Best True Caymanian Experience

Experience the Cayman Islands like a local Caymanian with insight into Cayman culture and cuisine along with ways you can experience the islands like a local.

Joanna Boxall image
Last updated 03 January, 2024

Once known as ‘The Islands that time forgot,’ the Cayman Islands has now caught up to the 21st century. However, as a visitor to the Islands there are several ways in which you can immerse yourself in the local culture and have a ‘true Caymanian experience’.

Traditional Caymanian Food

Caymanian food pre-dates supermarkets and refrigerators; so as one would expect, it is focused on the things that could be grown and caught locally. For example:

  • Turtle in the form of Turtle stew is the national dish. The best turtle stew is made by combining turtle meat with what are known as ‘menavlins’: these are the other parts of the turtle (except for the shell). Menavlins are considered an important component of the distinctive flavour. Turtle has no cholesterol and tastes similar to veal.
  • Fish Rundown was the traditional way to cook fish. For this dish the fish is cooked in coconut milk with Cayman seasoning peppers, pumpkin, plantain, onions, dumplings and ‘breadkind’ (starchy vegetables). It is a very simple but extremely tasty dish. You can try a huge portion of fresh local fish (at a very reasonable price) at Heritage Kitchen in West Bay (345) 939 3474.
  • Conch Stew is the traditional Caymanian way to eat conch but it is also delicious marinated and eaten with crackers. You will find conch on most menus, however the best way to enjoy conch (when in season) is on a boat trip where the crew will dive for the conch, marinate it and serve it on board.
  • Cayman Beef is cooked fairly simply (salt, pepper and a little onion) and very slowly in a pot on a low heat (a little water is added during the cooking process). It is normally served with rice.
  • Cayman Lobster is another traditional dish and it is made by frying small pieces of lobster in butter with sweet peppers, onions and scotch bonnet pepper. It can be quite spicy.


The sound of shouting and banging the table will be the first clues that you’ve stumbled upon a game of dominoes. Caymanians play a variation of the game called ‘Cut Throat’ where players play individually, rather than as part of a team. To witness the sights and sounds of a lively game of dominoes we recommend Sunset House and any number of local restaurants.


Music and singing have been part of Caymanian culture for hundreds of years and were born out of adversity, in particular slavery. Not surprisingly, the Caymanian music style has strong European and African influences, but due to the Islands’ isolation it took on its own identity. In its earliest form it was a type of folk music with lyrics passed down through generations and can still be heard today. There are a variety of local bands and one in particular called the ‘Swanky Kitchen band’. If you get a chance, listen to them! Read our article on the Local Music Scene for more information.


In Caymanian culture Sundays traditionally consisted of church, rest, food and family time. Families gathered on a Sunday to attend a lively and joyful church service, followed by a meal, then games and music. They also used to love to sit on their porches ‘shooting the breeze’ and watching the comings and goings around them. For a visitor wanting to experience this age old tradition, we recommend attending a Sunday service at the Elmslie Presbyterian Church or The First Baptist Church and then taking a drive around the Island taking in families sitting on their porches. For a list of these churches and some others see here


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