The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, is part of the Cayman Ridge, which extends westward from Cuba. Situated 150 miles south of Cuba and 180 miles west of Jamaica in the central Caribbean, the largest of the three Cayman Islands is Grand Cayman. Her sisters, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located northeast of Grand Cayman. Together all three islands are situated on the edge of the Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea at a depth of more than four miles.
Tips for Visiting
NEARBY SERVICES: Even though Sunrise Villa is located in a quiet section of the island, groceries and restaurants are just a short drive away. A new shopping center (turn left from Villa and go 3.5 miles) has Foster's Food Fair grocery store, Subway, Haagen-Dazs, MacDonald's Restaurant (not the golden arches) Thompson's Hardware, and an Internet Cafe. See our Restaurant Guide for dining recommendations.
HAPPY FEET: Bring shoes or sandals for walking on the beach and snorkeling. If you have a snorkelling mask and fins, bring them too!
SUNDAYS: By law, most businesses in Cayman close on Sundays. Businesses open on a Sunday include some pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants and hotels.
CURRENCY: The Cayman Islands has its own currency, the Cayman Islands dollar, fixed in units of CI$100, 50, 25, 10, 5, 1 and coins valued at 25, 10, 5, and 1 cents. The fixed exchange rate with U.S. currency is CI$1.00 equals US$1.25. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted however around the Cayman Islands at a rate of CI$0.80 cents. Taxi drivers carry conversion charts; restaurants and retailers convert charge receipts into U.S. currency prior to processing. Most merchants will give CI change for your U.S. payment -enquire before purchasing.
DOCUMENT FOR ENTRY: A valid passport and a return ticket is required for everyone visiting the Cayman Islands. Entry is granted for up to six months at the discretion of the Immigration Department. Voter registration cards and birth certificates are no longer accepted.
GETTING AROUND: A rental car is your best bet for getting around. We are located in the middle of the 22-mile island, so everything is a just a short drive away. Driving is on the left! Read more about driving.
PHONES: If you want to bring your cell phone, check with your provider before you leave the U.S. to see if you can use it in the Cayman Islands. If you want to make an overseas credit card call, just dial 110 from any phone location in the Cayman Islands.
INTERNET ACCESS: If you bring your laptop, we have WIFI in our villa and at the pool area. If you are not bringing your laptop, there is a convenient Internet Cafe about 3.5 miles (turn left from villa) at the shopping center with Foster's Food Fair.
GOVERNMENT: The present constitution, which came into effect on August 22, 1972 provides for the government of the Cayman Islands as a British Overseas Territory. The constitution provides for a Cabinet, composed of three officials and five elected members, by the Legislative Assembly. These members are known as Ministers. Second in command to the Governor who presides over the Cabinet is a Leader of Government Business. Legislative Assembly consists of 15 elected members representing the six districts of the Islands. General Elections are held every four years.
POPULATION: Approximately 42,000, of which half are of native Caymanian descent.
SIZE: The total landmass of the three islands is 100 square miles. Grand Cayman: 76 square miles – 22 miles long by 8 miles wide. Cayman Brac: 14 square miles – 12 miles long by one mile wide. Little Cayman: 10 square miles. The highest point in the Cayman Islands is The Bluff on Cayman Brac at 140 ft.
TIME: The Cayman Islands is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (six hours behind British Summer Time). However, the islands do not change over to Daylight Savings Time during the summer months. Consequently they are one hour behind Toronto/Miami/New York during those months.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Visitors to the Cayman Islands must declare the value of all gifts, food, spirits, liquor, and tobacco products, which they are intending to leave or consume on the islands. Visitors returning to the U.S. are allowed USD $400 worth of goods duty-free. The importation of genuine sea turtle products is prohibited by U.S. customs. The Cayman Islands do not permit the importation of live plants, unprocessed raw fruits and vegetables, spear guns, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or illegal drugs. Law strictly prohibits importation or possession of illegal drugs; violators will face prosecution by local authorities. Importation of firearms and ammunition is prohibited unless accompanied by a permit signed by the Commissioner of Police.
COST OF LIVING: Generally higher than in the United States or the United Kingdom as most commodities are imported and the cost of freight and insurance plus customs duty where applicable.
TAXES: There is no Income, Company, Corporation, Inheritance, Capital Gains or Gift Tax, Property Taxes or Rates. There is a 10 percent government hotel tax and a stamp duty ranging from 7 ½ to 9 percent on the value of real estate at sale.
CHARGES: Departure Tax $20 (US$25.00) must be paid by all persons leaving the Islands (unless already charged on ticket).
TRANSPORTATION: There are plenty of rental cars available, but renters should know that driving is on the left side and the seat belt law enforced on all three islands. Most rental jeeps and vans are right-hand drive. A full listing of rental companies is available at www.caymanislands.ky . Mopeds, scooters and bicycles are also available for rent and riders are required by law to wear helmets. Temporary visitor driver’s licenses can be obtained at car rental agencies by presenting a valid US drivers license and paying a fee of USD $7.50. The minimum age for car rental is 18; some rental agency insurance policies do not cover drivers under 25.
EDUCATION: The Education system in the Cayman Islands is similar to the British structure. However, flexible provisions allow for large numbers of students to successfully enter American colleges and universities in addition to those of the UK, Canada and else where in the Caribbean. There are a number of American-based private schools. Government also encourages and provides support for the provision of pre-school and tertiary education.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS (INCLUDING INTERNET): Supplied by Cable & Wireless (Cayman Islands). International direct dialing, telefax, telegram, and Connex Internet services are available. Direct dialing is available for all the islands worldwide – dial the Cayman Islands international code 1-345, followed by the seven-digit number. For local Cayman calls you use only the last five digits of the telephone number.
BANKING: There are more than 449 banks and 115 trust companies licensed in the Cayman Islands.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: 128-bed Cayman Islands Health Services Complex in George Town, supported by District Clinics, provides comprehensive health care, including dental and eye care. Miami’s Baptist Hospital provides tertiary level care for Cayman residents under an arrangement put in place by the Government. Recompression Chamber is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Also on island is a privately owned, full service hospital Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital.
NATIONAL SYMBOLS: the Silver Thatch Palm, the Wild Banana Orchid and the Cayman Parrot.
SIR TURTLE: Sir Turtle is the Department of Tourism’s official logo. It was originally created by Mrs. Suzy Soto (formally Suzy Bergstrom) and was sold to the Cayman Islands DOT for a token of $1 in the 1970s.
CAYMAN ISLANDS COAT OF ARMS: The Cayman Islands coat of arms was officiated in 1958. The pineapple at the top represents Cayman’s ties to Jamaica. The green turtle represents the significance of turtling in Cayman’s history. The turtle rests on a coil of rope, which represents Cayman’s seafaring tradition and the thatch rope industry. The lion acknowledges the Cayman Islands Crown Colony. The white and blue bands represent the sea, upon which rests three green stars – the three islands. The motto “He hath found it upon the seas” is taken from Psalm 24, Verse2.