Top 10 Things to Do in the Cayman Islands

January 16, 2015

Grand Cayman is one nonstop flight from 14 U.S. cities (think about boarding a plane in Detroit or Philly or Dallas at 7 a.m. and landing here before lunch). All the major cruise lines also stop in Grand Cayman. Pass the tourist kiosks and follow us. This is how we do Cayman.

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10. Rum Point (45 minutes north from Georgetown): It feels good to leave the cruise port and airport traffic, and hit the island road to a quieter place not called “Seven Mile.” There isn’t as much competition for the hammocks and stools at the beach bars.
9. Over the Edge Bar (7 minutes east of Rum Point): There’s even less competition here on Old Man Bay. It’s come-as-you-are Cayman, in a structure slightly battered by the wind and sea. The view is best with a bloody Mary and some marinated conch.
**8. Wreck of the 10 Sails (15 minutes east of Old Man Bay): **Drive along Sea View Road to East End, where in 1794 a convoy of 10 ships wrecked on the surrounding reef. A memorial at this stunning view of the reef calls attention to the islanders who helped rescue crew members. Cargo salvaged included rum and cotton, which explains a few favorite items around the island.
7. Mermaid Statue (35 minutes west from East End): Meet a nine-foot tall, 600-pound woman off the island’s west coast near Georgetown. Made of bronze, she stands in water 55 feet deep. We call this the second-most novel underwater site (go to #2 for the other).
6. Caribbean Club (10 minutes north of Mermaid Statue): This could be our favorite hotel on all of Seven-Mile Beach. If for no other reason, the villas have walkouts directly onto the sand. Forget slippers; wear bedroom snorkel fins.
5. Calico Jacks (4 minutes north of Caribbean Club): Ranking this at No. 5 on a “Best of Caymans” list might be a reach for anyone looking for memorable food. We come for the location: a tin shack with a Southern-style wraparound porch directly on the beach. Have a couple of Caybrews and head north for a Cay-meal.
4. Heritage Kitchen (10 minutes from Seven Mile Beach): Fish tea. Coconut grouper. Oxtail soup. Conch soup. Turtle soup. The menu at this West Bay establishment leaves no doubt that the food is locally inspired.
3. Cayman Turtle Farm (3 minutes from Heritage Kitchen): It’s a dicey situation. The turtles are rescued. But some are, well, click back to Heritage Kitchen. Conservationists on the farm say they’re saving turtles by providing meat in rations, rather than allowing locals to harvest them at will. Regardless, the healthy 500-pound green sea turtles are stunning — and they weigh only a bit less than the underwater bronze mermaid (see #7). Make a full day of it by playing in the island’s biggest swimming pool (Breaker’s Lagoon).
2. Stingray City (10 minutes from the Turtle Farm): Yeah, SeaWorld has pettable stingrays. But these rays (some are mammoth) are found on sandbars in the North Sound, in nature. Pet them. Kiss them. Just don’t step on them. Cost for the boat tour is about $40 for adults and $25 for children.
1. Smith’s Cove (Back to Georgetown area): Before reboarding the ship or plane, stop here for a bonus swim. The water is Caribbean gorgeous, the beach Cayman white, and there’s cool shade. This place always reminds us how vital it is to keep snorkeling gear literally in arm’s reach when driving around the Cayman Islands.

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