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Visiting the Cayman Islands will give you easy access to some of the best snorkeling, diving, and fishing in the Caribbean. There's also lots of shopping and other activities to take part in away from your villa or hotel room, like a visit to the sea turtle hatchery. Use the information within these tabs to learn more about the three islands that make up the Caymans.
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An enviably high standard of living, tax-free status and hundreds of offshore banks and financial institutions per square mile, the Cayman Islands remain a trio of lovely, unspoiled islands basking peacefully in the Caribbean sun. Miles from their nearest neighbors, Jamaica and Cuba, these three small specks in the vast ocean are known for some of the best scuba diving in the world. The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean, 480 miles south of Miami, Florida, 150 miles south of Cuba and 180 miles northwest of Jamaica. By jet, the Cayman Islands is only a 70-minute direct flight from Miami.
Grand Cayman might be small in size, but in every other aspect it is truly "grand." The largest of the three at 22 miles long, Grand Cayman's capital George Town boasts a bustling harbor and financial district. Shopping here ranges from duty-free merchandise of all types to wonderful local crafts. The island's turtle farm is the only one in the world raising hatchlings and re-populating the Caribbean Sea. Seven Mile Beach begins just north of George Town and is home to the many luxury resorts and water sports facilities on the island. Fringed by tall pines and palm trees, its sheer beauty beckons one and all to its sun-baked sand and warm sea. Here you will find any and all types of accommodations (including many condos), restaurants, dive shops, and stores. Many cruise ships also frequent this lovely island. Whatever you do, don't miss diving or snorkeling with the stingrays at famous Stingray City.
Cayman Brac is the middle Cayman island, 86 miles northeast of Grand Cayman (a 20-minute flight), and 12 miles long. Despite its history as a pirate hideout, Cayman Brac today is a peaceful hideaway for divers, fishermen, snorkelers, and those travelers wanting to get away from it all. A nature preserve hosting more than 150 bird species, iguanas and a colorful variety of tropical plants and flowers sits atop the cliffs. A few small resorts catering to divers make Cayman Brac a favorite with the underwater set.
Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and has a population of 50 residents. Only 10 miles long, this coral atoll has changed very little since Columbus' discovery in 1503. Another favorite with divers, Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall is consistently ranked as one of the top five dive sites in the world. Such a high honor for this tiny, unspoiled beauty. Most of this island's interior is mangrove jungle sporting the third largest bird sanctuary in the Caribbean.
The ideal tropical climate cooled by the trade winds keeps the Cayman Islands' average temperature at 80° F with water temperatures ranging from 78°-85° F and 80-100 foot or more visibility. Since scuba diving is so popular here, this is the perfect Caribbean vacation destination to learn to dive, take an advanced course, or get the kids certified.
The Cayman Islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503 on his fourth trip to the New World enroute to Hispaniola. The two islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman appeared on a 1523 map and by 1530 were named Caymanas, derived from the Carib Indian word for the marine crocodile.
The first census of the Islands was taken in 1802, showing a population on Grand Cayman of 933, of whom 545 were slaves. Before slavery was abolished in 1834, there were over 950 slaves owned by 116 families. Emancipation paved the way for development of a homogeneous society.
Though Cayman was always regarded as a dependency of Jamaica, the reins of government by that colony were loosely held in the early years, and a tradition grew up of self-government, with matters of public concern decided at meetings of all free males.
The constitutional relationship between Cayman and Jamaica remained ambiguous until 1863 when an act of the British parliament formally made the Cayman Islands a dependency of Jamaica. When Jamaica achieved independence in 1962, the Islands opted to remain under the British Crown, and an administrator (in 1971 the title became Governor) appointed from London assumed the responsibilities previously held by the governor of Jamaica.
You'll find the Cayman Islands on pretty much every list of top dive sites. And since scuba diving is so popular here, this is the perfect destination to learn to dive, take an advanced course, or get the kids certified. With so many dive sites, it's hard to pick the best spot but Little Cayman and the Captain Keith Tibbets wreck dive on Cayman Brac are among our favorites. And there's plenty of tour boats waiting to take groups out daily and even on night runs.
Swimming with a school of sting rays sounds dangerous, but these charming sea creatures are surprisingly docile. In the mid 80s, fisherman would anchor at North Sound and clean their catch. It didn't take the stingrays long to sniff out this 'food court', and so Stingray City was born. Today, tourists bring the buffet and can see as many as 30 or 40 a day. Stingray City averages 12 feet in depth, so it's fun for even young visitors. You can also find stingrays swarming on the sandbar which is slightly shallower at depths ranging from 3-10 feet.
The place to be seen in the Cayman Islands is 7 Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. This stretch of white sand plays host to some of the hottest resorts on the island, casual and upscale restaurants and plenty of tour companies lobbying for your time. It's also the perfect spot for sunbathing and people watching. Even snorkelers come to explore the coral reefs here. From dawn until dusk, there's plenty to do and see on 7 Mile Beach!
Whether you prefer reef fishing, offshore trolling, night fishing or lobstering, Fat Fish Adventures has it covered. Our favorite is jet skiing out to the lobster grounds then snorkeling for lobster holes and fishing out our own mouth-water dinner! Yep, after returning to the dock, Fat Fish has a special restaurant where your catch is served up with melted butter, garlic, cheese and all the fixings! If you prefer the big-game, you're sure to find Blue Marlin, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi-mahi while trolling the ocean's edge just a half mile offshore. Reef Fishing is the best option for kids since Snapper, Triggger, Barracudas are easier to reel in. Equipment, bait and ice is included in the half and full day prices which range from $4oo to $800. Fat Fish will even arrange shuttle service from your hotel or villa.
At 62,000 square feet of pure concrete, Black Pearl Skatepark is the second largest in the world! Skaters can take on the entire park or choose individual sections like the roundwalls, a deathbox, pockets, stairs, verts, thumbs to name a few. Expert, intermediate or beginner, there's enough concrete for all levels and coaches who can provide instruction. Adjacent to the skatepark is the Grand Cayman's Wavelock which can generate waves up to 11 feet high!
Getting to Cayman and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
Visas are not required for U.S., U.K., or Canadian citizens.
Weekly flights between Miami and Grand Cayman with connections to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Airlines with direct service from Miami are Cayman Airways and American Airlines. Cayman Airways flies direct from Chicago and Washington, DC. Other airlines that fly into Grand Cayman include Delta, Continental, and Northwest. Inter-island service is provided by Cayman Airways.
"Owen Roberts International Airport" is the largest passenger airport in the Cayman Islands and is located on Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac also has its own airport, "Gerrard Smith International Airport".
$25 U.S. and $16 passenger facilities charge (PCF). Included in the price of your airline ticket.
On the left - valid driver's license required. A seat belt law is in effect which applies to every person in the vehicle including children
You must be 21 years to drive a rental car. All visitors to the Cayman Islands who intend to drive any vehicle are required to purchase a Visitor's Driving Permit for US$7.50 each (one-time charge, valid for six months or duration of stay, whichever is shorter) - except individuals who hold a valid International Driver's License. Scooter rentals are also available on Grand Cayman from a few companies. Riders are required by law to wear a helmet at all times and urged to be extremely careful. Average daily rate is US$40 which includes helmet and the mandatory Visitors Driving Permit.
Vacationers don't just stay in Cayman villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Work with a wedding planner on the island to help get a license granted by the Governor. Cost: US$178 plus a US$12 stamp duty. Documents Required: Passport or birth certificate, Cayman Islands embarkation/disembarkation card as well as divorce or death certificate.
Before making their way to Cayman villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in Cayman even more relaxing.
|Capital:||George Town (Grand Cayman)|
|Size:||101 sq miles|
|Time:||02:05 am zone:-5 (GMT/UTC -5)|
|Topography:||low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs|
|Telephone:||international: country code - 1-345|
The Pavilion, Cricket Square
P.O. Box 67