It comes as no surprise that the primary industry in the Cayman Islands is tourism. Blessed with an abundance of Mother Nature’s goodwill, it’s the soft white sand beaches, gin-clear seas, year-round warm temperatures, and friendly islanders that draw visitors from near and far.
As interest in coming to Cayman has grown over the years, so has the country’s ability to meet the demand. Restaurants and hotels focussed on product and service excellence have sprung up along the famous Seven Mile strip and in the outer districts like East End. Enterprising business people have created companies designed to give travellers the local experience, like kayak excursions through the mangroves and tours that explore the wonders of the Crystal Caves.
Despite its small size, Grand Cayman offers diverse ways for tourists to enjoy its bounty. Some wish to stay in five-star luxury resorts with all the amenities that one would expect, whereas others might choose a private villa that can accommodate a large group with ease.
Then there are smaller hotels with easy access to the main drag and the beach, timeshare properties, and Airbnb options. Staying out in districts like West Bay, North Side, and East End will give a completely different perspective, as there is a greater abundance of quaint Caribbean homes dotting the landscape with more quintessentially local bars and restaurants. Regardless of where you hang your hat, however, with the travel time of only about an hour by car from one end of Grand Cayman to the other, you’ll be able to see it all if you wish.
Cayman Brac has similar property choices – from five-star to rustic – and even Little Cayman, the smallest of the three islands, offers a surprising amount of variety.
Although there are some manmade attractions, such as the Cayman Turtle Centre, all are respectful of the natural environment and created to highlight the islands’ wonders. The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park has curated an incredible collection of native plants while preserving the endangered Blue Iguana in its unique reserve.
Rock Iguana Ltd. in Cayman Brac has mapped out routes on the iconic bluff to allow climbers to witness the deep Caribbean Sea from a whole new angle. Kitesurfing companies take advantage of the ideal conditions in the Barkers area and around East End to promote their sport and teach students. ATV tours take groups along the bush-lined tracks of West Bay, showing them parts of Grand Cayman that people rarely see.
Of course, one cannot talk about the activities on the islands without mentioning world-class scuba diving. With reefs just offshore, it takes no time by boat to get to any of the sites. Cayman is also an ideal vacation spot for snorkelers; you don’t have to swim far to mingle with the marine life.
And then, we save the best for last: Stingray City. Located in the middle of North Sound, where the bottom of the sea is sandy, and the water is shallow, the experience of having stingrays the size of dustbin lids lazily swimming around you and taking food from your hand is nothing short of magical. It isn’t just for tourists – locals go out there whenever they can. It never gets old.
The best compliment the islands can get is the percentage of repeat visitors. Some buy properties here because they recognise how special Cayman is, and word is spreading. When it comes to natural wonders, charming residents, robust infrastructure, and easy accessibility by plane, the Cayman Islands is tough to beat.