Travel Tips for the Grand Cayman: Here are 7
Traveling to the Grand Cayman: Here are 7 tips to help your adventure to this beautiful & expensive island.
As well as providing stunning scenery of teal blue water with white sand beaches the surface of their calm, crystal-clear, turquoise waters provide the perfect setting for Snorkeling, sailing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and so many other activities are available all over the beautiful island! If you want to relax on vacation or you want some actives to have fun with while on vacation Grand Cayman could be a possible destination for you! I wanted to share some tips we learned while on our stay in the stunning Grand Cayman, here are 7 tips to make your trip more affordable on this expensive island:
1. Stay in an AirBnb or a hotel that has a kitchen. This made our trip very affordable with it came to our lodging expenses and how to pay for food. When I say food on the island is expensive, I am not exaggerating. The Cayman Islands are small and entirely dependent on imports for everything consumable. We were able to make this trip affordable by buying groceries for the majority of our breakfasts and lunches. We bought a foam cooler for $5 that we filled with beer, water, lunch and snacks each day when we went out on our adventures. Eleven days of eating out three meals a day could add up, and when traveling on a budget, this cost would have disallowed us the ability to participate in many once-in-a-lifetime activities on this island.
2. Travel with small bills from your country, for us it was American Dollars. There is an exchange rate here of 1.25 USD to 1 CI (Cayman dollars). Our money is worth less, so $20 American converts to $16 CI, and all change is given back in CI. Also, almost everywhere on the island automatically includes a 15% gratuity. At Rum Point, you simply must try their signature Mudslide, but a $10 Mudslide, converted to American dollars and after gratuity, comes to about $15. We informed our banks of our travels and used our credit cards for most purchases, which made things a little easier and more automatic. Also, we didn’t end up with wallets full of mixed currency. Some hole in the wall locations required cash, and as always, tour guides and services prefer cash tips, so we used both cash and cards.
3. Rent a car. There is so much to see and do on the island but it is all spread out. In Mexico and Costa Rica we were able to ride bikes and take taxis to most places, but here renting a car is more affordable compared to the prices you will pay for taxi services. We were driving around in a car that seemed more like a golf cart – but it was perfect because cars do not drive much over 40 mph especially if you are driving the coast line. Also it was very fuel efficient and gas was surprisingly reasonable which made all of our driving around and exploring quite affordable.
Fun fact! The cars here drive on the opposite side of the road from America. When we saw our rental car for the first time we both laughed because we had no idea we would be driving with the steering wheel on the right while traveling on the left side of the road!
4. If you plan any activities, make sure to plan them around cruise ship port days. There is a calendar online were you can Google search how many cruise ships are at the harbor that day - www.caymanportauthority.com It could make a difference of anywhere from 3k to 20k extra people in town that day. When we stopped in to the Cayman Trip Advisor center in downtown Camana Bay, they showed us that tip. Each ship brings 2500-3000 people to the island, so on days with 6 ships in port, it may be wise to hang out in West Bay, eat at Macabuca, jog Barker’s National Forest to check out the kite-boarders or get off the island on a fishing trip. When there are 3-6 ships in port, it would be wise to avoid driving through the harbor area, which means avoiding Smiths Cove for snorkeling, Spott’s Beach for swimming with turtles, or driving to the North side to see Rum Point, Kaibo or Starfish Point. Also, the water taxis to Kaibo, as well as tours to Stingray City are packed on these days. Most days of our trip, there were 1-2 ships in harbor, which made minimal impact on traveling and adventures. There were 6 boats one day, so we had pre-booked a deep sea fishing trip and ate a seaside dinner at Macabuca in West Bay that day and didn’t even notice the influx from the cruise ships.
5. We booked our trip at the end of the high season on purpose. We booked in between holidays and spring break. Look at date and holiday factors when planning a vacation to the Cayman Island. We were told there is anywhere from 20-50% of the people on the island are travelers.
6. No need to eat out at expensive restaurants when there are food trucks! I love food trucks. We were able to eat jerk chicken, fish tacos, plantain chips, lamb burgers, and even kabobs and wraps from food trucks sprinkled around the island. We frequently grabbed a greek wrap and walked across the street to sit on the beach and watch the sun set. With a Corona from the liquor store and some awesome grub froma food truck, two can enjoy an amazingly personal and special dinner for $25. For two to sit at a restaurant and order similarly will range from $70-$150 (or more at the upscale resorts) after the exchange rate and gratuity.
7. No need to purchase a trip to see turtles at the discovery bay center. Go to Spott’s Beach with snorkel gear (we brought some on our trip) but you can rent it in town too. There are turtles off the shore you can swim with!
Places to visit in Grand Cayman:
1. Rum Point – Try their famous Mudslide. They prefill the (biodegradable) straw with Rum for a real kick of a first sip!
2. Star fish Cove – See the star fish in the shallow teal water. No need for snorkel gear, the water is 1.’5-3’ deep
3. Smith Cove Beach – Really great snorkeling and bright colored fish. A local hangout for sure, and don’t forget to jump off the rocks into the ocean!
4. Spott’s Beach – Snorkel with turtles (in their natural Environment!)
5. Stringray City – Take a boat out to see and swim with them. Book a trip that includes a snorkel stop and lunch for $95 American (ea) through captain Marvins or drive to Rum Point and take a Red Sails Tour for $55 American that includes a snorkel stop, but no lunch (we opted for the latter).
6. Camana Bay – Amazing restaurants for brunch & Gelato. Brunch is a big deal on the island! Many things are closed on Sunday, so Brunch and the after Party at Royal Palms Beach Club and swim up bar is very popular. Brunch is bottomless and one can opt for bottomless bubbles as well. The two will run you almost $80 American before gratuity per person, so know that going in!!
7. Rackam’s – Sunset dinner, any night, Open mic Tuesday and Free Food Friday (apps circulate while you enjoy your favorite cocktail) and they feed the Tarpon fish at 7:30 each night. Do yourself a favor, order their Sesame Crusted Ahi, its to die for!!
8. Over the Edge – Amazing low key restaurant and ceviche made with wahoo!
9. Calico Jacks – Really fun atmosphere and volleyball on Sundays
10. 7 mile beach! Stunning white sand beach with teal water for as far as you can see. Stroll the beach and stop in to the resorts to check them out and enjoy each restaurant’s take on ceviche…we did!!
We hope there are a few things in here that help make your vacation as perfect as ours. I would HIGHLY recommend this destination in your travel future. These tips should help make the stunning island more affordable and we are very grateful and happy that we were able to spend 12 days on an island that will be forever embedded into our memories. Take a walk down 7 mile beach and watch the most incredible Caribbean Sunset and enjoy the most genuine relaxation possible.
Happy Travels Friends,
Here are some of the items we brought along for travel on our international trip to the Grand Cayman. I love taking pictures and here are some of the accessories I used for the water pictures!
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