Exploring Grand Cayman

The historic capital of George Town, on the southeast corner of Grand Cayman, is easy to explore on foot. If you’re a shopper, you can spend days here; otherwise, an hour will suffice for a tour of the downtown area. To see the rest of the island, rent a car or scooter or take a guided tour. The portion of the island called West Bay is noted for its jumble of neighborhoods, many featuring ornate Edwardian homes built by seafarers, nautical tour companies (and real fishing fleet) at Morgan’s Harbour, and a few attractions. When traffic is heavy, it’s about a half hour to West Bay from George Town, even with the newer bypass road that runs parallel to West Bay Road. The less-developed North Side and East End have natural attractions from blowholes to botanical gardens, as well as the remains of the island’s original settlements. Plan on at least 45 minutes for the drive out from George Town (more than an hour during rush hours). You need a day to explore the entire island—including a stop at a beach for a picnic or swim.

Best Bets

Feeling Blue. Visiting the endangered blue iguana compound at the glorious Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Petting a Turtle. Though it’s hideously expensive, the Turtle Farm encapsulates everything that makes Cayman special. And admission to its world-class turtle research center/farm, true edu-tainment, is cheaper.

Getting Touched by History. Pedro St. James Castle bears eloquent testimony to Caymanian struggles for democracy, freedom, and survival against the elements.

National Trust–worthy. The National Trust is an admirable institution dedicated to preserving the Caymanian environment and culture. If you’re on island when they’re running a tour (perhaps to the bat caves or historic homes) or a demonstration (cooking, thatch weaving), go!

Whatta Guy. When he’s not off adventuring, acclaimed marine biologist-artist Guy Harvey is usually in his amazing gallery-shop; buy a print, ask him to sign it, and converse on conservation.

Cruise Crush. On certain days George Town, Seven Mile Beach, and even West Bay’s attractions crawl with cruise-ship hordes. Check the Cayman Island Port Authority (www.caymanport.com/shipschedules.ptp) for the latest schedule and plan accordingly, unless you like being trampled. There may be anywhere from one to three ships at anchor off George Town any day of the week, but more ships tend to call on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.