Grand Cayman is a beautiful place, mostly known for scuba diving, however this island can be a fantastic family vacation destination. We have visited Grand Cayman several times and stayed in a different area of the island during each visit. There are many reasons to vacation in Grand Cayman including a relatively low crime rate making it safe for a family (or even a lone traveler) to explore the island at will. This and the beautiful sandy beaches have made Grand Cayman one of our favorite family holiday destinations.
How to get to Grand Cayman: Delta has flights with connections through Atlanta and American Airlines has flights connecting through Miami. We have flown both airlines to Grand Cayman.
Tip: when coming back into the USA getting through customs in Atlanta is much faster and easier especially when traveling with young children.
Where to stay: Generally, the most economical option is to stay in a condo with a full kitchen and laundry facilities. We choose to stay in condos because we can cook most of our own meals and pack less clothing. Homeaway.com and VRBO.com (vacation rental by owner) have been excellent resources for booking privately owned residences. There are also property management companies who offer short term vacation rentals. We have rented Condos in the East End, West Bay, and South Sound areas of Grand Cayman Island.
On our first visit to Grand Cayman we stayed in a Condo on the East end of the island about 45 minutes from the airport. (*Note – although the Island is not very big, the speed limits are only about 25mph in most areas.) You can sometimes find better rental rates on privately owned Condos located on the East End of the island.
The East End is the “quiet” side of the Island. If you like to be away from the busy tourist areas, this side of Grand Cayman is probably more your speed. You will need a rental car as you will most likely have to drive to swim-able beaches, restaurants, and grocery stores. We stayed in The Paradise Villas Unit 1. Many of these are privately owned and rented through Homeaway.com and VRBO.com. Our favorite part of this villa was the cascading pools. They are each a different depth with the smaller pool being perfect for our young toddler. Many of these units have a beach view (across the street) but the beach is very rocky and not good for swimming.
Rum Point, one of the best family beaches on the Island, is only about 15-20 minutes from The Paradise Villas and we spent many days there. You do not need to bring your own chairs or umbrellas to this beach. Arrive early and you will find plenty of beach chairs, hammocks, and shaded areas. There is a restaurant and small “beach bar” as well as a cute little store with souvenirs, bathing suits and other “forgotten” travel items. You can rent kayaks and jet skis at Rum Point as well as book various excursions including glass bottom boat tours and snorkeling trips. The water at Rum Point is generally calm and perfect for young children to try snorkeling for the first time.
TIPS when staying on the East End: Definitely rent a car. Car rental is very easy at the Airport. All of the major rental companies are just across the street from the Airport within walking distance. You must be careful as they drive on the LEFT side of the road. Stop at HURLEY’S grocery store just south of Georgetown at the roundabout near Grand Harbour on your way to your Condo. Hurley’s has a better selection than any of the smaller stores on the East End and they get fresh fish delivered daily.
East End Pros: Quiet, close proximity to Rum Point, plenty of good restaurants. Cons: you will have to drive to restaurants and beaches.
We stayed in West Bay at the North West end of the busy Seven Mile Beach tourist area during our second trip to Grand Cayman. This area of the island is currently our favorite place to stay. West Bay is close to the restaurants and activities in Seven Mile Beach, but outside of the busy tourist areas. Our condo was near Cemetery Beach, a great snorkeling site with shore access. If you don’t mind staying just off the beach, you can save a little money renting a condo behind the direct beachfront properties and utilizing a beach access walkway.
During our entire stay the beaches near our condo in West Bay were fairly quiet. You will need to carry your own beach chairs and umbrella with you. Most condo owners provide these items along with beach towels, snorkeling equipment, and a few beach toys to renters. Be sure to ask what beach items are available for guest use when booking.
What to do in West Bay Grand Cayman? Hang out at the beach building sand castles and give snorkeling a try! Our entire family enjoyed snorkeling at the beach almost every day. Depending on your child’s swimming level, kids of all ages can learn to snorkel. You do not need to swim out to a reef to enjoy snorkeling, there are plenty of fish, rocks, and shells for young kids to enjoy looking at just a few feet off the beach.
Tips when staying in West Bay: You don’t necessarily need to rent a car as there are plenty of Taxi’s available at the airport. Both in Seven Mile Beach and West Bay you will find restaurants within walking distance of most hotels and condos. Renting a car, however, is fairly reasonable and very convenient. Kirk’s Grocery store, located on the North End of Seven Mile Beach near West Bay, has the better selection of goods and fresh fish on this side of the Island.
On our most recent trip to Grand Cayman in August of 2014 we stayed in South Sound at the Caribbean Paradise Villas and rented through Caymanvillas.com. This was an easy transaction. Their office is located right next to the Airport making check-in and check-out a breeze. August is considered “off-season” and we were able to obtain a fabulous price on both the condo rental as well as airline tickets. We found South Sound to be a convenient central location to visit our favorite places in Cayman. Our condo was near Hurley’s grocery store which has an excellent fresh seafood department. In fact during this visit the manager at Hurley’s gave us a Hurley’s Advantage card to take advantage of special offers and discounts for locals.
Where to Eat on Grand Cayman Island
Here are a few family friendly restaurants we enjoyed during our visits to Grand Cayman. However, due to the high volume of tourists, almost all restaurants in Grand Cayman offer some type of meal options for kids.
Tukka – Located on the East End with ocean views. We sat on the deck overlooking the water and saw a shark “fishing” for it’s own dinner about 20 feet away on the shore. Very exciting for the children! Kids menu available. Tip: Sit outside weather permitting.
Bombay Chopsticks – A fairly small Asian/Indian fusion restaurant located on the East End. We arrived on New Years Day when almost all grocery stores and gas stations are closed. Bombay Chopsticks was open on the holiday and we found the staff to be friendly and accommodating. Tip: If you are staying on the East End Bombay Chopsticks offered local delivery.
Heritage Kitchen – A tiny restaurant located on Boggy Sands road in West Bay. We noticed this was a place many Caymanians visit and order take-out dinner. You’ll dine on picnic tables overlooking the ocean. They offer a changing menu of mostly local seafood specialties. We found the prices to be extremely reasonable and the food is good. Tip: Try the conch fritters.
Sunshine Grill – Located inside Sunshine Suites Resorts on Seven Mile Beach. They are known for their fish tacos and family friendly pricing. Because many tourists find this restaurant both good and reasonable it gets very busy. Tip: Arrive early to secure a table.
Alfresco’s – This little restaurant has one of the best views of West Bay beach. Family friendly with daily local seafood specials. The service at Alfresco’s was excellent. Our server doted on our children making them both feel very special.
Other Things To Do in Grand Cayman: Grand Cayman offers many activities and excursions for people of all ages. Your kids may enjoy The Turtle Farm, swimming with the dolphins, an underwater adventure on Atlantis Submarines, and much more. Our children are young and perfectly happy at the beach so we generally opt out of spending the extra money on tourist activities. Camana Bay shopping center frequently has free or low cost family friendly events. While we were there Camana Bay had an area set aside for kids to build with large Styrofoam blocks, children’s story time, and visits with Santa.
A few important tips: Almost all stores and many gas stations are closed on Sundays and all holidays. You will need to shop for your grocery needs on Saturday. If you arrive on a Sunday or a Holiday you will be able to find plenty of open restaurants for dining.
Driving is on the LEFT side of the road. It will take a few days to get used to the steering wheel being on the “passenger” side of the car. The island is filled with round-a-bouts so be careful of your directions. We found ourselves taking the wrong “exit” off the round-a-bouts several times during the first few days of driving in Grand Cayman.
Don’t park your car directly under a tree. They say there are more Iguanas than people on the Island and your car will be quite messy with both Iguana and bird droppings in a very short time.
Do purchase fresh fish at either Hurley’s or Kirk’s Markets. According to one of the locals we spoke with these grocery stores get first pick of the best fish each day off the dock. Try Wahoo or Red Snapper. Tip: We enjoyed our leftover fish in seafood omelets the next morning for breakfast.
Do purchase a cheap flash light for night time beach explorations. You will see a lot of crabs, turtles (depending on the season), and snails out at night.
Grand Cayman has a low crime rate but you still need to practice common sense and lock your car and hide your valuables out of site.
Each adult can bring in 4 bottles of wine and one bottle of liquor. Due to the high cost of importing almost all goods are 25-50% higher to purchase in Grand Cayman. If you like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner bringing a few bottles with you will save you money. Tip: Double bag and wrap your bottles individually with bubble wrap to prevent breaking in your checked luggage. You can also purchase a bottle of wine or liquor in the Duty Free shop during your layover in Atlanta or Miami and carry it on the plane.
To save money on both airfare and accommodations consider traveling to Grand Cayman just after high season ends at the beginning of May or just before the season begins during the first two weeks of December. High season is from December 15th – April 30th. Hurricane Season is from June 1 – November 30th. You can find many deals and specials during the summer months. Be prepared for possible rain during that time. Purchasing trip insurance will give you piece of mind in case of cancellation due to a hurricane threat.
Feel free to post your comments or questions in the area below. Enjoy your family vacation to Grand Cayman!