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How to Make Your Cruise to Grand Cayman an Experience of a Lifetime

This island is long considered a must-do for cruisers, thanks to its pristine white sand and vibrant clear blue waters. Here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach, by taking a relaxing stroll along its shore; if you’re up for a thrilling adventure, enjoy Stingray City and its residents up-close and personal. No matter the type of vacationer you are, Grand Cayman has a little bit of everything to make your experience out of this world.

How to Make the Most of Your Cruise to Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is a popular cruise destination for a lot of reasons, but the main ones are that it’s beautiful, safe, clean, and affordable, with lots of fun excursions to do!

People flock to Grand Cayman’s beaches for their soft white-sands and crystal clear waters, which are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. In fact, TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards rated Seven Mile Beach the 6th best beach in the world in 2020! There are plenty of activities to do on land and in the water — from visiting historic sites and petting dolphins to exploring barrier reefs and snorkeling over shipwrecks. It’s easy to see why so many people seek this destination during their next vacation.  

A Bit of History

Grand Cayman is the largest — and most developed — of the Cayman Islands, a group of 3 islands located in the western Caribbean Sea.

The Cayman Islands’ history dates back to the 16th century, when Christopher Columbus spied the islands and named them Las Tortugas (the turtles) after seeing many turtles in the surrounding waters. The Caymans were suddenly on the map as a supply stop and source of food (turtles) for passing ship’s crews. Later the islands were renamed the Caimanas or Caymanes due to the many native alligators (caimánes) around.

In 1658 Grand Cayman was settled by British Army deserters who were fleeing from Jamaica. The island changed hands several times over the next few centuries as ownership was passed between England, Jamaica, and Spain, until it became a British colony in 1793; today it is a British Overseas Territory — meaning the United Kingdom provides defense, but the islands govern themselves on internal matters. Over the years Grand Cayman was settled by a variety of interesting people, including shipwrecked sailors, slaves, and pirates, as well as refugees fleeing persecution during the Spanish Inquisition.

Today, Grand Cayman is known for its beautiful beaches and diverse natural attractions, cluding reef systems that are among the most pristine in the world. It’s also home to some of the best diving spots in all of the Caribbean.

How’s the Weather?

Here’s some guidance about Grand Cayman’s weather and the best time to visit the Cayman Islands.

The best time of year to visit Grand Cayman is between late November and April, when the island is less crowded and the temps are cooler yet still warm enough for swimming and laying out on the beach. Summertime brings more rain, more humidity, and the cautions that come with hurricane season (which runs June through November).

When visiting Grand Cayman, you can expect to see warm weather year round (with the exception of June through August). The average temperature during the summer months is around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the winter months are a balmy 70 to 80 degrees.

How do I get around?

Grand Cayman, while the largest of the three islands, is small enough that you can walk to most attractions upon docking within a few minutes. Taxis, mini-buses, rental cars, and bicycles are all available if you want to explore more of the island.

Things to Do in Grand Cayman While On Your Cruise

Whether you are seeking an adrenaline rush or just want to chill, you will have options for both while in Grand Cayman!

Explore George Town

You can’t miss George Town; it’s home to some of the most important historical sites in Cayman, and also where you’ll find a vast array of restaurants and shops.

History buffs will enjoy the Grand Cayman National Museum, housed in a 19th century former government building. Learn the history, island traditions, and Cayman Life as you examine the exhibits and avoid the crowds.

Another great place to visit is the beautiful and serene Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. This non-profit, 65-acre park and wildlife facility was opened in the early 1990’s by the Queen herself, and has expanded throughout the years to include walking trails, manicured gardens, and an iguana exhibit.

Try the Local Cuisine

The food on Grand Cayman is as diverse as its culture, with tantalizing flavors from Africa, Britain, the Caribbean, and Latin America taking center stage. You’ll find everything here, from seafood dishes like conch fritters or fish cakes to local specialties like curried goat, rice nuggets, and West Indian avocado salad. And did we mention the sweet and tangy key lime pie?

Swim with Stingrays

No trip to Grand Cayman will be complete until you get to feed and play with stingrays at Grand Cayman’s famous Stingray City. Stand on a sandbar in four feet of water and be mesmerized as several stingrays swim all around you and try to figure you out. Bonus points if you are brave enough to touch or kiss one!

Admire a Starfish

Stop along Starfish Beach with its shallow waters revealing these beautiful sea animals just under the surface. These colorful, star-shaped echinoderms, also called sea stars, are not really fish; they are actually closer to sand dollars. Fun fact: They have eyes on the tips of their arms! Another fact: They breathe through their skin, so please resist the urge to touch them or pick them up (It’s hard! We know!)

Visit the Turtles

If you love turtles then this is the cruise stop for you! Swim (yes, swim!) alongside turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre while you learn all about them. Opened in 1968, this conservancy is currently one of the leading organizations dedicated to Green sea turtle research. Do you like sharks? If so, you are in luck — you can encounter them here as well.

The Turtle Farm is, hands-down, a Grand Cayman visitor favorite! With 500 tankfulls of turtles and a guide explaining all about turtle gender, reproduction and preservation, you will be a turtle expert when all is said and done. There are also opportunities to touch and photograph these fascinating animals.

Meet a Dolphin

Love dolphins? Don’t miss this chance for a one-on-one meeting with one of these playful mammals! At the Dolphin Encounter you will stand on a platform in shallow water as the dolphins swim right up to you. Here’s your chance to pet a dolphin, shake its hand, and even do some signals together!

Get Your Water Sports On

Get your snorkeling on at Coral Gardens of Grand Cayman, where you can explore a barrier reef known for its colorful fish. This reef is located only ten feet from the surface, making it the perfect snorkeling tour for kids and for those who are new (or newer) to snorkeling.

The USS Kittiwake shipwreck has been drawing thousands of divers to its deck and interior rooms each year. This former military vessel was intentionally sunk to create a marine habitat, and lies 15 feet underwater — also making it viewable to snorkelers from the surface.

Take to the Skies in a Parasail or to the Water on a Paddle Board

Your choice! Thrill seekers will love taking to the skies in a parasail to get a rare, breathtaking view of the island and surrounding waters. Water lovers can get their paddling fix while exploring the mangroves and pirate coves on one of the many paddle boards for rent around the island.

Other tourist-favorite water activities to try while here: whirlpool jet boat tours, glass bottom shipwreck tours, and personal boat charters.

Ride a Horse on the Beach

Experience the beach in a novel way: On horseback! Skirt the shoreline atop a horse as you take in the pristine scenery all around you. This is the perfect outing for families and new riders, as the horses are well trained and the terrain is flat.

Enjoy a Stroll on Seven Mile Beach

Located close to the port, this iconic beach has plenty of sun, sand, and water activities to entertain you all day. There are a bevy of bars and restaurants right next door so you don’t have to travel far to grab a bite or crack open a cool one. Fun fact: Seven Mile Beach is actually 5.5 miles long, despite its name!

Go Spelunking

Descend 65 feet underground to see ancient stalagmites, stalactites, and more as you explore Cayman Crystal Caves, Grand Cayman’s newest attraction. This group of three caves offers you an informative guide, a cool respite, a beautiful teal blue lake, and a true, off-the-beaten-path experience.

Step Into the Past

You’ll feel like you’re back in the 18th century as you visit the lovingly restored Pedro St. James building. Also referred to as Pedro’s Castle, this 3 story seaside structure was home to one of the island’s first wealthy settlers — and gives you a glimpse into that period of privilege as you see the furniture and decor of that era.

Shopping In Grand Cayman

When in Grand Cayman you have to visit the jewelry shops to check out their world renowned diamonds and watches. You will find everything here, from luxury shops and name-brand stores such as Versace, to small boutiques and the Cayman Crafts Market with its handcrafted jewelry and other artisanal treasures. The best part? Grand Cayman is a tax and duty-free island, so take advantage and shop till you drop!

Rum, Rum, and More Rum

Grand Cayman is also famous for its rum, so be sure to pop into one of the many Tortuga Rum Company stores to taste their world famous rum cakes, and ship some cakes home for friends and family (and yourself). Remember to grab a bottle of rum — or two — for your cabin!

Rum aficionados will enjoy an informative insider tour of the Cayman Spirits Distillery Company. Learn the ins-and-outs of the various steps of Rum making as well as other spirits, then cap the experience off with a delicious rum tasting. You will quickly find yourself ending the tour quoting Captain Jack Sparrow as you ask “But why is the rum gone?”

Experience Grand Cayman Like a Local

Be in the know about Grand Cayman ahead of time with tips to be aware of as you set sail to this magical rock:

  • First of all, it is a magical rock; the island is very rocky, with very little tropical vegetation compared to your typical Caribbean island. Those beaches, tho…
  • Grand Cayman’s cruise port is a tender port, which means you will take a tender boat from ship to shore as opposed to traditional docking. This means you will need to factor in extra time to and from your ship (learn more about ship tendering here)
  • The island’s currency is the Cayman Islands dollar, however US dollars are accepted by many vendors on the island
  • Speaking of money, Grand Cayman is one of the wealthiest places on the globe, thanks to its robust banking and finance sectors
  • English is the official language, with Spanish a close second
  • Drivers drive on the left side of the road, just like their British counterparts
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to drink alcohol
  • Have you ever seen a blue iguana? Keep your eyes open, because these beautiful lizards are native to the Cayman Islands only, and can grow up to five feet in length

Before You Set Sail, Remember to Pack…

  • a swimsuit or swim trunks
  • sandals
  • sun protection (reef-safe sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat)
  • loose, lightweight clothing
  • a camera to document all the fun

With surprising caves, irresistible wildlife, spectacular diving, and beaches for miles, Grand Cayman is truly a little slice of paradise on earth. See what we mean when you book your exciting Grand Cayman excursion with us today.

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