Welcome to the magical land of the Cayman Islands! Renowned for its warm tropical climate and beautiful sandy beaches, these Caribbean islands offer diversities far beyond the standard vacation stereotypes.
Whether you’re an adventurous soul, a nature lover, or a history buff, the Cayman Islands are packed with enriching and unforgettable experiences.
Let’s embark on an exciting journey to explore the 15 Best Things to Do in the Cayman Islands in 2023.
Unraveling the Natural Beauty of the Cayman Islands
1. Diving & Snorkeling Adventures in Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach is an irresistible beckoning for all diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. This sun-drenched shoreline, much-admired for its calm, crystal-clear waters and silky, soft sand, promises an unrivaled underwater adventure.
You can dive into the inviting waters to explore awe-inspiring steep dives, spectacular shipwrecks, and artificial reefs that teem with a variety of vibrant marine life. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a novice snorkeler, there’s something for everyone.
Hailed as one of the world’s best scuba destinations, you can even get PADI certified at numerous dive sites here. Make sure to add this exciting adventure to your travel itinerary when visiting the Cayman Islands.
2. Hiking the Mastic Trails for an Eco-friendly Experience
If you’re keen to explore the green soul of the Cayman Islands, the Mastic Trail is an ideal destination. Nestled deep within the Mastic Reserve, this 2.3-mile trail serves as your perfect window onto the rich vegetation and animal life inherent to Grand Cayman.
As your hiking boots crunch on the forest floor, you’ll delve through pockets of exotic palm trees, mesmerizing mangroves, and resilient black mastic forests. The trail brims with pleasant surprises, ranging from sighting rare bird species like the Cuban Amazon to learning about the island’s natural history.
Guided tours are readily available for an even more enriching experience. The Mastic Trail leverages your love for nature into a truly eco-friendly experience, contributing to the preserve’s protection and sustainability.
Unforgettable Wildlife Encounters
3. Swim with Stingrays at Stingray City
Experience a truly unforgettable encounter at Stingray City, a fascinating site that allows you to swim, feed, and frolic with friendly stingrays in their natural setting.
This shallow sandbar, tucked away in the pristine waters of the North Sound, plays residence to a host of captivating Atlantic Stingrays. Under expert guidance, you can engage safely with these magnificent creatures, feeling the soft swoosh of water as they circle around you before swerving for a gentle touch.
Whether you opt for a snorkeling adventure or choose the excitement of a glass-bottom boat tour, every moment at Stingray City promises a memory that will last a lifetime. Especially with those picture-perfect views of the azure waters as a backdrop!
Ensure you have everything you need on your next trip with my Ultimate Cayman Islands Packing List.
4. Meet Turtles at Cayman Turtle Centre
A visit to the Cayman Turtle Centre is a must for both nature enthusiasts and families. This extraordinary conservation facility offers hands-on interactions with sea turtles, allowing you to learn about their life cycles and the efforts aimed at their rehabilitation.
You’ll have a chance to feed these gentle mariners or even swim with them in specially designed tanks. Besides the aquatic joy, the center allows you to explore a refreshing blend of other wildlife.
Get a peek at an 11-foot-long Cayman crocodile at the Croc Cove, watch captivating sharks, get mesmerized by the swift iguanas, and revel at the myriad of Caribbean birds in the aviary.
The Cayman Turtle Centre seamlessly merges education and excitement, promising an adventure-filled day that champions the conservation cause.
5. Spot the Unique Cayman Brac Parrot
Bird lovers rejoice, for the Cayman Islands provides a perfect stage for your birdwatching enthusiasm. A prized sighting for bird enthusiasts is undoubtedly the multi-hued Cayman Brac Parrot.
This vibrant bird’s natural habitat is the lush tropical forest of the Cayman Brac Parrot Preserve. Be ready for an adventurous walk through the forest trails and feel the thrill as you spot this rare and exotic bird in its natural habitat.
Besides the star of the show, the parrot, the preserve, and other areas like the Mastic Reserve, Salina Reserve, and Colliers Pond are home to over 120 migratory bird species.
Make sure to pack your binoculars; birdwatching here is not just an activity but an awe-inspiring experience!
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Historical Sites and Cultural Immersion
6. Discover Pedro St. James, Grand Cayman's Heritage Site
To dive deep into rich island history, a visit to the Pedro St. James heritage site is essential. Grand Cayman’s oldest stone structure, Pedro St. James, has lent itself to various historical chapters since being built by William Eden in 1780.
Affectionately dubbed as “The Castle”, its 18-inch-thick walls and imposing design continue to stand strong, offering an enchanting journey back in time.
Former residence of the island’s first governors, this castle was also the foundation stone for Cayman’s democracy.
Within its hallowed walls, you can admire the well-restored mahogany interiors and captivating ocean views from its verandahs. An open-air kitchen on the premises further adds to the site’s historical charm.
Whether you wander through the three stories of the castle or participate in one-off events, your visit to Pedro St. James is sure to imprint deep historical understanding and an enduring respect for Cayman’s heritage.
7. Visit the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands to Take in the Local Art Scene
Just a stone’s throw away from Seven Mile Beach, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands provides a splendid showcase for the Caymanian art scene. Packed with diverse artwork created by talented locals, the gallery offers visitors the chance to glimpse the island’s culture and history through a different lens.
Situated in a purpose-built complex, the gallery is a treasure trove of mixed-media pieces and fine art with both permanent and rotating exhibitions.
The top floor houses artwork from the National Art Collection, offering depictions of the island’s rich culture and heritage. Meanwhile, the ground level presents rotating exhibits that provide fresh visual narrative perspectives.
Another captivating feature is the gallery’s sculpture garden, with an exhibit dedicated to the late “Miss Lassie” (real name Gladwyn Bush), an iconic figure in local art history whose home, covered in her visionary creations, is open to visiting art enthusiasts.
You can make the Gallery your starting point for an art-themed day out in the Cayman Islands – you will not be disappointed.
Experiences Beyond Regular Sightseeing
8. Exploration at Cayman Crystal Caves
Immerse yourself in the mystical ambiance of the Cayman Crystal Caves. Located in Old Man Bay, these caves are a natural wonder that spellbinds with stunning stalactites and stalagmites formations and breathtaking crystal structures that glimmer as sunlight seeps through the crevices.
The caves, formed over millions of years, offer a unique spectacle, which includes a secret crystal-clear lake that collects rainwater filtered through the rocks.
Guided by knowledgeable experts, every corner of these caves unraveled uncovers exciting tales about its flora, fauna, and history. Pirates once used these caverns as hideouts; today, they serve as residences to colonies of bats that rarely disturb the tranquil atmosphere of the caves.
Whether it’s rainforests or caves, the Cayman Islands never fail to present nature’s spectacle in its rawest and most beautiful forms. An exploration of the Cayman Crystal Caves tops the list of unique experiences on the islands.
9. Kayaking Adventure in Bioluminescent Bay
An enchanting night kayak adventure awaits you in the Bioluminescent Bay of Grand Cayman. Imagine paddling your kayak through the inky black waters, witnessing a symphony of lights as the movement stirs up thousands of bioluminescent dinoflagellates, microscopic organisms that emit an ethereal glow when disturbed.
Quaint cottages lining the bay and a peaceful atmosphere that far removes you from the hustle-bustle give this secluded spot a romantic appeal. Be sure to plan this adventure during a new moon phase when the darkness enhances the bioluminescence, turning your kayak trip into an unforgettable spectacle.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot the glow of elusive jellyfish adding to the light show. Remember to book your tour early, as this experience is high on visitors’ lists when exploring the Cayman Islands.
Memorable Gastronomic Journey
10. Savoring the Local Cuisine of the Cayman Islands
The culinary scene in the Cayman Islands is a delightful journey that offers the best of Caribbean flavors. More than 200 restaurants and two major food festivals establish Grand Cayman as a paradise for food connoisseurs.
Your gastronomic exploration could begin at places like Over the Edge, Laurens, or Heritage Kitchen, serving delectably authentic Cayman dishes.
Some island favorites to try include conch fritters from GT Outpost, the spicy jerk chicken from Peppers, and the best sushi at Taikun, within the Ritz Carlton Resort. If you’re feeling adventurous, make a stop at Chicken! Chicken! or Cimboco for some unique dishes.
Simultaneously, the Cayman Islands’ cosmopolitan lifestyle introduces you to cuisines from around the globe. Experience an international smorgasbord at Blue by Eric Ripert featuring fusion dishes, or visit Agua for some top-notch Italian flavors.
This culinary diversity, combined with the local Caribbean twist, makes the food journey in the Cayman Islands a memorable one.
11. Rum Tasting at Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery
Rum is to the Caribbean what wine is to France, and the Cayman Islands proudly flaunt their rum-making heritage at the Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery. A tasteful blend of tradition and innovation, this distillery is renowned for producing the archipelago’s most iconic rum, the much-loved Seven Fathoms Rum.
The distillery’s claim to fame is its unique process of aging this rum in oak bourbon barrels 42ft (or seven fathoms) below the ocean’s surface.
Your distillery tour is not just about the rum; it’s a walk through history and the intricate process of distilling craft spirits.
Following an engaging tour narrated by lively guides, you are treated to tasting several spirits in their portfolio: Seven Fathoms Rum, Gun Bay Vodka, Governor’s Reserve Rum, and an array of H.H. Hutchings Liqueurs.
Consider this tour as an appetizing stop amidst your Cayman tour, where you ignite your senses while appreciating the island’s rich traditions and taste of the island’s alluring spirits. This distillery visit is an experience to cherish for connoisseurs and curious souls alike.
Don’t miss their signature drinks, a Cayman sour or a Catamaran with a sugar rim. And what better souvenirs to take home than a bottle or two of your new favorite spirits?
Lively Atmosphere and Relaxation spots
12. Camana Bay - An experience beyond shopping
Camana Bay isn’t just a shopping spot; it’s a vibrant town offering a myriad of experiences ranging from world-class dining and family-friendly entertainment to events and attractions.
With more than 40 shops and services and over 75 brands at your disposal, you’re sure to satisfy your shopping fix in style.
Aside from the shopping spree, you can explore an array of specialty restaurants and an impressive six-screen cinema. Make a stop at the interactive fountains for a delightful splash and then ascend the 75ft Observation Tower for a bird’s eye view of Seven Mile Beach, George Town, and the North Sound.
In the evenings, Camana Bay transforms, becoming a hub for nightlife with cafes and restaurants open until 10 pm. With a lively atmosphere and plentiful activities on offer, Camana Bay offers a vibrant experience that strikes a perfect balance between relaxation and entertainment, making it a must-visit while in the Cayman Islands.
13. Unwind on the Shores of Cemetery Beach
For some untouched tranquility, away from the tourist throng, head to Cemetery Beach. Tucked away, just past the seven-mile beach, Cemetery Beach embodies natural beauty that instantly appeals to the soul.
As the name suggests, you walk through an endearing local cemetery to reach the beach. Once there, you’re caressed by the whispering waves, the soft sand, and an endless view of the Caribbean Sea.
This west-facing beach’s prime position offers a flawless view of the sun graciously dipping below the horizon, turning the sky into a mesmerizing canvas of orange and purple.
Have a romantic picnic, build sandcastles, or simply laze around absorbing the serene atmosphere; whatever you choose, moments spent on this beach become cherished memories.
Cemetery Beach is also an ideal diving spot with thriving coral reefs just a swim away, making your relaxing day out at the beach a blend of relaxation and adventure. Plan a visit and find out why locals hold this place so close to their hearts!
Here is a complete list of the Top Beaches in the Cayman Islands.
Unique and Offbeat Activities
14. Dive into the Kittiwake Shipwreck
For a healthy injection of adventure and history, make a dive into the fascinating Kittiwake Shipwreck submarine. Once a vibrant part of the US navy, the USS Kittiwake was intentionally sunk off the northern tip of Seven Mile Beach in 2011 to serve as an artificial reef.
Walking along her submerged decks, you can explore the five levels of the ship housing numerous rooms and even go through the engine room.
Today, the shipwreck is brimming with marine life, corals, sea vines, and is considered one of the best diving sites in the region. It has turned into a living museum under the sea, with great photo exhibits adding to the site’s appeal.
The site is only 55 feet below the water’s surface, making it accessible for divers and snorkelers of all experience levels. A dive here is not just a dive; it’s a multi-faceted experience of history, marine biology, conservation, and a spine-tingling adventure.
Explore the echo from the past, mingling with the music of the sea as you wander the shipwreck site. Plan a dive with licensed operators like Ocean Frontiers for a safe, organized, and authentic wreck diving experience.
Let creativity take the wheel as you navigate this underwater marvel – and remember, no experience is the same at the Kittiwake shipwreck, so be ready to create a unique story of your own!
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15. Starfish Spotting at Starfish Point
Starfish Point, located on the north side of Grand Cayman, is a secluded beach where nature takes center stage. It’s not every day you get the chance to play audience to a star-studded underwater performance.
This serene public beach is home to the radiant red and orange starfish that cast a delightful contrast against the crystal clear, shallow waters and pristine sands.
While it’s tempting to hold these marine celebrities in your hands, it’s essential to remember to respect their habitat. You are allowed to gently pick them up, but they must remain submerged in the water as they can’t survive out of it.
Located just a 10-minute walk from Kaibo Beach Bar, Starfish Point is the perfect serene alternative to a bustling beach, offering relaxation with a touch of marine magic.
And if your timing aligns, you could witness the splendid Bioluminescence nearby, making your visit to Starfish Point an unforgettable spectacle both during the day and at night!
Exploring the Cayman Islands isn’t just about sightseeing, it’s about savoring those little-known spots and unique encounters that make for worthwhile memories – and Starfish Point is a testament to this.
What are some free things to do in the Cayman Islands?
There are plenty of free activities to enjoy in the Cayman Islands.
- You can lounge on the world-renowned Seven Mile Beach or explore the secluded beauty of Cemetery Beach.
- Going for a stroll along the beach at sunset or sunrise is also a great choice.
- Visit Starfish Point and get a chance to see dozens of colorful starfish in their natural habitat.
- If you’re into wildlife, Cayman Brac Parrot Preserve offers free entry and can be explored on your own.
However, remember that while the beach is always free, certain popular sites may charge a nominal fee.
What attractions should I not miss in the Cayman Islands?
There are several must-visit attractions in the Cayman Islands.
- Seven Mile Beach is renowned globally for its pristine beauty and vibrant marine life.
- Another unforgettable experience is swimming with stingrays at Stingray City.
- Discover intriguing subterranean beauty at the Cayman Crystal Caves.
- Engage with the island’s history at Pedro St. James, the oldest structure on Grand Cayman.
- Don’t miss checking out the local art scene at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.
- Finally, Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery provides great insight into local rum-making practices.
What is the Cayman Islands best known for?
The Cayman Islands are primarily known for their stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, rich marine life, and sublime diving spots.
They are home to the world-renowned Seven Mile Beach, a hot spot for snorkeling and watersports. The islands also host rich wildlife, including stingrays at Stingray City and turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre.
Interestingly, the Cayman Islands are also known as a significant offshore financial center thanks to their tax-neutral status.
Where are the top locations for couples getaways in the Cayman Islands?
When it comes to relishing romantic moments in the Cayman Islands, several locations promise privacy along with enchanting natural beauty.
- Rum Point, with its serene beach and hammock-fitted trees, offers a perfect setting for lovebirds.
- Starfish Point, offering star-studded underwater performances and breathtaking views, is another great spot.
- Seven Mile Beach is iconic for its sunset views, creating a perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll.
- For an indulgent experience, couples can dine at one of the fine dining restaurants or engage in a private catamaran sail or a luxury spa session at the world-class resorts.
Be ready for everything by also reading my Cayman Islands Travel Tips.
Is it cheap to travel in the Cayman Islands?
The Cayman Islands, known for their luxurious resorts and fine-dining experiences, are generally considered higher-end when it comes to vacation costs.
Accommodation, dining, and activities can be quite pricey compared to other Caribbean destinations. However, it’s possible to explore these islands on a budget by choosing affordable accommodation, eating at local restaurants, and enjoying free activities like beach visits and hiking.
Always remember to plan and book in advance for the best deals.
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Conclusion: Things to Do in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are truly a paradise lost in time, offering an extraordinary blend of excitement, relaxation, culture, and nature.
From diving in the azure waters to exploring centuries-old shipwrecks, from interacting with exotic marine life to hiking trails through dense forests, from satisfying your palate with the island’s diverse culinary world to immersing in the local art and history, every moment in these islands is meant to be treasured.
Whether you’re a solo adventurer, a fulfilling family, or a couple seeking solitude, the Cayman Islands have an experience just for you. So, pack your bags, slather on some sunblock, and get ready to make unforgettable memories in the Cayman Islands in 2023!