Hi everyone! My name is Nicole Mattia from the website and Instagram Live Happy Travel Often. Welcome to my travel guide on Grand Cayman.
I live on Long Island, New York with my partner Nate (the other half of Live Happy Travel Often). We met during our undergraduate studies in upstate New York and have been together for about six years now. Prior to meeting, Nate had never left the country. So as soon as we started dating, we got Nate’s passport set up and hopped on our first flight together.
Traveling for us is about experiencing life outside of our little bubble on Long Island. We love to travel to new places, experience different cultures, try exciting new foods and create memories that last a lifetime.
Girls Trip to the Cayman Islands
My recent voyage to the Cayman Islands was actually part of a girls trip! I was in the middle of an intensive graduate program for my masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at the time and decided to gather up some friends during our only break of the school year to get away and relax.
We traveled as a group of four and went to Grand Cayman for eight days. Unfortunately, eight days was all we could take off due to our university schedules. Our group was a mix of adventurers and those who wanted to relax. So we decided to do a bit of both in the Cayman Islands.
We utilized the public bus system, which was easy to navigate, in order to get from place to place on the island. During our adventures, we explored Seven Mile Beach, Spotts Beach, Rum Point, Starfish Point, Stingray City, Cemetery Beach, Coral Gardens, Bioluminescent Bay and George Town.
My Experience at Grand Cayman
As far as first impressions go, it was very clear to me that Grand Cayman lives up to its name of being grand! The turquoise waters, beautiful weather, friendly locals, plentiful sea life, delicious food, the list goes on and on. What surprised me the most was that Grand Cayman was empty.
We visited Grand Cayman in August which was definitely off season. The majority of George Town was closed during dinner hours. However, there were still plenty of restaurants to choose from. We ate out on three nights and then cooked dinner ourselves for the rest of the trip. Some people may see this as a downfall but for me it was heaven.
We had the island to ourselves. Beaches were empty, prices were low and excursions had openings at any time. It made me feel as though Grand Cayman was a secret island that no tourists had discovered yet!
By far the best part of my trip was our morning at Spotts Beach. I had done some research and read that an early morning visit to this beach was the best “spot” to find sea turtles feeding on the sea grass. Sure enough, when we visited there were a bunch of sea turtles munching away.
5 Things To Do on Grand Cayman
1. Swim with Sea Turtles at Spotts Beach
As explained above, Spotts Beach is a unique experience to swim with sea turtles. Heads up for anyone looking to visit, bring a noodle to help you float and rest because the waters are a bit rough on this side of the island.
2. Discover the Beautiful Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have experienced in the entire world. The water is extremely calm and as warm as a bathtub, not to mention crystal clear! Upon arrival, you will know why this beach continually gets rated as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
3. See the Amazing Starfish of Starfish Point
Starfish Point, as the name suggests, is a unique location to see beautiful starfish. Remember not to take the starfish out of the water. Instead, you can swim by, take plenty of photos and respect these amazing creatures.
4. Snorkel by the Corals and Fish of Coral Gardens
Coral Gardens are a coral reef that can only be accessed by boat located near Stingray City on Grand Cayman. The underwater gardens are filled with colorful corals and tons of fish! We even spotted a few sting rays!
5. Marvel at the Light of Bioluminescent Bay
Just a heads up, the magical light of Bioluminescent Bay can’t really be captured by your camera. I was so disappointed when I found this out but don’t let that discourage you from visiting! It’s a short excursion and a once in a lifetime experience to see your body lighting up the dark waters.
*FYI on Visiting Stingray City
I wanted to note that I didn’t include Stingray City in the list of the best things to do on Grand Cayman. I’m not 100% sure of my feelings towards Stingray City, which is why I didn’t post any photos from that excursion.
I have read many articles since returning and am still unsure whether the experience is ethical or not. The stingrays are in fact wild. However, they are not social creatures and creating this social atmosphere for these animals may not be the best situation. I have also read that the food given to the sting rays by the tour companies is not great for their overall health.
So, if you decide to do the excursion to Stingray City, do your own research and make the decision for yourself on what you believe. I wish I had more information on the topic but unfortunately that is all I know for now.
Friendly Locals of Grand Cayman
The locals of Grand Cayman are so friendly and welcoming. Like I stated earlier, the island was almost empty during our visit so we really tried to support the local community where we could. Everyone we met was more than willing to help us and provide recommendations for our trip.
Also, taking the local bus on Grand Cayman exposed us to others and we had some wonderful conversations with locals. With downtown being closed, we didn’t get to experience the culture as much as I would have liked but from what we saw it was a friendly, happy and vibrant place.
Food Options on Grand Cayman
In an effort to save money, we only ate out a few nights during our Grand Cayman trip. However, every night was extremely delicious. I had a lychee cocktail one evening which was probably the best drink I have ever had!
I love lychee and don’t find it much in America. So I was very excited to find that on the menu. Also, I’m vegetarian and was surprised to see many choices for vegetarians at each of the restaurants. The three restaurants we ate at were Coconut Joe’s Bar & Grill, Saltwater Grill and Hard Rock Cafe.
Where to Stay on Grand Cayman
We stayed in an Airbnb in the Britannia Villas which is walking distance to Seven Mile Beach. The villa featured two bedrooms, full kitchen, two full baths, dining area, living area and an outdoor dining screened patio. It also had a swimming pool and grilling area. The perfect place for relaxation.
We spent a lot of time at the beach of Palm Heights since it was across the street from us. I cannot speak for the interior of the rooms. However, the hotel was beautiful and perfectly situated. We also explored Marriott Beach Resort which was lovely. This resort comes with a price tag but it’s worth it.
Need to Know Before you Go
Key travel tips for Grand Cayman would be to book your trip around a time that best suits your desires. If you want an island all to yourself then book during the summer months. But if you want the island to be bustling and to experience downtown then make sure to book during high season.
I would definitely book a place on the west side of Grand Cayman since that is where the majority of the excursions can be found. If you want to experience the other side, you should rent a car to go exploring! My one regret is not making the time to explore the multiple shipwrecks which you can snorkel on the island. Make sure to prioritize your activities.
If you have any questions on Grand Cayman, feel free to reach out to me on: [email protected]. Thanks for reading my Grand Cayman travel guide. I hope you enjoy visiting this Caribbean paradise!