Compared to other Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman can seem like a very expensive little island to stay on. And it’s not a real big island which requires a multi-day stay, therefore cruising is a great way to experience Grand Cayman and check another Caribbean island off your travel checklist! While visiting the island there are a variety of things to see and do. If you just want a relaxing beach day, then you can’t find another one more heavenly than Seven Mile Beach. Or if you’re more adventurous, then there’s a great excursion to Stingray City that is a lot of fun.
That being said, you can definitely things to do when you visit if you want to come for a longer stay. We have been lucky enough to visit Grand Cayman as cruisers and also for a 5-day, long weekend trip. For our long weekend, we stayed in a VRBO and had a nice little babymoon in Grand Cayman that wasn’t too expensive. (Note, Grand Cayman was declared Zika free as of August 2017).
- 1 Unique to Grand Cayman (10 Things to Do in Grand Cayman):
- 2 Points of Interest Noted on Map:
- 3 Adventures and Sightseeing in Grand Cayman:
- 3.1 Stingray City
- 3.2 Send a Postcard from Hell
- 3.3 Cayman Turtle Center
- 3.4 Tortuga Rum Factory
- 3.5 See the Blue Iguanas at the Botanical Gardens
- 3.6 Seven Mile Beach
- 3.7 Bioluminescent Bay
- 3.8 Starfish Point
- 3.9 Rum Point
- 3.10 Wreck of the Ten Sails
- 3.11 The Blowholes
- 3.12 Crystal Caves
- 3.13 Next time I visit Grand Cayman:
- 4 Shore Excursions in Grand Cayman:
- 5 Long Weekend (5 DAY) Itinerary for Grand Cayman:
- 6 Transportation in Grand Cayman:
- 7 Lodging in Grand Cayman:
- 8 Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks in Grand Cayman:
Unique to Grand Cayman (10 Things to Do in Grand Cayman):
- Stingray City
- Send postcards from Hell
- Cayman Turtle Center
- Tortuga Rum Factory
- Seven Mile Beach (7 Mile Beach)
- Bioluminescent Bay (AKA, the “Bio Bay”)
- Blue Iguanas
- Starfish Point
- Wreck of the Ten Sails (Seven Sails per Google Maps?)
- The Blowholes
Points of Interest Noted on Map:
Adventures and Sightseeing in Grand Cayman:
If you look at Grand Cayman, it is shaped like the letter “U”. Stingray City is a sandbar out in the middle where there are tons of stingrays. There are a lot of tours that will take you to Stingray City. You can book through the cruise ship or make arrangements to be picked up at your hotel.
Send a Postcard from Hell
Hell is a field of short black limestone formations that look like they belong on another planet, not a Caribbean island. After a quick look at the formations, the fun thing to do here is to visit a gift shop and buy and send postcards to your family, postmarked from Hell. 🙂 There are excursions that go here, or if you’re on the island with a car, it’s easy to visit by yourself. The admission is FREE.
Cayman Turtle Center
Grand Cayman has a turtle FARM where they raise turtles and sell their meat. Yea, it sounds weird to me to and also a bit sad. However, in addition to raising turtles, they also conduct a bunch of research and participate in the conservation of turtles. From a tourist’s perspective, the farm is basically a large aquarium/zoo dedicated to sea turtles, but with a few other species as well. They do not draw a lot of attention to the fact that it’s a farm. The very best part was the tanks where visitors could actually hold young sea turtles.
Tortuga Rum Factory
The Tortuga Rum Factory is based in Grand Cayman. We didn’t actually see the factory, just one of their big stores. On our “Best of Grand Cayman” excursion, the tour guide stopped at a Tortuga Rum Store where visitors could sample different flavors of rum and buy souvenirs. We picked up a couple of multi-packs of rum flavors and rum cakes to bring back to our coworkers. The store has an arrangement with the cruise ship and they bring all of your liquor back to the boat for you so that you can get it when you debark at the end of your cruise.
See the Blue Iguanas at the Botanical Gardens
If you are staying on the island, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park is another nice stop. Every day at 11 am, they have a tour of their Blue Iguana Sanctuary where they are working hard to save the Cayman Blue Iguanas from endangerment. The cost of the tour was only $20 when we were there and every penny goes to the blue iguanas. If you aren’t able to take the tour, you may still get lucky and see a blue iguana wandering the gardens. This species of blue iguana is only found on Grand Cayman.
Seven Mile Beach
An inexpensive stop in Grand Cayman is the beautiful Seven Mile Beach. It’s just a short taxi ride from the cruise ship pier to one of the public access points. From the beach you can rent beach chairs and spend the entire day relaxing. It’s heavenly. I’ve been to a lot of Caribbean islands and it’s my second favorite beach (only to Long Baie in St. Martin). The sand is very soft and there are hardly any rocks! There are other beaches in Grand Cayman but they just don’t compare.
On the North side of Grand Cayman there is a bay that is home to bio-luminescent organisms. At nighttime when it’s not a full moon you can take a tour to see and play with the glowing water.
Starfish Point is just how it is described. It’s a beach surrounded point of land which gets covered with starfish looking for sunlight. We visited it two different times. The first time we drove there (it’s close to Kaibo Yacht Club and Rum Point). We hardly saw any starfish! Then when we went on our shore excursion we saw lots. We realized that the reason we didn’t see them the first trip is because it was early morning and the starfish were in the deeper parts of the water! Later in the day they creep closer to shore! If you visit, do not bring the starfish out of the water, the exposure to oxygen harms them. Note that in all of our photos the starfish is being held below water.
Rum Point is a beach area on the North/East side of the Island. It has several restaurants and is also a place that shore excursions may visit. We were unimpressed with this beach compared to the beautiful sand and water at Seven Mile Beach. The water is definitely not pretty and its covered in sea grass.
Wreck of the Ten Sails
There was a historic shipwreck off the east end of Grand Cayman in 1794. Legend has it that a member of the British Royal Family was aboard and rescued by heroic islanders. As a result Grand Cayman doesn’t pay taxes to the United Kingdom. From this lookout point you can see the masts from several shipwrecks.
If you rent a car and follow the one main road around the East end of the island you will pass signs for The Blowholes. Follow the stairs down to the ocean and you will see places where the waves shoot up through the rocks. It’s a quick little stop for photos.
A set of caves located on the Northern side of the island. We didn’t tour these because we had to just saw the caves in the Turks & Caicos. I believe you need reservations in advance to tour them.
Next time I visit Grand Cayman:
- Finally get to ride in their submarine
- Spend more time at Seven Mile Beach (seriously loved it there)
Shore Excursions in Grand Cayman:
Stingray City, Coral Gardens, & Starfish Point Combination Tour
We believe the best shore excursion in Grand Cayman is to visit Stingray City! We booked a 3-stop tour through Viator which took us snorkeling in the Coral Gardens, swimming at Stingray City , and lastly to Starfish Point. It was a great tour and we left with a bunch of awesome photos. Note: we booked this tour when staying on the island and met up with the tour at the marina. They will also pick you up straight from the cruise ship pier.
Snorkeling in the Coral Gardens – The coral gardens are areas of shallow coral in the lagoon of Grand Cayman, not to far from Stingray City. You will frequently see stingrays in this area as well.
Pet Stingrays in Stingray City – Stingray City is a shallow sand bar near the top of the Grand Cayman lagoon. Huge wild stingrays come right up to boats of tourists. We got to hold one and got several awesome pictures taken. (A jump drive with the pictures costs extra). They also let everyone feed a stingray a piece of squid. It’s a perfectly safe and harmless experience for tourists and the stingrays seem to seek out the attention.
Hunt for Starfish at Starfish Point – Starfish Point is just incredible. You simply wade in the shallow waters of the point and look for starfish, which is pretty easy because they are everywhere. You can pick them up and hold them, just do not harm them by taking them out of the water.
Book this exact tour by following this link:
Note: We are an affiliate of Viator which means we do receive compensation when you use our link to purchase your tickets. There is no additional cost to our readers.
The Best of Grand Cayman
For our cruise shore excursion in Grand Cayman, we booked a bundle tour with Carnival called something like “The Best of Grand Cayman”. The tour promised a submarine ride, and then a bus tour around the island, stopping at Hell on Earth, the Turtle Farm, and the Tortuga Rum factory (all discussed above). Sadly, the winds were very strong the day we visited Grand Cayman and the submarine tour was cancelled. But we were given a refund for part of the tour cost and away we set off on our bus tour around the island. It was a really nice tour for someone who doesn’t want to go to the beach or swim.
Bioluminescent Bay Tour
You won’t be able to take this tour if you’re on a cruise ship because the tour happens at night. When we stayed on Grand Cayman, we booked a Bio-Luminescent Bay Tour through Cayman Kayaks. You can tour the bay by Kayak or by boat. We ended up touring by electric boat since I was 6 months pregnant. It’s pretty neat. They built the boat special in order to preserve the bioluminescent organisms and keep from harming them with a gas engine. We met our tour at Rum Point in the evening, just after dark. It worked great since we were already staying at Kaibo Yacht Club. After everyone checked in, we boarded the boat and took off. It was a short (less than 30 minute ride) to the bioluminescent bay. While there we got to dip our toes in the water and play with the glow. The guide was really good and it was a quite educational tour. Sadly I don’t have any good pictures since it was dark.
Long Weekend (5 DAY) Itinerary for Grand Cayman:
As menionted above, Grand Cayman is Ziki-free as of August 2017! Therefore we picked it for our babymoon over President’s Day weekend in February of 2018. We rented a car and stayed at the Kaibo Yacht Club. The Kaibo Yacht Club is pretty far away from Seven Mile Beach, but renting a VRBO was better for our budget. This itinerary works for anywhere you stay, just add an extra hour for travel each direction if you are coming from the Kaibo area. Below is our Itinerary:
Day 1 – Fly into Grand Cayman in the Morning, Pick up Rental Car, Spend Evening lounging Poolside. Eat Dinner near your lodging (Ex. Kaibo Yacht Club’s Beach Bar & Grill). Do a Bio-luminescent Bay Tour.
Day 2 – Seven Mile Beach Day. Lunch at Rackam’s on Seven Mile Beach, Spend afternoon lounging on Seven Mile Beach, Visit Hell of Earth (and you have plenty of time to visit the Tortuga Rum Factory and/or Cayman Turtle Center on your own if you haven’t already been.)
Day 3 – Stingray City, Coral Gardens, and Starfish Point Excursion. Get up early in the morning to drive around the Island and catch the boat to Stingray City. Eat lunch at Calico Jack’s on Seven Mile Beach. Spend the evening at the pool at the Kaibo Yacht Club or have a nice dress-up dinner at the Lighthouse.
Day 4 – Road-trip around the East End. First stop, Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens. The Blue Iguana tour is at 11am. Then get back in the car and visit the Blowholes, Wreck of the Ten Sails, eat lunch at Tukka, and (you have plenty of time to visit the Crystal Caves if you desire). Spend evening at Rum Point or Kaibo Yacht Club poolside.
Day 5 – Breakfast at Over the Edge on the way to the airport. Fly home!
Transportation in Grand Cayman:
Cruise ships have to tender at Grand Cayman so plan on it taking extra time to debark the cruise ship.
If you are staying on the island, renting a car is easy. We rented from one of the rental car companies at the airport and didn’t have any issues. Just remember, they drive on the left in Grand Cayman! Also don’t be surprised if your car is a bit shabby, I think it’s just the Caribbean way of doing things.
Lodging in Grand Cayman:
Lodging can be expensive on Grand Cayman. It’s a great place to visit by cruise ship, or you can do what we did and rent a property and save some money. We really enjoyed our location at the Kaibo Yacht Club and our only complaint is that it was an hour drive to get back to Georgetown for some of our activities. We rented through www.caymanvacations.com.
Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks in Grand Cayman:
There are a ton of restaurants in Grand Cayman. We only got to try a few of them. But below are our impressions, organized based on their location.
Near Seven Mile Beach:
Located within walking distance of the cruise ship port, Rackam’s is an outdoor restaurant that serves lunch and dinner with traditional grilled beach food. It also has a ladder where visitors can swim right next to the diners. There are a ton of huge fish in the water at Rackam’s that get fed on a daily basis.
Calico Jack’s Bar & Grill
One day we visited Calico Jack’s and had a quick American meal at a picnic table on the beach. They serve simple things like hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. Nothing fancy and I’ve definitely had better food elsewhere for the price, but the view is pretty nice.
On the Eastern Part of the Island:
If you are staying on the island, we had a really nice dinner at the Lighthouse near Bodden Town. It’s a bit pricey, but honestly, all of Grand Cayman is and our meal was the best of the week.
Over the Edge
On the North Side of the island, there was a small restaurant called “Over the Edge”. We stopped for brunch one day and really enjoyed it. It was the most affordable option that we came across.
If you have a car, drive all the way to the East End of the Island and stop for lunch at Tukka, an Australian/Caribbean restaurant. Lunch was fantastic, just don’t stop if you are in a hurry, we were easily there for 2 hours, although the food and the view were worth it!
Tips/ Things to Know before Visiting Grand Cayman:
- Cruise ships have to tender in Grand Cayman.
- Cars drive on the LEFT side of the road.
- The Wreck of the Ten Sails memorial is on Google Maps in the lower Southeast corner of the Island near where it says “Wreck of the Seven Sails”. The location on Google Maps which puts it on the North side of the island is incorrectly placed.
My Time Spent on the Island:
- 1 day cruise port in January 2015, on the Carnival Magic
- 5 days (4 nights) in a VRBO rental in the Kaibo Yacht Club in February 2018.
Hope you find our travel guide helpful!