Island By Numbers: Mapping out Grand Cayman
Gearing up for a visit to Grand Cayman, but not sure where to start or what to do? We’ve got you covered! This fun map of Grand Cayman, illustrated by the uber-talented watercolor artist Kristy Rice of Momental Designs, is not only beautifully designed, it maps out ALL of the must-see spots you should check out while on the island! Writer Christine Ciarmello shares all the ‘in-the-know’ spots and a quick but informative guide to the island. From under the waves to bars overlooking the beach, we’ve got all the sweetest spots the island has to offer you. Our only advice? Being a tourist is only half of the fun—along the way, try getting “lost” in paradise and find some hidden gems yourself!
1. Underground city. A sandbar close to shore is a playground for Atlantic Southern Stingrays. These slippery animals appear to enjoy the company of humans who come to play and pet in the shallow warm waters.
2. Congregation of dinos. Dinoflagellates are tiny organisms that light up water like fairy dust. Bioluminescence, best seen during a new moon, happens only in a few locations in the world; head out from Cayman Islands Yacht Club to take it in with Cayman Sea Elements.
3. Go to Hell. Like literally, go there. Sooty-colored limestone jutting from earth resembles Satan’s landscape and kitschy murals celebrate it in fun. You can even mail a postcard from Hell’s post office.
4. Island time. Macabuca channels the Tiki spirit with its thatch-roofed, open-air bar, potent rum drinks and up-close ocean views, perfectly positioned for sunset.
5. Spiritual snorkeling. A graveyard is your locator for finding Cemetery Beach, which has a spectacular snorkel spot close to shore. After, hit chasing Heritage Kitchen for conch soup.
6. Sunken treasure. USS Kittiwake, a former Navy vessel sunk purposefully in 2011, attracts divers who love exploring the mess halls and rec room. Snorkelers can partake, too; the top deck is just 12 feet below the surface.
7. The Olympic-winning Pina Colada. Pina Coladas can’t win Olympic medals, but if only… Coccoloba’s version might go gold. Try it at Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa.
8. Lazy days. The private cabanas at The Royal Palms Beach Club can be reserved just for two. With cabana-side service, the only move you need to make is jumping into the pool or sea.
9. What’s new. The apothecary-style Anchor & Den embraces the new moon for a monthly event, The Dark Night. Expect sage rubbing, paleo bites and kookily named cocktails by the top-notch mixologists.
10. Hail a water taxi. Instead of hitting the highway, go by sea with Cayman Ferries. The 20-minute trip from Camana Bay to Kaibo beats the 45-minute land taxi.
11. Open-air culture. Farmers and artists gather every Wednesday at Camana Bay for a market, displaying local goods like rare Caymanite jewelry, sea salt, and pepper jellies.
12. Use your mind. Slow down, exhale and unwind at the 38-foot labyrinth in the National Gallery’s gardens. It was modeled after the one at France’s Chartres Cathedral.
13. Mermaid alert. Beneath 50-feet of water is a 600-pound, 9-foot tall mermaid, Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon. Simon Morris is the artist behind the bronze sculpture.
14. Are shoes art? So many flip flops had washed ashore or been left there that an enterprising couple decided to start nailing them to a casuarina tree. Voila, it’s art!
15. Caribbean castle. The 18th-century Great House, Pedro St. James’ Castle, is a slice of island history, recently spiffed by an $8 million renovation.
16. Puff the blue dragons. One of the most endangered lizards int he world is endemic to Grand Cayman. The 18-inch blue iguana can be spotted in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.
17. Sea miracles. Favorable winds can power the sea water to mist about 15 feet in the air at the Blow Holes. Warming: Calm days are a tad bit disappointing.
18. Slow food. The East End runs of a different clock—the kind where there’s no second hand or first hand. Vivine’s Kitchen serves up Caribbean stews, jerks and pies from her home kitchen. Sea views and a hammock top off the meal.
19. Beach bar pit stop. The ride from West Bay to Rum Point takes an hour at least. Pop into The Beach Bar at The Reefs for a rum refresh (but not for the driver!), served on the sand.
20. Statue surprise. Blink and you might miss Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture Garden. It’s not that it’s small—it’s just so… unexpected. A posse of 1,500-pound concrete animals poised on a sand lawn include Clawdette (land crab), Megalops Atlantic’s (a tarpon) and a Serpent Garden of Eden.
21. Going underground. The guides at Cayman Crystal Caves few up by these caverns, hunting for buried treasure said to be hidden by pirates long ago. now, they’re happy to show you their old stomping ground with stalagmites and stalactites, underground lake and glittering crystals.
22. North of the wall. Game of Thrones, fear not! North Wall is THE place to be on Grand Cayman. The best dive sites to see turtles, eagle rays, and healthy gorgonians are here, like Babylon and Tarpon Alley.
23. 5 o’clock somewhere. Rum Point is like accessing the Caribbean wayback machine. The vibe is chill, water is turquoise, hammocks sway under palms and the drinks are waaaay strong.
24. Just like a postcard. Starfish Point is gorgeously littered with red stars on the beach floor. Pics from above, only; no touching allowed.