Grand Cayman is the gateway to the Cayman Islands and the most popular of the three sister isles. Stunning Seven Mile Beach is Grand Cayman’s pride and joy. Don’t miss the chance to paddle in the impossibly blue water and bask on the powder-soft sand. At Stingray City, the star feature is a gaggle of satiny southern Atlantic stingrays, with absolutely no fear of people. This remote sandbar is one of the Caribbean’s most famous shallow-water snorkel and dive spots, with water as clear and blue as a country club swimming pool. Better still, it will permanently cure anyone with a fear of these gentle creatures.
Serious divers will find some of the top dive spots a short kick from shore, typically with excellent visibility. Off the northern tip of Seven Mile Beach, Kittiwake Shipwreck & Artificial Reef is an Ex-US Navy submarine rescue vessel sunk in 2011. Stingrays and eagle rays are often spotted here. Other top dives include Devil’s Grotto, with tarpon at certain times of year, and North Wall, where stingrays, eagle rays and turtles often swim. At Smith Cove and Spotts Beach, snorkelers can see some of the island’s spectacular underwater life right from the beach.
Cruise ships glide into the capital, George Town, where you can shop ‘til you drop, browse the funky local art galleries, sample rum or beer and learn about the Cayman’s fascinating history and ecology at the Cayman Islands National Museum.
Want to escape the cruise ship crowds? Head to the East End for fantastic dive and snorkel sites and authentic island food. Not far from here, on the island’s northern tip, hammock-slung Rum Point is a hot spot for a cool drink. Try a Cayman Colada, one of the islands’ signature cocktails.
Nature lovers can get their fix on the island’s lush hiking trails or deep in the Cayman Crystal Caves, with colonies of bats and a crystal-clear lake. The three-kilometer-long Mastic Trail weaves through wetlands and forests, and at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, you might even spot the endangered blue iguana amid the tranquil ponds and palm forests. Animal lovers can commune with turtles at the Cayman Turtle Center, and the kids can cool off at the adjacent water park. You can even visit Hell. Rugged and razor-sharp, this apocalyptic-looking sea of lava rock in West Bay is a nod to the locals’ sense of humor. Stop by to send a postcard to your buddies back home.