Business Hours -- Normally, banks are open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 4:30pm, and Friday 9am to 1pm and 2:30 to 4:30pm. Most shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, but hours can vary greatly.
Country Code -- The country code for the Cayman Islands is 345.
Drinking Laws -- The legal drinking age is 18. Beer, wine, and liquor are sold at most grocery and convenience stores Monday to Saturday. It is legal to have an open container on the beach. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot. Don't even think about driving while intoxicated.
Drugstores -- If you're traveling to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac, don't depend on local outlets there to have the drugs or medication you need. Stock up before you go. On Grand Cayman the most convenient pharmacies are Fosters Food Fair Pharmacy in the Strand Shopping Centre on West Bay Road, Seven Mile Beach (tel. 345/945-7759; www.fosters-iga.com), open Monday to Saturday 7am to 10pm; and Cayman Drug in Kirk Freeport Centre, George Town (tel. 345/949-2597), open Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 4pm.
Electricity -- Electricity on the Cayman Islands is 110-volt AC (60 cycles), so adapters or transformers are not required for U.S. and Canadian appliances. You will need to bring adapters and transformers if you're traveling with appliances from Europe, Australia, or New Zealand.
Embassies & Consulates -- There is a Canadian consulate along Earth Close, Landmark Square (tel. +1 345-949-9400) and a US Consular Agency on Smith Road Centre, George Town (+1 345-623-8173.
Emergencies -- On Grand Cayman dial tel. 555 for an ambulance; tel. 345/949-0241 for an air ambulance from Island Air; and tel. 911 for police, fire, or medical emergencies. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, dial tel. 911 in an emergency.
Etiquette & Customs -- You should pay attention to dress code etiquette in the Cayman Islands, as it remains a "proper" British crown colony and its residents are often conservative in dress and manners. Avoid wearing bathing suits or scanty beachwear outside of beach areas and cruise ships. Cover up in public areas, especially on the streets of George Town. There are no nude beaches, and public nudity, including topless bathing, is strictly prohibited by law. Visitors will want to wear smart casual tropical resort wear at most restaurants. When attending church, "Sunday dress" is appropriate -- that is, no shorts or T-shirts. Men don't have to wear ties, however. Avoid profanity in public -- it is very much frowned upon.
For business attire, concessions are made for the local climate. Open collars, white trousers, knit shirts, and blazers are, to an increasing degree, appropriate for business meetings. Punctuality is appreciated, even if the temptation exists to observe a more relaxed "island time." Don't be surprised if some of the meeting planners suggest a fishing or snorkeling trip on a private boat.
Gasoline (Petrol) -- Stations charge about the same rates. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
Holidays -- Caymanians observe New Year's Day (Jan 1), National Heroes' Day (Jan 27), Ash Wednesday (Feb or Mar), Good Friday (Mar or Apr), Easter (Mar or Apr), Discovery Day (third week in May), Whitsunday (May or June), the Queen's Birthday (June), Constitution Day (July 7), Remembrance Day (second Mon in Nov), Christmas Day (Dec 25), and Boxing Day (Dec 26).
Hospitals -- On Grand Cayman, George Town Hospital (tel. 345/949-8600; www.hsa.ky) lies south of George Town on Hospital Road (south of Smith Rd.).
Insurance -- For information on traveler's insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, visit www.frommers.com/tips. In general, we always recommend that visitors to the Cayman Islands purchase travel insurance if they can afford it. For the most part, the Caymans are a safe destination. However, in spite of safety precautions, accidents do occur, especially among snorkelers and scuba divers. Even if you're an adventurous traveler, any number of things can go wrong on a trip -- lost luggage, trip cancellation, or a medical emergency, to name a few examples -- so consider insurance for added protection.
Internet Access -- Most large resorts and hotels have Internet access. You can also access the Internet at Café del Sol, located on Seven Mile Beach at the Marquee Cinema Shopping Centre on Lawrence Blvd (tel. 345/946-2233).
Language -- English is the official language of the islands.
Legal Aid -- In such a small island country, there are no local resources for legal aid. You must hire a foreign lawyer, and be prepared to post some upfront money.
Lost & Found -- Be sure to notify all of your banks and credit card companies immediately upon discovering your wallet has been lost or stolen, and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your bank, credit card company, or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; they may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two. Visa's emergency number is tel. 410/581-9994. American Express cardholders and traveler's-check holders should call tel. 800/221-7282. MasterCard holders should call tel. 800/307-7309 or 636/722-7111. For other credit cards, call the toll-free number directory at tel. 800/555-1212.
If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com).
Mail -- Most airmail between the Cayman Islands and the U.S. mainland takes from 2 to 7 days. The Cayman Islands don't use postal or zip codes. The main post office in George Town lies at Edward Street and Cardinal Avenue (tel. 345/949-2474), between the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Sending a postcard to the United States costs CI20¢. An airmail letter to the U.S. costs CI75¢ per half-ounce. Rates to Europe are CI80¢ per half-ounce for an airmail letter. Postcards to Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand range in price from CI20¢ to CI$1; airmail letters range from CI75¢ to CI$1 per ounce. It's recommended that packages be sent by Federal Express or another trackable delivery service.
Newspapers & Magazines -- Published daily, the Caymanian Compass is the most popular newspaper on Grand Cayman. The Friday edition is especially helpful because it lists current and upcoming events. Rival papers include New Caymanian, published every Friday, and Cayman Net News, published Tuesday and Thursday. Available at most hotels, What's Hot is a free monthly magazine geared toward visitors. Copies of the Miami Herald and the International Herald Tribune are available at the big resorts and at most major newsstands in George Town.
Police -- Call tel. 911 for the police.
Smoking -- Smoking is not regulated as carefully in the Cayman Islands as it is in most U.S. cities. However, most major hotels set aside some rooms for nonsmokers. Restaurants often lack nonsmoking sections. When being shown to a table, inform the captain or waiter that you'd like a table as far away from the smoke as possible.
Taxes -- A government tourist tax of 10% is added to your hotel bill. A departure tax of CI$20 is also collected when you leave the Caymans; this tax is included in your plane fare. There is no tax on goods and services.
Telephones -- Telephone and fax services are offered by Cable & Wireless (tel. 345/949-7800) at Anderson Square in George Town.
Time -- U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST) is in effect year-round; daylight saving time is not observed. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is 5 hours ahead of EST, so when it's noon in the Cayman Islands, it's 5pm in London (GMT) and 2am the next day in Sydney (or 6pm in London and 3am in Sydney during the summer months).
Tipping -- Most restaurants add a 10% to 15% charge that is intended to be in lieu of a tip, so check your bill carefully. Hotels also often add a 10% service charge to your bill. Taxi drivers expect a 10% to 15% tip.
Toilets -- Public restrooms are found along Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. Public facilities can be found at most beaches, though they are few and far between and often unpleasant. Visitors usually use the facilities of the resorts, although you should technically be a guest or customer (you can always just purchase a soft drink or a bottle of water).
Visas -- Consult www.caymanislands.ky for additional visa information.
Useful Phone Numbers -- U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisory: tel. 202/647-5225 (manned 24 hr.); U.S. Passport Agency: tel. 202/647-0518; U.S. Centers for Disease Control: tel. 800/CDC-INFO (232-4636).
Visitor Information -- Before you go, check out the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism website (www.caymanislands.ky), an extensive search engine designed to help you find information about accommodations, dining, shopping, watersports, and other travel services. You can also sign up for printed or e-mail brochures and book vacations directly on this site. Alternatively, write to the Cayman Department of Tourism at PO Box 67, George Town, Grand Cayman, B.W.I., or call tel. 345/949-0623. It's located in the Pavilion Building on Cricket Square in George Town. Hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm.
In the United States, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism maintains the following offices: 6100 Blue Lagoon Dr., Ste. 1202, Miami, FL 33126 (tel. 305/266-2300; fax 305/267-2932); 9525 West Bryn Mawr, Ste. 160, Rosemont, IL 60018 (tel. 847/678-6446; fax 847/678-6675); Two Memorial City Plaza, 820 Gessner, Ste. 1335, Houston, TX 77024 (tel. 713/461-1317; fax 713/461-7409); 420 Lexington Ave., Ste. 2733, New York, NY 10118 (tel. 212/889-9009; fax 212/889-9125).
In Canada, contact Travel Marketing Consultants, 234 Eglington Ave. East, Ste. 306, Toronto, ON M4P1 K5 (tel. 416/485-1550 or 800/263-5808; fax 416/972-5071).
In the United Kingdom, contact Cayman Islands, 6 Arlington St., London SW1 1RE (tel. 0207/491-7771; fax 0207/409-7773).
The Cayman Islands Government website (www.gov.ky) provides important tourist and travel information, current local news, and a community and sports calendar. Destination Cayman (www.destination.ky) is another great information source, including a Cayman business directory, travel news and local forecasts, annual events, photographs, and more.
Since the Cayman Islands are so small, finding very detailed maps is rarely a problem. All you'll need is the Cayman Islands Travelers' Road & Dive Map, which is free. This foldout map also includes good maps of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac if you're planning to visit these satellite islands. Car rental firms distribute this map, and it is available at hotels, condo rentals, tourist attractions, restaurants, dive shops, and the Owen Roberts Airport.
Water -- The water in the Cayman Islands is, for the most part, safe to drink. Two desalination plants on Grand Cayman supply good-quality purified tap water to the entire West End, including Seven Mile Beach. If you can determine that you're drinking desalinated water, then it's safe to drink. Just ask. Cayman Brac's desalination plant also supplies purified water to residents, but Little Cayman establishments have their own water systems. If your hotel on Little Cayman relies on rainwater collected in cisterns, it's best to drink only bottled water. When checking into hotels, ask about the water source. Never drink from a river, spring, or stream, regardless of how clean the water might appear.
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.