Grand Cayman Island is a popular cruise stop in the Caribbean and full of amazing things to do and see. Make sure to check our guide for great ideas!
We visited Grand Cayman Island as the first port on our Caribbean cruise this past May and had an absolute blast! We did a bike tour of the city where we stopped in Hell, Grand Cayman (make sure to get your passport stamped!), a turtle sanctuary, a rum shop, and the beach.
Grand Cayman Island
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Grand Cayman Island
Taking a cruise to Grand Cayman is one of the most popular ways to get there. Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean.
George Town, its capital, is a major cruise-ship port and site of the ruins of colonial-era Fort George. Beaches and vibrant coral reefs are the island’s hallmarks. (Wikipedia).
What to Do in Grand Cayman Island
- George Town – As the capital of the Cayman Islands, George Town is the center to government, banking and insurance sectors, and the site of many restaurants, activities and shops.
- Cayman Turtle Center – The world-famous Cayman Turtle Center is a one-of-a-kind, 23-acre adventure marine park with green sea turtles ranging from hand-size newborns to 600-plus-pound adults.
- Hell – This popular tourist attraction is a group of short, black limestone formations in the northwest town of West Bay, host to one of the most colorfully named post offices in the world.
- Stingray City & Sandbar – These two stingray sites in the Cayman Islands, both located in the tranquil North Sound, offer exquisite beauty and an opportunity to interact with friendly rays.
- Snorkeling & Diving – A must-do for experienced divers and novice snorkelers alike. The memories of swimming among graceful stingrays on the sandy seafloor in the North Sound will stay with you long after you surface.
- Seven Mile Beach – Pure white sand, tranquil turquoise waters dotted with resorts, condos, shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants and every conceivable water sport, make this one of the top beaches in the world.
- Atlantis Submarine – Atlantis Submarines plunge into the depths of the ocean, their portholes revealing stunning canyons of coral teeming with colorful Cayman Island marine life, including snappers, stingrays and turtles.
- Wreck of the Ten Sails – During a storm in 1794, ten vessels quickly became shipwrecks in Grand Cayman’s dangerous East End reef. A memorial honors both the rescuers and the eight fallen crew.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What We Did on Grand Cayman Island
We signed up for a bicycle tour of Grand Cayman Island. I’ll admit, even though I’m a regular bike rider at home, I was very nervous! It turned out there was no need to be, we had a wonderful time.
A shuttle took a small group of us to the bike rental place where we chose bikes and helmets that fit us (they had a variety of styles and sizes for both), then after a short safety briefing we were on our way!
First we visited Hell, a group of short, black limestone formations in the northwest town of West Bay that look an awful lot like how cartoon pictures of hell are depicted. We were able to take pictures and visit the gift shop, or get our passports stamped (definitely do this, my kids got a real kick out of seeing that stamp when we got home!).
Next, a quick stop at a rum shop where we sampled local rum and rum cake. I couldn’t believe how smooth the rum was – banana was amazing and tasted just like banana bread!
Then we biked to the Cayman Turtle Center, a one-of-a-kind, 23-acre adventure marine park with green sea turtles ranging from hand-size newborns to 600-plus-pound adults. The turtles were truly gorgeous and you could even hold babies!
Finally we hit a gorgeous beach before returning the bikes and heading into town.
Saved By the Medallion!
By the time we got into town we were super hungry and decided to get food at a local restaurant. After ordering we realized neither of us had a wallet! Thanks to the incredibly speedy process of getting on and off this ship with the new Ocean Medallion system, Wesley was able to tender back to the ship and return with our money before his lunch even got cold!
You can see me wearing my medallion as a necklace in our pictures. Wesley chose to use the lanyard attached to his belt loop.
Where to Eat in Grand Cayman Island
- Sharkeez Bar and Restaurant (We ate here)
- Margaritaville Grand Cayman
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Cayman Cabana
- Bread and Chocolate Vegan Bistro
- Paradise Restaurant
Le Vele Restaurant
Pizzeria & Lounge
- Guy Harvey’s Bar and Grill
Shopping in Grand Cayman Island
Grand Cayman has a lot of shopping available near the port in Georgetown. It is a tax-free and duty-free area and is sometimes referred to as “Brand Cayman” due to its many luxury boutiques.
You can find all kinds of shopping, from high end luxury to local souvenir shops (my personal favorite). Be prepared to barter if you want the best deal!
What to Pack
Grand Cayman is always hot, so you’ll want to pack light clothes, layers (that sun can be brutal, you’ll probably need to cover your shoulders at some point) and definitely swim suits. Sun dresses if you’re going to dress up at all and cute sandals are a must.
Make sure to check out our comprehensive (and printable!) cruise packing list!
- The Banana Orchid is the national flower. The species is unique to and present on all three of the Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.
- Driving occurs on the left side of the road! Grand Cayman is one of the few places in the world that does so along with the United Kingdom, Malta, India and select other commonwealth countries.
- The Cayman Islands aren’t islands at all, they’re part of a mountain called the Cayman Ridge, which rises more than 7,500m – or the size of a very large mountain in the Himalayas – from the ocean floor.
Things We Loved about Georgetown, Grand Cayman
My favorite part of Grand Cayman Island was riding our bikes around town. We have actually visited Grand Cayman several times in the past and this was by far my favorite trip.
Seeing things from a different vantage point was exciting and gave a whole new perspective. Plus it’s fun to get active!. And of course, let’s not kid. I love the shopping. We always get some great souvenirs to bring home from the island.
Weather on Grand Cayman Island
Hot, hot, hot! Grand Cayman Island is hot every day of the year. Don’t expect to get a break even if you’re visiting in “winter”. The nice thing is, you get a great sea breeze to the temperature does tend to cap off at 90 degrees F.
The climate of the Cayman Islands is tropical, hot and humid all year round, with a drier and cooler (relatively speaking) season from late November to mid-April, and a rainy and muggy season from late April to early November.
Definitely make sure to pack a rainproof windbreaker if you’re visiting during the rainy season. And pack sunscreen no matter what time of year!
When is the Best Time to Visit
The drier and cooler (relatively speaking) season runs from late November to mid-April, so if you’re able to coordinate your trip for that time, it would be best.
That said, it’s hot no matter when you go (the cool season is still in the 80’s!) so bring a swimsuit and enjoy!
Swimming with Stingrays on Grand Cayman Island
A popular tourist activity is swimming with stingrays! You can check out the Stingray City & Sandbar – These two stingray sites in the Cayman Islands, both located in the tranquil North Sound, offer exquisite beauty and an opportunity to interact with friendly rays.
What you should know before visiting
- You can rent a car if you’d like, but the island is largely walkable. There are also cab services and bicycle rentals available. If you do rent a car, don’t forget to drive on the LEFT side!
- The islands have their own currency. The Cayman Islands dollar is the official currency of the Cayman Islands, (though U.S. dollars are readily accepted). The country’s currency is usually identified within the Cayman Islands as CI$.
- Don’t be naughty! Grand Cayman takes a hard stance against drugs and underage drinking. You must be at least 18 to purchase or consume alcohol, and there is a zero tolerance policy for drugs.
Where are the Cayman Islands?
The three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman.
What Time is it in Grand Cayman?
Grand Cayman and the Cayman Islands operate on Eastern Standard time (EST). This is the same as New York City.
EST (Eastern Standard time) is four hours ahead of Alaska Standard Time (AKST), three hours ahead of PTD time zone (Pacific time zone), two hours ahead of MST (Mountain Standard Time), and one hour ahead of CST (Central time zone).
- Flowers Sea Swim – Held in June, The Flowers Sea Swim has come to be considered a must-do event for open-water aficionados. The unique draw of the Flowers Sea Swim is not only its flawless course conditions along Cayman’s beautiful Seven Mile Beach, but the numerous random prizes as well. The race is the world’s richest open-water event, with over $100,000 in cash and random prizes.
- Pirates Week – Held in November, Pirates Week Festival is the premiere Cayman Islands’ national festival. Awaiting you is a week of swashbuckling to be had by all. With parades, games, music, and fireworks there is something for every buccaneer to enjoy.
Where We Cruised Before and After Grand Cayman Island
More places we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Alaska and Canada
Recipes Inspired by the Caribbean and Grand Cayman Island
More Recipes Inspired by our Travels
- Nutella Cookies
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Chocolate Overload Cake
Must-read cruising tips
Why You Should Cruise to Grand Cayman Island
The sparkling water, the beautiful sea life, the delicious food (and rum!), and great shopping are all awesome reasons to make sure your next cruise stops on Grand Cayman Island. And don’t forget to have your passport stamped in Hell!