If you thought this corner of the Caribbean was purely a destination for sunning yourself on the beach with a rum punch, think again. Whiling away the days on the wonderful selection of idyllic white sandy beaches may be the perfect vacation for some of us, but there is also a whole host of activities to suit even the most adventurous traveler. Whatever you enjoy in your spare time, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are sure to provide more than enough entertainment for everyone.
Little Cayman may be only ten miles long, but it is often ranked among the top ten dive spots in the world. With over fifty dive sites to choose from, there is something for every level of diver, with the best known scattered along Bloody Bay (you will notice a pirate theme recurring amongst many of the island names). There are several wall dives around Little Cayman, where shallow reefs drop spectacularly in to the vivid blue. Swim out over stunning, twenty foot deep coral gardens and then witness the dramatic one thousand foot cliff drop below you, usually with visibility as far as one hundred feet. Even for the most experienced diver, this is a wonderfully dramatic experience. With so many to choose from it would be impossible to fit all the dives available in to one trip, so there are two that come highly recommended from us. The first is Bloody Bay Wall, which is a sponge and coral encrusted underwater masterpiece where you can witness undisturbed wildlife including lobster, octopus, reef sharks, eagle rays and turtles. Then Marilyn’s Cut is a unique, huge, chimney-cave complex, covered in exotic sponges and colorful coral gardens. A friendly resident Nassau grouper named Jerry resides here, who has become rather popular with local and visiting divers.
Bonefish were the original attraction of Little Cayman for keen fishermen, and while bone-fishing still continues, fly fishermen have also discovered the tarpon filled mangrove swamp on the island. This salty swamp is around fifteen acres in size and the fish are up to twenty five pounds (some even bigger on the flats). Permit (a type of fish in case you were wondering) also reside here, so anglers have the rare opportunity to cast for three different fish here. As well as in-shore game fishing, you can also experience a deep sea fishing trip, where you will be fishing for marlin, wahoo or tuna. For the more brave and adventurous among us, there is also the opportunity to experience deep sea fishing at night.
Back to nature
Little Cayman is home to the western-hemisphere’s largest colonies of Red-Footed Boobies, as well as the splendid Frigate bird. Visit the Booby Pond Nature reserve and you will discover a bird watcher’s dream. We advise visiting the National Trust’s bird outlook on Booby Pond at sunset, where you can witness a battle between birds, with the Boobies attempting to outwit the Frigate birds as they return to their nesting grounds.
Hike the island
Cayman Brac, like Little Cayman, is very much a quieter island than its sister, Grand Cayman. Offering a more intimate experience, and a throwback to a less developed time, this island gives you a chance to experience the totally unspoilt Caribbean. The island’s diverse terrain consists of sandy beaches, salt marshes, caves and limestone formations, so be sure to pack your hiking boots. There are many well-marked trails lacing the island, two miles of nature trails through a reserve (look out for the Cayman parrot which lives here), and a series of caves on the southern shore-line. This really is a perfect way to enjoy the natural wonders of the island.
There are many caves on the island that are definitely worth exploring. There are many features and local history surrounding these caves. Bat Cave is home to thousands of bats (as you might expect) and is also full of ‘flow stone’, which is created by water running over rock and resembles octopus tentacles. During hurricanes, this is where local people have taken shelter over the years. Buried human bones from pirate activity have been found at Great Cave, as well as pirate’s treasure at a nearby beach. Rebecca’s Cave is one of the most interesting and beautiful caves; made of coral and limestone, this cave holds the grave of a young girl who died in the Great Hurricane of 1932. In many of the caves you will be treated to an array of colorful rocks as well as stunning stalagmites and stalactites. It is also worth noting that cycling is one of the best ways to get around the island, and almost all of the caves are easily accessible by bike.
For a slightly more alternative experience, especially if you are a lover of art, head to Mr Foot’s house. At his cliff-side home, Mr Foot carves out contemporary and abstract works based on religion and war. It garners mixed responses from local people, some of whom think it disturbs the peace of the island – but whatever your opinion, we think it is certainly worth a visit.
Dine at Grand Old House
Grand Old House is a very elegant restaurant and bar, with the distinct feel of the old Caribbean about it. The restaurant specializes in European and Island cuisine, and is one of the finest ocean front restaurants. Fish swim up to the edge of the deck and can be fed by diners, and the resident chef has cooked for presidents and royalty, which is precisely how you will be treated.
Swim with stingrays
Swimming with stingrays at Stingray City is an unforgettable experience. The area is a series of shallow sand bars, found in the North Sound of Grand Cayman and families of friendly stingrays congregate here to meet you in the clear shallow water. Take a boat out and jump into the water to swim above or alongside the stingrays. This is an extremely unique experience to see one of nature’s most majestic creatures up close (and you will feel very brave afterwards).
Christmas Lights, Caribbean style
If you visit Grand Cayman at Christmas, visiting the house of the Bodden sisters (daughters of the late Captain Bodden) will be sure to put you in the festive mood. Here everyone gathers to see the most breathtaking display of Christmas lights, where the two ladies erect hundreds of light features in front of their house. It is indescribably beautiful, and certainly not your average Christmas light display.