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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Cayman Islands

Written by Karen Hastings
Nov 17, 2020

A British Overseas Territory in the Western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands offer some of the best diving in the world. Crystal-clear waters in striking shades of blue slosh upon the shores of this trio of tropical isles, which includes Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Coral reefs ring all three islands, shipwrecks are scattered off their shores, and steep underwater walls teem with marine life.

The popular cruise port of Grand Cayman is the largest and most Americanized of the three islands. Stunning Seven Mile Beach is its crown jewel, with a range of water sports and beachfront resorts.

Hammock on idyllic Seven Mile Beach

Besides basking on the island's powdery shores, other popular things to do include swimming with stingrays, diving, snorkeling, hiking, duty-free shopping in the colorful capital of George Town, and escaping to the island's tranquil East End. Grand Cayman is also where you'll find the most happening Cayman Islands nightlife.

Cayman Brac lures nature lovers with its craggy coastline, deep caves, and slower pace. Little Cayman is positively sleepy, but it offers some of the best dive sites in the world, as well as excellent fishing along its bonefish flats and in Tarpon Lake.

For more details on the best places to visit, read our list of the top attractions in the Cayman Islands.

1. Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach

Sublime Seven Mile Beach frequently graces lists of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and for good reason. Fringed with casuarinas and coconut palms, this ravishing sweep of flour-soft sand and turquoise sea is the kind of place you dream about.

Despite its name, it's actually only about 5.5 miles, but even with cruise ship passengers flocking to its shores, this broad stretch of beach provides a peaceful patch of sand for everyone. It's also usually free of roaming vendors.

Some of the top Cayman Islands hotels and resorts fringe the shores, and you'll find plenty of places steps from the sand to buy snacks and refreshments.

The entire beach is public and impeccably maintained. It flanks the island's main road north from George Town, making it hard to keep your eyes on the road when you're driving along this stretch.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in the Cayman Islands

2. Stingray City

Stingray City

Anyone with a fear of stingrays will be cured after this trip. Stingray City is one of the most famous shallow water snorkel and dive sites in the Caribbean and one of Grand Cayman's top tourist attractions.

Custom-built boats zip out to a shallow sandbar surrounded by crystal-clear water where you can feed, kiss, and cuddle these satiny creatures. If you're a little frightened to touch them, you can kneel on the sandy bottom and just watch in awe as these gentle creatures glide all around you.

Snorkeling, diving, and swimming are all popular ways to enjoy this attraction.

3. George Town

George Town

George Town, an offshore banking hub and Cayman's attractive capital, comes alive when cruise ships arrive. Shopping is one of the most popular things to do here, and many of the duty-free shops and art galleries are housed in colorful gingerbread buildings along the harbor front.

This cute tourist town also offers a clutch of other worthwhile tourist attractions. Cayman Islands National Museum displays historical and ecological exhibits.

For art lovers, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is a must-see. This bright, modern venue exhibits an exceptional collection of local art, as well as themed temporary exhibitions featuring Caymanian and international artists. You can also admire the beautiful sculpture gardens and relax at the Art Cafe. This is one of the top free things to do in the Cayman Islands, and it's a great place to visit on a rainy day.

A few minutes' drive away, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Visitor Centre offers information on everything you want to know about the islands' natural history.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in George Town

4. Diving in the Cayman Islands

Diving in the Cayman Islands

Surrounded by reefs, the Cayman Islands are one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean. Best of all, many of the top sites lie only minutes from shore. Diving highlights include diverse coral formations, caverns, grottos, tunnels, wrecks, and steep walls, and the visibility is typically excellent

Off Grand Cayman, Stingray City is one of the most famous shallow dives in the world.

If wreck diving is more your thing, the Kittiwake Shipwreck & Artificial Reef, off the northern tip of Seven Mile Beach, is an Ex-US Navy Submarine Rescue Vessel sunk in 2011, where stingrays and eagle rays sometimes swim.

Devil's Grotto offers crevices and swim-throughs, as well as tarpon at certain times of year, while divers at the North Wall might glimpse stingrays, eagle rays, and turtles (Babylon is a favorite site here).

Prefer to snorkel? You can see some of the island's spectacular underwater life right from the beach at Smith Cove, and turtles swim the clear waters off Spotts Beach.

Off Little Cayman, Bloody Bay Marine Park is an underwater wonderland, with Jackson's Bight and the famous Bloody Bay Wall, which plunges to depths of more than 1,800 meters.

Cayman Brac also boasts numerous excellent dive sites. The sunken Russian frigate, MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, off the island is one of the most famous wrecks in the world.

5. Atlantis Submarines

Atlantis Submarines

Atlantis Submarines offers a chance for you to experience the underwater world without getting wet. This 48-passenger submarine plunges to depths of 30 meters, where you can peer through the submarine's large viewing windows at kaleidoscopic vistas. Tropical fish, shallow reefs, underwater canyons, and even shipwrecks are just some of the sights to enjoy.

The company also offers night submarine tours and shallow-water excursions in their Seaworld Observatory.

Address: 30 South Church Street, George Town

6. Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter

Cayman Turtle Centre

Ever wanted to snorkel with turtles? At Cayman Turtle Centre, you can do this and so much more.

This research and breeding farm houses two species of sea turtles: green sea turtles and a small number of endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. The center raises turtles for local consumption to counteract poaching in local waters and is also a conservation facility, releasing turtles into the wild. But that's not all. You'll find a diverse array of attractions here, with something for every member of the family.

Touch tanks and wading pools provide plenty of opportunities for animal lovers to see these gentle creatures up close. You can even hold baby turtles and snorkel with them and other sea creatures in Turtle Lagoon. But beware of Smiley's Saltwater Lagoon, which is home to a nine-foot saltwater crocodile, the first found in the islands since the mid-1950s.

Other fun attractions include an aviary full of tropical birds, and Breaker's Lagoon, the largest pool in the Caymans, complete with waterfalls and an underwater viewing window that peers into the predator tank. You can even stroll along a replica of a typical Cayman street lined with gingerbread houses.

Little ones will also love the Butterfly Garden, and if you feel like you need a little more space, you can head out on the nature trail and look for more wildlife.

Address: 825 NW Point Road, West Bay, Grand Cayman

Official site: http://www.turtle.ky/

7. Bloody Bay Marine Reserve, Little Cayman

Barrel sponge on Bloody Bay Wall

The smallest and sleepiest of the three Cayman Islands, Little Cayman is known for its superb fishing and diving. Bloody Bay Marine Reserve lies just offshore here, with wreck sites and the famous Bloody Bay Wall.

Divers and anglers flock to the Southern Cross Club, a venerable resort with a top-notch dive operation and expert fishing guides, who take you to prowl the flats for bonefish or cast a line in the island's Tarpon Lake.

Little Cayman is also home to the Booby Pond Nature Reserve, a large breeding colony of red-footed boobies and frigate birds, and if you really want to feel like a castaway, you can paddle over to Owen Island, a deserted sliver of sand 180 meters from shore.

8. East End

East End | H. Michael Miley / photo modified

Far from the cruise ship crowds of George Town, the East End offers a slower-paced alternative to the popular attractions on the island's west coast. This side of the island also offers superb snorkeling, authentic island food, blowholes, secluded beaches, and excellent dive sites.

Only 15 minutes from the East End on the island's northern tip lies Rum Point, a peaceful pine-fringed cove slung with hammocks and volleyball nets. Lounging on the shores here with a cool refreshment and that special someone is one of the most romantic things to do in Grand Cayman.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near East End

9. Mastic Reserve and Trail

Mastic Reserve and Trail | David Stanley / photo modified

Need a break from the beach? The Mastic Reserve on Grand Cayman offers a different perspective of the island's natural attractions. It's designed to protect an area of dry subtropical forest, which is typical to the Caribbean but disappearing through deforestation, and you'll find a fascinating array of critters living here.

The best way to explore the reserve is along the Mastic Trail. This 3.7-kilometer-long trail takes you across jagged iron shore and through dry forest, silver thatch palms, and black mangrove wetland. Originally built more than 100 years ago, the trail was no longer used and became overgrown when the island's roads were developed. With much help and repair the trail was reopened in the mid 1990s.

Today, nature lovers can stroll along the well-marked trail and spot wild orchids; birds; and small animals such as lizards, frogs, and hermit crabs.

Guided tours are a great way to learn about the reserve's flora and fauna and are highly recommended. (Wear sturdy shoes and bring mosquito repellent and plenty of water.) You can arrange tours through the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Visitor Centre.

Address: Frank Sound Road, Grand Cayman

Official site: https://nationaltrust.org.ky/

10. Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

The Grand Cayman Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park preserves the island's flora and fauna, and if you're lucky, you might even spot the endangered blue iguana.

You can stroll the garden's peaceful paths past lily-topped ponds, palm gardens, woodland habitats, orchids, and colorful flowers. Plants and trees are labeled, and benches beckon from shady nooks.

Other animals living in the park include snakes, birds, lizards, turtles, and agoutis. History buffs and green thumbs alike will enjoy the Heritage Garden, with medicinal plants and a restored Caymanian cottage.

The best way to spot a blue iguana is to book a guided tour, offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm. Nature lovers will also enjoy hiking the Mastic Trail, about a five-minute drive from here.

Address: Frank Sound Road, North Side, Grand Cayman

Official site: http://www.botanic-park.ky/

11. Pedro St. James National Historic Site

Pedro St. James National Historic Site | KatieThebeau / photo modified

Ready for some Cayman Islands' history? About a 20-minute drive east of George Town, the Pedro St. James National Historic Site is home to a restored 18th-century plantation house known as Pedro's Castle.

One of the oldest buildings on the island, this elaborate three-story stone structure is known as the "Birthplace of Democracy in the Cayman Islands." It was here in 1831 that the decision was made to form the nation's first elected parliament. Today, you can tour the restored house and learn about its history during a 3D multimedia presentation in the theater.

Also on the grounds, the Hurricane Ivan Memorial tells the tragic story of the 2004 natural disaster. After touring the house, you can explore the surrounding woodland and admire the bluff top views.

Address: Pedro Castle Road, Savannah, Grand Cayman

Official site: http://pedrostjames.ky/

12. Cayman Crystal Caves

Cayman Crystal Caves

Tourists to Grand Cayman can now see a different side of the island by descending deep beneath the earth.

In 2016, Christian Sorensen began offering guided tours of caves on his lushly forested property on the north side of Grand Cayman, and they have quickly become a popular tourist attraction.

Formed over millennia, the caves are covered in contorted stalactites and stalagmites. Colonies of bats huddle in crevices, and a crystal-clear lake holds rainwater filtered through the rocks.

The 90-minute guided tours share fascinating information about the plants and animals of the area as well as the geology of the caves.

Official site: http://caymancrystalcaves.com/

13. The Bluffs and Caves of Cayman Brac

Cayman Brac's craggy coast | Lee Shoal / photo modified

A 30-minute flight from Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac is the second biggest of the three Cayman Islands. It's known for its dramatic coastal scenery, deep caves, and breathtaking bluff-top hikes.

The island is named for the 45-meter-high limestone bluff or "Brac" on its eastern tip, the highest point in the Caymans. Along the Brac, you can climb the steep walkway to a lighthouse with beautiful ocean views and look for nesting seabirds along the way.

Cayman Brac is also famous for its caves. Peter's Cave, Bat's Cave, Great Cave, Skull Cave, and Rebecca's Cave are among the easiest to access and the most popular. You can explore the caves on your own to see bat colonies, as well as stalactites and stalagmites.

Other things to do on Cayman Brac include hiking the scenic trail through the National Trust Parrot Preserve and diving the island's wrecks and coral reefs - the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, a sunken Russian frigate, is one of the top dive sites in the islands.

14. Camana Bay

Camana Bay | KatieThebeau / photo modified

Need a shopping fix? Camana Bay offers more than 40 shops and services, with more than 75 brands to satisfy your urge to splurge. This palm-studded, pedestrian-friendly outdoor mall sits on the waterfront a few minutes north of George Town, and you'll find more than just shops here. Specialty restaurants, a six-screen cinema, interactive fountains, and an Observation Tower round out all the attractions.

Climb the Observation Tower for 360-degree views across Seven Mile Beach, George Town, and the North Sound. The Town Square also hosts community events, as well as a popular farmers' market.

Are you looking for things to do in the Cayman Islands at night? Many of the more than 15 cafés and restaurants here are open until 11pm.

Address: Market Street, Grand Cayman

Official site: https://www.camanabay.com/

15. Hell

Hell

Wondering about the most unique things to do in Grand Cayman? How about a visit to Hell.

Sinister black rock formations on the north coast of Grand Cayman inspired the town's name, and it's an almost obligatory stop on the tourist sightseeing trail.

Most visitors stop by the town's tiny post office to send a "Greetings from Hell" postcard to their friends, and you can also officially mark your visit to hell with a stamp in your passport. At the tiny gift shop, a resident "devil" dispenses witticisms, along with souvenirs.

Want to take some photos of the hellish landscape? You can wander along the sturdy boardwalk for easier access to the jagged limestone rocks, which have been ravaged by the elements over millions of years.

Address: West Bay, Grand Cayman

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