The Cayman Islands may tick all of the boxes you’d expect of a Caribbean getaway, but there’s more to this swanky sun destination than sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and classic rum cocktails. Here’s our ultimate guide to the very best its three distinctly-flavoured islands have to offer.
The Best Place to Swim With the Stars
Starfish Point, Grand Cayman
It’s not just sun-worshippers who are drawn to this breathtakingly beautiful beach on the tranquil eastern rim of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. The warm, crystal-clear waters just off the shore play host to hordes of colourful starfish that trawl the shallows in search of food. These fascinating five-legged creatures don’t seem to mind sharing their habitat with curious beachcombers, so long as they’re left under the water’s surface—exposed to air, they can suffer tissue damage within seconds.
Travel tip: Planning on Instagramming your close encounters of the aquatic kind? It’s best to purchase an international data package with your Canadian carrier before you leave home. Roaming charges in the Cayman Islands can set you back as much as $300 a day!
The Best Place to Order a Mudslide
Rum Point, Grand Cayman
After spending the afternoon on Starfish Point’s spectacularly secluded beach, head next door to Rum Point—the closest to a real-life “Margaritaville” you’re likely to find in the Caribbean, let alone Grand Cayman. Here, the islands’ torrid history of swashbuckling and smuggling comes to life in a colourful cluster of pirate-themed bars and burger joints. Grab a seat at one of the brightly-painted beachfront picnic tables and soak up the sun while sipping the local speciality—the (oddly rum-less) Mudslide. Served on the rocks, the creamy concoction of vodka, Kahlua and Irish cream is rumoured to have originated here in the 1950s, and remains a truly decadent treat that goes down (dangerously) easy.
Travel tip: You can actually order a mudslide from the very bar that claims to have invented the cocktail more than 60 years ago. It’s worth checking out Rum Point’s Wreck Bar if only to set the benchmark by which all other mudslides should be judged.
The Best Place to Eat Local
The Brasserie, Grand Cayman
There is no shortage of superb dining options in the Cayman Islands, which has justly earned its reputation as “the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” Unusually for an island nation, it’s also extremely easy to eat local, with a number of the country’s most highly-regarded chefs embracing a farm-to-table approach with their cuisine. One of the finest examples you’ll find on Grand Cayman is The Brasserie, where Chef Dean Max incorporates herbs and vegetables grown in the on-site kitchen garden in his sensational fresh-caught seafood creations.
Travel tip: for ceviche? You can’t choose a better spot in George Town. A mouthwatering mix of spicy coconut milk, sweet potato, mint and cilantro, the Brasserie’s red snapper ceviche is one of the most in-demand items on the menu.
The Best Place to See (and Be Seen)
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach is actually only 6.3-miles long, but given the fact this crescent-shaped stretch of sun-kissed shoreline is arguably one of the world’s best beaches, it’s easy to forgive the slight exaggeration. Although this is where Grand Cayman’s greatest resorts are clustered—and most of its tourists, for that matter—the beach that the resorts back onto remains public property, which means you can walk its full length no matter where you’re staying. What’s even more unusual for a major Caribbean beach, you can do so without being hassled by vendors selling tacky trinkets—it’s forbidden by law.
Travel tip: If you can, schedule your visit to Seven Mile Beach in mid-January when it plays host to the legendary Cayman Cookout. Hosted by world-renowned chefs (we’re talking Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, among others), this five-day festival of Caribbean cuisine and cocktails is an essential experience for any foodie.
The Best Place to Tie the Knot
Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Destination weddings remain a popular option for Canadian couples, and Cayman is catering to the demand with characteristic flair. In fact, in 2017, its Department of Tourism launched a glossy new magazine—Cayman Vows—devoted entirely to would-be brides, grooms and wedding planners considering tying the knot in this tropical paradise. Although virtually every major resort on Seven Mile Beach is equipped to serve as a stunning wedding venue, the Ritz-Carltonis particularly renowned for pulling out all the stops. Whether you’re looking for a pretty, pared-back beachside ceremony, or a stately soiree on the hotel’s verdant, palm-lined Great Lawn (complete with wedding pavilion), it’s bound to be an elegant affair in the hands of the resort’s accomplished wedding advisers.
Travel tip: Consider scheduling your Cayman Islands wedding in summer or fall, which are generally considered off-season. Travelling during these times can often save you as much as 30 per cent. Check the Cayman Islands website for current off-season promotions.