Camana Bay Observation Tower.…This 75-foot structure provides striking 360-degree panoramas of otherwise flat Grand Cayman, sweeping from George Town and Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound. The double-helix staircase is impressive in its own right. Running alongside the steps (though an elevator is also available), a floor-to-ceiling mosaic replicates the look and feel of a dive from seabed to surface. Constructed of countless tiles in 114 different colors, it’s one of the world’s largest marine-themed mosaic installations. Benches and lookout points encourage you to take your time and take in the views as you ascend. Afterward you can enjoy 500-acre Camana Bay’s gardens, waterfront boardwalk, and pedestrian paths lined with shops and restaurants, or frequent live entertainment. | Extending between Seven Mile Beach and North Sound, 2 mi (3 km) north of George Town | Camana Bay, Grand Cayman | 345/640–3500 | www.camanabay.com | Free | Daily sunrise–10 pm.
National Gallery.…A worthy nonprofit organization, this museum displays and promotes the range of Caymanian artists and craftspeople, both established and grassroots. The gallery coordinates a wealth of first-rate outreach programs for everyone from infants to inmates. It usually mounts six major exhibitions a year, including three large-scale retrospectives or thematic shows and multimedia installations. Director Natalie Urquhart also brings in international shows that somehow relate to the island, often inviting local artists for stimulating dialogue. The gallery hosts public slide shows, a lunchtime lecture series running in conjunction with current exhibits, Art Flix (video presentations on art history, introduced with a short lecture and followed by a discussion led by curators or artists), and a CineClub (movie night). The gallery has also developed an Artist Trail Map with the Department of Tourism and can facilitate studio tours. There’s an excellent shop and, new in 2014, an Art Cafe. | EsterlyTibbetts Hwy.atHarquail Bypass | Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman | 345/945–8111 | www.nationalgallery.org.ky | Free | Weekdays 10–5, Sat. 10–3.
Dubbed a “new town” (in all senses of the term), ambitious in scope and philosophy, the mixed-use, master-planned Camana Bay stretches along 500 acres from Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound. It’s a sustainable, traditional, and colorfully Caribbean—yet technologically cutting-edge—design, and ecologically sensitive to boot. Specifically designed by more than 100 consultants from several leading local and global firms as a gathering center to live, work, and play, Camana Bay has been carefully developed in three phases (the final phase is expected to be completed by 2017 and will include hotels and a marina, alongside residential and office development).
The four residential-office-retail courtyards feature unique feels and color schemes unifying native flora with surrounding walls, walks, and mosaics. Streets were aligned to mitigate heat and to capture breezes. Plants were carefully chosen to attract birds and butterflies, and the development has green space galore, including artificial islands and harbors, as well as water features like canals and fountains.
The pedestrianized main street, called the Paseo, is lined with mostly high-end shops that are open late, restaurants, and entertainment (including a weekly farmers’ market and a movie theater complex). The Paseo culminates in the Crescent, a waterfront plaza with restaurants, more gardens, interactive fountains, an esplanade, amphitheater, and public venues for fireworks to festivals. There are also jogging/biking trails, pocket parks, open spaces, and a beach. Residents and visitors are encouraged to park their cars and stroll (enhancing the green lifestyle) or just hang out.