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Grand Cayman Basics

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George Town

Grand Cayman, located in the western Caribbean north west of Jamaica, are blessed with clean turquoise beaches, abundant sun, duty free shopping and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean. With a population of around 50,000 people, the Cayman Islands is one of the most prosperous territories in the Caribbean. George Town, the capital of the islands, is located on Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands.

The economy of the Cayman Islands is based on tourism and offshore banking and finance. Over the last 40 years, the islands have grown to become the world's fifth largest financial center. The Caymans enjoy a vibrant tourist trade, having played host to around 1.8 million visitors in 2012. It is also the second most popular cruise ship destination in the Western Caribbean, with just under 1.4 million cruise ship passengers scheduled to arrive in 2013.

Being in the tropics, the weather is always warm and inviting. The average winter high season temperature is around 79° F, while the summer season temperatures average about 8° warmer. The water is always warm. Cool trade winds blow in from the west, providing some respite from the intense sun. But the Caymans are located smack in the middle of the Hurricane Belt, making them a target from June through November.

Cayman Islands map


First Impressions


Three words can pretty much sum up the Cayman Islands: sun, sea and wealth. A British Crown Colony, you'll find you'll find a little bit of Britain here: they drive on the left, they drink good English beer, and there is a societal conservatism that is redolent of a colonial past. As your ship approaches George Town, the capital, you'll pass by Seven Mile beach, one of the most beautiful of the Caribbean beaches and the main tourist resort area.

Your ship will drop anchor off of George Town, which is on the west side of Grand Cayman, and you will transit to shore via the Port of George Town's speedy tenders. It'll take about 10 to 15 minutes to get ashore. All shore excursions commence from the George Town Cruise Ship docks, which are adjacent to downtown George Town. There are actually three docks in George Town (but they're all located close together): the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, the North Terminal and the South Terminal. If you arrive at a particular dock or Terminal, you'll depart back to your ship from that same Terminal.

The main things to do here have to do with the sea and the reef that surround the islands. Some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean can be found off of Grand Cayman. Dive sites can be found on the western, southern and eastern parts of Grand Cayman. If you've never had an up close and personal interaction with stingrays, this is the place to do it. On Grand Cayman, you can even go to Hell, and write home about it! And since the Caymans have no direct taxation, shopping here can be an adventure in itself.

The Cayman Islands is a prosperous place. The Territory has a per capita GNP of $43.2K, on a par with that of Switzerland, and just below that of the United States. The Territory's thriving financial sector has attracted a large expatriate population; out of the total population of 55,500, fully 44% are expats. It's also an expensive place to live and visit, because it's an island, and over 90% of consumer goods are imported.

Tourism is a mainstay of the Caymans, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.8 million in 2012, with over 82% of visitors coming via cruise ships. The tendering of cruise ship passengers ashore wasn't a big problem in years past, what with smaller ships (and their smaller passenger loads) visiting the island. However, the advent of mega cruise ships with passenger capacities exceeding 5,000 guests has led the cruise lines to press for the installation of docking facilities. This would mean dredging the coral reefs, and the ecological damage could be significant. The issue is now being studied, and a decision on whether to proceed with cruise ship docks will be made in 2014.

Visitors should be aware that the Cayman Islands remains a "proper" British Crown Colony, and the locals are conservative by nature. The Cayman Islands Government strictly prohibits all forms of public nudity, so please don't wear bathing suits or scanty beach wear beyond the beach or your cruise ship, and make sure to cover up when in public areas. Neat, casual and comfortable tropical attire is appropriate throughout the Cayman Islands.

Foot Prints in the Sand

Time Zone


The Cayman Islands are on Eastern Time, five hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during Standard Time. However, the Caymans do not recognize Daylight Savings Time.

 

Language


English is universally spoken in the Caymans; you'll also find a small number of residents speaking Spanish as well.


Dealing with Money in the Cayman Islands


Currency

Cayman dollar

The Cayman Islands Dollar is the Cayman Islands' official currency, and uses the "$" sign to denote the Cayman Dollar amount. Banknotes come in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $25, $50 and $100 Cayman dollars. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents.

The current Cayman Dollar/US Dollar exchange rate is as follows:

Banks and ATMs

Cayman National Bank has ATM machines found throughout the downtown area of George Town. They dispense both US dollars and Cayman Islands dollars. ATM machines in the city can be found at the following locations:

  • Cayman National Bank: On Edwards Street, in downtown George Town; at the Countryside Savannah Shopping Center, near Pedro St. James Historic Site; and at the Texaco Star Mart at 142 Eastern Avenue, George Town.

  • Royal Bank of Canada: 24 Shedden Road, George Town, and on West Bay Road in the Queen's Court Plaza, Seven Mile Beach.

  • CIBC Bank & Trust: on Edwards Street, in George Town.

  • Barclay's Bank: on Shedden Road, in George Town.

To see the locations of Grand Cayman's ATMs, see our Grand Cayman ATM map.

Using US Dollars in Cayman Islands

There is no need to exchange US dollars into local currency. The US dollar is accepted throughout the islands at a rate of one US dollar equaling CI$ 0.80.


Weather


The Cayman Islands lie in the far Western Caribbean in the equatorial tropics. The islands are cooled by prevailing trade winds, but like Hawaii, the sun is intense and you can burn easily. Make sure you always wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

The Caymans have two seasons, Winter and Summer. Winter lasts from November through the end of April, with an average daytime temperature of 79° F. The winter water temperature averages around 80° F. The summer months extend from May through October, and enjoy an average daytime temperature of 87° F. During the summer months, the water averages a balmy 84° F.

The rainy season starts in May and lasts through October, with the two wettest months being May and October. Showers are generally short. March and April are usually the driest months. The average annual rainfall is about 56 inches.

The Caymans lie in the Caribbean hurricane belt, and hurricane season extends from June through November.

Grand Cayman Average Temperatures

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High - F 80 80 82 84 86 87 87 87 87 86 84 82
Avg High - C 27 27 28 29 30 31 31 31 31 30 29 28
Avg Low - F 73 73 75 75 78 78 80 80 78 78 77 75
Avg Low - C 23 23 24 24 26 26 27 27 26 26 25 24

Grand Cayman Average Precipitation

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg, Inches 2.0 1.9 1.4 1.7 5.5 5.7 5.8 6.4 8.0 8.6 6.6 3.0
Avg, mm 50 48 35 43 141 145 148 161 204 217 168 75

Papaya tree

Keeping In Touch


Internet Access on Grand Cayman

George Town is a well-wired place, so finding free Wi-Fi or Internet Cafes is not a problem.

Wi-Fi Hotspots in Downtown Georgetown

Here are a few suggestions for finding free Wi-Fi in downtown George Town:

  • Cafe del Sol, located at the Bayshore Mall near the cruise ship pier. Coffee house with an ocean view. Open from Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm; Sunday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Phone: (345) 946-2233.

  • Daily Grind, located on Edward Street, above Corita's Copper Kettle. Features an assortment of coffees and snacks. Open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. Phone: (345) 945-1175.

  • Full of Beans Cafe, located on the corner of Pasadora Place and 10 Smith Road. Noted for its unique Cayman Coffee. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Phone: (345) 814-0157.

  • Grand Old House, located at 648 South Church Street, south of the cruise ship pier. It's a 100 year old plantation house with great Caribbean dining; reservations suggested. Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:45 am to 2:00 pm, and dinner daily from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Closed during September. Phone: (345) 814-0163.

  • Guy Harvey's Restaurant and Bar, located at 55 South Church Street. Fine West Indies and French dining with an ocean view. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 9:00 am to 1:00 am daily. Phone: (345) 946-9000

  • Hard Rock Cafe, located at 43 South Church Street. The iconic international cafe. Open for lunch and dinner from 10:30 am daily. Phone: (345) 623-7625

  • Lobster Pot Restaurant & Wine Bar, located on 245 North Church Street. The Lobster Pot is the longest established restaurant on the Island, featuring great seafood and ocean views. Open for lunch Sunday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and nightly dinners from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Phone: (345) 949-2736

  • Margaritaville, located on the 2nd Floor of the Anchorage Center, 32 Harbour Drive. Jimmy Buffet's Caribbean classic. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Phone: (345) 949-6274

  • Paperman's Coffeehouse Midtown, located at the Mid Point Plaza, Elgin Avenue, by the CNB Roundabout. Offers both breakfast and lunch, and serves Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters coffees. Phone: (345) 916-7185

Wi-Fi Hotspots on Seven Mile Beach

Here are a few suggestions for finding free Wi-Fi on Seven Mile Beach:

  • Decker's Grille and Lounge, located across from Grand Cayman Beach Suites on West Bay Road. Their dinners, served from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm, feature Caribbean fusion cuisine. Phone: (345) 945-6600

  • Hemingways Restaurant, located at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites, West Bay Road. Enjoy their great ocean front views; open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Phone: (345) 945-5700

  • Luca Restaurant, located at 871 West Bay Road. Oceanfront fine dining at the Caribbean Club. Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and dinner nightly from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Phone: (345) 623-4550

  • Paperman's Coffeehouse The Strand, located on West Bay Road. Coffee house with breakfast and lunch available. Phone: (345) 946-7185

  • Periwinkle, located at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Resort. Open for lunch and dinner, from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. Phone: (345) 943-9000

  • Solana, located at the Marriott Beach Resort, 389 West Bay Road. Serves contemporary international cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm. Phone: (345) 949-0088

  • Treats Restaurant, located at the West Shore Center, 1 West Bay Road. Notable for their freshly baked goods and pastries. Open for breakfast and lunch from Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on Sundays from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Phone: (345) 945-4262

  • Triple Crown Pub, located on West Bay Road across from the Marriott Hotel. Traditional Irish pub open Monday through Friday from 10:30 am 1:00 am; Saturdays from 9:00 am to midnight; and Sunday from 11:00 am to midnight. Phone: (345) 943-7821

  • The Wharf Restaurant & Bar, located on 43 West Bay Road. Oceanfront restaurant serving Caribbean cuisine. Their Ports of Call Seaside Bar is open Monday through Sunday, 4:00 pm to midnight; the Wharf is open for dinner only, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Phone: (345) 949-2231

Cyber Cafes on Grand Cayman

Here are a few suggestions for finding Internet Cafes on Grand Cayman:

  • Cable & Wireless is the main communications provider in the Cayman Islands. They have a Communications Station in George Town, located next to Columbian Emeralds near the Cruise Ship docks, that features 5 internet terminals. Open Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

  • George Town Public Library is located at 68 Edward Street in downtown George Town. Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Phone: (345) 949-5159

  • Dickens Internet Cafe, located at the Galleria Plaza, on West Bay Road in Seven Mile Beach. Phone: (345) 945-9195.

  • Pirate's Den Sports Bar & Restaurant (aka the PD's Pub), located in the Galleria Plaza, on West Bay Road, Seven Mile Beach. Phone: (345) 949-7144.

  • Thirsty Surfer, Colliers Bay, located at the Reef Resort in Grand Cayman's East End. Offers Wi-Fi as well as internet terminals. Phone: (345) 947-2337.

To see the locations of Grand Cayman's Internet Cafe locations, see our Grand Cayman Internet Locations map.

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Travelers with American cell phones should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in the Cayman Islands. Check with your carrier for the precise details.

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service on Grand Cayman is provided by local partner Digicel.
Data services: Through partner Digicel, Verizon offers 3G coverage on the island.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service on Grand Cayman is provided by Digicel and Cable & Wireless.
Data services: AT&T offers 2G service on the island through its partners Digicel and Cable & Wireless.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service on Grand Cayman is provided by partner Digicel; Digicel also offers service when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through Digicel, Sprint offers 2G coverage on the island. Sprint also offers 3G coverage when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available on Grand Cayman through its partner Digicel and Cable & Wireless.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service on the island through its partners Digicel and Cable & Wireless.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services pricing.

Kindle Connectivity

In Grand Cayman, you can download your Kindle 3G data through EDGE/GPRS coverage provided by Cable & Wireless and Digicel.

Internet Cafe




























































































































Samsung Galaxy S III

Local Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local festivals and events taking place on Grand Cayman for the remainder of 2014 and in 2015:

2014:

  • Remembrance Day, November 10. Public holiday held to remember those who fell in the two World Wars.

  • Pirates Week: Cayman's National Festival 2014, November 6 to 16. Street celebrations, family-friendly heritage days, a "pirate invasion," fireworks and parties make the annual National Festival a fun time to be in George Town.

  • Jazz Fest, November. Enjoy the music and magic of some of the world's most renowned jazz and R&B performers.

  • Christmas Day, December 25. Public holiday.

  • Boxing Day, December 26. Public holiday.

2015:

  • New Year's Day, January 1. Public holiday.

  • National Heroes' Day, January 26. Public holiday that's the largest national celebration of Cayman heritage and culture.

  • 27th Annual Taste of Cayman, February 7. Taking place in Camana Bay, this event is the Islands' premier restaurant showcase, and includes live music, fireworks, a children's fun area, art exhibition, VIP lounge and local food and produce area.

  • 16th Annual Mardi Gras, February 17. Celebrated at the Kaibo Bar and Restaurant in George Town.

  • Ash Wednesday, February 18. Public Holiday.

  • Good Friday, April 3. Public holiday.

  • Easter Monday, April 6. Public holiday; hey, there's nothing like a 4-day weekend!

  • Cayman Carnival Batabano 2015, May 2. Now in its 32nd year, the event has developed into a celebration of Caymanian and Caribbean culture through cuisine, music, dance and other arts. There's an Adult Street Parade on Saturday, the 2md, featuring participants wearing elaborate and colorful carnival costumes, along with rhythmic soca music and energetic bands. You'll also find a Food Festival and Street Fete that follows the parade in the center of George Town. A Junior Parade and Family Fun Day takes place on Saturday, April 5th.

  • Discovery Day, May 18. Commemorates the discovery of the Cayman Islands by Christopher Columbus in 1503.

  • 23rd Annual Flowers Mile Swim, June 13. The world's flattest, fastest ocean mile race, taking place along Grand Cayman's pristine Seven Mile beach.

  • Queens Birthday Observance, June 15. As in England, the Cayman Islands citizens observe the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Constitution Day, July 6. Public holiday commemorating the adoption of the Constitution in 1962.

  • Restaurant Week, September 29 to October 4. The Cayman Islands Tourism Authority invites diners to enjoy lunch or dinner at participating restaurants offering price-fixe menus. A fun time can be had by all!

  • Remembrance Day, November 9. Public holiday held to remember those who fell in the two World Wars.

  • Pirates Week: Cayman's National Festival 2015, November 5 to 15. Street celebrations, family-friendly heritage days, a "pirate invasion," fireworks and parties make the annual National Festival a fun time to be in George Town.

  • Jazz Fest, November. Enjoy the music and magic of some of the world's most renowned jazz and R&B performers.

  • Christmas Day, December 25. Public holiday.

  • Boxing Day, December 26. Public holiday.

George Town Cruise Port Schedules


George Town, located on Grand Cayman and the capital of the Cayman Islands, is the second most popular port destination on western Caribbean cruises.

On average, cruise passengers will enjoy 8 hours of time ashore on Grand Cayman.

In 2014, Grand Cayman is slated to host 1,784,000 passengers sailing on 621 ships, up 28% and 22%, respectively, from 2013. For further information, see our Grand Cayman Cruise Ship Schedule - 2014.

In 2015, Grand Cayman is slated to host 1,965,000 passengers sailing on 681 ships, up 10% and 10%, respectively, from 2014. For further information, see our Grand Cayman Cruise Ship Schedule - 2015.

Stingrays

Cruise Lines Making Port


The following cruise lines will make port in George Town, Grand Cayman in 2014:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Royal Caribbean
Celebrity icon
Celebrity Cruises
princess icon
Princess Cruises
Holland America icon
Holland America
NCL icon
NCL
Disney icon
Disney Cruises
MSC icon
MSC Cruises
Costa icon
Costa Cruises
P & O icon P & O Cruises
Oceania icon
Oceania Cruises
Crystal icon
Crystal Cruises
Silversea icon
Silversea
Hapag-Lloyd icon
Hapag-Lloyd
Cruise Ship


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