What attractions does Grand Cayman have other than Seven Mile Beach? Admittedly, this strip of shore is its most fabled lure, but if you can tear yourself from the surf and sand, you may be pleasantly surprised by all there is to see and do on the Caymans' largest island. As one villa owner, who had been living on Grand Cayman for 3 years, told us, "There is more to see and more diversity here than my wife and I ever realized."
The most interesting sections of George Town can be explored on foot in an hour or so, although you could easily spend hours shopping in town. Explore the island in greater depth on a guided tour, or rent a car or scooter and set out on your own.
Most visitors drive north of George Town along West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach, which is the most heavily developed part of Grand Cayman. Those seeking a more in-depth look at the less touristy areas can take our guided tour of the East End, going all the way from George Town to Rum Point in the north.
In the East End, you'll find such attractions as blowholes (rock formations that produce huge spouts of water when waves hit) and botanical gardens, plus remains of Grand Cayman's earliest settlements. Of course, it's always fun to break up a drive across the island with a swim in the Caymans' warm waters or a picnic on a secluded beach.
Stroll Through Historic George Town
Arm yourself with a map (the tourist office will help you plot a route) and start at the Old Courts Building, now the Cayman Islands National Museum, on Harbour Drive. It has exhibits of the natural and cultural history of the island. To your left as you leave is Panton Square, with three old Cayman houses distinguished by pitched gables and ornate fretwork. On Harbour Drive, past the cruise dock, is Elmslie Memorial Church, built by Captain Rayal Bodden, a well-known shipwright. To the right, by the parking lot, are old grave markers shaped like houses, with small ones for children. In the churchyard is the War Memorial (for World Wars I and II), and across the street, the Seamen's Memorial, with names of 153 Caymanians lost at sea. Next to it are the remains of Fort George, built in 1790 for defense against the Spaniards who raided the islands, carrying captured inhabitants to Cuba.
Overrated: Try to Avoid Going to Hell
This is the most overblown and fundamentally most irritating attraction on Grand Cayman. Hell is a tiny village in a desolate area, lying just under a kilometer (about 2/3 mile) from the sea. Covering about a quarter-hectare (2/3 acre) of jagged limestone in West Bay, near the island's most northwesterly point, Grand Cayman's earliest settlers (who wisely avoided this area) labeled this inhospitable location as "hellish" . . . ergo, Hell.
Don't even think of walking on the terrain: First of all, it's restricted. If you defy the signs and take a walk, you have a good chance of spraining your ankles or gashing your shins. A jagged lunar landscape of somber-toned gray rock, it evokes a treacherous coral formation -- the kind that could easily tear open the hull of the sturdiest watercraft -- that happens to be above the surface of the water. Except for birds, most animals tend to avoid the place.
The big "attraction" here is a little post office where you can get your cards and letters postmarked from Hell.
A Master-Plan Community Blossoming into Life
Set on 202 hectares (500 acres) between Seven Mile Beach and the North Sound, Camana Bay (www.camanabay.com) is a new town in the making. Shops, offices, cafes, restaurants, and a six-screen cinema, along with new residences, are either nearing completion or are on the drawing boards. One of the focal points is the Cayman International School with more than 300 students. The eco-friendly community is geared toward the pedestrian, not the automobile. The whole village is filled with Caribbean architecture and lush, indigenous landscaping.
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.