Grand Cayman is known as one of the jewels of the Caribbean. The locals are friendly and enjoy meeting visitors from around the world, and the island itself is likely one of the most beautiful you’ll visit. Seven Mile Beach is known the world over as one of the most stunning stretches of sand. Pair that with duty-free shopping, water sports and fine dining, and Grand Cayman has something for just about everyone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; Grand Cayman is a fantastic cruise port that you’ll want to visit again and again. The only downside of this port of call is that it relies on tenders from your cruise ship. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, you may not be able to disembark until the waters calm.
Here are a few favorite activities and things to do on Grand Cayman:
For Families With Young Kids
The Cayman Turtle Farm (786 Northwest Point Road, West Bay) is the perfect place to visit for families with little ones, because in addition to the many opportunities to pet and view turtles and other animals like sharks and crocodiles, there is also an on-site restaurant and an awesome pool complex with a waterslide and waterfalls. You can either hop in a cab and go on your own or book a shore excursion through the cruise line.
For Families With Teens
If you’ve got teenagers in tow, check out Cayman Islands Submarines. The company offers fun excursions in its submarine, Atlantis, which allows you to view all manner of fish, coral and sea creatures while submerged five to 10 feet under the water. The excursion departs from the dock right in George Town, and most cruise lines — Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International — offer this activity as a shore excursion. You can also book independently, depending on the length of your stay in port.
Board a sleek catamaran for an excursion to Grand Cayman’s best snorkel sites with your sweetie. The trip’s price generally includes beverages and sometimes food, as well as all the gear you’ll need to get into the water and snorkel above some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. Book an excursion through your cruise line or via any of the local tour operators.
Romantic Spa Treatments at Local Resorts
Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is home to many world-class resorts, such as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and the Westin Grand Cayman. Both offer comprehensive spa services, which can be booked by cruise ship passengers. Contact La Prairie spa at The Ritz-Carlton or the Hibiscus Spa at the Westin. The spas offer everything from massages (Swedish, deep tissue, stone, aromatherapy) to facials to manicures and pedicures.
Savor Locally Made Spirits
A visit to Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery is always a fun way to spend some time with your friends on Grand Cayman. You’ll start the visit with a tour of the rum-making facilities and then savor a taste of the company’s Seven Fathoms Premium and Governor’s Reserve rums and Gun Bay Vodka. There is also a seasonal “Distiller’s Special,” which is a rare creation only available at the distillery. Tours last 30 to 40 minutes and cost $15 per person (discounts are available for groups of five or more). Book in advance.
Shop for Souvenirs
If you’re in Grand Cayman with your girlfriends, spend ample time in George Town doing some duty-free shopping. You’ll find stores selling luxury apparel, jewelry (keep an eye out for Caymanite) and watches, as well as boutiques offering locally made products. The art galleries are also worth a look. One of our favorites is Pure Art. It has handcrafted local and "island style" gifts, and original Cayman paintings and art prints.
If you want to bring home some gifts, look for rum cakes (Tortuga or BlackBeard’s), pepper jelly, and conch or caymanite jewelry. You can find the main shops along Cardinal Avenue or at the markets at 45 Market Street. Here’s an in-depth look at the best shopping in Grand Cayman.
Stingray City Sandbar
There’s no quicker way to bond with a perfect stranger than to experience the majesty of a giant stingray together during an encounter at Stingray City Sandbar. This is a popular offshore excursion in only a few feet of water and will take you about 30 minutes in a small boat to get to. It’s offered via the cruise lines as well as local tour companies. Don’t think twice about booking the tour as a solo traveler. The opportunity to meet these gentle giants is special, and it’s especially fun to do so as part of a group from your cruise ship. After tour leaders feed the stingrays, the creatures will surround you for a “meet-and-greet.”
Cayman Islands Brewery
Group activities and tours are always a good way for solo travelers to meet like-minded people. The Cayman Islands Brewery (366 Shamrock Road), a 10-minute taxi ride from the dock at George Town, offers a tour every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You’ll visit the brewing, bottling and canning areas and will have the opportunity to sample Caybrew and CayLight, as well as White Tip Lager and Ironshore Bock. The gift shop carries Caybrew-logo items.
For Older Adults
Leisurely Beach Afternoon
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is known as one of the world’s most beautiful spots. You can book an excursion to one of the sections of the beach and enjoy lounge chairs, umbrellas and changing facilities. Refreshments and lunch are sometimes included, especially if the package is via one of the island’s beachfront resorts.
You also can easily visit Seven Mile Beach on your own. Just take a taxi from the port and get a return taxi from any of the hotels along the shoreline. The cab fare can range from $4 to $15, depending on how far down Seven Mile Beach you are going. Then you can stop at Royal Palms Hotel ($4 cab fare from Georgetown Port) and buy a day pass for a few extra dollars. West Bay Public Beach (with bathrooms and an outdoor shower for rinsing off) and Tiki Beach (both located along Seven Mile Beach) are also great beaches to spend the day.
Pedro St. James Historic Site
Anyone interested in living history must book the shore excursion to Pedro St. James National Historic Site. This 18th-century Great House by the sea — with 18-inch-thick stone walls and sweeping verandah — has been restored with period furniture and artifacts. Over the years, the building has been a private home, a courthouse and jail, government assembly site, and a restaurant.
Today it is a national treasure, tourist attraction and popular spot to get married. In addition to the Great House, there is a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Ivan, a 3-D theater, gazebo and gardens.