Grand Cayman is a very popular port of call on Western
Caribbean cruises. It is particularly known for its underwater
attractions and for its shopping.
The island is very prosperous. In addition to being a popular
tourist destination, the Cayman Islands are a financial center.
There are some 250 banks registered in the Cayman Islands.
This does not mean that there are retail offices offering mortgages and car loans on every corner of George Town. Rather, the banks are there because the Cayman Islands are a tax haven. This has spawned a thriving financial services industry, which is a major part of the local economy. In fact George Town is the world’s fifth largest financial center.
Speaking of money, the Cayman Islands has its own currency, the Cayman Islands dollar, which is pegged to 80 percent of the U.S. dollar. Thus, one U.S. dollar equals 80 Cayman cents. U.S. dollars are widely accepted at that rate by local merchants. Most major credit cards are also accepted.
The Cayman Islands are not completely independent but rather a British Overseas Territory. However, since 1972 it has had its
own constitution. The highest official in the islands is the
governor, who is appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. He or she
presides over a cabinet, which has three members appointed by the governor and five ministers who are elected by the islands
George Town on Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman
Islands. It is a moderate-sized town with quite a few shops and
Located 150 miles south of Havana, Cuba and northwest of
Jamaica, Grand Cayman is the largest island in the Cayman
Islands. The other two islands that comprise this group are
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The vast majority of the islands’ population, approximately, 40,000 people, live on Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Islands are primarily made up of limestone, the
remains of ancient coral formations. Indeed, the islands are still surrounded by numerous coral reefs. As a result, the islands are generally low-lying - - the highest peek is only 60 feet high - - and there is little fresh water (the limestone is quite porous).
Above: The Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands
Below: Government House, the residence of the
representative of Her Majesty the Queen, the Governor of
the Cayman Islands.
Remembering the past - - Heroes Day ceremonies in George Town.
As noted earlier, Grand Cayman is renown for the undersea world that surrounds the island. Coral formations abound and are home to large populations of sea creatures. They are also the site of numerous interesting shipwrecks. Furthermore, the waters are very clear with underwater visibility ranging up to 120 feet, depending on the conditions.
All of this makes the Cayman Islands very popular for
snorkeling and scuba diving. However, you can also explore the aquatic world without getting wet via tourist submarines, semi-submersibles and amphibious vehicles.
One excursion that is very popular involves taking a boat to Sting Ray City (not shown), where guests can snorkel and swim in shallow water in close contact with numerous sting rays.
Many cruise passengers prefer to spend their day at Grand Cayman at the beach. The undisputed king of beaches on Grand Cayman is Seven Mile Beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand bordering turquoise water. It is a
well-developed area with numerous resort hotels adjacent to the beach. However, it is possible to find uncrowded stretches. (See our article on Seven Mile Beach).
While water-related activities tend to dominate, there are things to do on land. The provocatively-named rock formation known as Hell is a popular attraction. (See separate page). So is the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm (See separate page).
Most of the shopping takes place in George Town near where the cruise ship tenders dock. However, there are some popular shopping venues outside of the capital such as the Cayman Islands Rum Cake Factory.
Cruise destination travel guide - Grand Cayman - Grand Cayman home page,