Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

You’ll enjoy the Cayman Islands if you’ve ever had the urge to see beneath the sea. The underwater scenery is among the best in the Caribbean, full of exotic fish, coral reefs and even the occasional stingray. The water is warm, clear and often calm—and there are plenty of places to dive or snorkel.

Be aware, however, that the Cayman Islands do not offer much in the way of geographic diversity, and just about everything costs more than it does at home. Of the three islands that make up the Caymans, Grand Cayman is the largest and the center of both the tourism and offshore banking industries. Most visitors spend at least some time there, if not their entire vacation. The heavy influx of visitors to Grand Cayman has had a homogenizing effect on that island. With its traffic, chain restaurants and T-shirt shops, you could, on occasion, mistake crowded stretches of Seven Mile Beach for parts of Florida. The other islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, get fewer visitors.

The main attractions of the Cayman Islands include scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, beaches, shopping, good food, relaxation and investing.

If you are interested primarily in watersports, beautiful beaches and exploring duty-free stores, you’ll enjoy the Caymans. Fine dining is big in the Caymans, with a diverse nightlife that can go until 3 am. The people are friendly, the communities are safe and clean, and you won’t be harassed by roadside vendors.

Geography

A trio of low-lying islands surrounded by vibrant coral reefs, the Cayman Islands are limestone outcroppings—the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends southwest from the Sierra Maestra range off the southeastern edge of Cuba. The islands lack rivers or streams because of the porous nature of the limestone rock. This lack of runoff gives the surrounding Caribbean Sea exceptional clarity with visibility depths of more than 120 ft/37 m. The islands are located 480 mi/770 km south of Miami, Florida, and 180 mi/290 km northwest of Jamaica.

George Town, the capital, serves as the center of business and commerce and lies on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands (76 sq mi/197 sq km). Cayman Brac is smaller (14 sq mi/36 sq km), but with a bluff that rises 140 ft/43 m above sea level, it has the most dramatic topography of all three islands. Little Cayman is the smallest of the islands (10 sq mi/26 sq km), and with its 203-acre/82-hectare Booby Pond Nature Reserve, it’s home to the Caribbean’s largest population of red-footed boobies. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, known as the “sister islands,” lie 89 mi/143 km northeast of Grand Cayman and are separated by a channel about 7 mi/11 km wide.