Experiencing the Classic and the New in Grand Cayman

United States 3 February 2022
Grand Cayman (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)
Article by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

What Travelers Need to Do When Visiting the Cayman Islands

Of all the destinations in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands was closed to leisure travelers the longest, opening last November after almost two years. With national carrier Cayman Airways currently flying into Grand Cayman several times a week from Miami, and American Airlines and Delta poised to resume service this spring, the time is right to start planning a visit. Click through for four classic Caymanian reasons to visit, and four more that will likely be new to you.

Seven Mile Beach (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Seven Mile Beach

What’s more appealing than the sublime swath and aquamarine water of Grand Cayman’s marquee beach? Having it all to yourself. If you appreciate solitude as much as sea and sand, go now, when there are far fewer beachgoers than we’ve ever seen.

Stingray City (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Stingray City

Pre-pandemic, hordes of cruise ship passengers and day-trippers would converge on this sandbank to feed and frolic with Southern Atlantic stingrays. Happily, the rays are still there. And since you don’t have to compete with cruisers right now (cruise calls are currently suspended), you can have as much up close and personal time with them as you want.

Ritz Carlton (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

The grand dame of Caymanian resorts turned 16 last year and took advantage of the pandemic lockdown to give itself a makeover to the tune of $50 million. The result: An elegant aesthetic that combines signature Ritz stye with Caymanian iconography.

Pure Art (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Pure Art Gallery & Gifts

Savvy shoppers know that the best place to buy local and Caribbean art and souvenirs on island is this more than 30-year-old store just outside George Town. The 100-year-old cottage that houses is still filled with the rafters with work by island artists, many who used the lockdown to inspire their creativity and increase their output.

Palm Heights (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Palm Heights

Hipster visitors roost at this Seven Mile beachfront boutique, which opened a year before the pandemic and developed a fiercely loyal local clientele during the lockdown. The emphasis on local art and retro island style is evident in its 52 suites and public spaces and Tillies, the all-day seaside restaurant where Sunday brunch has become an island staple.

Ms Pipers (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Ms Piper’s Kitchen + Garden

Behind the new Hampton By Hilton hotel, this charming indoor/outdoor restaurant is an oasis. Conceived around the conceit that the fictional Miss Piper is an aging and eccentric world traveler who’s set up a home on the island to entertains friends and family, it serves a cosmopolitan menu (think schnitzel, Koran ribs and crudo) for lunch and dinner in an eclectic setting filled with antiques and vintage travel memorabilia.


National Gallery (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

National Gallery of The Cayman Islands

In its current Seven Mile location since 2013, the island’s National Gallery will be, nevertheless, new to most visitors. And getting there is made easy by new footpaths that connect it to the main drag, West Bay Road, and the shopping and dining development, Camana Bay. An hour of your time in the free museum rewards you with an overview of Cayman’s history and culture from the colonial era to the present, as told through a compelling local art collection that includes painting, sculpture, woven straw and mixed media pieces.

Black Urchin (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Black Urchin

Ready to splurge on a family vacation, “friendcation” or multi-generational trip? Check in to this swanky new Bodden Town beachfront cloister, comprising two palatial six-bedroom villas and four four-bedroom suites. With the services of a concierge and private chef at the ready and in-villa massages and personal training only a call away, guests here will enjoy luxury, intimacy and seclusion.


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