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Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman Shore Excursion Tips

Stingray City underwater
Stingray City. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

A Grand Cayman cruise excursion most likely is one of two major choices —Stingray City, Seven Mile Beach and Cayman Turtle Centre.

Grand Cayman does have plenty of standard shore excursions such as Jeep rides, dolphin encounter, parasailing, snorkeling, etc.

But we like to do the excursions that are unique to each island. Grand Cayman has three that stand out.

Stingray City

Stingray City is one of the most famous attractions in the Caribbean. In our experience, it is by far the most memorable Cayman Island cruise excursion.

Visitors go to a dock near Seven Mile Beach and take a boat out to a sandbar where dozens of stingray live.

Fishermen used to go to the sandbar to dump the entrails of their catch. The stingray ate what the fishermen threw overboard, then the fishermen got into the water to feed the stingray by hand.

Now visitors can climb in the water as well and experience the stingray gliding by them in search of handouts.

Cruise ship visitors can almost always arrange this excursion on board the ship. Book the excursion right after boarding the ship because it often fills up fast.

Budget-minded visitors can arrange the trip directly with the excursion operator and likely save money by cutting out the cruise line’s share of the price.

This two-and-a-half to three-hour tour will cost around $50 to $75 depending on the type of boat and amenities. We found this excursion memorable and well worth the price.

Some excursions cost more because they also include lunch and a separate snorkeling experience.

Seven Mile Beach

The farthest end of Seven Mile Beach is much quieter than the area by the cruise docks. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Mention the Caribbean, and most people think about beaches. Mention Cayman Island beaches, and anyone who has been to Grand Cayman will think of Seven Mile Beach.

This 5.6-mile long beach north of Georgetown is packed with resorts, restaurants, shops and beach bars. It’s the place to go for anyone wanting a grand and active beach experience.

An excursion will include various amenities and and transportation to spots with smaller crowds. A three-hour excursion will likely cost around $50 per person. The price usually includes a beach chair, umbrella and fruit punch.

Otherwise, a simple round trip transfer will cost $25. One-way taxi fares may be cheaper and depend on the distance from the docks.

The beach begins right next to the cruise docks, but it is usually crowded there. That’s why some people choose a transfer to a quieter spot.

Budget-mind visitors can save money by walking along the beach and looking for a package directly from the bars and restaurants that line it.

Some may even offer a free or discounted chair and umbrella if competition is intense. They will then hope to make their money off the sale of food and beverages.

Cayman Turtle Centre

Cayman Turtle Centre claims it is the Cayman Islands’ largest land-based attraction and draws more than 500,000 visitors a year.

The breeding farm has 8,000 green sea turtles and has released more than 31,000 into the ocean. It is the largest facility of its kind in the world.

The farm now offers visitors a chance to swim with the dolphins. A shore excursion to see the turtles will cost about $50 per person. The dolphin swim will cost $100 to $150 or more depending on the program.

George Town Tour

If shopping has more appeal than Seven Mile Beach or Stingray City, cruise ship visitors can spend their time in the Cayman Island capital of George Town. They won’t have to spend a dime on a shore excursion with the cruise ship.

They will find plenty of the usual Caribbean shopping experiences with an emphasis on duty-free shopping for designer merchandise. Check out the Conch Shell House, built entirely of mollusk trumpet shells.

Other things to do for cruise visitors include a visit to Hell, a town located on the west side of Grand Cayman, and a turtle farm in the West Bay district where green and hawksbill turtles are bred and raised.

Cayman Crystal Caves

Cayman Crystal Caves is the newest nature shore excursion on Grand Cayman. Visitors go on guided walking tours through the surrounding tropical forest and three impressive caves.

The tour lasts about 90 minutes. The caves are about 35 minutes from the cruise terminal. Prices including transportation start at about $125 per person.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
January 18, 2022

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