About Cayman

Cayman Geography


The three Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac) are actually the tops of submerged mountains in a range called the Cayman Ridge. This ridge extends into the Sierra Maestra range lying off southeastern Cuba and the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. Between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica lies the deepest part of the Caribbean, the Cayman Trench, which is over four miles deep. South of Cayman is the Bartlett Deep, where depths of over 18,000 feet have been recorded.

Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, lies 150 miles south of Cuba and about 180 miles north and west of Jamaica. The Island is 22 miles long and 4 miles wide, and is totally surrounded by coral reefs. This unusual formation has created the famous Cayman Walls, a mecca of divers throughout the world. The drop-off begins as close as 30 yards offshore, to a depth of over 6000 feet.

Because of the porous limestone rock, none of the Cayman Islands have rivers or streams. This lack of runoff from the land means that visibility in the ocean around Cayman is exceptional, often more than 120 feet. The low profile of the Island contributes to the perfect year-around tropical weather, constant breezes, and calm, clear, warm water. Trees, bushes and vines grow luxuriantly, including coconut palms, thatch palms, seagrape, and Australian pines (casuarinas).


Cayman Weather


The Cayman Islands lie between 19 and 20 degrees north latitude in the far western Caribbean and are cooled by the trade winds. It's always summer in Cayman: temperature ranges from about 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with the hottest period in July and August and the coolest in February. The ocean is warm all year round, with temperatures ranging from 79 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and no thermoclines.

Annual rainfall is about 46 inches. It rains more during the period from May to October than during the rest of the year, and March and April are the driest months. (This means that May to October is the low season for tourism in Cayman. But the diving is good -- and you get a real break on the price of accommodation.)


Cayman Time


The Cayman Islands remain on Eastern Standard Time all year, without changing to Daylight Savings Time in April. Cayman is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).


Cayman Currency


The Cayman Islands (C.I.) dollar is worth $1.20 U.S. Another way of saying this: $1 U.S. = 80 cents C.I. If you have U.S. currency, you can use it freely in Cayman. You will get change back in C.I. currency but retail stores & restaurants give the same exchange rate for cash as the banks do. Major credit cards are widely accepted as are Travellers' cheques. ATMs accept VISA and Mastercard with a Cirrus affiliation and are located at major grocery stores, strip malls, at the airport and at all major banks. 


Grand Cayman Environment


Since 1986, Cayman's Marine Parks and Marine Conservation laws have protected the underwater environment. Visitors are forbidden to use spearguns or to collect or disturb the marine life. (Except for areas designated for conservation, Caymanians are licensed to fish, harvest conch and catch lobster in season.)


Cayman Culture


Grand Cayman has a resident population of about 37,000. The people of Cayman have a very high standard of living and education; a very low crime rate; modern infrastructure, communications and medical facilities; a thriving offshore banking sector; and a friendly and efficient tourist industry based on a protected marine ecology. Street and beach vendors are forbidden by law. In contrast to some other Caribbean destinations, this is a very clean, safe, and relaxing place to spend your vacation.

While the Cayman Islands are a British Crown Colony, the culture of the island is its own unique blend of Caribbean (particularly Jamaican), English, and U.S. influences. You must drive on the left, but you can pay for anything in U.S. dollars. Measures are in imperial (pints, quarts, gallons, inches, feet, and miles), and temperature is in Fahrenheit.

English as spoken in Cayman combines broad Caribbean vowels with its own special lilt. People say "Yeah, mon!" for emphasis; the name of the island is "Grand CayMAN"; the sales clerk will ask, "Can I help?" instead of "Can I help you?"; and in many quarters the respectful practice persists of calling people "Mr. Bill" and "Miss Nancy" to take the impertinence out of using first names. You'll be charmed, not baffled.


Travel to Cayman


There are numerous daily flights between Miami and Grand Cayman served by Cayman Airways and American Airlines. Delta and US Airways operate from Atlanta, Houston & Chalotte with weekly flights while Air Canada, JetBlue and Northwest Airlines operate seasonly from Toronto, Dallas & Minneapolis.  Cayman Airways additionally operates non-stop flights from Chicago, Dallas & New York with weekly service while British Airways operates a thrice weekly service from London's Heathrow airport.  


Entry to Cayman


U.S., British and Canadian citizens, and citizens of British Dependent Territories, do not require passports, but must show proof of citizenship (passport or birth certificate and current photo ID). Visitors from all other countries require a passport and either a return or an ongoing ticket. When you pass Immigration in Cayman, you are given a pink slip that serves as a tourist identification card. You must keep this slip and present it at the airport when you leave for home.


Cayman Transportation


You can rent cars, vans, Jeeps, and scooters. There are more than a dozen rental firms to choose from, including Andy's, Budget, Cico/Avis, Hertz, Marshall's, and Thrifty. Private taxis are widely available. There is also a limited van/bus-service along the main west-end roads.


Grand Cayman Dining


The restaurants of Grand Cayman represent almost all the fine cuisines of the world. But you can also find Cayman-style fish (featuring a spicy tomato and onion sauce); Jamaican beef patties; hearty red-bean soup; jerk pork; conch chowder or conch fritters; Caymanian "heavy cake" (a combination of coconut milk and cassava flavoured with sweet spices); and a delectable, down-home dish called "run-down", consisting of fish or salt beef and "bread kind" (potato, yam, breadfruit, or cassava) in a hearty coconut broth. Feeling adventurous? Try a turtle steak (a time-honoured Caymanian delicacy) -- and, in an indirect way, help out one of your favourite sea-creatures. The Cayman Islands Turtle Farm raises and releases green sea turtles, a species that once inhabited Cayman waters in enormous numbers. As Cayman has no income tax, and consequently little public revenue to operate conservation programs, the Turtle Farm raises money by selling some of the turtles for meat. (In fact, this rich, beef-like meat must have seemed like manna from heaven to those scurvy-ridden old-time sailors and pirates.)

Whatever your choice of cuisine (see Peter's Tips for Peter's own personal recommendations), taste that great Island brew, Stingray Beer. And save room for the famous Cayman rum cake.

Cayman dining can be a costly, if delicious, experience. For value-minded condo-dwellers with a kitchen of their own, the supermarkets, bakeries and liquor stores of Grand Cayman provide an extremely wide range of high-quality ingredients -- just about anything you can find at home.


Grand Cayman Sightseeing


The following are only a few of the many interesting places to see in Grand Cayman.


Cayman Turtle Farm (Boatswain's Beach):


Don't miss a tour of Boatswain's Beach the new Cayman Turtle Farm. You'll see the turtles in all stages of development, from little hand-sized flappers, to helmet-sized adolescents, to big breeders the dimensions of a good-sized coffee table that weigh hundreds of pounds. You'll hear what a turtle's life is like, and how the Farm intervenes and releases turtles to the wild to ensure their increase. The Turtle Farm gift shop is a good place for souvenirs too, especially postcards and T-shirts with a turtle theme.


Hell:


The village of Hell is named after the fiendishly jagged, black limestone rock that covers the area. Drop in and visit the Official Cayman Islands Government Hell Post Office. Mail your pals a postcard with a HELL postmark!


Rum Point:


Take the ferry or drive around to Rum Point and look at the North Sound from a more easterly perspective. Check out the lovely homes in Cayman Kai.


Snorkeling from Shore:


Snorkel at Cemetery Reef in West Bay, or at Eden Rock south of George Town. Also don't forget delightful Smith's Cove in South Sound.


Blowholes:


Drive about half an hour along the south road that travels the length of the island to East End, until you reach the Blowholes, a spot where the force of the sea drives spume up through holes in the limestone "ironshore". An impressive sight. If the refreshment stand across the road is open, sit under the tent and drink a fresh coconut.


Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Garden:


Walk a nature-trail and see many of the trees, plants and ecosystems native to the Cayman Islands.


East End:


Drive to the quiet end of the island and capture a feeling of how Cayman used to be. Enjoy the vistas from the bluffs along the east-coast road.


Cayman Geography 
Cayman Weather
Cayman Time 
Cayman Currency 
Grand Cayman Environment 
Cayman Culture 
Travel to Cayman 
Entry to Cayman 
Cayman Transportation 
Grand Cayman Dining 
Grand Cayman Sightseeing 
Cayman Villas