Grand Cayman is a popular cruise port attracting around 1.4 million cruise ship passengers a year and it’s not difficult to see why. The island is safe, clean, easy to get around and has a host of shore excursions to choose from, such as relaxing on white sandy beaches, shopping, snorkelling, diving, world famous attractions like Stingray City and the Cayman Turtle Farm and of course there are plenty of options for eating and drinking. The hard part is deciding what to do when you have just one day in Grand Cayman.
We have set out some useful information on Grand Cayman shore excursions below with links to more information and recommended tour providers. It is worth noting that a lot of the attractions and tour operators on the island have deals with the cruise ships and so may not accept your business or offer you the same prices that they advertise on Explore Cayman, if they know you are coming on a cruise ship.
The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory and as such English is the official language and people drive on the left. The islands are on Eastern Standard Time (or GMT -5) however daylight savings are not observed. The currency is the Cayman Islands (CI) dollar although US dollars are accepted island-wide although change will always be given in CI$. The exchange rate is fixed to the US dollar: CI$1 is US$1.25 or US$1 to CI$0.80. Banks are open 9am-4pm Monday to Friday and there are plenty of ATMs in George Town and across the island.
There are plenty of ways to get around Grand Cayman including some inexpensive options. Whilst it can feel a bit overwhelming when you arrive as the George Town port is bustling with activity, the information below should help you make the best choice for your needs. You can find additional information on transport in Cayman here.
Walking– If you intend to stay in the George Town area then you will be able to get around on foot with no problems. Check out our online maps of Cayman or pick up a copy of Explore magazine which you’ll find in racks located around George Town and across the island as it has excellent maps of the George Town area with shops, restaurants and historical sites clearly marked.
Taxi – Taxis fares are based on per person and are fixed by the government, although it is worth confirming the price before you set off. There will be plenty of taxis waiting at the port when your ship docks. Taxis look like mini-vans and drivers prefer to have a minimum of four passengers to make it worth their while.
Bus – Buses are a very cost effective way to get around, most journeys are between CI$1-CI$3. Buses also look like mini vans, you can hail one by waving your hand when they toot at you. The bus depot is next to the library in George Town (across from Heroes Square fountain). When you board tell the driver where you would like to go and usually you can be dropped off outside the door. Click here for more information on bus routes in Cayman.
Rental Car – To make the most of your time in port it is worth considering renting a car to give you the flexibility to see what you want at your own pace. Car rental agencies offer one-day prices for cruise ship passengers and will meet you at the port. The island is small and easy to navigate so you won’t need to worry about wasting time getting lost. Car rental agencies in Cayman include Alamo, Avis Cico and Economy & Discount Car Rentals.
The flat terrain and good condition of the roads makes getting around by bike easy, although it does get hot. Check out West Bay Loop for tours and bike rentals.
Things to do
We have set out the best activities with a rough time allowance to help you make the most of your day in Cayman. We've partnered with many businesses to offer exclusive discounts. Be sure to mention EXPLORE when booking to receive your discount.
If your idea of heaven is relaxing on a gorgeous white sandy beach then you’re in luck as Grand Cayman delivers with the famous Seven Mile Beach and a number of others for you to while away the hours on.
Seven Mile Beach – This is Grand Cayman’s best known and most popular beach. The water is warm and calm so perfect for swimming, snorkelling and all watersports. The beach is lined with beach bars, hotels and water sports operators, however it is long and wide enough not to feel crowded.
Royal Palms is a wonderful beachside bar and restaurant. It offers sun loungers by the water’s edge, showers, changing rooms, a variety of watersports and a fantastic food and drinks menu. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes in a bus or taxi to get to Royal Palms. How long you stay is up to you!
If the beach bars aren’t your scene there are plenty of quiet areas on Seven Mile Beach where you can place your towel and remain undisturbed for hours.
Other Beaches to discover – there are a number of other beaches to consider, they are just as beautiful but quieter and won’t have the same facilities on offer. Some examples include the following however you can find a full list of Cayman’s best beaches here.
Rum Point is a beautiful shady beach on the north side. Relax in a hammock or snorkel in the sheltered water. Ideal for young children. The Wreck Bar and Grill serves food and cold drinks. It will take about 40 minutes to get there in a taxi.
Smith Barcadere (formerly Smith Cove) is a small but picturesque pocket of sand in the mainly ironshore coastline. Easy snorkelling, lots of trees, picnic tables, restroom facilities and a freshwater shower. There are no food and drink options here. It will take about 15 minutes to get there in a taxi.
Just beyond Kaibo at the very tip of Cayman Kai is Starfish Point. Facing into the North Sound, the sea here is calm and shallow. There is some shade and there are fun spots for kids. As you would expect, you will find lots of starfish! It is hard to find: you need to go through the gates that make it look like a private property. There are no food and drink options here although Kaibo is nearby. It will take about 40 minutes to get there in a taxi.
Attractions & Activities in Grand Cayman
There is more to Cayman than just wonderful beaches; there are also attractions to suit every interest and budget. We have listed several options below however you can find more land based options in Cayman here.
One of the most famous attractions in Grand Cayman, Stingray City is one of the absolute “must dos” for visitors. Even the most seasoned traveller cannot fail to be enchanted by the opportunity to interact with these graceful, placid creatures who will eat from your hand and even let you kiss them! A list of operators can be found here. Expect to spend about three hours on a round trip, more if you elect for a tour that stops for lunch and at other snorkelling spots.
Cayman’s largest land-based attraction is home to thousands of turtles, from yearling turtles swimming and playing around right through to mature adults who can weigh more than 500lb! You’ll even get the chance to swim with some of the smaller ones. If that wasn’t enough there is the Predator Reef where you see nurse sharks, tarpon, barracuda and more, a Turtle Twister Water Slide for children to enjoy and an aviary full of both local and exotic birds. You can spend anything between 1-4 hours at the Turtle Centre. The journey will take approximately 20-30 minutes in a Bus or Taxi.
Step back in time and experience the history and heritage at Pedro St James. This Great House is the oldest surviving stone structure in the Cayman Islands. It is also the “birthplace of democracy”, and home to Cayman’s many cultural and historic tales. Absorb the beauty of the panoramic ocean views and landscaped gardens. Enjoy a 3-D multi-sensory movie that will transport you back in time, and take a guided tour by a local, for a truly authentic experience. From the cruise port take a taxi or the public bus (Buses leave from beside the library in George Town, fare is US$2 each way), the NS, EE, BT or #9 buses all go to Pedro St James. Travel time is 20 mins each way. Allow yourself 3.5hrs to fully complete this tour, including transport.
There are two dolphin parks in Cayman, Dolphin Cove and Dolphin Discovery. Both parks offer a variety of experiences to suit different swimming abilities and budgets. Expect to spend about three hours at either park. The journey will take approximately 20-30 minutes in a Bus or Taxi.
Cayman also has a tonne of other things to do for example, exhilarating helicopter rides, serene Kayak tours, with Cayman Kayaks and Cayman Sea Elements who both offer incredibly interesting nature tours around the mangroves and scenic parasailing rides with Parasailing Professionals where you'll see stunning views of Seven Mile Beach.
Diving & Snorkelling
The Cayman Islands offer some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean. The water is home to an abundance of colourful sea life, is clear, warm and calm, creating perfect conditions to discover our underwater world.
Diving – There are a number of different dive options available including shore dives, wreck diving, boat dives to the wall and other great spots. There are over 40 dive operators in Cayman, for you to choose from. You could spend between 2-5 hours diving depending on what you would like to see.
Snorkelling – there are wonderful options for snorkelling off the shore on Seven Mile Beach and beyond. All you need to get started is a mask and snorkel which you can buy or rent at Divers Supply in Seven Mile Beach. Take a look at our Snorkelling in Grand Cayman article for more information. If you fancy a trip on a boat then there are several tour operators that will take you out for a few hours, you could even checkout the Kittiwake – an ex-USS military ship that was sunk off the coast of Cayman. The top of it lays just 15ft from the surface so it is a great place to snorkel.
Non Divers – If you are not a qualified diver but would still like to experience the thrill of the breath-taking underwater world then check out Sea Trek & Snuba. Their equipment lets you go under water in either a helmet that allows you breathe normally or through a tube connected to an air supply on the boat. It’s a safe and fun experience. Should you not want to get wet at all then a Submarine ride with Atlantis Submarines or a glass bottom boat trip with Aquaventure Tours could be for you. Both will let you marvel at the sea life in a dry environment.
Cayman is famous for its tax free shopping and items such as jewellery, watches, luxury brands, gems and precious metals can work out much cheaper in Cayman than they would be in America or Europe. On top of this you can also expect to find locally produced goods like Cayman art, Caymanite, hot sauces, rum cake and fun souvenirs to take home to family and friends.
You will find that George Town will cater to all your shopping needs or alternatively you can try Camana Bay which is a lovely new town centre full of boutique shops, bars and restaurants.
If you fancy getting under the skin of Cayman take an island tour with an experienced guide who will take you to a selection of the island’s land based attractions. You can choose from customised Land Rovers with Cayman Safari Adventures or Tours Cayman. Tours are led by enthusiastic guides who have in-depth knowledge of the island and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Last but certainly not least, you will want to try one of the restaurants in Cayman’s thriving dining scene! Cayman is known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean and has one of the highest ratios of restaurants to residents in the world. You will find every type of cuisine available in Cayman including traditional Cayman food, international gourmet food, Italian, American, Chinese and much more.
For a comprehensive list of the island’s best restaurants visit Cayman Good Taste where you’ll find restaurants listed by type of food and area. You can also read reviews, see sample menus and make online reservations.
Most restaurants have great bars to sit at and enjoy a Cayman cocktail however our article on the Cayman Bar scene will give you more detailed information.