All one needs to do is to see a photo of Seven Mile Beach to think, “I want to be there. Now.” The Cayman Islands’ most famous crescent of sand—and yes, it is really seven miles long (well, almost)—also happens to be home to some of the best resorts on its largest and most-visited island, Grand Cayman. Ideal for swimming, sunning, strolling and playing (there are watersports galore), these properties range from luxury enclaves (both grand an intimate) to more casual resorts that appeal to couples, groups of friends or families.
With a more low-key and remote vibe, beach resorts on lesser-known Little Cayman and Cayman Brac beckon divers and quiet-seekers. Whether you crave style and sophistication or a mellow vibe with cool activities, read on for the best resorts in the Cayman Islands.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Ritz-Carlton’s polished luxury seems like a natural fit for Grand Cayman, where the offshore banking industry lures the wealthy (or their representatives) for business purposes—with some leisurely indulgences on the side. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, located on Seven Mile Beach, delivers upscale ambience and amenities with a decidedly airy and modern tropical ambience thanks to a recent refresh to most of its 365 rooms.
Opened in 2006, the 144-acre property is designed to pamper with accommodation options that range from generously-sized 480-square-foot guest rooms to Seven South, a 20,000-square-foot suite configuration that sleeps 22 people in 11 rooms occupying the entire top-floor-wing of the Ocean Tower. The resort also features six bars and restaurants—including the AAA Five Diamond Blu by Eric Ripert, who helms Le Bernadin in New York—a gold course and a La Prairie Spa that’s a bit of cool Swiss alpine bliss in the tropics.
Families will also love the beachfront pool and the Ambassadors of the Environment program developed by Jean-Michael Cousteau for “living classroom” nature experiences.
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
Fresh from a $50 million renovation completed in early 2018 that refreshed all of its 343 rooms and suites and redesigned its swimming pool–which is the largest on the island, has a swim-up bar and is located oceanfront—The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa has been transformed into a contemporary enclave on one of the best stretches of Seven Mile Beach.
It features Caribbean modern décor with lots of woods and natural fabrics in a palette of soft blues and sandy tones and its rooms and suites are spacious (the smallest is 392 square feet) and offer a range of island, pool and ocean views. The resort has three restaurants under the direction of Chef Sandy Tuason: Ferdinand’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating options, while Tortuga Beach Grill & Bar offers al fresco lunch and dinner (plus happy hour) poolside.
The Beach House, the most upscale option, is known for its contemporary fare as well as a five-course tasting menu. Guests looking to enjoy Grand Cayman’s fabulous eater can book an array of watersports, while those looking to relax can head to the Hibiscus Spa.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa
Grand Cayman’s newest newly built resort—it opened in late 2016—brought Kimpton’s unique blend of vibrant lifestyle-inspired design and social gathering spaces to the Caribbean for the first time. Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, located on the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, features 266 rooms and suites, plus three bungalows housing six separate suites.
Eye-catching décor is a Kimpton specialty—as are nightly wine hours, held here in time to enjoy the sunset—and this property provides plenty of visual delights, from red and magenta accents in the rooms that really pop against the turquoise water outside to dreamy blue and green tile mosaics in the 8,500-square-foot spa. There are also two beachfront pools and four restaurants (among them Avecita for modern tapas-style tasting menus and Coccoloba for creative taco-fusion fare) and the property is pet-friendly, so if your dog likes the beach and is able to travel, he or she is in luck.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
Even if you’re not a Parrothead—as the most ardent fans of musician-turned-hotelier Jimmy Buffett are known—the 285-room Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman is a fun and affordable spot to chill—enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise or even end up wasted away again. Opened in early 2018 and located on a quiet cove just past the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, it’s definitely a flip-flops kind of place where the cheery beach-and-Buffett themed décor brighten the rooms (this was a renovation, not a new build) and the License to Chill Bar in the open-air lobby is a social gathering spot featuring live local music.
The property has three pools (two for adults, including a quiet pool and a small wading pool for kids), but isn’t beachfront. It’s set back about 100 yards from a sandy private cove that’s fronted by Sunset Cove condo buildings (so most rooms are pool or garden view, not ocean view). But the water is clear and calm and it’s a short walk to the left from the front door to an access path to Seven Mile Beach.
Dining wise, guests can grab a casual bite at the poolside 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar or homemade pizza at Frank & Lola’s, while more sophisticated options await at Hawaiian chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1503 (a fusion of his Hawaiian-Japanese cuisine with some Caribbean twists) and Spread, an artisanal wine-bar/coffee bar.
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
Seeking an upscale beach house vibe on your next Caribbean vacation—but have a more modest budget? The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, located at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, aspires to deliver that experience. From the louvered wooden doors at the “beach house” entrance to the airy atrium with its modern wicker furniture to the lantern-light-strung patio lounge area, this property feels like a contemporary oasis.
Its 295 rooms and suites are decorated in a soft tropical palette with touches of playful patterns. They’re available in Deluxe (which have street or alley views), Courtyard View, Partial Ocean View or Ocean Front and range from 370 to 500 square feet. There are also three restaurants (and two bars)—Veranda on Seven Mile Beach for seafood and steak amid bohemian-chic décor, Anchor & Den for an eclectic mix of globally inspired/locally sourced dishes and Vista Bar for cocktails and casual lunch and dinner menus—and a new spa, Botanika Union, which focuses on holistic treatments.
The only caveat is the lack of recreation space, since the resort is located on one of the narrowest sections of the Seven Mile Beach (chaises are squeezed in tight) and there is a beachfront pool, but it’s on the small side.
Cobalt Coast Resort
This small resort on Grand Cayman appeals to guests whose main reason for visiting is scuba diving. Cobalt Coast Resort has just 21 air-conditioned rooms and three cottages set around a small private beach, but its location on a bluff in West Bay offers easy access (a short boat ride) to the island’s north and west dive sites as well as shore diving on the resort’s house reef and North Wall, which is just a quick swim away. Guests can also easily access Seven Mile Beach and Grand Cayman’s capital George Town by public transport or rental car.
Undergoing renovations that are slated for completion in late 2019, the property also features a pool and jetted hot tub, an open-air dining area for breakfast, lunch and dinner and Duffy’s Bar serving more casual fare (burgers, fish tacos, pasta). Packages include accommodations, dives and three meals daily.
Grand Cayman visitors who want more than a hotel room—as in a spacious one-to-three-bedroom residentially-inspired suite or villa—but with the amenities of a resort, should consider the boutique-style Caribbean Club. Located on Seven Mile Beach and featuring just 37 units, this upscale property offers space in open-floor-plan suites with full kitchens, gracious decor and an ocean view accommodating two to six guests and 2,700-sqaure-feet three-bedroom villas, some beachfront and others overlooking the pool.
The property also has on onsite restaurant, Luca, which features Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner (and is known for offering gluten-free options) as well as brunch on Sunday.
Wyndham Reef Resort
The Wyndham Reef Resort delivers an ease-oriented vacation experience (guests can opt for room-only or room plus three meals, beverages and watersports) and is located on the island’s less-developed East End, which appeals to those seeking a more low-key ambience than resort-lined Seven Mile Beach. And yet this is Grand Cayman, so the sand on the resort’s beach is just as powdery soft and the water is beautifully clear, with the added bonus of great snorkeling on reefs right off shore and a full onsite dive program.
Accommodations are in studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom condos with kitchenettes or kitchens—and all are beachfront with water views. There are two restaurants, Tides for international and Beach Bar for appetizers and local specialties, and a Le Soleil Spa to further ease into the laid-back East End vibe.
Southern Cross Club
This colorful outpost on Little Cayman—the 10-square-mile sibling on Grand Cayman famous for its dive sites and beautiful beaches—has been luring seekers of “barefoot elegance” to its idyllic locale on 900 feet of white sand overlooking South Hole Sound since 1958. Now featuring 14 vibrantly-painted beach bungalows (all with air conditioning), Southern Cross Club is a mecca for divers (it offers onsite dive training) as well as fisherman, and is even a popular “get away from it all” honeymoon spot for couples who love water-based activities and a laid-back vibe.
And after a dive or fishing charter (jacks and bonefish are plentiful here), there are shaded hammocks where guests can unwind with a beer or cocktail. Restaurant-wise, there’s a main dining room offering a la carte selections and themed buffets on certain nights (rates include three meals a day), a screened dining pavilion and two lounges, the Loggerhead Bar and the poolside Tiki Bar.
Cayman Brac Beach Resort
Another top option for divers, Cayman Brac Beach Resort is, as its name implies, located on the third island in the Cayman Islands: 15-square-mile Cayman Brac. Situated on a wide beach on the island’s West End, the property offers 40 air-conditioned rooms (renovated in late 2015 and featuring soothing Caribbean inspired décor and either one king or two double beds).
When guests aren’t diving, they can chill at the large freeform pool and jetted hot tub, relax on chaises or in hammocks or enjoy casual locally inspired cuisine in the Tipsy Turtle Bar or a la carte fine dining in Island Prime restaurant (on Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays).