Grand Cayman is blessed with many fine beaches, ranging from cramped, untrammeled coves to long stretches basking like a cat in the sun, lined with bustling bars and water-sports concessions. All beaches are public, though access can be restricted by resorts. Remember that the Cayman Islands are a conservative place: Nudity is strictly forbidden and punishable by a hefty fine and/or prison time.
George Town and Environs
Smith’s Cove.…South of the Grand Old House, this tiny but popular protected swimming and snorkeling spot makes a wonderful beach wedding location. The bottom drops off quickly enough to allow you to swim and play close to shore. Although slightly rocky (its pitted limestone boulders resemble Moore sculptures), there’s little debris and few coral heads, plenty of shade, picnic tables, restrooms, and parking. Surfers will find decent swells just to the south. Note the curious obelisk cenotaph “In memory of James Samuel Webster and his wife Arabella Antoinette (née Eden),” with assorted quotes from Confucius to John Donne. Amenities: parking; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming. | Off S. Church St. | George Town, Grand Cayman.
South Sound Cemetery Beach.…A narrow, sandy driveway takes you past the small cemetery to a perfect beach. The dock here is primarily used by dive boats during winter storms. You can walk in either direction; the sand is talcum-soft and clean, the water calm and clear (though local surfers take advantage of occasional small reef breaks; if wading, wear reef shoes, since the bottom is somewhat rocky and dotted with sea urchins). You’ll definitely find fewer crowds. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; surfing. | S. Sound Rd. | Prospect, Grand Cayman.
Seven Mile Beach
Seven Mile Beach.…Grand Cayman’s west coast is dominated by the famous Seven Mile Beach—actually a 6½-mile-long (10-km-long) expanse of powdery white sand overseeing lapis water stippled with a rainbow of parasails and kayaks. Free of litter and pesky peddlers, it’s an unspoiled (though often crowded) environment. Most of the island’s resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers sit along this strip. The public beach toward the north end offers chairs for rent ($10 for the day, including a beverage), a playground, water toys aplenty, beach bars, restrooms, and showers. The best snorkeling is at either end, by the Marriott and Treasure Island or off the northern section called Cemetery Reef Beach. Amenities: food and drink; parking; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling. | West Bay Rd. | Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman.
Barkers.…A series of secluded, spectacular beaches are accessed via a dirt road just past Papagallo restaurant. There are no facilities (that’s the point!), but some palms offer shade. Unfortunately, the shallow water and rocky bottom discourage swimming, and it can be cluttered at times with seaweed and debris. Kitesurfers occasionally come here for the gusts. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; walking; windsurfing. | Conch Point Rd., Barkers | West Bay, Grand Cayman.
Old Man Bay.…The North Side features plenty of hidden coves and pristine stretches of perfect sand, where you’ll be disturbed only by seabirds dive-bombing for lunch and the occasional lone fishers casting nets for sprats, then dumping them into buckets. This area is easily accessed off Frank Sound Road. Over the Edge restaurant is less than 1 mile (1½ km) west. Otherwise, it’s fairly undeveloped for miles, save for the occasional private home. Snorkeling is spectacular when waters are calm. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling;solitude; walking. | Queen’s Hwy., just off Frank Sound Rd. | North Side, Grand Cayman.
Rum Point.…This North Sound beach has hammocks slung in towering casuarina trees, picnic tables, casual and “fancier” dining options, well-stocked shop for seaworthy sundries, and Red Sail Sports, which offers various water sports and boats to explore Stingray City. The barrier reef ensures safe snorkeling and soft sand. The bottom remains shallow for a long way from shore, but it’s littered with small coral heads, so kids be careful. The Wreck is an ultracasual hangout serving outstanding pub grub from fish-and-chips to wings, as well as lethal Mudslide cocktails. Just around the bend, another quintessential beach hangout, Kaibo, rocks during the day. Amenities: food and drink; parking; toilets; showers; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling. | Rum Point | North Side, Grand Cayman.
Water Cay.…If you want an isolated, unspoiled beach, bear left at Rum Point on the North Side and follow the road to the end. When you pass a porte cochere for an abandoned condo development and see a soft, sandy beach, stop your car. Wade out knee deep and look for the large, flame-hued starfish. (Don’t touch—just look.) Locals also call it Starfish or Ivory Point. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; swimming. | North Side, Grand Cayman.
East End Beaches.…Just drive along and look for any sandy beach, park your car, and enjoy a stroll. The vanilla-hue stretch at Colliers Bay, by The Reef and Morritt’s resorts, is a good, clean one with superior snorkeling. Amenities: food and drink; water sports at The Reef and Morritt’s. Best for: snorkeling; solitude; sunrise; walking. | Queen’s Hwy.| East End, Grand Cayman.
Spotts Beach.…Families often barbecue weekends at this idyllic spot caught between ironshore cliffs and a barrier reef. A jungle gym and swing set keep the kids occupied when they’re not chowing down at the picnic tables and cabanas. During the week it’s usually deserted. Follow South Church Street through South Sound past Red Bay; you’ll see yet another little cemetery with a turnoff to the beach. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunrise; walking. | Queen’s Hwy.,Spotts Newlands | East End, Grand Cayman.