Today’s families want an ever-widening variety of activities to entertain each generation when they travel. Adventure or relaxation, convenience, unique activities, safety and warm year-round temperatures to fit any busy schedule, are just a few of the reasons the Cayman Islands is the ideal destination for families.
The Cayman Islands offers a wide range of family-friendly lodging, dining, and activities that assure memorable vacations for all. From diving and nature adventures to lounging on the surreal white sand beaches, families have the liberty to choose their dream vacation…just as long as they agree on it!
A high standard of living and education, low unemployment, and an emphasis on church and family create a secure haven for residents and visitors alike. In addition, travel around the Cayman Islands is simple with well-known car rental companies, convenient taxi service, bike rental and many places within walking distance of most accommodations.
Families staying at Sunrise Villa enjoy all the luxuries of a lavish vacation with the coziness and freedom of a home-style getaway. A nearby Foster's Food Fair grocery store (turn left from villa and go 3.5 miles) presents the opportunity to cook traditional Caymanian meals in the fully equipped kitchen. The Villa has TVs, DVD/VHS player, board games, cards, secluded beach and a swimming pool for family fun.
Casual restaurants such as the Lone Star Bar & Grill and Hard Rock Café offer teen favorites such as ribs, wings, nachos and burgers. For delicious local cuisines with added excitement, The Wharf Restaurant and Rackham’s Pub offer the opportunity to feed the tarpon. With familiar fast food chains and conveniently located groceries stores, families can find kid-friendly food for even the most finicky of eaters.
Family members who are feeling even more adventurous can play “pirate” on a two-hour pirate cruise. The Jolly Roger, an authentic replica of a 17th century Spanish galleon, offers afternoon and dinner excursions where guests participate in firing cannons at enemy vessels, making “victims” walk the plank and watching real sword play.
Water Sports and Activities
The Cayman Islands offers the ultimate experience in land and sea activities for every age group. Beautiful sun-warmed sandy beaches allow for relaxation while the kids stay busy building sand castles. More adventurous explorers can snorkel some of Cayman’s world-renowned reefs, with a vast array of exotic marine life, coral formations and many shipwrecks located just off shore. Snorkelling, especially at Stingray City, is probably the most popular activity in Cayman. Wading or snorkeling in the calm waters with friendly Southern Stingrays is a family memory that will last a lifetime!
Plenty of water sports equipment can be rented at virtually every hotel along Seven Mile Beach: banana boats, catamarans, ocean kayaks, sailboats, wave runners, windsurfers, sea scooters, and, of course, snorkeling equipment. For those inclined to reach new heights, parasailing is also available right on the beach.
Another form of diving, “gliding,” uses a new diving gear known as the “Diveman” which closes the gap between diving and snorkeling. It allows swimmers to dive up to 20 feet while breathing fresh air from a tank carried in front of the chest. The air is sucked from the surface through a tube when the swimmer extends his legs.
For those who want the real thing, what better place to learn the rudiments of scuba diving than the birthplace of recreational diving in the Caribbean. Pool courses taught by experienced dive instructors from one of the many local dive operations can teach children as young as four years old dive basics in a SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) class. Children eight and up can enjoy SNUBA class which combines scuba diving and snorkeling into one exciting sport. Children 12 years and up are eligible for a full dive course. With these basics learned, parents and children can revel in a true scuba adventure together.
Other water-based activities will keep you on top of the water. Fishing is one of the “hottest” sports in the Cayman Islands, and many experienced Caymanian captains operate excursions that include fishing, swimming and a fresh-caught lunch. From trolling for tuna and marlin to a light tackle challenge with bonefish, the Cayman Islands packs plenty of angling action into its waters. Fish run close to the shorelines of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, offering anglers good catches as close as a quarter mile off shore of all three islands.
A glass bottom boat trip is a way to enjoy the underwater scenes in a more relaxing manner. Excursions can be found at Rum Point on Grand Cayman’s North Coast (just a 45-minute ferry ride from the dock at the Hyatt Regency). Or if the family feels the need to “dive a little deeper,” there are excursions available on the Nautilus and Seaworld Explorer, semi-submersible submarines, and the Atlantis, a submarine that descends more than 100 feet below the surface offering passengers the opportunity to view the abundant marine life.
Land-based activities abound in the Cayman Islands. For more familiar entertainment there is always the dual-screen movie theatre showing popular first-run movies, a miniature golf course, bike rentals, tennis courts, golf courses, and parks and playgrounds.
For hands on interaction with animals, guests can also enjoy horseback riding with any of the three stables (Pampered Ponies, Nikki’s Trail Rides or Honeysuckle Trail Rides) found in Grand Cayman.
One of Grand Cayman’s most popular attractions is the interactive turtle farm at Boatswain’s Beach in West Bay. Here, tanks of green sea turtles (15,000 in total), from tiny newborns to huge breeders, enable visitors to see the different stages in turtle development. A special tank contains fairly large turtles that may be picked up for a great photo opportunity. For those looking for a little adventure, the predator tank allows visitors to snorkel nose-to-nose with reef sharks, green moray eels and a line-up of large fish that prowl the local waters. The aviary, filled with local parrots and other birds that flit and dash overhead is the perfect option for those who would rather not get in the water.
Another new attraction found on Grand Cayman is Black Pearl Skate and Surf Park. With 52,000 sq. ft. of concrete bowls and half and quarter pipes, it is one of the largest skate parks in the world. The park contains three different courses for different levels of experience all of which are lit at night and supervised at all times. Parents can rest assure that their teens are not only having a great time, but are safe as well. The Waveloch Surf Machine is the other aspect of the park that is sure to please teenagers. The Waveloch creates a standing wave generated by a flow of fresh filtered water to create different sized waves. It is the only wave machine in the world that creates 11 foot waves! Gear and protective equipment are provided by the park for both skating and surfing. Summer camps and visiting pros also make the Black Pearl an appealing attraction for teens
At Pedro St. James, families will learn about Caymanian history while wondering through the restored great house, the country’s oldest stone structure, which is honored as the birthplace of democracy for the Cayman Islands. Pedro’s multi-media theatre depicts what life was like when the Cayman Islands were settled in the 18 th - 19 th centuries.
Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park showcases 65-acres of Caymanian flora, history and beauty with a Heritage Garden, Floral Colour Garden, Nature Trail, Iguana Habitat and more. Families can see approximately 50 percent of Grand Cayman’s native plants in the QEII Botanic Park.
Facing George Town Harbour, the Cayman Islands National Museum is a restored Caymanian structure, which originally housed government offices and the town jail. The gift shop offers a variety of historical, cultural and hand-made souvenirs.
For families with older children who can hike a distance, the Mastic Trail is the perfect adventure. Guides lead morning and afternoon walks down this trail, traversing varied topographical regions and discussing the vegetation and wildlife unique to Cayman.
Families who are looking to take their vacation to new heights will find Cayman Islands helicopter tours the perfect adventure activity. Cayman Islands Helicopters was formed in 2003 to give visitors and locals exciting tours of the island, highlighting natural wonders such as Seven Mile Beach and Stingray City. A guest can also charter a helicopter for pleasure or to take photos and movies.
The Sister Islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, offer family entertainment all of their own. Cayman Brac has four interesting caves for exploration: Rebbeca’s, Peter’s, the Great Cave and the Bat’s Cave. These caves served as shelter, from the rare, but severe storms that have crossed the islands over the past 200 years. There are also 35 nature tourism sites and trails on Cayman Brac to be explored, which are marked with informative and illustrated signs. For a family snorkel or dive trip, the Brac has two great attractions, the scuttled Russian freighter known as the M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts, and the sunken dolphin statue “Oceanic Voyagers” both right off shore and ideal for underwater exploration. For land lovers, there is the Cayman Brac Museum with an array of old Caymanian artifacts from family trees to Princess Diana memorabilia.
Little Cayman is the nature lover’s paradise. Here, families can escape the hectic pace and discover the other side of the Cayman Islands. The Little Cayman Museum offers a look back into the tiny island’s past while diving or snorkeling at famous Bloody Bay Wall is a sure way to discover its natural underwater attractions.
From bird watching at the Booby Pond Nature Reserve to feeding the iguanas or simply kicking back in a hammock, families can get in tune with nature. Those looking for an individual adventure will want to take a bicycle or sea kayak out for a spin, others might want to try bone fishing, casting out with light tackle, or a family picnic on the secluded Owen’s Island or Point O’Sand beach.
Information provided by Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.