15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Cayman Islands
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 watersports and beachfront resorts. 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. 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.
1 Seven Mile Beach
Sublime Seven Mile Beach frequently graces lists of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Fringed with casuarinas and coconut palms, this ravishing sweep of flour-soft sand and turquoise sea flanks the island's main road north from George Town. Even with cruise ship passengers visiting its shores, this broad stretch of beach provides a peaceful patch of sand for everyone and is usually free of roaming vendors. The entire beach is public and impeccably maintained.
Address: West Bay Road, Grand Cayman
Accommodation: Where to Stay in the Cayman Islands
2 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 sand bar 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.
Location: Raleigh Quay, Grand Cayman
3 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.
But this cute tourist town also offers a clutch of other worthwhile tourist attractions. Cayman Islands National Museum displays historical and ecological exhibits, and art lovers will appreciate the fine collection of local art and themed temporary exhibitions at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, with its beautiful sculpture gardens and Art Cafe. A few minutes' drive from here, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Visitor Centre is a great place to learn about the island's natural history.
4 Editor's Pick Diving
Surrounded by reefs, the Cayman Islands are one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean, with many of the top sites lying only minutes from shore. Divers rave about the diverse coral formations, caverns, grottos, tunnels, wrecks, steep walls, and excellent visibility. Off Grand Cayman, Stingray City is one of the most famous shallow dives in the world, and 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). Snorkelers can see some of the island's spectacular underwater life right from the beach at Smith Cove and see turtles at 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
AtlanAtlantis 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.
tis Submarines offer visitors a chance to experience the underwater world without getting wet. This 48-passenger submarine takes tourists down to depths of 30 meters where they can peer through the submarine's large viewing windows at the 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 is a research and breeding farm housing two species of sea turtles: green sea turtles and a small number of endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. It raises turtles for local consumption to counteract poaching in local waters and is also a conservation facility, releasing turtles into the wild. Touch tanks and wading pools provide plenty of opportunities for animal lovers to see these gentle creatures up close and even hold baby turtles, and Smiley's Saltwater Lagoon is home to a nine-foot saltwater crocodile, the first found in the islands since the mid-1950s. For an upgrade in the admission price, you can enjoy the attractions at the adjoining marine park, including an aviary full of tropical birds, a fish-filled snorkeling lagoon, swimming pools, and a replica of a typical Cayman street lined with gingerbread houses.
Address: 825 NW Point Road, West Bay, Grand Cayman
7 Bloody Bay Marine Reserve, Little Cayman
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
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 fifteen 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.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near East End
9 Mastic Reserve and Trail
The Mastic Reserve on Grand Cayman is designed to protect an area of dry subtropical forest, which is typical to the Caribbean but disappearing through deforestation. Within the reserve, the three-kilometer-long Mastic 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.) You can arrange tours through the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Visitor Centre.
Address: Frank Sound Road, Grand Cayman
10 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 see the blue iguanas is to book a ticket at the entrance to the park for the 11am guided tour. Nature lovers will also enjoy hiking the Mastic Trail, about a five-minute drive from here.
Address: Frank Sound Road, North Side, Grand Cayman
11 Pedro St. James National Historic Site
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 multi-media 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
12 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 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 interesting information about the plants and animals of the area as well as the geology of the caves.
13 The Bluffs and Caves of Cayman Brac
A thirty-minute flight from Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac is the second biggest of the three Cayman Islands and is 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.
14 Camana Bay
A few minutes north of George Town by car, Camana Bay is a new pedestrian-friendly waterfront development with restaurants, shops, a cinema, interactive fountains, and an Observation Tower. You can enjoy 360-degree views across Seven Mile Beach, George Town, and the North Sound from the top of the tower, and the development's Town Square hosts community events as well as a popular farmers' market.
Address: Market Street, Grand Cayman
On the north coast of Grand Cayman, sinister black rock formations inspired the naming of the town Hell. In 1962 Hell opened its own district post office for those who wanted to mark their visit to Hell officially. The post office is now painted bright red and a resident "devil" dispenses witticisms along with souvenirs. A sturdy boardwalk provides easier access to view the rock formation.
Address: West Bay, Grand Cayman
Other Must-See Destinations in the Western Caribbean
A short flight from the Cayman Islands, Jamaica has a colorful African vibe and gorgeous scenery, from lush mountains and waterfalls to palm-lined beaches. For information on the top attractions, best areas to stay, and tropical adventures on the island check out our pages on Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. Also in the Western Caribbean, Cuba is a window into the past. See our pages on Old Havana, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba to find out about the country's best beaches and historical attractions.