It’s known for its pristine beaches, upscale resorts, and a budding culinary scene exciting enough to make even a beginning “foodie” swoon. Grand Cayman emerges from glittering turquoise waters as one of the best Caribbean islands for a refined and relaxed getaway.
Considering a visit to Grand Cayman? Talking with locals and expats, and drawing on our own time on Grand Cayman, we’ve crafted the ultimate travel planning guide to one of the Caribbean’s beachy, beautiful gems. From the best beaches in Grand Cayman to the ultimate resort escapes on Seven Mile Beach, this is how to enjoy an unforgettable trip.
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Nestled among the ultra-clear waters of the Caribbean between Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands. This British Overseas Territory is best known for its pristine, white-sand beaches, though it has much more to its credit than many other beloved beach destinations in the Caribbean.
Grand Cayman is home to some of the nicest luxury resorts in the Caribbean while seamlessly maintaining its friendly and laid-back attitude. It’s a fine balance that few Caribbean islands manage as well as Grand Cayman.
There are no exclusively all-inclusive properties on the island. This effect of both keeping the island’s luxe, exclusive feel while also helping launch a gastronomic scene that has handily earned the island the title of the culinary capital of the Caribbean. With visitors incentivized to leave the bounds of their resort for means everything from roadside Caribbean barbeque spots to upscale seafood eateries thrive.
Despite welcoming its fair share of cruise ship visitors, Grand Cayman never feels overrun with visitors, even during the winter high season of travel. With its refined feel, great art scene, endless culinary experiences, and rich culture it’s no wonder the island has so many return visitors.
Is Grand Cayman Expensive?
Grand Cayman is generally considered an expensive destination, as is among the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean. Beautiful beaches, fantastic cuisine, and world-class resorts (with no true all-inclusive resorts on the island) mean that a trip to the Cayman Islands will not come cheap – but it will certainly be a memorable vacation.
Looking for some money-saving tips? Visiting the island in the off-season of travel, generally lasting from late April through October, will help you save on resorts, tours, and more.
Searching out local options for food, like delicious roadside barbeque, is another way to save, but even opting for an Airbnb or rental over a resort stay won’t make a trip to Grand Cayman as affordable an experience as you’d find on other Caribbean islands.
Do You Need a Passport To Go to Grand Cayman?
Travelers from the United States need a passport to visit Grand Cayman. The exception to this rule is if the U.S. citizen is only visiting the island as part of a cruise that starts and ends in a U.S. port.
Looking for a Caribbean getaway that doesn’t require a passport? Puerto Rico is one of my favorite destinations on Earth – and no passport is required to visit this U.S. territory. Stay as long as you like!
The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory, which means that travelers with British or Canadian citizenship do not need a passport to visit the island. British or Canadian citizens must, however, travel with their original birth certificate and a valid photo ID if they do not carry a passport.
Best Time To Visit Grand Cayman
There’s never a bad time to visit Grand Cayman. Warm weather year-round and plenty to do even on rainy days make it a destination you’ll love even for a summertime getaway.
- Low Season: August through October
- Shoulder Season: May through July
- High Season: November through April
Expect blue, cloudless skies from December through May, when afternoon showers become the norm. In classic Caribbean fashion, showers tend to be passing, meaning you’re in for mostly good weather – and much lower accommodation costs – during the shoulder season.
It’s important to be aware that the low season coincides with the height of the Atlantic hurricane season. Grand Cayman has been quite lucky in recent years with avoiding major storms due to its location in the Caribbean.
Places To Visit in Grand Cayman
1. Seven Mile Beach
One of the most famous features of the island is Seven Mile Beach, stretching along the west coast of Grand Cayman. Seven Mile Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean – if not the world! Impressively, it lives up to all the hype and more.
Transparent, turquoise waters stretch as far as the eye can see for what feels like miles, while ultra-fine sands make it the perfect spot for long days on the beach. I’ve never seen Seven Mile Beach get too wavy, even on windy days, making it a favorite with families of little ones as well.
Seven Mile Beach is also one of the island’s most important hubs, with the best restaurants, bars, and resorts in Grand Cayman lining its pristine, sandy shores. Beloved resorts like The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach and others anchor the beach, though smaller boutique hotels and resorts find their corner on the sand as well.
Like the rest of the beaches in the Cayman Islands, all of Seven Mile Beach is public. However, most visitors who aren’t staying at a beachfront resort head to one of the undeveloped sections of sand to enjoy their visit – Cemetery Beach or Governors Beach towards the northern and central parts of Seven Mile Beach come to mind.
Keep in mind that some of the southern sections of the beach have been eroded due to tropical storms over time. The Grand Cayman Marriott Resort, for example, no longer has any true beachfront, despite being located along Seven Mile Beach.
Stick with resorts further up the beach for the true Seven Mile Beach experience. The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa has the most expensive stretch of the beachfront, while others like Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are also stunning.
Where To Stay on Seven Mile Beach
2. Camana Bay
Located just a few minutes walk from Seven Mile Beach, Camana Bay is a newer development area in Grand Cayman known for its shops, restaurants, and cafes. Easily accessible from the island’s most beautiful resorts and hotels, it’s a popular destination that you can’t skip during your visit to Grand Cayman.
Strings of lights illuminate waterfront seating along the channels that lead to the bay, making it a favorite evening destination on the island. Everything from American cuisine to classic Caribbean seafood dishes and Mexican restaurants offer something for every palate.
Camana Bay also hosts a weekly farmers market and artisan market on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3 PM. It’s a great excuse to ditch resort dining and spend a couple of hours exploring this
Where To Eat in Camana Bay
- Union Bar & Grill
- Aqua Restaurant and Lounge
- Gelato & Co.
Where To Stay in Grand Cayman
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
Best Resort in Grand Cayman
There are plenty of beautiful resorts to choose from along Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, but our hands-down favorite is The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.
This moderately-sized resort perfectly combines the excellent amenities of a much larger property with an intimate, cozy feel for the ultimate retreat feel. The Westin’s renowned wellness focus is everywhere, with activities like guided runs, paddle boarding, and snorkeling, top-notch spa services, and the Heavenly Beds that the brand is known for. Yes, they truly are just as heavenly as they promise to be.
New dining options like woto, the island’s only dedicated sushi, poke, and ceviche restaurant, and the Cayman Coffee Exchange make the culinary experience even richer. Grand Cayman’s largest freshwater pool and the longest stretch of sand along Seven Mile Beach will keep you outside your entire stay.
Reviews and Bookings: The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
Best Boutique Resort in Grand Cayman
The impossibly cute and effortlessly cool Palm Heights is one of the newer – and buzzier – resorts along Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. It’s also our top boutique pick among the best resorts in the Cayman Islands.
Colorful umbrellas and candy-striped towels welcome beach lovers to an enviable stretch of Seven Mile Beach, with outdoor dining and terraces in every suite ensuring guests are in for the ultimate in Caribbean breezes and ocean views.
The modern yet comfortable interiors at Palm Heights have helped define it as the place to be for artsy, youthful travelers looking for a luxe resort experience in the heart of Grand Cayman’s best neighborhood. An artist-in-residence program and locally sourced art and design features make it a new fixture in Grand Cayman’s blossoming art scene.
Reviews and Bookings: Palm Heights
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa
Best Family-Friendly Resort in Grand Cayman
With its mini water park and kid’s club programs, we think that the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is the best family-friendly resort in Grand Cayman, but don’t think that this is a destination only families will enjoy. Not by a long shot!
Adults are in for a treat, too, with incredible food and beverage options like Mexican-inspired Coccoloba for piña coladas and the perfect Caribbean take on the street taco. Kimpton’s Library by the Sea cocktail bar is a mixologist’s paradise, with literary-inspired drinks you have to taste to believe. They’re served up with antique copies of the topes that inspired them.
A boutique vibe and personalized stay experience for every guest make a stay at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa a true pleasure every single time.
Reviews and Bookings: Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa
Things To Do in Grand Cayman
There are plenty more things to do in Grand Cayman than just kick back and relax on Seven Mile Beach – though no one would blame you if you wanted to! These are the island’s unmissable highlights.
1. Visit Stingray City
Sail to a sandbar and jump in the crystal clear waters amidst dozens of graceful stingrays for admittedly one of the coolest animal encounters in the Cayman Islands. Experienced guides will show you how to interact with these docile creatures. Plus, there’s a superstition that if you kiss one of the stringrays you’re in for seven years of good luck!
Many excursions to Stingray City in Grand Cayman also include a stop at Rum Point for a few peaceful hours on the white sand beachfront, sipping the famous mudslides that made the spot’s original Wreck Bar such an institution.
Or, go with an excursion that offers a more complete snorkeling experience in Grand Cayman. Plenty of Stingray City excursions include stops at the island’s Barrier Reef and famous Coral Gardens, which are some of the most beautiful underwater spots near Grand Cayman.
Reviews and Bookings: Stingray City with Snorkeling Excursions
2. Go Diving
Along with the little sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Grand Cayman is one of the most renowned diving destinations in the Caribbean. Extensive reef systems, still relatively healthy and vibrant, make the island a diver’s dream. Dive destinations like the North Wall provide a gorgeous mix of colors, sponges, and marine wildlife on every dive.
A favorite diving spot on Grand Cayman is the wreck of the USS Kittiwake. Sunk in 2011 on the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, this wreck is both impressive and easily accessible for divers of different levels of experience, making it an unmissable diving highlight.
3. Sip Mudslides at Rum Point
Blend vodka, Kahlúa, and Baileys together for a mudslide, arguably the most famous drink in Grand Cayman, founded at the original Wreck Bar on Grand Cayman’s Rum Point.
The mudslide may not sound like other classically Caribbean drinks you’re probably thinking of, but it’s surprisingly refreshing and even lighter than you might imagine. You can also order a version that substitutes the classic vodka for Caymanian rum; dare we say it’s even better than the original?
While the original Wreck Bar that created the beverage is unfortunately no longer here, the installations that stand in its place are impressive. A gorgeous bar and restaurant known simply as Rum Point has taken up the mantle of serving the best mudslides in the Caymans.
Colorful Caribbean tones decorate the outdoor dining and interior spaces, making for a perfect place to enjoy lunch or a round of mudslides before claiming a beach chair. White sands and a beachfront dotted with umbrellas and beach chairs make Rum Point a place you’ll love enjoying for a few dreamy hours.
4. Explore the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park
Take a break from the water and sand with visit a lush corner of Grand Cayman’s interior at the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park. This peaceful haven is crisscrossed with shaded paths and replete with orchids, tropical flowers, and endemic plants, which have long made visiting the park one of the best things to do in Grand Cayman.
The nearby Pedro St. James Castle and dramatic blowholes on the south coast are the perfect way to fill a day in this central area of Grand Cayman. You’ll find a great East End Grand Cayman excursion that we recommend that visits all of these sites in one hassle-free day trip.
Or, combine a trip to the Botanic Park with a visit to the Cayman Crystal Caves to experience one of the most beautiful natural spots in the Cayman Islands.
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Where To Eat in Grand Cayman
The only dedicated sushi, ceviche, and poke eatery in Grand Cayman, woto is the perfect spot for a refreshing light yet flavorful taste of the freshest catch on the island. Tucked away within The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach, woto offers a sleek dining space that feels like it could be in any major city, as well as a secluded outdoor patio space where diners can hear the waves crashing in the distance.
Just beside woto is the Cayman Coffee Exchange. This ultra-cool cafe is a great spot to grab a coffee, snack, or cold beverage throughout the day, whether you’re staying at the hotel or not.
Blue by Eric Ripert
Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is the island’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant. From the famed New York seafood star Eric Ripert, Blue offers a tasting menu and wine pairing are the stars of the culinary show that awaits in the Caymans. Though quite pricey, it is well worth it for one of the finest dining experiences in the Caribbean.
Piña coladas and street tacos abound at Coccoloba, located among the soft sands of Seven Mile Beach at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. This Mexican-inspired eatery offers an abundance of fresh seafood options and light, citrusy flavors in a stunning setting famous for offering some of the most beautiful sunset views on the island.
Union Grill & Bar
Nestled amidst the numerous cafes, shops, and eateries of the West End’s Camana Bay, Union Grill & Bar is a beloved restaurant that offers a fine dining experience you won’t want to miss. A classic yet cool American vibe, including some of the best steaks on the island, mixes with fresh seafood options for a well-rounded dining experience that the whole group will love.
Getting To Grand Cayman
Simply due to its small size, Grand Cayman offers fewer flight options for travelers than nearby islands like the Dominican Republic or the Bahamas which have multiple international airports. However, among the smaller and more laid-back islands of the Caribbean, Grand Cayman is quite well connected.
Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport is the hub in the Cayman Islands, with daily flights to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Flight options vary significantly during different seasons of the year, with a much more robust flight lift in the high season of travel between November and April every year.
The island currently receives flights from cities across the East Coast of the United States including the New York area, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, and others. Flights from Denver make the island more accessible for those from the West Coast of the United States, and two weekly flights to Panama City connect it to Latin America.
Grand Cayman Travel Tips
1. Stay on Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman is a dream no matter where you stay. However, for the majority of travelers, staying at one of the many resorts directly on Seven Mile Beach is the best choice. Not only is the beachfront stunning, but the array of dining options in the immediate vicinity and the proximity of the best things to do in Grand Cayman make this an easy choice.
A Seven Mille Beach stay will also save you money on transportation during your stay on the island, and there are numerous hotel and resort options at all price points here to choose from.
Worried about staying on the busiest beach on the island? Don’t be. The resorts in Grand Cayman are all relatively small in size, meaning that even the busier stretches of the beach feel totally laid-back and quiet when compared to some beaches in the Dominican Republic or the busiest beaches in Mexico.
Where To Stay on Seven Mile Beach
2. Dine Out of the Resort
Grand Cayman isn’t home to any true all-inclusive resorts. This has been an instrumental part in making Grand Cayman one of the foodie capitals of the Caribbean, as resort guests have more incentive to get “off-campus” for meals.
A few particularly impressive dining options exist in the best resorts on the island – woto at The Westin Grand Cayman and Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton come to mind – but there are plenty of great places you’ll want to enjoy elsewhere, too. A trip to Grand Cayman isn’t complete without a visit to Camana Bay, which is home to some of the best restaurants on the island.
In the end, you’ll enjoy one of the richest culinary scenes in the Caribbean – and probably save money while you’re at it.
3. Look for Off-Season Flight and Accommodation Deals
There’s no way around it; Grand Cayman can be quite an expensive destination. If you’re looking to explore the island on a budget without sacrificing too much of the experience, the best way to do it is by searching for flight and accommodation deals in the off-season of travel.
Skip a holiday season or mid-winter vacation and instead head to the island in April, May, or June, when the weather is still quite nice but prices begin to drop. Keep in mind that September and October are generally the height of the Atlantic hurricane season, but if you’re willing to chance it, you’ll save a fortune traveling during these months.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.