The charming Cayman Islands continue to be a coveted Caribbean getaway, providing for both adventurous and more immobile travelers. Gorgeous barrier reefs call to divers as the rum punch calls to the beach bums. Honeymooners hike through the 200-year-old Mastic Trail as parents take their children for interactive swims at Stingray City. Whichever way you choose to mellow out, the Cayman Islands can oblige. continue»
- #1 The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
- #2 Grand Cayman Beach Suites
- #3 The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
See the Best Hotels in Cayman Islands»
The best time to visit the Cayman Islands is between May and July, when the hotel rates drop. The Islands are warm year-round, with average highs holding steady in the 80s. January and February are the coolest months with lows averaging in the lower 70s. The rainy season is from May through about late October -- though showers usually only last for a couple hours at a time. The islands' location in the western part of the Caribbean shields them from being hit too hard by hurricanes.Best Times to Visit Cayman Islands»
Cayman Islands Neighborhoods
To see the Cayman Islands without the interference of commercialization, consider spending time on the less developed islands of Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. Still, you should make the larger, more tourist-convenient island of Grand Cayman your home base.
Located on the western end of the archipelago, Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands, and it's known for two activities: banking and scuba diving. Home to the islands' capital city, George Town, Grand Cayman is the commercial and cultural hub. However, you shouldn't necessarily expect an authentic Caymanian experience here, as the booming tourism industry has reshaped the island. The famous hotel- and restaurant-lined Seven Mile Beach is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, but visitors also choose Grand Cayman for its hiking trails and wildlife-watching opportunities.
Cayman Brac earned its name from its most distinctive natural feature -- a jagged limestone bluff (brac in Gaelic) that cuts across the center of the island. The brac is speckled with caves and has a sheer 140-foot cliff at its east end. Lacking the long stretches of quiet beach for sunbathing, Cayman Brac is the most different from its sister islands, but there are great spots for scuba diving, snorkeling, birdwatching and fishing. Residents of this island -- who refer to themselves as "Brackers" -- are just as relaxed and welcoming as their island, often engaging in conversation with tourists as they stroll in and out of local shops and restaurants.
Uncluttered and far from being dominated by tourists, the aptly named Little Cayman is quiet and "beckons to ecotourists who want to leave the bustle of city life behind," according to Fodor's. The smallest of all the islands features fantastic diving locations. Above water, this island features pristine beaches, lush wetlands and amazing nature reserves like the National Trust Booby Pond Nature Reserve, where visitors can come face-to-face with local animal life.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman experience little crime, but you should lock your valuables in the hotel safe for the duration of your trip; theft of small tech items like smart phones and laptops has been on the rise. There are also a few health issues to keep in mind during your trip:
Mind the sun
The sweltering Caribbean heat could take you by surprise, and travel sites suggest you take it easy on your first day on the islands. Remember to wear sunglasses, drink water and apply sunscreen regularly on the subsequent days of your trip. This will not only help you avoid sunburn, but also heat stroke, the symptoms of which include fever, chills, headache, nausea or dizziness.
Respect the bugs
Dusk in the Cayman Islands brings out the "no-see-ums," tiny gnats that like to pester and bite. Slather on the bug spray and insect repellent before heading out for a night on the town.
Dive with care
Divers in the Cayman Islands should receive proper training before attempting even the most basic expeditions, and never dive alone. Keep an eye on weather conditions, as strong currents can wreak havoc on your underwater adventure.
You also need to be cautious about decompression sickness, or "the bends," which can occur upon ascending to the surface too quickly (causing nitrogen bubbles to form in a diver's blood and tissues, and resulting in joint pain, itchy, swelling skin, confusion, loss of balance and shortness of breath). Swim to the surface slowly (no more than 30 feet per minute) and take breaks when ascending after deeper dives. If you feel the symptoms of decompression sickness, diving experts strongly advise seeking medical attention immediately.
The best way to get around the Cayman Islands is by car. Rental agencies and taxis are plentiful at the Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM), two miles south of the capital of George Town, Grand Cayman. Rental cars and mopeds are also available on the smaller Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Private boat operators are also available to get to either of those islands from Grand Cayman; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman also have their own airports with daily flights operated by Cayman Airways.Getting Around Cayman Islands»