I started planning this spring break trip more than 8 months in advance. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in the Caribbean, but I didn’t know where exactly…
After countless hours of googling, trying to pick from the many beautiful islands in the region, I decided on the Cayman Islands. My demands were simple: I wanted warm turquoise waters, white sand, and palm trees. I also wanted the island to be clean and safe for female travelers. Cayman Islands fit all of those boxes. So I purchased a ticket to George Town, in Grand Cayman. The largest one of the three islands that comprise the Cayman Islands.
Before I get into the details of my trip, I thought I’ll share some information about the islands. Cayman Islands are part of the British Overseas Territories, which means that they still have a constitutional link with the UK and are basically the remnants of the British Empire. Their de facto head of state, Governor, is not elected by the Caymanians, but appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom. Considering that Governors have a wide range of executive and legislative powers, the UK has a strong hold on the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands are made up of three small islands: Grand Cayman, Small Cayman, and Cayman Brac. The islands are located in between Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras, and Mexico’s Yukatan Peninsula. Grand Cayman is the largest and most populous of the islands. However, it is still very tiny, as the territory is only 264 sq. km (102 sq. miles) large and only has 67,000 people living there.
Some interesting facts about the Cayman Islands:
- The islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503.
- Columbus first named the islands “Las Tortugas” because of the large number of turtles he saw. They later changed it to Cayman, after a species of crocodilians.
- The official language is English.
- There are more than 120 nationalities living in the Cayman Islands.
- They drive on the left side of the road.
- Cayman Islands are mainly known to the outside world for being a major offshore financial haven for many international businesses and powerful millionaires/billionaires.
- They were placed in the EU’s black list of foreign tax havens.
- The islands have a tropical dry and wet climate. The temperature doesn’t change much throughout the year.
- Caymans have their own currency (Cayman Islands Dollar KYD) which is worth more than the U.S. dollar. However, US dollars are widely accepted as well.
- There are no local taxes in the Caymans. This means no income tax, property tax or corporation tax. However, there is indirect taxation, which means imported goods are heavily taxed so buying goods is actually really expensive.
- Cayman Islands have a very high standard of living and there are many millionaires living on the island. Properties can go for as high as 60 million USD.
Days 1-3 of my trip
So, the first couple of days of my trip were actually pretty slow and consisted mostly of sleeping in, going to the beach, eating local goodies, and drinking tropical cocktails. Not too shabby, huh?
I stayed in a shared villa near the Seven Mile Beach (but not directly on the beach). I had a private bedroom and a private bathroom, with a shared living space. The beach was about 10-15 min walk away. Getting a place on the beach was unfortunately way too expensive, as nightly prices for those start with 300 something dollars a night and go up to as much as couple thousand dollars a night. The villa cost about $150 a night, which is a STEAL in a place like Cayman Islands.
Hotels and Airbnb-s are super expensive in the Caymans. This is what I found to be pretty much the only downside of this destination. However, I guess this isn’t much of a downside for the ultra-wealthy, and perhaps they don’t even want to share the beach with poor students like me, haha!
Anyway, the most famous and beautiful beach in Grand Cayman is the Seven Mile Beach (which is actually a bit shorter than seven miles). Actually, Seven Mile Beach has been voted as the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. And I can see why. The softest white stretches of sand, super clean and warm water (81 F, 27 degrees Celsius). Beautiful greenery on the side.
What I found really strange at first was that the island is full of wild chickens and roosters. They are E V E R Y W H E R E, including restaurants, in your backyard, and the beach. And they don’t belong to anyone. They’re just roaming around freely. My friend told me that it all started when pirates brought livestock to the island, so when they returned, they’d have meat waiting for them. I’m not sure if it’s true, but sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it! Anyway, here’s a picture of a rooster on a beach:
As I said, the time I didn’t spend laying on the beach, I spent eating. Food is pretty expensive. A cheap meal in the cheapest beach shack cost about $25 when you include the tip. Dinner cost at least $50. Of course, I only had food at those affordable places, because dinner at a nice restaurant would cost up to $500. The island really serves for the mega-rich.
However, the food was great! Cayman Islands are famous in the Caribbean for having an amazing food scene. I tried to mostly stick to seafood, such as mahi-mahi (dolphinfish), wahoo, tuna, and shrimp. They also do a lot of lobster.
Usually, I ordered a nice tropical cocktail with every meal that I had. I was on a holiday after all! The island is famous for Mudslide, but you can order pretty much any kind of tropical drink you can think of. Also, they make their own Caribbean rum, so I mostly opted for rum-based cocktails. So delicious! Especially their coconut rum.
So that’s pretty much it for the first couple of days. As I said, the beginning of my trip wasn’t too eventful.
The next two posts will be more fun to read, as I have so much more to share. I met these awesome local people and made friends with them, they showed me all around the island, and I had some of the coolest experiences of my life (such as kissing a giant wild stingray in the sea).
I’ll finish this post off by sharing these beautiful sunset photos:
I’ll try to upload part 2 in the next couple of days! See you then.