Cayman Island Travel Tips - by Cameron Shuts.
Cayman Islands editor, Cameron Shuts, let's you into a few travel
secrets about the Cayman Islands and helps to destroy the myths.
Is it expensive to travel to the Cayman Islands?
Not if you're a smart traveller and visit during the low season (April
16 to December 14); when you'll find fewer visitors and lower prices.
Many airlines, cruise ships and hotels offer special bargains and
freebies to attract customers; hotel and airfare rates can be discounted by as much as
twenty to fifty percent.
Some of the best lodging bargains can be found privately with
homeowners that advertise in magazines or put up pages on the Internet.
Isn't the Caribbean a Winter destination?
Sure it's nice to be in the warm sun when it's cold at home, but
summer in the Caribbean can be more comfortable than summer in North America or the
Mediterranean; and it's cheaper.
With over 250 unique dive sites, visibility averaging 100 to 150 feet
and balmy waters, Grand Cayman is consistently rated as a dive site with world class
Jacques Cousteau ranked Little Cayman as one of the three best dive
areas of the world with its 6,000 foot vertical wall.
Over 75,000 scubaniks visit the Cayman Islands each year.
This is perhaps the islands' main attraction; as it's one of the
easiest, most enjoyable and least expensive recreations in the Cayman Islands.
Whether you are a professional diver or this is your first
time, prepare for an experience of a lifetime. Cayman waters are an 80 degree, crystal
clear world full of magnificent marine life.
With its many wrecks and shallow waters, fabulous reefs right off
shore, the amateur snorkeler can experience some of the best diving in the world.
Some of the more popular shore dive spots are Cemetery Reef, Eden Rock
and Smith's Cove. Anyone can tell you how to find these well known spots.
Seven Mile Beach
Glorious sunsets that seem surreal; romantic pure white sand beaches
that seem to go on forever; swimming or relaxing in the sun overlooking tranquil, crystal
Most swimming, snorkeling and diving is done right off of Seven Mile
Beach, the most popular beach in the Cayman Islands; recognized as the best beach in the
Stingray Sand Bar
One of the most unforgettable adventures you'll ever experience is
petting stingrays in waist deep water.
Treat yourself to a half-day cruise and a sampling of snorkel stops
culminating in this extraordinary encounter. You can pet, feed and hold these friendly
stingrays as they brush up against you like hungry kittens begging for a tidbit of squid.
These are large (some reach widths of 6 feet) gentle creatures and
will only sting with their barbed venomous tail (for which they are named) in
Sting Ray City
With the same cast of characters as Stingray Sand Bar, this is known
as the world's best 12 foot dive and is more popular among scuba
To see the true treasures of the Cayman Islands, you need to look
below the surface and no one can bring you closer to these fabulous sights than Atlantis
You can choose between the 100 foot dive or, for the more adventurous,
the ultimate 1000 foot dive is a once in a lifetime experience.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours
If water is not for you (or if you are claustrophobic) but you still
want to experience Cayman's underwater spectacle, try one of Grand Cayman's two glass-bottom
boat tours where you can view historic ship wrecks, coral reefs and exotic tropical
fish through large windows in air conditioned comfort.
Even if you've never sailed before, the simple Tri-marans are
fool-proof and a short orientation is all that is needed before setting sail. The more
experienced sailor may want to contact the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, located in Red
Bay, where you can rent a variety of sail boats. The Club's sailing experts provide
lessons as well.
Experience flat water cruising over a tropical aquarium and lay into a
high speed gibe and, rather than concentrating on your foot work, you're taking in the
spectacular seascape beneath you, wondering if it's a stingray following you or just your
Northeast trades typically blow 15-25 knots from November to March and
10-15 knots in the summer. The best windsurfing on Grand Cayman can be found at East End
(the east end of the island). There you will find a flat water reef extending for about 4
miles along the east coast, creating an expansive lagoon for long speed reaches.
For good wave sailing try Collier's Channel and, on the north shore,
is Dead Man's Religion (for the adrenaline junkies). While it does not have the
consistently strong winds of Aruba or Maui, it does blow year round, and where else can
you enjoy world class windsurfing stepping out of your hotel room.
If you come for the fishing, then you are in heaven. Several fishing
operations offer everything from deep sea to shallow water fishing. Million Dollar Month
brings anglers from all over the world to compete in one of the world's biggest Big Fish
Contest. There are a wide variety of game fish in these waters including Blue and White
Marlin, Sail Fish, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Rainbow Runners and Mahi-Mahi. There is a
$250,000 prize for the first angler to break the current Blue Marlin record of 584lbs.
Hunted to the brink of extinction, the Green Sea Turtle has made one
of the most remarkable comebacks through the efforts of the Cayman Turtle Farm. It is home
to four different species of turtles; some weighing over 600 pounds.
The farm breeds turtles and then releases them back into the wild to
repopulate the waters. Like so many things in the Cayman Islands, a visit to the only
Green Sea Turtle Farm in the world is a hands on experience.
The Farm will provide you with a once in a life time experience of
holding the smaller baby animals and giving the giant parents a much-appreciated scratch
under the chin. It is heart warming just to be there, and know that you have supported the
efforts to reverse the decline of these magnificent creatures.
There is also a gift shop with Grand Cayman's best turtle souvenirs
and T-shirts, as well as educational books and toys. Proceeds from the shop go to support
the turtles. While your admission alone helps to support the Farm, you may even sponsor a
turtle for only US$5.00 should you wish to do so.
Go to Hell
Located in deep West Bay, near the Turtle Farm, Hell is made up of
spiky porous limestone and dolomite that has been eroded away and turned to black from the
algae - it really does look like Hades Inferno.
Georgetown is the capital of the Cayman Islands. While today it is a
thriving international financial center, a walking tour gives you a feel for a place in
time long ago. You can easily do the entire walk in two fascinating hours.
This is the place to do your duty free shopping from the many shops.
Fabulous savings on pirate treasure, gold, jewellery, gems, diamonds, and black coral.
Amidst magnificent manor style homes, you'll find an old fort, a
jailhouse and an understanding of the distinctive heritage of these islands when you visit
the Cultural History Gallery. This 150 year old building (which houses the museum)
situated on the waterfront in downtown Georgetown, contains hundreds of pieces of Cayman
history and laser disc presentations. A must see -- even if you don't like museums.
Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens
Opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on February 27, 1994, the Botanical
Gardens is yet another conservation effort put forth by the National Trust and the
Cayman Islands Government. On your leisurely walk through the park's Woodland Trail,
Heritage Garden, Floral Display Garden and Lake you will experience plant life such as
cacti, thatch palm, air plants and orchids, peruse an old time Caymanian house and yard,
medicinal garden and floral color garden with a gazebo and arbor.
Relax by the lake while listening to the sounds of the many birds that
make their homes by the water. Birdwatchers can come earlier in the day and view birds
such as the Grand Cayman Parrot and many aquatic birds that make their home and breeding
grounds among the wetlands.
If you ever visualized yourself riding on horseback down a perfect
beach, or along a moon lit trail, you can do it here. There are a number of different
companies that offer this exciting way to see Grand Cayman. Experienced and
non-experienced riders will enjoy themselves.
If all the other things were not enough to satisfy you, Grand Cayman
also features two world class golf courses. The Links at SafeHaven is an 18 hole
championship golf course offering 6,605 yards and a par 71 course close to Seven Mile
Beach and only five miles from George Town.
The Britannia Golf Course, at the Hyatt is actually two courses in
one, a par 58 course and a par 70, championship course. You can enjoy views of the
Caribbean Sea while the refreshing trade winds keep you comfortable.
Home to Cayman Kai, Queen
Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens and Rum Point (epitomizes the tropical beauty of
Cayman). This is the least populated of all the island districts but an area of most
beautiful and luxurious homes.
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