George Town, Grand Cayman
George Town, Grand Cayman
The largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, is one of the Caribbean's favourite getaways, particularly for watersports lovers. The Caymans fully deserve their reputation as a paradise for divers: Translucent waters and a colourful variety of marine life are protected by the government, which has designated a number of marine parks. Several shipwrecks add to the underwater attractions and the number of professional diving companies outrank those in any other Caribbean island.
Diving is not the only sport here; visitors can engage in numerous other watersports, in addition to golf and tennis. The beaches are gorgeous, with white, soft sand and clear, blue-green water protected by coral reefs that ensure calm swimming conditions.
When Columbus sighted the islands in 1503, he noted that the surrounding sea was alive with turtles. Hence the original name of Las Tortugas, which was later changed to Cayman. The many caves and coves soon became a favourite hideout for pirates like Blackbeard and Henry Morgan. Many a ship floundered on the treacherous rocks - often with the help of the inhabitants who lured the vessels ashore with beacon fires. The most famous disaster was the "Wreck of the Ten Sail" in 1793, when 10 ships of an England bound convoy wrecked on the treacherous reefs of the East End.
Today Grand Cayman is one of the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean. Its tiny capital, George Town, boasts some 500 banks and is home to numerous international companies. George Town can easily be seen on foot. Duty-free stores and local souvenir shops abound. There is a small museum located in the restored Old Courts Building with exhibits that provide a good introduction to the history, plant and animal life in the Caymans.
Going Ashore in George Town
The ship is scheduled to anchor in the bay off George Town. Guests will be taken to the landing in the town centre via the ship's tenders. Taxis are generally available in good numbers. Fares are set by the government. You may ask the driver to see the fare chart.
Grand Cayman has two money-saving attributes - duty-free merchandise and the absence of sales tax. Otherwise, everything is quite expensive. Duty-free shops offer English china, Swiss watches, French perfumes, jewellery, cameras and electronic goods. Black coral jewellery, watercolours by local artists, locally produced rum and rum cakes are popular presents to take home. Be aware that turtle products are banned from entry into the U.S. The local currency is the Cayman Islands dollar. U.S. dollars are readily accepted throughout the island.
Seafood appears on most menus. Grouper, snapper, tuna, wahoo and marlin are served either grilled or Cayman style, with peppers, onions and tomatoes. Conch, the meat of a large pink mollusk, is a favourite in stews, chowders and as fritters. Try Cayman's famous rum cake for dessert.
Breezes by the Bay
There isn't a bad seat in the house at this nonstop
fiesta festooned with tiny paper lanterns, Christmas lights, ship murals, model
boats, and Mardi Gras beads (you're "lei'd" upon entering). Wraparound balconies
take in a dazzling panorama from South Sound to Seven Mile Beach. It's happy
hour all day every day, especially during Countdown to Sunset. Signs promise
"the good kind of hurricanes," referring to the 23-ounce signature "category 15"
cocktails with fresh garnishes. Chunky, velvety conch chowder served in a bread
bowl or conch fritters are meals in themselves. Hefty sandwiches are slathered
with jerk mayo or garlic aioli. Signature standouts include meltingly moist
whole fish escoveitch, popcorn shrimp, sliders, and any pie from the pizza
George Town is easily explored on foot. There are few attractions, such as the Cayman Islands National Museum, in addition to the numerous shops.
Seven Mile Beach
On this beautiful stretch of white sand beach you can find facilities that offer diving, snorkelling and water-skiing.
Private arrangements are not available in George Town, but there are plenty of taxis for trips around the island. Fares are set but agree on the price before setting out.