Nestled in the warm Western Caribbean, Grand Cayman is home to one of the most popular ports of call for cruise lines. With world-class beaches, high-class shopping, and colorful sea life in crystal clear turquoise waters, it’s easy to see why a visit to George Town is in such high demand.
The Cayman Islands are small. Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman make up just 100 square miles of tropical paradise. But don’t worry! They offer plenty to see and do for any traveler looking to stretch out their sea legs.
Cruise ships anchor in George Town harbor, on the western side of Grand Cayman Island. Tender boats will bring you into the city and drop you right in the heart of downtown.
A Great Trip to A Place Called Hell
Cruise lines offer a number of shore excursions. A standard Grand Cayman tour might include a look at George Town, and a number of stops including the Turtle Farm, the Tortuga Rum Factory, and a curious little place called Hell.
Hell is actually a small village, which gets its name from its landscape of rough, black jagged rocks (said to be more than two million years old). It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s also a fun place to send a postcard to friends, postmarked “Hell.”
The Turtle Farm is a great stop for families. It’s a government-run center, raising the endangered green sea turtles which used to be abundant around the islands. In fact, the Caymans were first named “Las Torgugas” after the many turtles Christopher Columbus saw swimming around in 1503 when his ship was blown off course. My 5-year-old son Liam was fascinated by the concrete tanks full of thousands of turtles, and utterly thrilled when our guide took one out and let him hold it.
The Tortuga Rum Cake Factory also gets its name from the island’s turtles, and since no visit to the Caribbean seems complete without the sweet taste of rum on your tongue, it’s also a popular tour stop. You can get anything here from rum to cooking sauces or souvenirs, but the best bet is the world famous Tortuga Rum Cake. Try a few samples, since it comes in a variety of delicious flavours including chocolate, banana and coffee.
The great thing about an organized tour is that you get to see a little of everything that Grand Cayman Island has to offer. The downside is that it really can be just a “little”, which may not be enough time for you at some of these incredible places.
Don’t be afraid to chart your own path instead. Check out the shops in George Town, offering everything from duty-free perfume to coins salvaged from shipwrecks and handcrafted black coral jewellery. If you want to wander further afield, book a tour to Stingray City and head out to a sandbar in the North Sound to swim with stingrays in warm, shallow water. Or hail a taxi and spend your day sun tanning or snorkelling at Cemetery Reef, right at the end of the world famous Seven Mile Beach.
Whether you prefer to experience the stunning coral reefs of Grand Cayman Island underwater and surrounded by tropical fish, or from the comfort of a submarine tour, or polished and shaped into jewellery, George Town, Grand Cayman has plenty of what you’re looking for, under a warm Caribbean sun.