Happy 2019! To ring in the New Year my family and I spent a week vacationing in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands are a British colony (hence why they drive on the left!) and consist of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac, with Grand Cayman being the most well-known. Many cruise lines visit Grand Cayman and several major airlines fly direct from the US making the Cayman Islands a popular vacation spot. My family and I flew JetBlue and stayed at the Wyndham Reef Resort on the east end of the island. The hotel was really nice, but far from all the action, which is on the west end of the island where Seven Mile Beach is located. I would stay on the west end and definitely rent a car to explore other parts of the island. If you visit, here are my recommendations:
Grand Cayman is one of the best diving locations in the world! Both snorkeling and scuba diving are common here, but my family had never gone scuba diving, so we signed up for a beginner’s excursion. Our day began in a classroom with lots of paperwork and a video. We then moved to the pool where we had our equipment put on and took our first breaths under water! The breathing took a little while to get used to, but eventually I wasn’t even thinking about it. We practiced some skills, such as clearing our regulators if water got in, and learned some important hand signals to communicate under water. After an hour or so, we hopped on a boat and rode out to Sunset Reef to begin our adventure! The dive lasted about 40 minutes; I saw lots of fish, a sting ray, an old anchor, and truly felt like I was swimming in a huge aquarium. It was awesome and I can not wait to go again. We got PADI resort certified through Ocean Frontiers, meaning that I can dive only if an instructor is with me. I highly recommend this company- they made us feel safe and well-cared for throughout the entire day!
Visit the Cayman Caves
Located on the northeast side of the island are Grand Cayman’s only caves. You must visit them with a guide, but the tour will take you through all three caves and describe the history of them and what you are seeing inside. The limestone caves were all beautiful, and so much fun to explore- even with bats flying over our heads!
Soak Up the Sun at Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach has been awarded the Caribbean’s best beach on several occasions, and I now know why. This beach, drawing visitors from all around the world, really is a gem. The beach is actually only 5.5 miles long, but houses tons of resorts, shops, restaurants, and bars. Parts of the beach, where resorts are located, are private, but several sections are open to the public. Since we were staying on the other end of the island, we visited the beach as guests. The beach is split into smaller, public beaches, and we were able to visit several of them:
Public Beach: Very crowded with cruise ship passengers and jet skiers, but has parking, showers, restrooms, cabanas, and chairs and umbrellas for rent.
Cemetery Beach: Located behind a cemetery and is a secret oasis with a chair swing and amazing snorkeling off the shore. This beach was much more relaxing, but had no restrooms and not much parking.
Smith Cove: Located south of Seven Mile Beach, this spot was my favorite! The cove has several picnic tables, restrooms and showers, shady spots, an ice cream truck, and rocks to jump from. Only negatives would be the rough current and the roosters, but overall it was so much fun!
Governor’s Beach: Located behind the Governor’s house in Georgetown! Had a parking lot, but no restrooms.
Shopping in Georgetown: Camana Bay
There are not a lot of places to go shopping in Grand Cayman, but Camana Bay is a big shopping complex located right in Georgetown with lots of shops and restaurants!
Six Senses Eco Tour: Stingray City & More
I HIGHLY recommend doing the Six Senses Eco Tour. This tour was recommended by a friend (thanks Chelsea!) and did not disappoint. The tour lasted six hours and took us through a mangrove forest, snorkeling in the barrier reef, and to some of the most popular spots on the island:
Stingray City: Probably Grand Cayman’s most well-known attraction, Stingray City is a sand bar on the northwest coast and home to over 100 Southern Stingrays. YES! THIS IS SAFE! It would only be dangerous if you step on one, but as long as you avoid that they are nonthreatening! We were able to feed them squid and swim with them, which was slightly terrifying considering the females can be up to 4-5 feet wide!
Starfish Point: A shallow area off the coast with dozens of starfish that you can hold and play with. We got some fun pictures here, but had to be careful because they can only be out of the water for 2-3 seconds!
Rum Point: Located on the north side of the island, this spot is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There is a cute gift shop here and several beach shacks to order food. Be sure to try their world famous mudslide!