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CAYMAN ISLANDS TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Cayman Islands travel guide for over 40 solo travel, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Cayman Islands travel planning.
WELCOME TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!
Australia – the land “down under”. A continent that is the 6th largest country by area, home to the world’s largest barrier reef, multiple wine regions, red earth outback country, and crocks (not the shoes), and where 90% of the people live on the coast. Not to mention it holds some world class cities, like Melbourne and Sidney. There is a multitude of things to do in Australia – many trips required. Pick one region to start and see where your heart takes you. You’re bound to enjoy it and want to go back for more.
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LANGUAGES IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
The official language is English can be heard with a Welsh, Scottish and English ‘brogue’ that reflects its heritage.
CAYMAN ISLANDS' CULTURE
The islands are a western culture influenced by the British, Afro-Caribbeans of Jamaica and recent immigrants from the U.S. Christianity is the predominant religion of Caymanians. Tourism and the financial services sector represent over half of the local economy, with much of the remaining livelihoods relying from the sea in fishing and turtle harvesting. Sea salt is its major export. Jamaican cuisine, jerk spices and curry have a big influence on local dishes. Formally known as Las Tortugas (the turtles), turtle stew is the national dish with other traditional dishes consisting of conch, grouper, snapper and goat.
POPULAR CAYMAN ISLANDS ACTIVITIES
Watersports dominate popular activities by both locals and tourists. Supporting a large tourism industry, the islands consist of many beachfront resorts supporting these water activities, such as diving, snorkeling, and fishing. The islands tout over 365 dive sites thanks to its coral reefs, number of shipwreck sites and the Bloody Bay Marine Reserve.
CAYMAN ISLANDS' CURRENCY
The Cayman Islands dollar (KYD or CI$) – exchange rates are usually favorable for U.S. citizens. U.S. dollars can be used in the Cayman Islands but do expect to receive Cayman Islands dollars in the exchange, which cannot be used in the U.S.
TRAVELING CAYMAN ISLANDS
The Cayman Islands has all modern forms of transportation, including shuttles and taxis. There is no Uber or Lyft at this time, however, it does have a ride equivalent smartphone app, Flex, you can download to schedule transportation, so getting around and booking transportation in advance or working on the fly, is no problem, although it may be recommended to book a taxi or Flex ride in advance to ensure you receive the correct car.
TIPPING IN CAYMAN ISLANDS
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
CAYMAN ISLANDS' HOLIDAYS
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at the Cayman Islands’ holidays.
CAYMAN ISLANDS ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, the Cayman Islands’ voltage is 120V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz, so they use both Type A and Type B adapters, like the U.S. Although you don’t have to bring an adapter, check your electronics – if you have one requiring a 3-prong outlet you may want to bring a Type B adapter just in case. Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country on your trip in addition to the Cayman Islands, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested global adapters below for your convenience!
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport valid at time of entry that allows for two pages required for entry stamp. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to the Cayman Islands. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
There are normally no vaccinations required for the Cayman Islands. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to the Cayman Islands. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
CAYMAN ISLANDS TRAVEL SAFETY
Although considered a safe place to travel within, there could be some petty theft in the Cayman Islands tourist areas, so locking your valuables in a hotel safe could be advised. Beyond that, my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
The Cayman Islands’ high season, due to the best weather conditions, is mid-December to mid-April but, of course, this could make it the highest cost time to go as well on top of the fact that prices are a little higher in the Caymans anyway as products have to be imported. A lower cost time to go is from June to November (summer is the rainy season), but that is also considered hurricane season so plan well and have travel insurance in case you need to rebook or get delayed due to weather. Like Belize, I would recommend going at the end of high season in late April to avoid the crowds, higher costs and get good weather. You could also visit in May or October, still less crowded but when weather starts to get warmer (80’s F).
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
If you’ll be doing any type of water sports in the Cayman Islands, ensure to use reef-safe sunscreen to protect it and its marine biodiversity. Here is a list of the Best Recommended Reef-Safe Sunscreens on the Market to get in advance:
- Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
- Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
- Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
- All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
- Coral Safe All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen
- Sun Bum Reef Friendly Ingredients Sunscreen
- Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
- Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
- TropicalSport Biodegradable Mineral Sunscreen
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, the Cayman Islands, consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
I’ve luckily had the opportunity to snorkel at Grand Cayman, but now that I dive I can’t wait to go back. Same as The Bahamas. I’m feeling a Caribbean island-hopping trip coming soon…