CAYMAN ISLANDS TRAVEL GUIDE
Navigate the Cayman Islands travel guide:
Like this? Share it with others!
WELCOME TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!
The Cayman Islands – consisting of three islands in the western Caribbean – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman – the islands’ landmass total only 176 square miles. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the islands are currently a British territory and are known for its capital, George Town, 7 Mile Beach, Stingray City, expansive coral reefs, underwater sea walls with multiple shipwreck sites, Bloody Bay Marine Reserve, financial services, and amazing weather with an average temperature of 78F.
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.
CAYMAN ISLANDS TRANSPORTATION
The Cayman Islands has all forms of transportation, including shuttles, taxis and rental cars.
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.
- A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.
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.
CAYMAN ISLANDS TRAVEL BOOKING
CAYMAN ISLANDS ECOTOURISM TIPS
There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in the Cayman Islands. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.
ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.
Purchase 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.
ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Cayman Islands and other Caribbean Green Global members.
Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.
Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.
LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Bahamas certifications.
GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.
Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!
The Cayman Islands has ecotourism vacations available to explore for your next vacation.
When doing any type of water sports in the Cayman Islands, use reef-safe sunscreen to protect marine biodiversity. Here are a few of the best recommended reef-safe sunscreens to get you started:
MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS
CAYMAN ISLANDS SAFETY TIPS
HOW TO TRAVEL THE CAYMAN ISLANDS SAFELY
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.
CAYMAN ISLANDS 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).
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…