What are the five best things to see and do in the Cayman Islands?

While there is plenty to see and do in the Cayman Islands, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend these five favorites:  
 
1. Go scuba diving. Grand Cayman is an ideal destination for scuba diving.  Whether you’re a novice or a skilled diver, the Cayman Islands offer a great diving experience for everyone.
 
2. Travel to the sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Hop on a short plane ride and explore these islands; they are filled with quiet beaches, cool caves, and exotic flora and fauna.
 
3. Visit Pedro St. James. Take a tour of this castle, which is the oldest house in the Cayman Islands. It’s furnished with period pieces from the 1780s and offers some of the best views of the island. 
 
4. Go to Stingray City. Take a boat to Stingray City to pet and hold the friendly sea creatures.
 
5. Butterfly Farm. Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly and see beautiful exotic butterflies in vibrant colors and different sizes.

  • On May 24, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best way to see the Cayman Islands in one day?

    Discovering the Cayman Islands in their entirety can be tough in just 24 hours, but it’s enough time to explore some of the best Grand Cayman (the largest of the three sister islands) has to offer. There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to tackle the island in just one day: It’s going to be a lot of eating, plenty of beach time and the majority of the day will be in the sun. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a half-day boat tour to Stingray City through Cayman Private Charters — I suggest doing this as soon as you know you’ll be visiting.

    Now, to begin your jam-packed day, wake up early and head to The Waterfront for breakfast. It’s one of the newer restaurants on the island and it filled Grand Cayman’s diner void. Make sure you order one of the gigantic cinnamon buns — it’s literally the size of a bread plate. After breakfast, you won’t have to walk far because the boat will pick you up at Camana Bay’s marina, which is about 100 yards from The Waterfront.

    Your half-day tour (request Steven Stewart as your captain — more on him in a minute) will show you the best of what the turquoise Caribbean Sea has to offer. The first stop is Stingray City, a sandbar protected by a coral reef that’s home to tons of (very tame) stingrays. They will actually swarm arriving boats, knowing that tourists are about to feed them. These giant rays swim up to you and rub against you as if they’re cats — it’s a rather odd feeling at first, but you get used to it. Depending on what you want to do next, you could either head to Starfish Beach (yes, there are plenty of starfish there), snorkel at Coral Garden or grab a Mudslide at Rum Point. But if you’re lucky (and a good planner), captain Steven will dive for some conch and whip up fresh ceviche on board; but only during conch season, which is between November and April.

    Once you’ve gotten your fill of aquatics and stingrays, head back to Camana Bay. If you weren’t treated to ceviche on board, make your way to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink on Camana Bay’s “restaurant row.” Chef Thomas Tennant is a big supporter of the lionfish crusade. These tiny fish (according to the chef, a big one is only about a foot) invaded the Caribbean and Atlantic, and eat baby fish such as grouper. They’re covered with poisonous spikes, so it’s really dangerous to catch (you need a spear gun), but they’re delicious. If Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink has anything with lionfish on the menu, order it.

    After lunch, it’s time to lounge on the beach — Seven Mile Beach, that is. No matter where you’re staying (though I highly suggest The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, if only for its beach setup), you’ll enjoy plush lounge chairs and tons of sun. The white sand is absolutely irresistible.

    Head back to your hotel room and freshen up before dinner. You’re finishing of your busy day with a very rewarding dinner. Blue by Eric Ripert, located at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is one of the finest restaurants on the island. You’ll indulge in several courses of decadent seafood. And if you really want to celebrate, tack on the wine pairings.
  • On May 23, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best time to visit the Cayman Islands?

    It's hard to find a bad time of year to soak up the Caribbean sun, but some months are better than others when it comes to the Cayman Islands. The most popular time for visitors is during the winter, which also happens to be the dry season. Hotels get booked months in advance for the winter holidays because — let's be honest — everyone wants to come back to the chilly north with glowing tans. The dry season (which also happens to be the high season) is between November and April, and if you plan your trip during this time, you'll also be treated to plenty of conch as it's conch season as well.

    Technically May through October is considered the rainy season, with May and October being the rainiest of them all; but I was just there at the beginning of May and the sun was shining the entire time. I will say, however, that the humidity makes things a lot hotter, but it's nothing a dip in the turquoise water can't solve. Once spring breakers clear out, the island is rather quiet — a few cruise ships here and there. Hurricane season comes during the summer, but the Caymans are usually spared (with the exception of a few hard hitting storms every few years).
  • On May 23, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What is the best time to visit the Cayman Islands?

    It's hard to find a bad time of year to soak up the Caribbean sun, but some months are better than others when it comes to the Cayman Islands. The most popular time for visitors is during the winter, which also happens to be the dry season. Hotels get booked months in advance for the winter holidays because — let's be honest — everyone wants to come back to the chilly north with glowing tans. The dry season (which also happens to be the high season) is between November and April, and if you plan your trip during this time, you'll also be treated to plenty of conch as it's conch season as well.

    Technically May through October is considered the rainy season, with May and October being the rainiest of them all; but I was just there at the beginning of May and the sun was shining the entire time. I will say, however, that the humidity makes things a lot hotter, but it's nothing a dip in the turquoise water can't solve. Once spring breakers clear out, the island is rather quiet — a few cruise ships here and there. Hurricane season comes during the summer, but the Caymans are usually spared (with the exception of a few hard hitting storms every few years).
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  • On May 22, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What should I pack for a trip to the Cayman Islands?

    Like other tropical locales, the Cayman Islands remain warm throughout the year, though some months are much hotter and more humid than others. I was recently in Grand Cayman in mid-May, when temperatures are technically in the 80s but the heat index is well into the 90s. Needless to say, no matter what time of year you visit, you'll definitely want to pack a bathing suit (or four). The beach is the main draw for many visitors and locals alike, so leaving home without your bikini or swim trunks is a mistake. And to go along with that, do not forget sunscreen. Regardless of your base tan, the sun is extremely strong in the Caymans and you can burn without even knowing it — especially when you're out on the water. Personally, I usually stick to SPF 30, but even lathering SPF 45 on my entire body multiple times throughout the day wasn't enough. You should probably bring some aloe just to be safe. Of course, if you don't want to put these things in your suitcase, you can certainly buy sunscreen and aloe on island. Bringing along a hat can never hurt either, whether it's a baseball cap or a floppy sun hat.

    Depending on when you visit, you may want to pack a light sweater for evenings. If your trip is during late spring or summer, you can definitely do without the sweater as temps are still in the 80s after sunset. As far as clothing goes, you'll likely be spending most of your time in your bathing suit; but you'll want to pack a few cover-ups, shorts, sundresses and tank tops. And if you're the active type, be sure to pack your golf attire — The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has a great course. Foodies won't want to miss dining at Blue by Eric Ripert (also at The Ritz), and dress there is a bit more upscale than other island restaurants. Overall, Grand Cayman is a pretty casual place; sandals will do just fine for the majority of your activities.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What should I pack for a trip to the Cayman Islands?

    Like other tropical locales, the Cayman Islands remain warm throughout the year, though some months are much hotter and more humid than others. I was recently in Grand Cayman in mid-May, when temperatures are technically in the 80s but the heat index is well into the 90s. Needless to say, no matter what time of year you visit, you'll definitely want to pack a bathing suit (or four). The beach is the main draw for many visitors and locals alike, so leaving home without your bikini or swim trunks is a mistake. And to go along with that, do not forget sunscreen. Regardless of your base tan, the sun is extremely strong in the Caymans and you can burn without even knowing it — especially when you're out on the water. Personally, I usually stick to SPF 30, but even lathering SPF 45 on my entire body multiple times throughout the day wasn't enough. You should probably bring some aloe just to be safe. Of course, if you don't want to put these things in your suitcase, you can certainly buy sunscreen and aloe on island. Bringing along a hat can never hurt either, whether it's a baseball cap or a floppy sun hat.

    Depending on when you visit, you may want to pack a light sweater for evenings. If your trip is during late spring or summer, you can definitely do without the sweater as temps are still in the 80s after sunset. As far as clothing goes, you'll likely be spending most of your time in your bathing suit; but you'll want to pack a few cover-ups, shorts, sundresses and tank tops. And if you're the active type, be sure to pack your golf attire — The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has a great course. Foodies won't want to miss dining at Blue by Eric Ripert (also at The Ritz), and dress there is a bit more upscale than other island restaurants. Overall, Grand Cayman is a pretty casual place; sandals will do just fine for the majority of your activities.
  • On May 20, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the best beaches on the Cayman Islands?

    It's hard to imagine that a Caribbean island isn't chock-full of fantastic beaches, and the Cayman Islands are no exception. Chances are that your trip to this Western Caribbean destination will likely be spent on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three sister islands. The good news is that Grand Cayman is full of beautiful beaches, so you’ll have plenty of options to soak up the strong sun. After a recent visit, it’s safe to say that I didn’t find a beach I didn’t like on the island. Seven Mile Beach is, of course, the most famous of the bunch. This is where the majority of the hotels are located, as well as many condominiums. The crystal clear water laps on the powdery white sand beach, and water sports are aplenty. Whether you want to rent a jet ski or opt for the unique water jetpack, you’ll have plenty of aquatic options on Seven Mile Beach.

    Two other great beaches sit on the north side of the island. If you’re looking for a vibrant scene dominated by top 40 tunes and Mudslides, make your way to Rum Point. Rumored to be the birthplace of the slushy Mudslide, Rum Point is a great place to enjoy the sun. Just down the way, you’ll find Starfish Beach, which is seemingly untouched. It’s a small stretch of beach — you won’t find any lounge chairs or beach servers here — but it’s beautiful. And as you may have guessed from its name, there are plenty of starfish in the shallow water. Both Rum Point and Starfish Beach are great stops if you are on the boat checking out Stingray City.

    And if you’re one for snorkeling, head to Smith Cove near George Town. Depending on when you go, it could be filled with tourists hopping of the cruise ship or employees of Seven Mile Beach hotels looking to escape the crowds — either way, it’s great snorkeling.
  • On May 17, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the best Cayman Islands food experiences?

    Like other tropical locales, the Cayman Islands are all about seafood. Whether you prefer it in the form of fritters or ceviche, there's a seafood dish for you during your stay. I was recently in Grand Cayman (the largest of the three sister islands) and experienced some of the best cuisine I've had of late. First of all, it depends when you're visiting the Caymans — different species are in season at different times of year. If you're on island between November 1 and April 30, you'll be treated to plenty of conch. These giant mollusks are as delicious as their pink shells are beautiful, and you'll find it on tons of menus. While I was on island, I participated in a cooking class at the Discovery Centre at Camana Bay during which a visiting chef from sister island Little Cayman prepared conch pâté. It was amazing and unique. Between December and the end of February, spiny lobster is in season. It's much different than Maine lobster; it's a bit chewier, but also much bigger.

    If you really want a taste of the Caymans, keep your eyes peeled for lionfish. It's a tiny little fish covered with venomous spines that has invaded the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Several chefs, including Thomas Tennant of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink at Camana Bay, have led a crusade against the lionfish because they eat other baby fish such as grouper. It's quite a feat to catch them (you have to be very careful and use a spear gun), a job you should leave to the pros, but it's so delicious.

    And if you're looking for fine dining, head straight to Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The seafood-focused restaurant serves up delectable dishes such as tuna-foie gras, which is a locally caught tuna that's pounded until it's paper-thin and served with foie gras and a toasted baguette.

    For the ultimate in celebrity chefs, plan your trip during Cayman Cookout, which Eric Ripert hosts each year. Not only to top-tier chefs prepare amazing meals before your eyes, but it's also small enough that you can get some up-close-and-personal time with these top toques.
  • On November 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to stay in the Cayman Islands?

    With three islands to choose from — Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac — there are plenty of luxurious places to stay on the Cayman Islands. Here are five that Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend:
     
    1. Grand Cayman Beach Suites. A boutique hotel that feels like a ritzy all-inclusive resort, Grand Cayman Beach Suites features a 24-hour gym, a shopping center, a spa, two fine dining restaurants and a swim-up bar. But our favorite part of this luxe hotel is the suites, which all feature high-tech amenities and balconies with ocean views.
     
    2. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. With 365 rooms, this massive hotel (the second largest on the island) caters to your every need — whether you’re using the complimentary kayaks or nursing a cocktail at the bustling beach bar. Make time to dine at Blue by Eric Ripert, a great seafood restaurant from the Five-Star chef.
     
    3. Southern Cross Club. For a more intimate experience on the Cayman Islands, check in to Southern Cross Club, which boasts just 12 rooms and a fishing-lodge feel. You’ll enjoy rustic décor, along with plenty of opportunities for diving, boating and fishing.
     
    4. Cotton Tree. Located in a secluded part of West Bay, Cotton Tree is a small boutique hotel that’s lined with pastel-colored cottages. Each one comes with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, private patios and high-tech perks like iPod docks and Wi-Fi. There’s also a freshwater pool onsite, and the famed Seven Mile Beach is just a 10-minute drive away.
     
    5. Caribbean Club. These oceanfront villas have large bedrooms, private balconies and fully equipped kitchens. But our favorite part of the Caribbean Club is the pool and cabanas that overlook Seven Mile Beach.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best thing to bring home from the Cayman Islands?

    When you visit the Cayman Islands, one of the best things to bring back home is its famed liquor. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend the national rum of Grand Cayman: Tortuga. And you won’t have any trouble find it — Tortuga liquor stores are sprinkled throughout the island. Another favorite Cayman Islands souvenir is the freshly baked Tortuga Rum Cake, which is sold at the Tortuga Duty Free and Cake Factory on George Town Harbor. This company was started by a couple and is now the largest duty-free and retail liquor business in the Cayman Islands. The rum cakes are so popular that they have opened several locations and offer different flavors.
  • On September 27, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Cayman Islands food experiences?

    The Cayman Islands offer unique food experiences, filled with fresh fish and local produce. One of our favorite ways to get a taste of the islands is by hitting up a fish fry on Grand Cayman. Traditional fish fry huts line the streets throughout the island; ask around for a good one or check out Chester’s Fish Fry, which is a popular spot with the locals. Another great food experience is attending a local festival, such as the Cayman Cookout, which was hosted by Eric Ripert in 2012. After Ripert opened his restaurants at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, he decided to launch this food festival at the hotel and celebrate food, wine and, of course, the beauty of the island. The festival brings prestigious chefs, wine experts and mixologists to the islands to offer tastings and demonstrations.
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