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The largest of the three Cayman islands, Grand Cayman lives up to its name. The Caymans have a reputation as a playground for the wealthy, and its capital city, George Town, located here, confirms that image. Its glitzy, ritzy environs are where visitors congregate to sip cocktails, browse the marquee boutiques, and partake in a plethora of fine dining. All of this is arrayed against Seven Mile Beach, a glamorous strand of white sand abutted by sparkly blue water where turtles and stingrays flit. But Grand Cayman isn’t all about luxury — venture outside George Town and you’ll find pockets of rural idyll and gorgeous natural attractions.
This island’s varied ecosystem supports a dizzying array of flora, including coconut palms, mangroves, and avocado and mango trees. Colorful orchids and fanlike hibiscus flowers bloom here. There are arid semi-desert landscapes contrasted by verdant hardwood forests. At Smith Cove, a favorite snorkeling spot, you can paddle around with tropical fish and — if you’re lucky — even an octopus or two.
Fly into Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM), located in George Town. Taxis, shuttles, and rental cars are available once you arrive. While you don’t necessarily need a rental car to explore George Town and Three Mile Beach, it’s a good idea to get one if you’d like to take day trips to explore the pastoral parts of the island. There is a public bus system that operates routes island-wide, with the main hub in George Town. You can catch one at a bus stop, or flag one down. Their routes are posted on a sticker in the front window.
There isn’t really a bad time to visit Grand Cayman. The weather is warm and sunny year round, although there is a wet season from May to October. This means you’re likely to encounter morning and afternoon rainfall — and also fewer crowds. Pirates Week, one of the island’s biggest and most eccentric events, goes down over three weeks in November and is spread across the three islands, ending in Grand Cayman. Expect parades, bonfires, fireworks, and lots of pirate costumes.
Located in the Mastic Reserve, which protects the island’s old-growth forest, this tranquil 2.3-mile trail showcases the island’s biodiversity as it traverses mangrove wetlands and palm stands where parrots and woodpeckers congregate. You may also spy orchids, butterflies, and large hermit crabs in this park, which has grown unfettered for two million years.
This museum is as much a celebration of cars as it is the special possessions that wealth affords. Built by a car-obsessed businessman, the museum showcases his extensive collection, which includes the first car brought to the Caymans, as well as glittering high-end collector cars and famous Hollywood action hero vehicles.
Temporarily bid goodbye to the sunshine to venture underground and explore this fascinating network of underground caves formed more than one million years ago. The Crystal Caves’ interior chambers bristle with strange and beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, some surrounding a limpid underground lake. Rumor has it that pirates stashed gold here, but the real treasures are the scenic riches.