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Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman Cruise Port

Popular George Town Offers Plenty of Shopping, Great Excursions
Cayman Islands cruise tips
© 2018 Scott Bateman
The Grand Cayman cruise port at George Town is one of the top five cruise stops in the Caribbean and for good reason.

About 400,000 people visit the island every year to stay at its hotels and resorts. But 1.6 million visit by cruise.

Its convenient location makes it one of the most popular western Caribbean cruise ports, and it has one of the best cruise excursions at Stingray City.

Seven Mile Beach is often named one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and of course the capital city of George Town has plenty of duty-free shopping.

Fast Facts


  • Large duty-free shopping district within walking distance of cruise docks
  • Famous Seven Mile Beach also within walking distance
  • The top shore excursion is Stingray City

Attractions


Stingray City easily ranks as one of the top Caribbean attractions and cruise excursions. Visitors boat out to a sandbar and jump into three feet of water with a large school of stingray that have become used to human touch. We had great fun when we did it.

Stingray City
Stingray City; photo © Lawson Wood
The stingray don't hesitate to glide within inches -- and sometimes rub the legs -- of people in the water.

Visitors are usually given snorkeling equipment so they can see the stingray underwater. Guides will sometimes feed the stingray or even pick them up to let visitors see them up close and touch them. This is a great family experience.

Boatswain’s Beach is a 23-acre marine park. It also is the home of the Cayman Turtle Centre, Grand Cayman’s most popular land attraction. It is eight miles north of the cruise terminal.

It houses a research and educational facility that focuses on the conservation of sea turtles. The facilities also have predators, birds, caiman, and other creatures. Visitors can see the turtle farm by taxi, rental car or excursion bus.

Going to Hell? If you do visit this village on Grand Cayman, be sure to go to the post office like countless other tourists and send out a postcard to family or friends saying, "I've been to Hell." It is seven miles north of the cruise terminal and near the Cayman Turtle Centre.

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park has 65 acres of displays, walking trail, educational exhibits, a lake and other features. The park’s new $800,000 visitor center is now the first stop on the tour. The two-acre Heritage Garden showcases a restored early 20th-century, three-room, zinc-roofed Caymanian wooden cottage. The Floral Garden displays hundreds tropical and subtropical plants over 2.5 acres.

Beaches


The famous Seven Mile Beach is within walking distance of the cruise docks. Expect heavier crowds by the docks, so either walk farther or take a taxi to more secluded areas. There are many things to do and places to eat.

Most other beaches require access by taxi or rental car. Note that all beaches are public up to the high water mark, even beaches that front hotels and resorts.

The next closest beach to the cruise port is Smith Barcadere at South Sound. It has restrooms, picnic benches, showers and snorkelling.

Governor's beach is part of the Seven Mile Beach strip and next to the Governor's house. Cayman Falls Plaza and Governors Square plaza are by the beach and have shops, restaurants and other services.

For more remote beaches and fewer crowds, try Rum Point (40-minute drive from the docks), Kaibo (40 minutes) or Heritage (30 minutes).


Shopping


Visitors to the Grand Cayman cruise port can walk off their ships and start shopping and dining right away.

Most Caribbean shopping destinations offer some combination of products you can buy anywhere as well as products that are truly local. George Town is no different.

The Cayman Craft Market on South Church Street is one place to go for many items that are locally produced. The market is a two-minute walk south of the cruise dock.The vendors offer items of leather, thatch, wood and shell as well as traditional Caymanian food.

Cayman Islands shopping
George Town shopping
©Cayman Islands Depart. of Tourism
The Farmer's Market Cooperative is at Stacy Watler Agriculture Pavilion in Lower Valley, known as Market at the Grounds.

It is open every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors will find fresh produce, fish, Cayman-made products like Cayman Sea Salt, jams, preserves and hot sauces.

The Tortuga Rum Company offers 10 blends of rums, Taste of the Caribbean sections featuring samples of the Tortuga Rum Cake, Tortuga label gourmet food products and a wide variety of Caribbean speciality foods, coffees, spices and sauces.

Grand Cayman stores accept U.S. or Cayman Island dollars, travelers checks and most major credit cards.

Getting Around


Public buses run throughout the island districts. Daily services commence at 6 a.m. and fares start at $1.50 Cayman Island dollars. Licensed buses have blue number plates and accept both U.S. and Cayman Islands dollars.

There are a few bus stops around the island, but buses can be flagged down from the side of the road.

A variety of car rental agencies are available, many of which will provide pickup at the cruise terminal.

Taxis are common at the cruise docks; rates are fixed and should be posted. Most taxis are minivans and often require at least four passengers before leaving. Be sure to ask for a rate before stepping into the taxi.

Weather / Best Time to Go


The best time to visit the Grand Cayman cruise port is January through April when the average high temperature is about 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall averages less than two inches a month, according to the National Meteorological Service of the Cayman Islands.

April is the best month for warm temperatures and low risk of rain. Historically, it rains only seven days during April, which is the lowest level of any month of the year.

Otherwise, the island has heavier rain for the remaining months. Total rainfall jumps to nearly six inches in May and keeps climbing until it reaches a high point of more than eight inches in September and October.

Other Tips


  • English is the official language.
  • U.S. currency is widely accepted.
  • ATMs are available throughout George Town.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

July 10, 2018

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