Grand Cayman is a land of contrast. Bustling docks give way to long stretches of pristine sand, colorful cottages live side by side with buildings bearing the architectural marks of colonialism, and fun in the sun tempered by the glistening sight of the radiant blue sea.
The island may be just 22 miles long, but there’s a lot packed into this tiny enclave, and the residents know exactly where you should be going and what you should be doing to explore Cayman like a local when you stop in during your Princess® Caribbean Cruise.
Stingray City is actually a sandbar that’s home to a fever of stingrays. Decades ago, fishermen cleaned their daily hauls by the shore, attracting scores of hungry rays clamoring for scraps.
The fishermen now do their work elsewhere, but the stingrays remain, gracefully gliding around those lucky enough to stand in the shallow water amongst them.
Tropical vacation destinations often feel more suited for a leisurely stroll than huffing and puffing through an adventure hike – luckily, Grand Cayman has a spot that will please both explorers and relaxation seekers alike.
Mastic Trail is a winding path that takes visitors through some of the last remaining examples of Caribbean dry forest. You’ll spot a plethora of birds from Cayman Parrots and a couple West Indian Woodpeckers hiding, eating, and playing amidst the tall trees, mangroves and vibrant plants.
There’s also a lot of history to absorb during your 2-mile trek; the woodlands are more than 2 million years old with a more recent history that makes the trail over 100 years old.
For anyone who fears elevation, the trail only rises to a moderate 60 feet above sea level, which is also the highest elevation on all of Grand Cayman.
Recreational diving in the Caribbean first came to popularity in Grand Cayman, and for good reason – the underwater world here is simply breathtaking.
You don’t have to be an ace to head into the water, either. There are tons of trustworthy dive operations that will happily outfit you, give you all the necessary safety and operation information, and then accompany you to any one of nearly 360 dive sites strewn throughout the Cayman Islands.
Locals are known to spend more time diving on the East End, in fact it’s where many of the dive instructors you’ll meet spend their off time. No matter where you go the views will be spectacular.
On vacation we often veer towards action-packed options like jet skis, kitesurfing, and parasailing – all of which are great ideas – but locals often take a more laid-back approach to time on the water, which allows for taking in the scenery.
Test out your balance on a paddleboard, tour the shore in a kayak, or go for a sail at sunset. Sailing is a particularly popular pastime in Grand Cayman, and the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (which has strong ties to international sailing organizations as well as the Olympics) offers lessons for enthusiasts of all ages. There are also charter companies that cover everything from a quick day sail to a romantic dinner cruise.
Snorkel at Cemetery Beach
Cemetery Beach itself isn’t exactly a secret, but many people don’t realize there’s a reef just a short swim from shore that’s full of sea life. Make the short journey and you’ll be greeted by everything from vibrantly colored fish to sea turtles.
The area around the beach is fairly quiet, with a historical cemetery nearby and few businesses or amenities to speak of. For some, this tranquility may be a drawback, but many people love the respite from the hubbub of more populated beaches nearer to the main tourist drag.
If you happen to be in port on a Wednesday between noon and 7pm, head over to this open-air market to snag everything from locally made crafts to fresh produce.
Browse the more than 40 shops and restaurants and load up on beautiful shell and stone jewelry, luxurious skincare products, tea, spice mixes, and more, but whatever you do, don’t leave without several jars of the delicious pepper jelly.
It’s only made in small batches right here on the island and it’s not exported or available anywhere else in the world, so this is your only chance. Pair it with crackers, cheese, and an excellent view of the Cayman waters and you’ll love the results.