Above: The destination - - Seven Mile Beach.
Below: Harbor Drive in downtown George Town during a rare break in the traffic.
The sidewalk disappears at points along the way to the beach (above).
Much of the way to the beach has been developed. The shops, bars and restaurants along the way are convenient, however, if you need to buy something for the beach or stop for refreshments (below).
There are scenic spots along the way. Above: Crown Princess.
Below: Cunard's Queen Elizabeth.
Above: P&O Cruises' Oceana as seen from a rocky portion of the coast.
Below: Flowering plants along the way.
Seven Mile Beach, with its white sand and crystal clear waters, is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Grand Cayman. Indeed, it has been called the “best beach in the Caribbean.” But assuming that you want to go there during a port call in Grand Cayman, how do you get from the ship to the beach?
There are several ways to get to Seven Mile Beach but the starting point for all is Grand Cayman’s capital and urban center George Town. Grand Cayman does not have a pier capable of handling a modern cruise ship so visiting cruise ships anchor offshore. The passengers are then ferried into one of several piers in George Town using either the ship’s lifeboats or large local tenders. (Sometimes weather conditions prevent the ships from anchoring off George Town and they anchor on the other side of the island. Passengers are then usually bused into George Town).
Normally, your cruise ship will offer a shore excursion to Seven Mile Beach. These typically include transportation to the beach and often a beach chair and a complimentary drink. Some ships also have tours that allow their guests to use the facilities of one of the resort hotels along the beach. The advantages of taking one of the ship’s organized shore excursions is that the shore excursions staff does all of the thinking and logistical work. Also, you do not have to worry about the ship leaving without you.
A less expensive way of getting to the beach is to travel independently via the taxis that look for business around the tender piers in George Town. Of course, you do not know which drivers are the best beforehand. But this method of transportation does have the benefit of allowing you to come and go when you want, provided there is a taxi available at the times you want. (Look for one around the resorts for the trip back to the ship).
During one cruise, I had heard that some guests walk to Seven Mile Beach from George Town. Based upon my memory of the local geography, it seemed like this might indeed be possible. Since I like to walk this idea intrigued me and I decided to see how practical it was to do this during my next cruise to Grand Cayman.
Walking to the beach is relatively straightforward in theory. You go out of the gates of the tender pier, turn left and eventually you arrive at the beach. However, was it really that simple?
The road outside the gates of the tender piers is Harbor Drive. In George Town, when the cruise ships are in it is a busy street. The shops across the street from the piers are quite popular and so there are lots of people. The traffic has to slow down as the people cross the street and as cars and vans turn off to go to the piers or into the commercial district.
You do not have to cross the street, however, to make the journey to the beach. Harbor Drive (which becomes North Church Street and then West Bay Road) generally follows the shoreline. Heading north, you can stay on the left hand side all the way. But beware that the sidewalk disappears at various points and that you will have to walk either in the parking lot of one of the restaurants or shops or on the shoulder of the road.
I found the walk to Seven Mile Beach to be fairly substantial. At times, I found myself wondering whether I had somehow walked beyond my goal. However, after about a half hour of walking, I found myself at a stretch of beach that I liked.
Most of the way to the beach has been developed. In George Town, there are some multi-story office buildings reflecting the fact that Grand Cayman is an international financial center as well as a tourist destination. As you walk further, there are a few traditional residences but most of the buildings on either side of the street are shops and restaurants. These include shops specializing in scuba diving and water sports equipment as well as a shopping mall or two and, of course, the international fast food restaurants.
There are some scenic spots along the way. The buildings part and you can see the rocky shore a few yards off to the left. In the bay, the cruise ships are resting in the sun with tenders going to and fro.
All of the beaches in Grand Cayman are public beaches. However, they are bordered by private property and the owners of the property can prohibit the public from using their property. Therefore, look for the small brown signs with a drawing of a swimmer that say “beach access.” These indicate that the path is a public right-of-way to the beach. Some of the public access paths are easier to follow than others. As a result, you can find yourself lost in a condominium development or a commercial area.
Cruise destination guide - - Grand Cayman - - A Walk To Seven Mile Beach - page one