I worked a trip to Grand Cayman last week, and let me tell you, the weather was absolutely perfect.
The trade winds blow northeast 15 to 25 knots in the winter and that is why they’re nicknamed “Christmas winds.” So when we landed, it was very windy and ideal sail boarding/windsurfing conditions.
The Cayman Islands happen to be one of the warmer Caribbean islands in January; days are balmy with an average temperature of 84 degrees.
Backstory: Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) in 1503 when his ships were blown off course by strong winds. He saw two of the three small islands full of turtles and named them Las Tortugas, Spanish for “the turtles.”
The airport and resorts are on Grand Cayman and the main town is George Town which is also the capital.
Coral reefs ring all three islands making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers.
Like most Caribbean airports, The Owens Robert International Airport is small on Grand Cayman. It’s too small to accommodate large aircraft with a gate and jet bridge so a movable ramp is attached to the aircraft door for passengers to walk down and onto the tarmac. They file into the airport and through customs.
Here are a few tips if you plan a trip to Grand Cayman. We vacationed on Grand Cayman years ago and had a great time.
Keep in mind Grand Cayman is generally a more expensive island to visit but well worth the extra expense. Seven Mile Beach is usually free of roaming beach hawkers. There are plenty of water sports such as renting a hobie cat or parasailing off the beach.
Where we stayed: The Hyatt on Seven Mile Beach which was destroyed later by a hurricane. There are a few resorts to choose from on this beautiful white sand beach that feels like talcum powder; it’s actually 5.5 miles in length. U.S. News & World Report rated it as the ‘Best Beach in the World.’
One of my passengers told me that her husband got 5 nights for free at The Marriott with Marriott rewards. This is one of the resorts on Seven Mile Beach. There is also a Westin and a Kimpton.
Must-Do: The first fun thing we did–which almost everybody does when they visit Grand Cayman–is swim with the stingrays in shallow water at Stingray City. It’s one of the nation’s top tourist attractions.
TIP: A passenger on my flight last week said that she was told to BOOK the stingray trip in the afternoon because cruise ship passengers arrive in the morning, flood the area and then get back on the ship and leave. So afternoon is the best time to book your Stingray City.
We went to Grand Cayman in August/off-season (hottest month in the Caymans and least wind). At that time there wasn’t a cruise ship in site–it was also hurricane season and we had to evacuate the island on the fifth day because a hurricane was headed our way.
Must-Do: Rent a car and explore the island. We rented our car at the hotel.
Must-Do: Drive to Cayman Turtle Farm–You’ll see 500-pound green sea turtles and have the opportunity to pick up small turtles in a tank or wading pool.
Even though Grand Cayman is expensive, you will get a huge price break on jewelry (Island Jewellers is in the heart of George Town and has a shop at the airport too). Head to Georgetown for duty-free boutique shopping and to take a look at the gold-plated banks that you hear so much about.
Drive to the north coast and visit the tiny town of Hell; there are black rock formations and a place to buy a t-shirt and a tiny post office to send postcards.
To escape cruise ship crowds, drive to the East End where you’ll come across blowholes and secluded beaches. Head to the Northern tip, Rum Point, and relax in a hammock with a book.
We did all of the above over a period of four days.