The Cayman Islands are basically few specks of sand in the Caribbean Ocean in between Cuba and Central America. My main objective for visiting Grand Cayman Island was to examine residency options. However, I quickly changed my mind about this after visiting their immigration agency for visa extension.
The localism and sleaze notwithstanding, there are some pretty amazing and unique things to do in Grand Cayman such as snorkeling with giant tarpons at Eden Rock, plus much more.
I really wish I had an underwater camera! However, here is a list of the best non touristy things to do in Grand Cayman, supplemented with lots of photos (above water). Of course, this list will exclude touristy junk.
Best list of non touristy things to do in Grand Cayman:
- Governor’s Beach
- Snorkeling with Tarpons at Eden Rock
- Smith’s Barcadere
- The Blowholes
- Fishing at West Bay Beach (North End)
- Catch Restaurant and Lounge
- Storm Chasing on Grand Cayman
- Buy some authentic Cuban cigars
- Visit East End of Grand Cayman
- Snorkeling at Lighthouse Dive Resort
Governor’s Beach on Grand Cayman
Located on the north end of Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman, is Governor’s Beach. Basically, all of Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman is pretty much the same plain white sand. The main difference is the hotels are all mainly situated in the lower part. Additionally, the southern end of Seven Mile Beach is closer to the cruise ship terminal.
However, Governor’s Beach offers some insulation from tourists and it seemed to be more of a local hang out. Which is good, in theory.
We had a lot of fun at Governor’s, but if you have transport you should also visit Smith’s Barcadere. There is some OK snorkeling there and the landscape is more interesting because of the mixed rocks/sand. Additionally, the crowd there seems to be non touristy, non local expats. From what I could tell, locals were not bringing their dogs there and things like this.
“The Blowholes” at the East End
The Blowholes are exactly what they sound like and they can be quite explosive. This unique attraction is located about an hour from George Town on the east side of the island. Therefore, you will need transport but they are still easy to find.
Upon arrival, we were approached by a local volunteer guide who gave us a brief history of the island and an introduction to the local ecology.
The blowholes themselves were really amusing and we got some interesting photos. But if you do this, prepare to get wet!
Storm Chasing on Grand Cayman Island
We visited Grand Cayman Island over the summer months. Indeed, one of the Grand Cayman Island things to know is that summer is prime hurricane season. It is potentially dangerous, however it has been a long time since the Cayman Islands suffered a direct hit from a major hurricane. Nonetheless, hurricane season also provides a source of adventure for those living in the Caribbean.
Fortunately, there was no hurricanes in the area during my 6 weeks on the island. However, there was a tropical storm that blew through. The storm created an opportunity to get some photos of lightening bolts in motion. The night the storm arrived we were out to dinner at a local restaurant on the north end. As a result, we took a crack at some photos.
Fishing at Grand Cayman Island
Do you enjoy fishing? Of course, there are many options for deep sea fishing charters. However, I looked into this and Grand Cayman deep sea fishing is massively overpriced. For example: deep sea fishing in Mauritius would cost 70% less for full day charter. Plus, you are all but guaranteed to catch fish.
However, I did have some excellent fishing off of West Bay Beach on the north end of the island. You will also find locals fishing here which is always a good sign. I went there quite frequently and caught barracuda and lots of jacks.
Barracuda put up a great fight, but unfortunately they are poisonous and therefore non edible. Additionally, it is advisable to attach a steel leader because they will bite through your fishing line. However, the jacks are excellent to have for dinner especially with some of the Caribbean style blackened seasoning.
Indeed, it is possible to eat barracuda occasionally. Apparently, not all of them are poisonous! Fortunately, the locals have a novel method that they use to test the fish for poison. Their indigenous solution is to set the fish on the ground near an ant hill. If the ants come and eat the fish, then it is safe for human consumption. If the ants stay away from barracuda, then so should you.
Things to Avoid
Unfortunately, one of the only ways get on and off Grand Cayman Island (especially if you are coming from the US) is the US airlines. The prudent self respecting traveler would want to use all options and steer well clear of the US airlines. Indeed, there are direct flights from London using better alternatives.
Furthermore, women traveling alone are likely to get hit on (harassed) by airport security. This same behavior is common with attendants at local gas stations and things like this. Unfortunately, it seems nepotism is deeply rooted in the employee selection process.
Last but not least, think twice before you get locked into any real estate transactions on Grand Cayman. Just because the prices are dropping does not mean it is a buying opportunity. Indeed, on Grand Cayman there may be a very good reason why investors are running for the exits. *Hint – it’s not the hurricanes.