Why the Cayman Islands is the best destination for respite and relaxation
There’s no shortage of natural wonders and luxury stays across the three distinct island experiences
When Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of the Cayman Islands in 1503, he could not have imagined that over 500 years later, this trio of idyllic islands would endure as a cosmopolitan haven for tourists all over the world, known for their white sands, piercing blue seas, restaurants and attractions.
The islands—which Columbus initially named Las Tortugas for the abundance of sea turtles that inhabited them—were likely attractive to the famed explorer and his crew as a relaxed oasis after a long journey across the Atlantic. The Cayman Islands we know today is one that offers visitors the perfect combination of respite and modern exploration, next-level service and an approachable luxury that beckons travellers year-round. And with reduced restrictions on international travel, intrepid explorers are re-discovering this island paradise just a short four-hour non-stop flight from Toronto.
In contrast to other modern metropolises, the skyline on Grand Cayman is not dotted by high-rise structures and centres. Rather, its collection of boutique hotels, resorts and villas alongside shops, restaurants and galleries ensure the pristine vistas are preserved and celebrated, and the slower, calmer pace endures.
Grand Cayman—the largest of the three sister islands—is home to markets, shopping, over 200 restaurants and cultural hubs such as the National Gallery, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden, and Pedro St. James—site of its first Parliament and the location of numerous historical events.
Along its famed Seven Mile Beach, you’ll find hotels and hideaways like the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and Miss Piper’s Kitchen + Garden, a vibrant live music-filled backyard restaurant and bar serving Caribbean infused fare. Al fresco dining is all the rage, and there is nary a spot on the island that you can’t enjoy a perfect patio, romantic beachfront table or relaxed picnic along the seashore. Food is an important part of Cayman’s universe – and you can find everything from Eric Ripert’s Blue—the only Five Diamond restaurant in the Caribbean—to the freshest catch prepared “Cayman Style” at local gems like Heritage Kitchen.
Grand Cayman is renowned for its sophisticated yet relaxed vibe, and the sunbathers, paddleboarders, kite surfers and scuba divers are a welcome example of bustling activity alongside the luxury yachts that dot the shoreline. The yachts and other tour boats often head over to Stingray City: a natural community where elegant stingrays gather, and where visitors can swim with and marvel at the creatures living in their natural ocean habitat.
Rum Point offers a quieter stay away from the more animated Seven Mile Beach. Nearby, you’ll find Starfish Point, where a colony of starfish pepper the shallow waters, and snorkelers and scuba divers discover the vibrant sea life and coral reefs that Cayman is famous for. Luxury accommodations like Rum Point Residences attract discerning travellers, and new boutique hotels like Black Urchin, a design-forward gem in Bodden Town, offers customizable experiences and a private beach.
The rugged shorelines and iconic cliffs of Cayman Brac, one of Grand Cayman’s sister islands, attracts rock climbers and scuba divers who revel in nature’s gifts above and below the sea. On a quick inter-island flight away from its larger island counterparts, the island of Little Cayman is an unspoiled, hidden gem with pastel-hued cottages and calm hideaways, perfect for a chance to unplug completely for a few days. And for the adventurous, Little Cayman offers some of the world’s best diving sites.
Given the ease of travelling to and amongst the Cayman Islands, there is no better time to discover the three distinct island experiences that a trip to the Cayman Islands offers.