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The Best Things to do in Grand Cayman on a Cruise!

Updated: May 12


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The crystal-clear turquoise waters, delicious seafood, stunning beaches, and picture-perfect palm trees await you in the beautiful Grand Cayman Islands! Known as one of the most picturesque and popular Caribbean destinations, this island boasts a wide array of fun-filled activities and gorgeous attractions that make it a must-visit spot for travelers. From diving into its fascinating history, exploring its culinary delights, basking in the sea-sun-sand combo, or indulging in its amazing nightlife, the Grand Cayman Islands offer something for everyone who is visiting by a cruise. So, plan your cruise and pack your bags, you are about to spend the day in the Grand Cayman Islands.


Crystal Clear waters
Crystal Clear waters

Grand Cayman today is a harmonious blend of past and present, where luxury resorts nestle beside ancient shipwrecks and modern culinary delights are savored in the shadow of historic plantations. It beckons travelers to not only bask in its sun-drenched splendor but to also unearth its storied past. Whether you're wandering the streets of George Town, exploring the depths of the Cayman Trench, or simply lounging on the world-renowned Seven Mile Beach, every corner of this island paradise has a story to tell.


Grand Cayman is one of my favorite Caribbean Islands, with so much to see and do, plus the clearest water anywhere in my opinion. This place will always hold a special place in my heart and hopefully it will in yours also. This blog will give you all the info on the best things to see and do in Grand Cayman when visiting by a cruise ship. Although you can take this info to help plan for a week-long stay at one of their wonderful resorts on the Island.


Cruise Port Information

Palm tree in the wind at Grand Cayman
Palm tree in the wind at Grand Cayman

Several cruise ships will usually be in port the day you visit Grand Cayman Island, and since they do not have a pier that supports large cruise ships, your cruise line will be using tender boats to get you to the island. The main Grand Cayman cruise port is in the city of George Town and in my opinion considered the best port on the island. The other tender boat location is on the other side of the island. Of course, it will take you less than 20 minutes to get to George Town from that location, but you will usually have to pay for your own transport back to the main cruise area for most shore excursions or exploring the city of George Town.  


On my visits to the island, I have had to use both port areas. One time in particular we were not aware we were using the port area at the back of the island ahead of time, it was the captain's decision due to waves not being as bad on the back side of the island. If this happens to you, reach out to your 3rd party vendor if you purchased tickets to be picked up at the end of the pier at George Town where you typically will enter into the island. Either they will wait for you to come over to that side of the island, or they will drive over and pick you up. This instance is one of the reasons you might want to buy through the cruise line. You will still have to pay to get to the other side of the island, but the cruise line will have notified them about the delays. The main port at George Town is by far the best and cruise lines will do everything in their power to use this port if possible.


History of Grand Cayman Island

To best understand the island is to have a brief idea of the history of the island. Imagine a place where the past whispers to you through the rustling palms and the waves that gently kiss the shores hold stories of pirates, settlers, and adventurers. Welcome to Grand Cayman Island, a jewel in the Caribbean that not only dazzles with its natural beauty but also enchants with its rich tapestry of history. This isn't just a destination; it's a voyage through time for the curious traveler, the history enthusiast, and the seeker of tales untold.


Coconut on a tree on the island
Coconut on a tree on the Island

Our story begins in the age of discovery, where the Caribs and the Arawaks, the original stewards of the island, navigated the turquoise waters in their canoes, living in harmony with the land. Fast forward to 1503, when Christopher Columbus, on his fourth voyage to the New World, cast his eyes on the Cayman Islands, naming them "Las Tortugas" due to the abundance of sea turtles. However, it wasn't long before the name evolved to "Cayman," inspired by the Carib word for the marine crocodile once found here.


Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the island served as a haven for pirates and privateers. The hidden coves and secluded beaches provided the perfect hideout for these seafaring outlaws, including the infamous Blackbeard and Sir Henry Morgan, to stash their loot and replenish their ships before setting sail to plunder once more.


The Cayman Islands' unique spirit, known affectionately as "Caymankind," has its roots in the diverse blend of settlers who called this island home. From the British and becoming a British overseas territory, with Spanish flair due to explorers of the past, and to the African slaves brought to its shores. Each group contributed to the cultural mosaic that defines Grand Cayman today. The island's capital, George Town, named after King George III, became a bustling port, laying the groundwork for the vibrant, cosmopolitan hub it is now.


The 19th and 20th centuries marked a period of transformation for Grand Cayman as it navigated through the tides of change. The age of sail gave way to steamships, and the island's economy, once reliant on turtling and logwood extraction, diversified into banking, tourism, and scuba diving, turning Grand Cayman into a world-class destination. Yet, amidst this progress, the island has preserved its historical sites and natural beauty, from the historic Pedro St. James Castle to the enchanting Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.



Top Things to do and see in Grand Cayman on a cruise:

Grand Cayman Island offers a wide range of must-see attractions that every traveler should visit. Whether you're into exploring nature, its exciting history and culture, or enjoying its beautiful beaches, you will surely find something that will captivate your heart and mind. The marine life in the ocean around the island is spectacular. There are plenty of things to do on this island.


Ocean waters of Grand Caymen from boat ride
Ocean waters of Grand Caymen from boat ride

Remember if you are on a cruise, your cruise ship will offer excursions that are similar to the ones listed below. If you choose to buy tours from the cruise line you will be paying more for them, but if the excursion has a hiccup and is late arriving back to the pier, the cruise line will wait for you. If you buy excursions to save money by not using the cruise line, make sure you are aware of the time frame to make sure you are back onboard the ship. It will leave without you. Personally, I have never had an issue buying from vendors, and saved some serious bucks doing it this way. Use Viator, they will be helpful for getting ideas on what tours are available, and prices are so much better.


Some of the top attractions include:

Me with a turtle at the Turtle Center
Me with a turtle at the Turtle Center
  • Stingray City, a snorkeling experience that allows visitors to swim with the friendly stingrays in the wild. I have done it and love it!!!! You do not need to worry, they will not hurt you, these southern stingrays are gentle and sweet. The tour guides will be in the water with you and it's only about 5 feet deep in that section. So, I was able to stand at times when I needed to. The tour guides will even guide them to you, in fact somewhere there is a picture of a stingray swimming on my back. Too bad I can't find it for this blog.

  • Cayman Turtle Center, which offers a unique opportunity to explore the life cycle of the sea turtles. I love this place and have learned so much. They nurse turtles back to health, including help with preserving turtle populations on the island. You will learn a lot at the turtle center. One thing I learned is the local population on Grand Cayman eat turtles, it never occurred to me until I got to the center. Some people refer to this place as the Cayman Turtle Farm.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park, a nature lover's paradise home to endemic plants and rare exotic species. This park is home to the endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, and I saw several large iguanas on my visit. The botanical garden also has a conservatory for the iguana, focusing on breeding to boost the population of the iguana. If interested in a comprehensive tour that combines the Botanical Gardens with Pedro St James Historic site and other east end attractions, click here.

  • If you're more into history and culture, you can visit the Cayman Islands National Museum, a remarkable facility showcasing the Caymanian's cultural heritage and artifacts. Visit the jail “old gaol”, which housed ammunition in the 18th century, or visit the natural history gallery, the art gallery, and the cultural history gallery. Tickets are only $10 per person, and you will learn so much when visiting.

  • Take a guided tour of Pedro St James National Historic Site, the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands. This historic site from the 1700’s has authentic period furniture, and artifacts to give you an idea what life was like in the Caymans in the 18th century.

  • Coral Garden Snorkel tours provide you an up-close view of the coral and tropical fish that live in the area. The coral garden is part of the barrier reef system of the area, where you will see plenty of colorful fish swimming around.

Underwater picture at Starfish Point
Underwater picture at Starfish Point
  • Starfish Point is a part of a snorkel tour of the island, where you will see tons of starfish living in the waters there. You will also learn about the starfish. The shallow waters in this area make it easy to spot the starfish on the bottom of the ocean floor. If interest there is a great excursion that combines, Coral Garden, Starfish Point and Stingray City,

  • Travel to the Eastend of the island and watch the blow holes. (Where waterspouts through the rocks and into the sky due to the ocean wave.) It is best to make sure you arrive at the right time. When waves change between high and low tide, the crashing waves into the blow holes are best seen at high tide, if you are traveling on your own without a tour.

  • Mission House This house was originally built in the 1700’s and the technique to rebuild it after the hurricane preserved the looks. Its been reconstructed, This is considered to be the oldest house on the island and was a school in the early 1900’s and a missionary in the 1800’s. It is a great little tour with artifacts from the old way of life. 

Must see, cute tourist trap, with a post office inside
Must see, cute tourist trap, with a post office inside
  • Visit Cayman Crystal Cave and forest area. This attraction is fairly new where the landowners started developing their land to showcase the caves in the 1990's. You take a 1.5 guide walk through the caves and forest. You will see parrots, bats, stalagmites, and stalactites.

  • Don't forget to visit the little town of "Hell". This little lace is basically just a tourist trap, but I enjoyed it. The Post Office is in the same building as the souvenir shop. But the landscape behind the building gives the reason for why this little area is called Hell. You can usually catch this with a sightseeing tour of the area.

  • Kayak tours through the waterways and mangroves leaving from the Yacht Club. Kayaking is a wonderful way to explore the area, see beautiful sights, and find peace and quiet along the way. 

Sailboat way off the coast of the Island
Sailboat way of the coast of the Island
  • Private Boat tours, boat rides, and fishing boat tours are also available on Grand Cayman Islands. They can be pricey, but private charters can take you to great snorkel points all over the island including Starfish Point, Bloody Bay Wall, and Little Cayman Island. Even too Little Cayman Island. Did you know at certain times of the year bird lovers would love Little Cayman because it is home to Red-Footed Boobies. These birds are hard to miss because of their blue feet and not seen everywhere. The best place to see them on Little Cayman Island.

  • Tortuga Rum Cake tours are also available. These are popular cakes in the Caribbean, and I admit I have been wanting one so bad. I saw them at a Miami airport once and bought 3. The rum cake tour offers samples also, to cure your sweet tooth.

  • Scuba Diving is one of the best in this area. There are more than 365 dive sites in the area, and Grand Cayman Diving is the place to check out. They have special dives set up for those of you that are expert divers already. Check their website out, I noticed a lionfish cull scuba dive happening for $140. Really interesting. You will have to double check to make sure scuba diving is happening on the day you are in port. Eden Rock Dive Center is also a great place to look into if you are wanting to Scuba dive or snorkel. There are so many dive spots in the Grand Cayman Islands.

  • Mastic Reserve and Mastic Trail hike is a beautiful old growth first on the island. Managed by the Grand Cayman National Trust-Mastic Trail, where you can hike 2.3 miles, and which takes 2.5 to 3 hours. This is a guided tour, which is great so you can learn more about the wildlife of the island. Click the link above to learn more and book tours. That website also has special tours of the Mission House, Blue Iguana Conservatory and more.

Bask on the Beautiful Beaches

Rocky beach area of Grand Caymen
Rocky beach area of Grand Caymen

No trip to the Grand Cayman Islands is complete without visiting its breathtakingly beautiful beaches! Whether you're looking for a secluded and romantic beach, a family-friendly swimming spot, or a place to catch some waves, you'll find it all on this island. Every beach located here will have crystal-clear waters, with different hues of blue.




  • Seven Mile Beach, one of the world's best beaches, is a perfect destination for sunbathing, swimming, and watching the sunset. I enjoyed the time I spent at this beach, but random fact it is not 7 miles. It's more like 5.5 miles. Enjoy jet skis and other water sports here. Depending on where you arrive on the island, the main port area near George Town, Seven-mile beach is the closest to the cruise port and George Town and is a public beach. There are several sections of the beach, some are more crowded than others, but there are other sections of the beach that are not busy, where you can have a peaceful and quiet day at the beach.

  • Governor's Beach is a small area technically part of the Seven Mile Beach, just closer to the harbor. It is a small beach area, located near the Governor's house. There tend to be lots of tourists, but most of them are just walking along the beach. 100 meters off the shore, there is a reef with good snorkeling.

  • If you're more into snorkeling or diving, head to the Rum Point Beach, a renowned spot for underwater exploration and home to a diverse range of sea life.

  • Or, if you're after something more secluded, visit the Owen Island Beach, a remote and peaceful oasis, the perfect place for a quiet and relaxing day. This is actually on Little Cayman Island, so it is a boat ride away.




Indulge in its Culinary Delights:

Why that area is called Hell, view behind the Souvenir shop
Why that area is called Hell, view behind the Souvenir shop

Grand Cayman Island's culinary scene is a true reflection of its diverse culture and heritage, offering a vast array of delicious and mouthwatering dishes that range from traditional Caribbean cuisine to international fine dining experiences. Some of the must-try local specialties include conch fritters, a savory seafood dish, jerk chicken, a spicy and flavorful chicken delicacy, and plantain chips, a crispy and flavorful appetizer.

  • Latin Taste Restaurant- serves local and Spanish foods, plus milkshakes. Budget friendly and tasty. Stewed Pork Chops are yummy.

  • Sharkee's Bar and Grill is my most favorite place to get some food and a yummy cocktail. Having a variety of Caribbean and American Cuisine.

  • Lima Cevicheria is a wonderful Peruvian restaurant. I love the Pan Con Chicharron

  • Blue by Eric Ripert or The Ritz Carlton's Seven, which offer delicious and indulgent meals that you won't forget anytime soon. They are both upscale, just as a heads up, but with some of the best things to eat on their menu.


Georgetown Waterfront area

Stingray in the water
Stingray in the water

There's no shortage of fun and excitement when it comes to the Grand Cayman's nightlife scene. Whether you're into live music, dancing, or sipping on cocktails by the beach, you'll find it all on this island. The George Town waterfront is a popular hotspot for nightlife, offering a vibrant atmosphere and a diverse range of bars and nightclubs. If you're more into live music, head down to the Hard Rock Café Grand Cayman, which hosts some of the island's top bands and performers. Or, for a more laid-back vibe, visit the Kaibo Beach Bar, a charming and relaxed spot perfect for a sundowner and some delicious snacks. Be sure to visit Caymen Spirits to get a wonderful rum tasting tour, located 1.3 miles away from the city center of George Town.

If you are coming in on a cruise ship you most likely will not be here after dark to enjoy the waterfront nightlife area. But that is why you explore it during the day. This same area is where the tender boats and piers are for the cruise ships. The George Town waterfront is an excellent place to do your duty-free shopping. From jewelry to art and even cheaper souvenirs. They have it all, with lots of places to grab a quick bite to eat while walking the streets.



Conclusion

Are you ready to set sail on an adventure that spans centuries? Grand Cayman is not just a stop on a cruise itinerary or a dot on the map; it's a living museum, a treasure trove of tales waiting to be told. For the travel enthusiast, the adventure seeker, and the history buff, the island offers a voyage of discovery that transcends the boundaries of time.


Pack your spirit of adventure, for Grand Cayman invites you to experience its magic, uncover its secrets, and carry a piece of its history in your heart forever. Whether you're tracing the footsteps of pirates, immersing yourself in the vibrant culture, or marveling at the natural wonders, Grand Cayman promises an unforgettable journey through time.


Here's to the wanderers, the dreamers, and the storytellers—Grand Cayman awaits your arrival with tales as boundless as the sea itself.






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