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The good news: The Cayman Islands have some of the finest and most elegant resorts in the Caribbean, opening onto one of the grandest strips of sand in the entire Caribbean Basin.

Now for the bad news: The cost of living here is about 20% higher than in the United States. Winter vacations in the Caymans can be pricey affairs. Because so much food has to be imported from the U.S. mainland, restaurant tabs are second only to those on the high-priced French islands such as St. Barts and Martinique.

But you can make a trip here affordable. The key is to plan in advance and to visit the islands between mid-April and mid-December, when room rates are 20% to 40% lower than in the winter. In addition, you might consider staying in one of several low-cost or moderately priced lodgings that have opened in recent years. Many of these accommodations include facilities for cooking simple meals. Be forewarned, however, that so-called moderate or inexpensive hotels in the Cayman Islands might be judged "super-expensive" in other parts of the world, including the United States.

Nearly all the hotels on Grand Cayman are lined up along Seven Mile Beach. Hotels farther out on the island will be more isolated, but may not front a hospitable sand beach. Unlike many Caymanian restaurants, hotels quote prices in U.S. dollars. All prices are listed in U.S. dollars. When choosing a hotel, keep in mind that the quoted rates include neither the 10% government tax nor the 10% hotel service tax.

Consider booking a package tour to make your stay at an expensive resort more affordable.

What the Abbreviations Mean

Travelers to the Cayman Islands may at first be confused by classifications on rate sheets.

MAP (Modified American Plan) includes room, breakfast, and dinner, unless the room rate has been quoted separately, in which case the rate covers only breakfast and dinner.

CP (Continental Plan) includes room and a light breakfast.

EP (European Plan) includes room only.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.