Working for an airline, I generally do not take many vacations. Do not get me wrong, I frequently use my flight benefits; I just tend to take multiple short trips in lieu of a couple of long trips in a given year. Fewer vacations and more mini-adventures. So when one of my best friends reached out about spending five days with him and his family in his former home in the Cayman Islands, my first thought was is five days too long? Boy was I wrong. Not only is the Cayman Islands home to some of the best beaches in the world, but it also has a wide variety of unique marine activities, which will make your trip to the Cayman Islands an unforgettable experience. Below I will highlight a few of my favorite spots and activities in addition to tips for getting around the island. You probably will not be able to do all these activities on a weekend, but hopefully, it will help make your trip to the Cayman, “grand”.

Non-Reving to Grand Cayman

For a beach destination, non-reving to GCM is relatively feasible for the majority of the year. According to the Department of Transportation data, monthly average Load Factors from the United States do not exceed 90% for the entire year. Seasonality is probably as you would expect for a Caribbean destination with summer Load Factors being the highest and September and February being the lowest. If you are planning to travel in the fall, beware of Hurricane season and that a majority of airlines reduce flights during this lower demand period. In terms of US gateways to GCM, nearly all flights leave from the East Coast with the highest concentration departing from MIA and FLL. Regarding United States gateway cities, GCM is served by US Legacy carriers, Southwest, JetBlue, and of course Cayman Airways.
When you get cleared for your flight I would recommend sitting on the left side of the plane (when facing the front of the aircraft) if possible. Most arrivals into GCM come in from the west providing a great view of both the beach and the cruise ports. Once you are on the ground, no worries if you are sitting in the back as many airlines deplane from both the front and rear of the aircraft via air stairs. As you are walking to the customs facility, you will most likely hear a live reggae band officially welcoming you to paradise. Being an avid avgeek, this is certainly how I like to start my vacations!

Delta Air Lines
Boston JetBlue
Charlotte American Airlines
Chicago United Airlines
Dallas American Airlines
Fort Lauderdale JetBlue & Southwest Airlines
Havanna Cayman Airways
Houston United Airlines
Miami American Airlines & Cayman Airways
Nassau British Airways
New York City Cayman Airways, JetBlue & United Airlines
Tampa Cayman Airways
Toronto Air Canada & WestJet
Washington D.C United Airlines

Text continues below the map

Seven Mile Beach

Let us be honest. You are probably here for the beach, and who could blame you! One of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean is Seven Mile Beach. Here you will find white sand, crystal clear water in addition to a wide variety of beachfront hotels. However, what really blew me away was how incredibly isolated these beaches were. Our trip took place during Labor Day weekend, although technically off-peak for the Cayman, I was still amazed at how uncrowded these beaches were. Being a travel photographer, we often have to wake up early if we want isolated beach photos. Not in the Cayman! Literally any time of day we were able to capture photos with literally no one in the background. Another plus to Seven Mile Beach is its proximity to Cayamana Bay. This outdoor shopping mall is not only a great place for shopping and dining, but it also offers free parking and is within walking distance of the beach. If you are not staying on the Seven Mile stretch, I would highly recommend parking at Cayman Bay and walking over to the beach as the path is safe and clearly marked. Additionally, the path leads you to a less commercial spot in Seven Mile which makes for a great beach day. If free parking is not a good enough reason, it is also home to one of my all-time favorite gelato spots, Gelato Co. What better way to end a day on the beach than with some ice-cold Italian gelato!

Text continues below the photo

West Bay Beach

Potentially my favorite beach on the trip was West Bay which is kind of ironic as we sort of stumbled on this location while driving to the Turtle Farm. A bit more secluded than Seven Mile Beach, this spot has it all. From the picturesque peer to the crystal clear waters, you will not regret making a stop at West Bay beach. When we went, the beach was so secluded I could literally close my eyes and take a picture with nobody in the shot.

Rum Point

Another iconic beach in the Cayman Islands is Rum Point. Here you will find a nice bar with a variety of water activities including kayaks and jet skis. The downside to Rum Point is it is located on the opposite side of the island so about 45 minutes from the GCM airport. Additionally, due to the sargassum seaweed, we found the waters to be less clear at Rum Point than at beaches like Seven Mile and West Bay. If you are looking for a fun bar and are not short on time I would highly recommend checking out this area of the island. If you are only traveling for a weekend, maybe best to stick around Seven Mile beach.

Stingray City

Although I love the beach, one of the things that make the Cayman unique is the ample amount of marine activities outside of the typical beach experience. Probably the most famous of these is Stingray City. While there is a wide variety of companies that offers this excursion, we traveled with Captain Marvin which costs $45 per person. The entire trip lasts 3 hours and makes 3 stops. The first stop was snorkeling with both stingrays and fish. The stingrays were smaller than at the final stop of Stingray City, but I enjoyed seeing them swimming out in the open ocean. The second stop was also snorkeling but here we did not see stingrays. What made this stop special was the amazingly clear water. I would venture to say this was probably the clearest stretch of ocean we saw on the entire trip. The final stop is Stingray City. Here the stingrays are clearly expecting humans so they will approach you. In our tour, we had about 30 minutes where we could take photos holding or kissing the stingrays. They even have squid and allow you to feed the stingrays if you so desire. If you have a fear of stingrays I would still recommend this excursion. It is extremely safe, the stingrays are very friendly and you can still see them from the boat if you prefer a more distant experience. Do not worry about stepping on them as the water is so clear and shallow, it is nearly impossible. If you are still not convinced of swimming with stingrays, consider an excursion to see starfish or even swimming with sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Center.

Getting Around

Overall, if you are looking for a great beach destination, I would highly recommend putting the Cayman Islands on your list. Personally, I would rank it as one of my favorite beach destinations to date. To me what sets Cayman apart is its secluded beaches, crystal clear water, kind people, and unique marine activities. However, there are a few things to be aware of when getting around the island. Being one of the most famous tax havens in the world, there were no taxes collected from the Cayman government while traveling into GCM. Additionally, you will enjoy no sale tax while shopping and dining throughout the island; however, the Cayman Islands are expensive nonetheless. The currency used on the island is Cayman Island Dollars which converts at 1 CI to 1.21 USD. This means things priced in Cayman Islands Dollars will sound cheaper until converted back to US Dollars. If you are planning on renting a car, beware that locals drive on the left side of the road. It is fairly easy to pick up as roads in Grand Cayman are relatively calm. Hopefully, after this blog you are now ready for a “grand” time in the Cayman Islands!

Are you convinced? Harold’s amazing time at Grand Cayman has us requesting loads to GCM right now! Find seat availablily on Cayman Airways today!

StaffTraveler for web

Hotel rooms & rental cars

Log in to StaffTraveler to get access to exclusive member deals with discounts up to 60%

Log in to StaffTraveler