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Planning a Trip to the Grand Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman is one of three islands making up the Grand Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. The largest of the three, Grand Cayman, is the location of the capital, George Town, and maintains the highest population of residents, ensuring you will be immersed in native culture from the moment you arrive.

Highs and Lows on the Island Map

Aerial Grand Cayman view

The detail of an island map will reveal the islands are an archipelago. Note in the bathymetry of the island map that the two smaller islands are two summits of the same rock formation. When you double-check the island map, you will see that the island's topography has two extremes - the lowest being at sea level along the Caribbean Sea and the highest at the easternmost end of Cayman Brac, just southwest of The Bluff.

While Grand Cayman is the most-visited island, its two smaller sisters, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are equally breathtaking and offer plenty to discover. On an island map, you will notice that the little sisters aren't far away from the larger Grand Cayman Island. Cayman Brac lies approximately 90 miles northeast of the main island, while Little Cayman is 75 miles northeast.

Grand Cayman is a British Territory, so if you plan on driving while on the island, mind you stay to the left! The island is a manageable 22 miles of inviting shorelines and lush landscapes. You may come to visit your money in George Town, but you will find the rest of the island so accessible, you can't help but explore!

What is Unique about Grand Cayman

Christopher Columbus called the Grand Cayman Islands La Tortugas because of the rich population of sea turtles surrounding the islands. As seen on an island map, the waters surrounding Grand Cayman are otherworldly! For decades, coral reefs, underwater walls, shipwrecks, and ocean life have made these islands an international diving destination.

Turtle in the water in Grand Cayman Islands

Immerse yourself in the carefree corner of the Caribbean. Find your favorite of the three islands on the island map - you can't go wrong with any of the Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman will satisfy your desire to explore island culture, Cayman Brac will offer the most spectacular vistas, and Little Cayman offers you a world all to yourself.

Where to Stay on Grand Cayman

Arguably, the best place to stay on Grand Cayman is Seven Mile Beach. With its vibrant nightlife, remarkable restaurants, and local artisans offering hand-crafted island gifts, you will easily overlook the glaring misnomer - the beach is only 5.5 miles long. Seven Mile Beach is an award-winning crescent of coral sand, recently receiving the honor of "Best Beach in the Caribbean" from Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine.

Top Accommodations on Grand Cayman

Lose yourself in the luxurious island décor. Each hotel lobby and unique island boutique will inspire a complete nautical overhaul upon your return home! Keep the island vibes alive with a high-quality wooden island map of the Caymans, bringing to mind your days on the beaches and your evenings under the stars long after your vacation has ended. You will be forever changed by the people and the beauty you encounter on Grand Cayman. 

What To Do on Grand Cayman

If you are an avid snorkeler or diver, there are no better waters to explore than those surrounding Grand Cayman. With shipwrecks, natural coral reefs, and some of the region's most colorful sea life, you have absolutely come to the right place. Equally worthwhile is a trip to Little Cayman.

Top Snorkeling and Diving Spots

Person scuba diving in a Grand Cayman grotto

Grand Cayman is widely recognized as the birthplace of recreational diving and a top choice for a diving vacation in the Caribbean. The shallow, reef-protected lagoon called the North Sound offers a front-row seat to thousands of the most beautiful sea creatures seen in the Caribbean. Amateur and experienced divers alike appreciate the underwater views and marine life.

If you would rather spend some time out of the water, Grand Cayman offers miles of beaches and hiking trails. Explore the topography on your island map, and you will find that while there are miles to explore, the terrain is easygoing, and the flora is unparalleled. Discover the island's history while enjoying the best hospitality in the Caribbean.

Grand Cayman Dry-Land Adventures

Little Cayman offers a variety of off-the-beaten-track beaches and vibrant displays of nature. Learn the history of this small but mighty island at the Little Cayman Museum and be amazed at the natural coral that covers the submerged walls in Bloody Bay. Twelve miles of unspoiled beauty and wildlife await you when you escape the everyday and experience the laid-back vibe of this island.

The Bluff Cayman in the Cayman Islands

Cayman Brac is the easternmost island of the Cayman Islands and may offer some of the most dramatic views and experiences. The Bluff is a limestone cliff that runs the length of the island and contains many caves - including Bat Cave. East End Lighthouse is a popular destination for rock climbers as it sits atop the steep bluff on the eastern end of the island. Brac is Gaelic for bluff and the perfect description for this steep terrain on Cayman Brac Island.

Where to Eat on Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman has long been called the culinary capital of the Caribbean. With an evident abundance of seafood, the islands deliver a wide variety of options, including turtle, vegetables, rice, and spices. As a result, the island has plentiful choices to satisfy any craving, and by offering everything from plant-based meals to ranch steaks, these islands do not disappoint.

Fish and seafood are the main ingredients of most Cayman dishes. Traditional Cayman dishes include several different sources of protein and are prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers. In addition, the Cayman Islands are unique in their preparation and presentation of local delicacies.

Local Favorites of the Cayman Islands

  • Tuna
  • Turtle
  • Snapper
  • Mackerel
  • Mahi-mahi

Turtle stew is considered the national dish of Grand Cayman. It is much like an American beef stew, but it is made with turtle meat, cassava, potatoes, onions, and peppers. Cayman cuisine has heavy Jamaican influences, but turtle stew is a traditional meal of the Cayman Islands. Created in the 17th century when turtle farming was common practice, this stew is a favorite dish among the locals. 

Top Local Restaurants to Enjoy in Grand Cayman

You won't have to go far on Grand Cayman to find a restaurant with a fantastic view. From a roadside food truck to the finest waterfront dining, incomparable views are always on the menu. Check your island map and plan your day accordingly - you do not want to miss the local favorites, and keep in mind reservations are your friend - even on the islands.

Pirates of the Grand Cayman Islands

Area of Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands have celebrated Pirate Week as a recreation of their sordid history with the famed pirate Blackbeard. Fortunately, though, historians have shown that the tale of horror and survival may be a bit far-fetched. The Grand Cayman Islands are not on the traditional plundering route, as the pirate ships typically preferred the routes that brought them through Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other areas of the Caribbean frequented by rum traders.

In the spring of 1717, a Cayman turtling schooner and its crew were captured by the infamous Blackbeard. This act of piracy was relatively minor for its time and probably the smallest footnote in Blackbeard's long list of dastardly deeds. Nevertheless, this capture was one of three recorded acts of piracy in the Grand Cayman Islands, and it is this embellished tale that is celebrated year after year with a flotilla that invades Hog Sty Bay each year.

What to Expect at Grand Cayman Pirate's Week

For an entire week in November each year, the Cayman Islands are invaded by pirates, and everyone is invited to attend! The festivities follow a traditional order, starting with a welcome parade and culminating with a farewell BBQ on Little Cayman. Your family will enjoy five fun-filled days that are sure to create memories for a lifetime. 

Other Festivities During Pirate Week

  • Capture the Governor
  • Firework displays
  • Bonfires after sunset
  • Music
  • Games 

Want to talk like a pirate while you enjoy Pirate Week on Grand Cayman? Consider adding these phrases to your vocabulary:

  • Ahoy - hello
  • Avast - check that out
  • Aye - yes
  • Arr - I agree
  • Bilge rat - someone who finished off the rum 

Grand Cayman Was Not a Port of Call for Pirates

Beach in the Cayman Islands

An island map will clearly show that the bathymetry of the waters surrounding the islands often created difficulties for ships, resulting in wrecks close to the three islands. The Cayman Islands were good for replenishing supplies, repairing ships, or recruiting crew, but they were never a port of choice for plundering and pillaging pirates.

Port Royal in Jamaica and New Providence in the Bahamas were home to pirates in the Caribbean. They were on the main merchant routes and attractive to the pirates who wanted to spend their plundered wealth in taverns and brothels. On the other hand, the Grand Cayman Islands offered serene villages of fishers and turtlers.

It’s the serene life that enticed the retired pirates back to the shores of Grand Cayman. Chased out of their livelihood by the British navy, these pirates became wreckers in the latter part of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. The Cayman waters detailed on an island map were a common problem for ships, and the distressed ships would call for assistance, giving these retired pirates a new life that bordered on their previous life of piracy.

Art Culture and Grand Cayman

The Grand Cayman Islands have a rich art culture and proud historical vision. Their arts programs and cultural preservation are funded in part by the Grand Cayman government and the people of the islands and tourism. Theater, dance, visual arts, music, literacy, and traditional arts are all featured in Cayfest, the Cayman Islands’ National Festival of the Arts.

Gimistory, the International Storytelling Festival of the Cayman Islands, kicks off the holiday season in November and December. The festival celebrates the stories of Grand Cayman, the Caribbean, and beyond. Local artists and storytellers are supported and developed by telling stories and preserving the local culture.

A flower blossoming in the Cayman Islands

The artists and artisans thrive in the tourist areas like George Town, selling souvenirs and hand-crafted mementos that make their way into your home, reminding you of the beauty of the islands and the charm of the people. Some mysteries of the islands are revealed in the topography and bathymetry of a high-quality island map, but some of the intrigue remains in areas that are yet to be discovered.

There will always be more of Grand Cayman to discover on your next trip. The islands are small, but their story is immense. An intricately etched island map can only reveal so much; without a doubt, further discovery requires another trip.

The hospitality of the Caymanian people will long stay with you after you return home. The British hospitality with a distinct island nuance makes the experience unlike any other. The endearing culture and artistry of the Cayman Islands blend with British and American customs, making it feel comfortable and familiar. Like home, only better.

Commemorate Your Grand Cayman Adventure

Commemorate your Cayman Islands adventure with a high-quality island map. The exquisite detail of the points of interest you tirelessly explored will keep the island vibes close in mind and heart until you can plan your next journey to the archipelago. The people, the cuisine, and the culture will continue to inspire you for years to come as you visually explore the details etched into your wood chart.


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