When you first think of Grand Cayman, it’s probably not as a vacation destination or port stop on your next cruise. It’s probably because these three islands are pretty famous for hosting some serious offshore banking accounts. But there really is so much more to Grand Cayman. The largest of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman offers shopping, restaurants and excursions that rival the best ports.
Here are five favorite things to do in Grand Cayman on a cruise:
On a recent day in Grand Cayman, close to 500 passengers from just one cruise ship in port all had plans to visit Stingray City. This is easily the number-one experience and destination on these islands. Decades ago, fishermen cleaned fish on the shallow sandbars. The stingrays couldn’t resist the feast and started associating boat motors with food, creating the Stingray City you find today. Most boats today are filled with tourists and not fishermen. You have the chance to interact with these gentle creatures in their natural environment. You can pet and hold them. You can feed them (it’s a pretty cool sensation to do this). Heck, you can even give one a kiss for some good luck. This is a definite can’t-miss attraction.
Shore excursions to Stingray City vary depending on the number of snorkel stops (one or two) you’ll make and if you want to visit by boat or jetski.
Cayman Turtle Farm
A 23-acre adventure marine park, the Cayman Turtle Farm offers a glimpse into the natural side of the islands. Home to more than 11,000 green sea turtles, this educational research facility has turtle nurseries and lagoons for each turtle age group (think turtle toddlers and teenagers). At the farm, you also can swim and snorkel in the 1.3 million-gallon saltwater lagoon. Don’t forget to check out the predator lagoon, which features sharks and eels.
Seven Mile Beach
Though it’s only 5.5 miles in reality, this stretch of coral-sand beach consistently makes Top 10 lists for the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. Most of the island’s resorts and hotels – along with several restaurants and shops – line this public beach. In addition, there are several small reefs located just offshore that offer excellent snorkeling.
Yes, Hell. There is a place in Grand Cayman called Hell. It’s a group of short, black limestone formations. No one’s really sure how the place got its moniker, but it’s become a popular tourist destination over the years.
At the site, there’s a post office/gift shop where you can actually send a letter home from Hell. The postmark really does read “Hell.” Oh, and a word of advice, don’t be offended if someone asks you “How the hell are you doing?” That’s just how they talk around here.
A newer attraction to the island, this former Chanticleer Class submarine, which helped with the recovery effort after the Challenger disaster, was sunk in 2011 to provide a marine habitat. Divers and snorkelers can explore this artificial reef on a Kittewake dive excursion and be rewarded with displays of unique and unusual marine life.
Grand Cayman Tips:
- Grand Cayman is a tender port, so if you’re not booked on a ship excursion, the early bird gets the worm. Consider getting off the ship early to make the most out of your island stay.
- The best photos are taken along the streets of Georgetown.
- Free wifi is available at most restaurants on Grand Cayman.