From swimming with wild stingrays to eating your way across the Caribbean’s culinary capital, the Cayman Islands has an experience to thrill everyone.
Nestled in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands offers an abundance of bucket-list activities and experiences alongside miles of sandy white beaches and some of the world’s best diving. The destination has long drawn sun-seekers and wanderlusters from around the globe, and for good reason. What sets the Cayman Islands apart goes beyond its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. Here you can watch dawn rise at one with nature, explore the world’s most intricate coral reefs, relax in a hammock underneath a casuarina tree, and eat at a five-star restaurant – all in a single day.
The warm, friendly nature of its people creates an inviting atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean, and with year-round average temperatures of 28°C, (82.4° Fahrenheit) visitors can expect a warm welcome in more ways than one. To help plan your adventure in this carefree corner of the Caribbean, here is a list of the unmissable experiences on offer to inspire travels for 2022.
Swim with Stingrays
There’s nothing quite like a close encounter with these incredible marine creatures. One of the Cayman Islands’ most iconic attractions, Stingray City is a group of sandbars located a short boat journey from Seven Mile Beach. Visitors can interact directly with the majestic resident Southern Atlantic stingrays congregating on this sandy outpost.
Stingray City started decades ago when local fishermen would throw the remains of their catch into the shallow waters, attracting rays who would gather to feast on the scraps. The Stingray City rays have been accustomed to visiting boats and humans for decades, ensuring that snorkeling, wading, and swimming with these friendly wild rays is a unique experience that visitors won’t forget.
Swim with Horses Along the Deserted Shores of a National Park
With trails navigating stretches of white, sandy beaches bordering crystalline turquoise water, horseback riding in Grand Cayman is truly an unforgettable experience. Take a gentle walk on horseback alongside beautiful beaches, down quiet roads, and even out into the shallows for a refreshing bareback riding dip in the sea. Riding is available in West Bay, George Town, and North Side.
Riders are taken out to Barker’s National Park, in West Bay, where you are guided along the picturesque and often deserted shoreline of Barker’s beach. With horses to suit all riders, from complete beginners to highly experienced, horse riding is a terrific group or family excursion and also an incredible outing for couples – think moonlight romantic stroll. Depending on the ability of the rider, choose between long collected canters or a slower-paced walk. For those wanting a cool and refreshing dip in the sea, companies offer the option for a ‘sea swim tour’.
Climb the Sheer Limestone Rise of the Bluff
The highest point on Grand Cayman is just 24m above sea level so for views from a loftier height, head to the rugged sister island of Cayman Brac. This is the second-largest of the Cayman Islands and Brac is the Gaelic word for bluff – a fitting name for an island dominated by a cliff that rises with sheer vertical walls to nearly 150 feet. Its craggy limestone ridge has long attracted rock climbers and hikers to its shores. With regular flights from Grand Cayman (just 30 minutes), it is easy to get to but feels as if you are miles away. A population of less than 1500 makes for a peaceful setting full of adventure.
The rock climbing in Cayman Brac is world-renowned for its beautiful limestone. There are over 110 routes on the island with a wide variety of grades for all skill levels, making it ideal for learning to climb or taking your climbing abilities to the next level. As a bonus, you will be treated to breathtaking panoramas of the azure ocean from the top of your route. Abseiling is another thrilling way to experience the beauty of the bluff; walk down the ancient limestone cliff faces and take in the breathtaking views from a different angle.
Dive the Iconic Bloody Bay Wall
Little Cayman sits close to the Cayman Trench — the deepest point in the Caribbean – and is the location of Bloody Bay Marine Park. One of the most sought-after dive spots in the Caribbean, divers will be treated to a mesmerizing display of mustard-yellow tube sponges, deep red corals, and mini, purple-veined trees swaying in the water, all of which fall off to reveal the huge, deep void and marine life below.
Plunging an unfathomable 300m (980ft) below the ocean’s surface, it’s home to awesome anemones, fantastic fan corals, and vast schools of fish in all shapes, shades, and sizes. Regular visitors to the dozen-odd sites along the wall include eagle rays, turtles, lobsters, Nassau groupers, and triggerfish. Discover why this iconic site is beloved by divers around the world.
Eat Your Way Across the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean
The Cayman Islands is known for its varied gastronomic scene, with over 200 restaurants ranging from beachside fare to fine dining. The destination is home to an extraordinary variety of chef talent and extensive ‘farm-to-table’ and ‘ocean-to-table’ movements championing the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. For visitors eager to explore the local flavors and cuisine of the Cayman Islands, Prime Food Tours, created by Local Chef Dylan Benoit, offers several off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Choose from a variety of tours from an intro to local dishes called the Island Essential to an island-wide dine-around known as The Grand Tour, and everything in between. Whether you want to dip your toes or dive in head first, Prime Food Tours can accommodate small and large groups of families and friends looking for a real taste of the islands. Chef Dylan is also a font of knowledge about the three islands’ restaurant scene.
There is something revitalizing about sea air and sunshine — which perhaps explains why people have traveled to the seashore in pursuit of wellness since antiquity. It’s a tradition that continues to this day in the Cayman Islands. What sets the destination apart goes beyond its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters – it is truly a place that will allow you to pamper your body, relax your mind and soothe your soul. From massages to meditation, the Cayman Islands experience is one of relaxation in its purest, most refined form.
No one does water-based fitness on Grand Cayman better than Vitamin Sea. Owner Kiristen Cousins’ paddleboard yoga classes will challenge your body and your mind. Watching sea turtles swim by as you practice downward dog while being lulled by the gentle swaying of the ocean beneath your board feels downright magical. This experience will leave you feeling strong, refreshed, and relaxed.
Kayaking in Bioluminescent Bay
Paddle through a sea of iridescent, blue-green stars shining in the pitch-black ocean. There are only a handful of destinations where you can experience the bioluminescence phenomenon and the Cayman Islands is one of them. Bioluminescence is the emission of light from the extremely high concentrations of bioluminescent phytoplankton that live in the water. When disturbed, they emit a flash of light lasting a fraction of a second to scare predators but engage spectators.
Kayaking is a great way to experience the magic of the Bioluminescent Bay. Paddle leisurely from Rum Point to Grand Cayman’s Bioluminescent Bay on a comfortable double kayak under a blanket of stars. The low draft of the kayaks makes them easy to maneuver and suitable for all skill levels.
Nature Therapy with the Cayman Islands’ Famous Endangered Species
Spend a morning strolling through Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, a traditional Caymanian garden filled with flora and fauna including the giant blue iguanas. So named for their striking color (which gets even brighter during mating season) blue iguanas are Grand Cayman’s largest endemic species. They’re also seriously endangered; the park has bred them since 2001 as part of a recovery program. You can take tours to see these fascinating creatures at the habitat area or, if you’re lucky, glimpse them roaming freely among the soaring palms, wild banana orchids, and other exotic plants populating this tropical oasis.
Visitors to Little Cayman should head to Booby Pond to discover world-renowned flora and fauna up close. Covering over 300 acres, visitors can enjoy access to a large observation gallery, which overlooks the unspoiled terrain. Free to use state-of-the-art telescopes make it possible to catch a closer glimpse of the rare avian life that exists on the site, from the magnificent Frigate Bird to the West Indian Whistling Duck. The island’s comparative lack of human development means that it provides a home to some of the rarest wildlife in the Caribbean region – the Nature Reserve is a haven for rare populations of native plants and animals, including a resident colony of 4,000 Red-footed Boobies. The colony is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, believed to represent at least a third of the entire Caribbean and Atlantic population
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