The Cayman Islands are the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean chain with an average income of around $35,000. The island chain consists of three islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The prosperity of the Caymans comes from the distinction of having over 500 international banking institutions, and over 25,000 registered companies located on their shores. The Caymans don’t have the actual land mass to house 25,000 companies, instead they have a unique registering system which allows companies to be lawfully registered by paying a fee, and then hanging the companies’ plaque on the wall in a government building. It’s no wonder the Caymans are a haven for offshore investments that provide lucrative tax shelters.
The majority of vacationers to the Caymans are not interested in tax shelters, they come for the water sports, beaches and family friendly accommodations. Make no mistake about it, water sports are King in the Caymans. Here you find the deepest water in the Caribbean, and diving enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the Caymans every year.
The largest and most popular tourist island is Grand Cayman, which is home to the majority of hotels, restaurants and nightlife. The smaller islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have a small local population, limited accommodations and restaurants. What they do offer is a more secluded vacation spot with less crowded beaches, limited accommodations, great diving and snorkeling, local cuisine, and an opportunity to have more contact with the local population. The locals on these two islands feel that their big sister island has too many people, hotels, and traffic.
Most of the hotels on Grand Cayman are located on the famous seven mile beach. This island offers the best in accommodations, restaurants, and a variety of nightlife, activities, and the islands best beach. Seven mile beach is also home to many villas and condos, which makes the island a destination for families, and long term vacationers.
Americans won’t fine dining on Grand Cayman any different from their hometown. The food on the island is very much influenced by the U.S. You can fine gourmet restaurants across the island, fast food burgers, and lots of pizza.
Now if you’re looking for an island with lots of tropical flowers and color, you may be disappointed. The Caymans do not get much rainfall, and the island is covered with mangrove swamps, lots of cactus and lizards. The beauty of the Caymans is found in the water. The Caymans have very strict laws in regards to protecting the coral reef system, and the waters around the island are some of the most pristine in the Caribbean. Whether snorkeling or diving, you will be able to view an abundance of tropical fish, and the wonderful azure colored waters.
It’s fairly easy getting around Grand Cayman, but do expect traffic and remember driving is on the left. Interesting places to visit include the Turtle Farm, Stingray City, and the town of Hell.
The Turtle Farm is located on the north shore of Grand Cayman. Here you’ll find a first class research station and breeding farm. This is one of the few places in the Caribbean where visitors can get an up close look at these ancient giants. The huge green sea turtles are approximately six feet in length, and weigh up to 600 pounds. Even those not usually impressed by turtles will find the Turtle Farm of interest, and get some great photos.
Stingray City is home to some of the friendliest stingrays you’ll ever find. It’s hard to tell who’s having more fun, the tourist or the stingrays. As soon as the tour boat pulls up, the stingrays immediately appear around the area. The stingrays are used to being fed, so if you plan on interacting with them in the water, be prepared with food – preferably squid. It’s quite overwhelming to find a stingray completely hovering over your body looking for food. They don’t bite, but instead leave little “hickie” marks.
One of the most favorite towns is Hell, and the favorite destination here is the post office. Everyone wants to send a postcard stamped from Hell. The town sets on a jagged rock, looks rather desolate, and they are not many photo opps here.
The locals are quite friendly, always helpful, and rather formal in their greetings. The local population is a mix of African and European ancestry, and one of the more interesting attributes of the local black population is their reddish hair. The local codes prohibit nude bathing, and visitors are not allowed to walk around town in their bathing suits. Islanders are quite serious about their environment, and expect visitors to respect their reefs, waterways and beaches. Visitors found taking or damaging coral or fish will not be treated kindly by local officials.
Overall, the Caymans provide a great destination for water sports enthusiasts, families and beach lovers.