Grand Cayman - Abbey Travel, Ireland

Grand Cayman


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Welcome to Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

Most of the population of the Cayman Islands live on the 78-square-mile (202 sq km) Grand Cayman, and every day thousands of visitors arrive, many of them on cruise liners, to besiege the narrow streets of the island capital, George Town, and delight in the beautiful beaches. The busy little colonial capital also draws its fair share of wheelers and dealers, being a major offshore investment centre with more than 500 banks.

The banking business has made Grand Cayman an affluent society, but decadence has not accompanied the wealth. There are no glitzy casinos and wild club venues here, and nudity on the beach is frowned upon. The natural attractions are enough to draw the crowds, however, with the coral reefs, clear waters and sandy beaches offering the chance to try out any watersport imaginable.

Information & Facts


Grand Cayman experiences good weather all year round with the trade winds keeping the climate temperate. Peak season runs between December and April while the rainy season runs from May to November, which also happens to be hurricane season. Many visitors choose to travel during the rainy season as prices are cheaper, the beaches less crowded and the rain comes in short, sharp bursts and clears relatively quickly.

English is the official language.

The Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. It is fixed to the US dollar at US$1.20. Currency can be exchanged at the banks, bureaux de change and many hotels. Banks are open Monday to Saturday. US Dollars are accepted as payment in most establishments and are the preferred currency for exchange as both cash and as travellers cheques. ATMs are widely available and major credit and debit cards are accepted.

Local time is GMT -5.

Boatswain's Beach is Cayman's premier attraction. It features the famous Cayman Turtle Farm as well as a one of a kind marine park, with 23 acres of reef lagoon in which guests can snorkel, and an Education Centre. When Christopher Columbus first discovered the islands in 1503, he named them 'Las Tortugas,' meaning The Turtles. According to legend, there were so many turtles that the islands looked like they were covered with rocks. They are now a protected species and the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm is home to thousands of turtles ranging in size from six ounces (170g) to 575 pounds (261kg) each. The priority of the farm is to maintain an ideal breeding environment. Breeding season runs from May to October, during which time the turtles dig their nests on the beach and produce their eggs. The eggs are immediately taken to the hatchery, where staff monitor the hatching process.

Guests at Boatswain's Beach can tour the Turtle Farm, and enjoy other attractions, including Cayman Street, which showcases a bit of the Cayman Islands' culture and history; a nature trail with colourful flowers and butteflies; a free-flight bird aviary; Boatswain's Reef, with a viewing panel into the Predator Reef; the Breaker's Lagoon swimming pool; and up-close-and-personal animal encounters at the touch tanks. Boatswain's Beach also has gift shops and restaurants to relax in.

A popular and slightly bizarre stop on any tour of Grand Cayman, Hell is a tiny village that features strange black limestone rock formations that are said to resemble the Underworld. Though Cayman residents are generally religious, residents of Hell show their sense of humour to tourists with a bright red post office that sends 'Postcards from Hell', and a gift shop where 'Satan' passes out souvenirs and inquires of visitors: "How the Hell are you?" The village, home to only 60 people, also features a restaurant and bar.

East of George Town is Pedro St James, the islands' oldest surviving building, originally built by an Englishman who arrived here in 1765. Local stories also associate it with the pirate Henry Morgan and a 17th-century Spaniard, Pedro Gómez. The house is touted as the islands' 'birthplace of democracy' - it was here in 1831 that the decision was made to vote for elected representatives, and four years later the Slavery Abolition Act was read here. Constructed around 1780 from quarried native stone, the house has been restored by the government as an historic site. Behind a traditional coral stone wall rises an authentic, three-storey early 19th-century great house and outbuildings, with traditional 'grounds' planted with pineapple, banana and other provisions. The adjacent acres are covered with luxuriant tropical plants, palm-lined walkways and a splendid manicured Great Lawn sprawling to a fantastic view over the Caribbean. A new 3D multimedia theatre shows a 20-minute film of the history of the castle, and there is a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Ivan.

The Caymans are better known for their sea life than habitation on the ground, but for keen botanists or those who would simply like a pleasant walk, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is hard to beat. A well-marked mile-long (2km) trail winds through lush, easy terrain, featuring almost 300 native species including roses, hibiscus, lilies and orchids - which bloom in late May and June. The park and lake is home to the endangered (and elusive) Blue Iguana, as well as a fascinating array of birdlife including parrots, herons, coots and the rare West Indian Whistling Duck. The nearby Mastic Trail meanders through the old-growth forest that once supplied early settlers with timber. The 26-hectare (65 acre) park is in the district of North Side, and is a 45-minute drive from George Town.

Rum Point Beach consists of hundreds of yards of crystal-clear shallow sand flats, perfect for snorkelling in a conservation marine park. It is a tranquil retreat where hammocks slung under shady trees, picnic tables, a sandy beach and warm shallow waters provide a relaxing haven for the day. Many watersports are offered, with easy access to North Sound, including jet-skiing, sailing, and kayaking, and snorkellers can explore the coral formations just off the beach. The shore is dotted with ultra-casual beach bars, and slipping into a hammock with a cocktail is the perfect way to spend a relaxing hour or two... or four!

Just north of George Town, Seven Mile Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand that curls around the west of the island. A bit of a misnomer, Seven Mile Beach is actually only 5.5 miles (8.8km) long, and is slowly shrinking due to erosion. A reef protects the coast and ensures that the water is calm and ideal for swimming and snorkelling. This is the most popular beach on the island and is bordered by dozens of hotels, but it is large enough to ensure sunbathers do not end up towel-to-towel. For day-visitors there are plenty of restaurants, beach bars, and even grilling facilities to relax in after a day of watersports. North of Seven Mile Beach is West Bay, the country's second largest town.

Stingray City and the Sandbar are snorkelling sites located in the North Sound, and are a must-visit for watersports enthusiasts. The clear shallow waters are frequented by friendly stingrays that come to find out what tidbits visitors have brought them. Boat tours take snorkellers and divers to swim with and feed the stingrays on bits of squid; they will brush against swimmers and allow themselves to be touched. This famous Cayman attraction was accidentally created by fishermen who used to clean their catch in the calm waters, casting bits overboard, and so attracting the Southern Stingrays to the area.

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