The Cayman Islands – paradise found in the Caribbean

Posted on January 4, 2017 by Guest Writer
Aerial view of stingrays at Stingray City on Grand Cayman

Caribbean waters, pristine beaches, a myriad of marine life and incredible food. The Cayman Islands have all the ingredients for idyllic holidays in the sun.

Comprising three islands, Grand Cayman (a shopper’s paradise) and the more tranquil Cayman Brac and Little Cayman where crowds really are scarce.

Here are some of the sights you won’t want to miss on your trip to paradise:

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach

The name is a little deceptive: Seven Mile Beach is actually only 5.5 miles long. It stretches northwards from George Town on Grand Cayman’s West Bay and boasts the pristine sands that help make Grand Cayman so very popular.

The turquoise watered, perfectly maintained beach features shady trees in some parts so you can kick back and relax without interruption. Whether you’re working on your tan, watching the waves roll in or snorkelling, there’s the chance to enjoy it all here – snorkelling is particularly popular on the beach just outside the Marriott Hotel. You might like to walk the full length of this public beach, past all the resorts, villas and hotels, stopping off at the restaurants and beach bars.

Lake at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Grand Cayman

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

This non-profit park preserves natural environments and historic sites on the Cayman Islands.

For nature lovers, the Botanic Park not only excels in its beautiful orchids and nature trails, it offers a veritable treasure trove of Grand Caman’s native species, including a multitude of parrots and other birds. But the main attraction is the Blue Iguana Recovery Program run by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. Here, the ultimate goal is the repopulation of 1,000 Blue Dragon iguanas, so take a tour of the breeding pens and see these fascinating creatures as they now avoid extinction. You might well also come across them roaming about the grounds of the park as you explore.

Visit from May to June to witness the orchids in their full glory. The Park’s Annual Orchid Show is its main fund raiser and is much enjoyed by floral enthusiasts.

National Trust Visitors Centre

A combination of museum, cafe (try the delicious homemade ice-cream), information centre and gift shop. The Centre backs onto the Booby Pond Nature Reserve which is home to a large breeding population of red-footed boobies plus a colony of frigate birds. Watch them with a telescope from a two-level veranda at the Centre. The world’s booby population is on the decline but it’s believed that the colony on Little Cayman now homes about one third of the entire population in the Caribbean and Atlantic areas.

Pedro St James (Pedro’s Castle)

Considering the historical significance of this beautifully restored waterfront house, it’s a must see at just a 20 minute drive from George Town. Dating back to 1780, the building was built by a wealthy Englishman using Jamaican slave labour to create a magnificent three-storey edifice he named Pedro St James. Over the years it has served as everything from a jail to a court house, to a parliament building before becoming the museum it is today.

Dubbed the Cayman Islands’ birthplace of democracy, it was in this building in 1831 that the decision was made to enable public votes for democratically elected representatives. As importantly, four years later the Slavery Abolition Act was passed here.

Wander around the house with its period furniture and authentic artifacts to imagine what life was once like within its walls.

Hell

It may not actually be a bad idea to go to Hell and back on your holiday! Grand Cayman’s version of Hell is composed of a peculiar group of black, limestone formations located on West Bay, which have developed over millennia from shells and corals that have become solidified by lime and salt deposits. Fossils of sea life, possibly up to 20 million years old, can be found here, along with a curious old post office, offering one of the most unique local area stamps you can find.

And watch out for the “devil” himself: Ivan Farrington, the local shop owner, comically decked out in a flame-red costume.

Brac Museum

Cayman Brac Museum

Stop off at this pretty blue and white colonial house as you make your way along the coastal road to Stake Bay. Not obviously a museum from the road, you will find the building just in front of the island administration buildings. Inside, there’s a charming exhibition detailing life as it was for early settlers on the island at a time when it was pretty much isolated from the rest of the world.

Cayman National Museum

This museum is housed in George Town’s oldest building which dates back to the 1830s. Over the years, it’s housed government offices, a prison and a school, and is now a listed building.

The museum provides a good variety of interactive exhibits relating to the islands’ cultural heritage and natural history, as well as an informative audio-visual presentation. Marine enthusiasts also enjoy the model which explains how reefs and sea walls are formed.

Scuba diver exploring ship wreck

Kittiwake

The Cayman Islands are famed for their offshore reefs and walls. Wonders like Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Wall are world-renowned for their magnificent diving opportunities. Wreck diving is particularly popular at Cayman Brac where in the late 1990s a Russian warship was intentionally sunk, forming an ideal dive site and artificial reef. Dive amid the decks and chambers, crew quarters and get a feel for the grandeur of the warship, once ironically a submarine rescue vessel.