City
Stingray City is the top attraction on Grand Cayman. Photo, Lawson Wood
Grand Cayman travel tips begin with two important facts about who visits this western Caribbean island and why.

First, it is much more of a cruise port than a destination for a lengthy stay.

Second, a cruise to the Cayman Islands is really a cruise to Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands that make up the chain. The other two are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The Caymans are a British dependent territory and eighth in total tourism in the Caribbean. Tourism is driven to a great extent by cruise visits.

The island has seven times more cruise visitors than overnight visitors. The ratio of cruise to overnight visitors is the second highest rate in the Caribbean.

The huge cruise traffic makes Cayman an excursion mecca and a major duty-free shopping opportunity.

Cayman Island Attractions

Grand Cayman is one of the most popular destinations on western Caribbean cruises in part because of several unique attractions.

Travel tip: Our favorite excursion among all of our many travels through the Caribbean was Stingray City.

Visitors boat out to a sandbar and get into the three-foot water with snorkel gear to watch and touch a school of stingray that lives there. The stingray have become accustomed to human contact and often touch snorkelers with their wings as they glide past them.

Other popular attractions include the Cayman Turtle Farm with 16,000 sea turtles; the popular and well-known Seven Mile Beach; and Pedro St. James Historic Site.

Cruise visitors should note that Seven Mile Beach is accessible right by the cruise terminal. The section nearest the terminal is usually the most crowded. The beach is less crowded farthest from the docks.

Noteworthy regular attractions include shopping, helicopter tours and the usual list of excursion operator water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving and jet skiing.

The island has three golf courses: the 18-hole North Sound Club, the nine-hole Britannia Golf Course and the nine-hole Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

Tourism / When to Go

Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach is one of the top beaches in the Caribbean. © Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
All U.S., U.K. and Canadian stopover visitors require passports. Cruise visitors simply need to have their ship ID cards available when leaving the ship and returning.

The most popular month to visit is March followed by April with December a close third. March is popular because of spring break for families with children.

The least popular month is September followed by October during the peak months of the Caribbean hurricane season.

It's worth noting that August has been a month that tempts fate with high hurricane activity including Dean in 2007.

Transportation / Getting Around

A taxi stand is available at the cruise terminal, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism says. Taxis also are available at Owen Roberts International Airport.

Visitors can rent cars at both locations as well. Renters must get a license and have a minimum age of 21. Note that cars travel on the left side of the road according to British custom.

Budget-minded visitors may use a public bus system. The terminal is next to the Public Library on Edward Street in George Town. Services begin at 6 a.m. daily. Tickets start at $1.50 in Cayman Islands currency.

Cayman Islands Weather

The official Caribbean hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Before Dean in 2007, the last two hurricanes to hit the islands directly were Ivan in 2004 and then all the way back to one in 1932. Others, however, have passed nearby.

The average high temperature during the summer reaches into the low 90s Fahrenheit or low 30s Celsius. During the winter, it is in the mid 80s Fahrenheit.

March and April have the lowest average rainfall of the year at less than two inches a month. They are followed by January and February.

September and October have the highest rainfall of the year at more than eight inches each, according to 30 years of data from the National Meteorological Service of the Cayman Islands.

Travel tip: April is the best month to visit for a combination of low rainfall and warmer temperatures.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

Cayman IslandsCurrency is the Cayman Dollar. U.S. visitors can pay with U.S. bills, but be prepared to receive change in Cayman coins.

Hotels may include a 10 percent service charge, while taxi drivers and restaurant may include a 10-15 percent service charge. Travel tip: Always ask for rates before getting into a taxi.

Goods and services generally aren't taxed, but hotel rooms have a 10 percent tax.

Culture / Geography

The dominant language is English. Because there is no direct taxation, the islands are better known as an offshore financial center than for tourism.

The geography consists of a low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Travel Tips   

March 08, 2016

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