Little Cayman truly is little. Ten miles in length and one in width, it harbors a permanent population barely over 100. Mere blip on the radar that it is, the island is a formidable destination for diving, and offers some other ways to lounge away the time between trips underwater.
Almost all the accommodation and services on Little Cayman are in South Town, which is actually better described as the western end of the island. The island's most famous diving destinations, the
In between dives, most people enjoy taking short walks along the coastline. Tiny
Heading up the road away from South Town, the island becomes more and more of a deserted paradise.
Among the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is overwhelmingly the largest, the most visited, and offers the most variety of activities. Where the two smaller islands mainly cater to diving connoisseurs and nature enthusiasts, Grand Cayman welcomes a diverse crowd of people. The local absence of taxes and many of the controls other nations place on their banking systems makes Grand Cayman one of the world's largest offshore financial centers, attracting an international set easily identified by their cell-phones and suits. But by far the larger group is the tourists: Club-goers, beach bums and diving devotees all call the island their paradise. You'll find it easy to enter whichever atmosphere pleases you, whether it's hectic tourist hotspots or remote island hideaways. Choose to spend all your time on the beach and in the nightlife, or use every day to explore one of over 250 diving sites in the island's crystal-clear water.
Nearly everyone arriving, whether by plane at Owen Roberts International Airport or by cruise ship, will end up in the same locale—George Town. That name encompasses both a district, which includes the airport, and the actual capital city of the island. After checking into your accommodation, head to the city's waterfront shopping area. All the shopping here is duty-free, so take a little time to check out stores like
Seven Mile Beach
Once you've taken the edge off your hunger, head northwards while staying on the waterfront. Soon you'll hit the coral sands of
There's no need to walk all five and a half miles of the inaccurately-named beach right now, so once you're tired of it, catch a taxi northward to
You've seen much of what the western side of the island has to offer, now. But, you may ask, what about the much larger eastern section? With nearly deserted beaches, parks and bays, Grand Cayman's North Side and East End districts offer the island seclusion that many crave. Start heading that way, but don't let yourself skip over the former capital, Bodden Town. Historic buildings and graves in this sleepy town hearken back to the days of pirates and slaves on the island.
Head straight north away from Bodden Town to reach
You've made your way across most of the island now, with only the eastern-most beaches left. If all you wanted in the first place was peace and quiet, maybe the place to stay would be one like
Around the Island
Speaking of diving, there's an entire sea away from the shores to explore, with some of the world's clearest water and best reefs, walls and wrecks waiting for you to discover them. Listing all of the excellent spots for diving or snorkeling around Grand Cayman would be a truly monumental task, but fortunately much of the island's best diving can be identified by the side it's on. The
Whatever you're looking for in a Caribbean island, Grand Cayman has it on offer. So grab your beach towel, or dive tank, or club outfit, or even your cell phone and suit, and get ready to relax in a special sort of paradise.
The cuisine on Little Cayman is not as diverse as that of Grand Cayman, nor is it as traditional as that of Cayman Brac. However, those two drawbacks do not speak to the quality of what beautiful Little Cayman has to offer. The Hungry Iguana Restaurant, located within the Paradise Villas Resort, is a different dining experience every night. Though island basics like conch fritters are almost always available, the restaurant's theme changes daily. Some nights seafood is the star, the next night might be a pizza party, and still other nights will see curry favored. For a more traditional restaurant environment, head for Pirate's Point. Though it is a luxurious resort, the chefs in its restaurant take great pride in staying true to the island's traditions, presenting authentic Caribbean seafood specialties every day and night. Look for local seafood, fresh-baked breads, luscious fruit and house-made desserts; none will disappoint. For a meal quicker and cheaper but no less filling, hit the buffet-style dining room known as Birds of Paradise. Here, island favorites are prepared by the ton, and scarfed up quick as can be by hungry vacationers both young and old.
Clearly, Little Cayman has some fine places to eat, but when your taste buds cry out for more, you need look no further than nearby Grand Cayman. Following is a district-by-district look at the best of the big island.
This district is the beating heart of Grand Cayman's culinary scene. It is here that you will find everything you need to keep your belly full and your spirits up. For perhaps one of the most adventurous dining experiences on the island, sign up for one of The Brasserie's "Blindsided" dinners, regular prix fixe events at which each gourmet course is a surprise to the diners. This will definitely allow you to stretch your gastronomical limits. At the Grand Old House, located in an old plantation home just south of George Town proper, one dish in particular cannot be missed: the turtle steak. Chow down if you dare! Some consider Indian food to be a bit of an adventure as well, so if you're in the mood, head straight for Bayside Cafe, a local favorite. After so much adventure, you might be in need of a trusty, classic bistro-style eatery; Bacchus, with its hearty menu, full bar and strong wine list (as the name implies), is the place. They are open late every night of the week.
Seven Mile Beach
Tired of the hustle and bustle of "metropolitan" George Town? Time to hit the beach! Thankfully, you will find no shortage of killer dining options here. Just minutes away from George Town, Seven Mile Beach is five-and-a-half sandy miles of scintillating culinary possibilities. Hemingways, inside the Hyatt Regency, is an upscale affair, serving Caribbean-inflected Spanish-style tapas. At Aqua Beach Restaurant & Bar, the dining room is surrounded by exotic aquariums. Quite a view to accompany their expertly mixed cocktails and beautifully presented seafood specialties. If you'd care for music with your view, pop into The Wharf Restaurant for ocean views and live harp, along with yet another fine seafood-centric menu. Cafe Mediterraneo serves up quite a bit of seafood as well, but they also have a wide array of other options ranging from kebabs to pizzas. If pizza sounds good, you might be working on a bit of an Italian craving. If so, Edoardo's is just right. Choose from pastas, pizzas and a whole list of old-world entrees. Pizza is definitely the star of the show at Cimboco, which features a wood-burning oven that churns out crispy and delicious pizzas. For a snack as portable as a slice of pizza, but perhaps a bit more exotic, head for Al La Kebab, curer of many a late-night falafel craving. Note that they offer a number of sauce options not often seen elsewhere.
Need a meal more upscale than a slice or a kebab? Decker's has an extensive wine list and a cigar-loving clientele, as well as a menu whose influences range all over the globe but always remains rooted firmly in island tradition. Sure, beach life is great, but if you find yourself longing for a bit more George Town-style boundary pushing, sit down to a dinner of conch at Reef Grill, an award-winning SMB tradition. If you'd prefer to eschew adventure in favor of grilled simplicity, visit Copper Falls Steakhouse for a good ol' American-style dry-aged slab of beef. If slabs of beef are not your cup of tea, step inside Bamboo, a high-energy lounge full of young people and a terrific sushi bar. DJ's Cantina is full of energy as well. They serve up Mexican cuisine with fresh ingredients and a touch of modern whimsy. Clearly, Seven Mile Beach is home to solid representations of cuisines from the far reaches of the Earth, but you mustn't leave without a trip to Chicken! Chicken! Caribbean Wood Roasted for a taste of authentic local soul food (complete with homemade cornbread).
Located due north of Seven Mile Beach, West Bay is still somewhat centrally located - and still chock full of great grub from all around the world. Dine on deck at Calypso Grill for a lovely meal featuring exotic seafood preparations–all overlooking the water. Love island flair, but long for a little bit of Italian heartiness? Ristorante Pappagallo serves up Caribbean-influenced Italian food, old-world specialties with a helping of new-world freshness and attitude.
Northside & East End
The further you stray from George Town, the more your food options dwindle. However, lack of quantity does not indicate a lack of quality. Castro's Hideaway, located within the East End's Reef Resort, is an energetic bar and grill full of good times and party people. Choose from more fresh seafood, or opt for a range of other American-friendly pub-style favorites. A short trip up the coast, you'll find the Kaibo Yacht Club, a restaurant specializing in combining the flavors of New Orleans with the flavors of the Caribbean. After traveling the length of Grand Cayman's coastline, you might want to end your day with a session at The Wreck Bar, in the Northside's Rum Point district. While away the stresses and worries of a hectic road trip over a cold cocktail in this unadorned local watering hole.
Little Cayman is the least developed of the Cayman trio. With a resident population of less than 170, most of Little Cayman remains uninhabited. Only 10 miles long and a mile wide, it still offers that rare combination of sun-blessed solitude, glistening beaches and miles of untouched tropical wilderness, perfect for the outdoor enthusiast.
On Little Cayman, diving, especially in the famous Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson Point areas, are the main attraction. Bloody Bay Wall, located on the North Shore of the Island is one of the world's truly legendary dive sites: the sheer coral wall begins at 20 ft. and plunges to 6000 ft. Colorful coral gardens, wavering sea plumes and exotic tropical fish thrive among more than 50 unique dive sites. There are several diving companies that offer dive excursions such as Conch Club Divers and Paradise Divers, with both offering dive specials and packages.
Exceptional fishing can be done on Little Cayman, where bonefish, small tarpon and permit, particularly in South Hole Sound Lagoon, challenge anglers looking for light tackle action along the coast. The 15-acre Tarpon Pond is always filled with small, but feisty gamefish.
You don't have to go underwater to see wildlife, though. Little Cayman also has the largest known breeding colony of the Red Footed Booby (5000 pairs) in the Caribbean as well as a breeding colony of large heronry and Magnificent Frigate Birds. The 203-acre Red-Footed Booby Bird Nature Reserve provides an observation deck with high-powered telescopes for year-round viewing of the sanctuary's bird life. Right across the way, you'll notice the Little Cayman Museum which will give you a background on the history, hobbies, and life on Little Cayman.
If sun and sand are what you're after, there is certainly no shortage on Little Cayman. The beach at Little Cayman Cottage offers the perfect hideaway with magnificent shady palm trees and a pristine white sand beach. Point of Sand on the far eastern tip of the Island offers visitors a picturesque view of Cayman Brac while being conveniently located next to the reef mouth, making it perfect for snorkeling. Right off the elegant beach of Bloody Bay sits Owen's Island. A destination for absolute seclusion, you can choose to row out to this tiny Island, offering a great spot for quiet reflection and relaxation.
Grand Cayman While Grand Cayman is very similar to its sister islands, it has one rather distinguishing feature that sets it apart: size. There's enough variety on Grand Cayman to make a tour of the island entirely worthwhile, but there's also just enough space that you probably won't want to try walking. For transportation, a rented bike, car or taxi will quickly get you from one spot to another.
George Town and Seven Mile Beach Most people who come to Grand Cayman end up staying along the strip of Seven Mile Beach, just two miles west of the airport. Despite being only five miles in length it has by far the greatest concentration of resorts and hotels on the island, bordered by George Town to the south and West Bay to the north.
Start off your tour in George Town. If you get here early enough you'll find the town quiet and peaceful, the storefronts still closed and the very water off the cruise docks seemingly sleepy and tranquil. A little later, the duty-free shops open up and the shoppers come out. You can enjoy the shopping and cafes, or, if your interests run more to the academic, stop in at the Cayman Islands National Museum. Be forewarned, though: George Town is Grand Cayman's docking point for cruise ships, so if you happen to get caught there when one is passing through, you might be in for more of a crowd than you bargained.
There's no reason to stay in the town for too long, so when you're done, walk out to the docks and head north until you hit the sand. This is Seven Mile Beach. It's reputedly one of the most beautiful in the world, but it's up to you to decide whether its coral sands and cerulean seas are part of your makeup of Paradise.
West Bay If Seven Mile Beach fails to entice you with beach towels and breezes, keep going north; when you're tired of walking, a quick taxi ride along West Bay Road will get you past the beach to West Bay in no time. This area is home to several dive tour operators, most notably the small boats that launch off the eastern side of the peninsula to visit Stingray City. If you're not a diver, don't worry, you can snorkel too, making this a can't-miss Grand Cayman destination.
Boatswain's Beach is on the western side of the peninsula, and makes for a few hours of entertainment. A large Turtle Farm near the beach allows you to see and even touch turtles, both tiny and titanic, as well as other Caribbean wildlife. A noted tourist trap, Hell, is also located in the center of this part of the island.
Bodden Town and North Side The area stretching from George Town to West Bay provides plenty of diversions, and it's all that most visitors ever see of the island. For the more adventurous, though, there's much more in store.
Bodden Town is the birthplace of democracy in Grand Cayman's old capital, a tale told by the restored Pedro St. James Historic Site. A network of sea caves is also rumored to exist beneath the town, although their entrances mostly collapsed during storms over the years. Some still exist however, and any of the locals can point you toward them. The local soccer team also makes its home here.
Head north and you'll reach, guess what–North Side! The main draw here is a rival to Seven Mile Beach called Rum Point. Far less crowded but arguably just as beautiful, the beach at Rum Point will be a siren-call for those who prefer seclusion.
East End The East End of Grand Cayman is often ignored by everyone except for diving enthusiasts. With few options for accommodation or dining and an utter dearth of shopping, it just isn't everyone's scene.
Before you head all the way out to the eastern beaches, stop at Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. This park offers miles of hiking trails and can give you a good idea of what island life is like away from the ocean. Hike here for a while, and you'll start to spot some of the unique wildlife that makes this island home, including the Cayman parrot.
Further on and farther away from the hustle and bustle of the island's tourist centers, the East End shoreline is the last retreat on Grand Cayman for lovers of peace and quiet. It's not exactly undeveloped, but scattered houses and sweeping beach and ocean vistas are the norm out here. If you're in the area, stop in at Castro's Hideaway to meet some of the island's quirky characters, and enjoy a good meal, to boot.
Offshore No, this last section isn't about how to scam foreign investors while you're in Grand Cayman. It's about the one thing conspicuously missing from this tour – diving! While some opt to become beach bunnies seemingly rooted to the sand during their stay, others who visit Grand Cayman could, believe it or not, care less about the beach. Here, they come for the water.
For this tour, however, you'll need a tour operator, complete with a boat (sorry, ours can't make it). Every side of Grand Cayman has its own undersea attractions. While Stingray City has been mentioned, true diving aficionados will demand far more. In general, the island offers diving off the North, West and South Walls, and also from the East End. Different tour operators cover different sections of the water, so if you want to dive at a particular site, just ask, and they'll either ferry you out, or refer you to someone who can.
Situated 87 miles northeast of its big sister Grand Cayman, Little Cayman has a population of less than 200 and is approximately ten miles long and one mile wise, very little indeed. People come here to feel remote, untouched, and become part of something different. You can get to the island by boat from Cayman Brac or by air via Cayman Airways. While on the island you have a few options when picking lodgings, which are all very unique and friendly. At Little Cayman Beach Resort you won't have to lift a finger, unless you want to. This all-inclusive, beachfront, first class accommodation gives you everything from an onsite award-winning dive operation to sandy beaches and a salon and spa.
On this island moderate and expensive places abound. For a moderately priced hotel stay at either Little Cayman Cottage or Paradise Villas. For a more family oriented stay Sam McCoy's Diving & Fishing Lodge is a must. Here you will enjoy safe diving with specialists, poolside drinks and family style meals served up in the dining hall, lots of memories and fun for a great price.
The slightly more costly places which often cater to romantics and couples are Pirate's Point Resort, Conch Club Condominiums and The Club. All of these lodgings offer luxurious accommodations, beaches, delightful food and superior service.
Take a quick flight with Cayman Airways to Grand Cayman for a greater selection of entertainment, restaurants and sight seeing. If you want to stay a few days, keep some of these accommodations in mind.
Noted for its spectacular diving and bleached beaches, Grand Cayman has lots to offer with a variety of places to bunk, from resorts to condos, apartments to private beach homes. They're all here, dotted across the delightful beaches and towns, waiting for your arrival.
When in West Bay you'll really feel like you've come home. Unlike the touristy area of Seven Mile Beach just south of it, this community is truly unique and will give you a feeling of warmth, and not just from the Caribbean sun. There aren't many hotels or condos here, but you'll have fun in one of the bed & breakfast or private homes. Some places to keep in mind are Cobalt Coast Resort & Suites a moderately priced "Grand Home" that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner while offering dive and honeymoon packages. For an even more private experience stay at Coconut Bay. Here you will have a three bedroom townhouse with ocean views, beach access and pools, perfect for a family or group vacation. Villa Bellagio, a five bedroom, four bathroom villa, is pricey but comes with all the seclusion, adventure and relaxation you are searching for. Hang out in a hammock, then chill on the beach right outside your door. Later, watch the sun paint magical colors in the sky.
Seven Mile Beach
Compared with the tranquil nature of other areas on the island, there is a major change of scenery when you come to Seven Mile Beach. If you enjoy the commotion of groups and electric Caribbean nights you will not be disappointed here. There are plenty of water sport shops, resorts, family hotels and restaurants to satisfy every taste. For a deluxe stay choose Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and enjoy poolside service, a top quality meal in the elegant restaurant and a relaxing house spa. Another upscale lodging is Casa Caribe where you can enjoy activities from golf to windsurfing. For a more conservative hotel take up residence at The Reef Resort. Here you can relax in your beach front room, watch the sunset or take a nighttime stroll along the water. After resting in your deluxe suite you can join one of the resort's diving or snorkeling tours to Stingray City. If you want the beach and the town, stay at Grandview Condo. Here you are only one mile away from the shopping and entertainment of George Town, but you get the almost never ending view of the beach. These condos are perfect for any traveler. Cool off in the beachfront gazebo with a cocktail or head to the private beach for a peaceful walk. Play a game of tennis or be picked up at the onsite dock for a dive trip. For the more cost conscious vacationer there are plenty of choices. Just two blocks from the beach Annie's Place, is close to all the excitement but maintains a peaceful atmosphere. Keep in shape with the onsite volleyball and tennis faculties.
Find movie theaters for the kids, shopping for you, all the sports rental equipment for the family and dinning of all kinds in George Town. The hub of the islands, this town offers a great lodging selection. Finger Tip has beach access along with a pool and garden view. If you've got company or are traveling with family try Ecstasea a five bedroom villa with views of the beach and a quick drive to everything you need. However, if a decent price is more your thing stop in at Sunset House, a place where you can dine, sleep and have access to all the amenities you need. Use the wireless Internet from the poolside then take one of the many dive courses available. Want some privacy and a friendly, personal atmosphere? Reserve a room at Eldemires Guest House B & B where you'll have access to kitchen facilities, wireless Internet, a swimming pool, barbeque area and snorkeling trips.
Take a tour at one of the top landmarks on the Cayman Islands and see a pirate's cave along with local wildlife and Amazon River stingrays. You can find this activity in Bodden Town, a family oriented area with many services and amenities at your reach. Located in the South central part of the island stay on the beach at Turtle Nest Inn. Take up snorkeling for a day and try your luck at seeing one of the island's large, famed turtles. At Caribbean Paradise you can rent a guest house for two to six people. Share a unit with friends or family, take advantage of the oceanfront view and beach, or rent a car and drive to all points of the island.
This part of Grand Cayman is very quiet, typically rural, it has great farmland and very little roads and is close to Rum Point, supposedly the most beautiful point on the island. Visit North Side for the perfect day trip by car or if you find the right accommodation this could be your vacation base. Look for The Yellow House a perfectly priced, three bedroom home that overlooks the beach, and offers free use of their kayaks. The all inclusive Spanish Bay Reef is another great choice where your room, all meals, drinks, biking, snorkeling, and dive lessons are taken care of in one price, dive and non-dive packages are available for your convenience.
If you're searching for solitude, East End is where you want to be. While you have far fewer choices, all of your daily needs will be met. Home to the famous blowholes where water, forced through the coral shoreline, shoots up into the sky like a geyser. As long as you have a rental car or are staying at a resort you don't need to worry about a thing. Compass Point Dive Resort is a tranquil area, lovingly hugged by the sea, all rooms have patio or balconies so you can absorb in the fresh ocean. Feel like its your home with a furnished beachfront apartment at Mahogany Cove just minutes from the town of Breakers, restaurants and sport shops.
No matter what part of the island you plant your feet you'll have all you need, just take a rest, watch the sunset and dream.