Grand Cayman Island is a very popular cruise ship port of call in the western Caribbean. Like Costa Rica, the Cayman Islands were discovered by Columbus. He originally named them Las Tortugas because of the many turtles on the islands. They were later renamed Caymanas for the crocodiles on the island. Today the Caymans are a major Caribbean banking and financial center and a popular cruise and vacation destination. Although Grand Cayman is flat and relatively unattractive, its lenient tax and banking laws have attracted millionaire residents from around the world. Its crystal clear water, sparkling beaches, and some of the best shopping in the Caribbean doesn't hurt either!
Cruise ships stopping over at Grand Cayman anchor in the harbor and use tenders to take guests ashore. This makes the visit a little more difficult than islands where you can just walk ashore, but most agree it's worth the effort to go ashore.
Grand Cayman has some lovely beaches, and those arriving by ship can either take an organized excursion to one of the beaches like the "Seven Mile Beach", or they can take a taxi from the tender pier. Although the island is flat, the beach is about 4 miles from the capital city of Georgetown where the ships dock, so walking could use up much of your free time.
With the gorgeous water surrounding Grand Cayman, it's not surprising that snorkeling tours are a great option for those who love to experience life under the sea.
One of the most popular shore excursions in the Caribbean is on Grand Cayman. Swimming with stingrays at Stingray City is popular with all ages. From 30 to 100 stingrays frequent the quiet waters of shallow North Sound, which is located about two miles east of the northwestern tip of Grand Cayman. Visitors to the area can swim or snorkel in the midst of these gentle creatures. An alternate shore excursion allows you to see the stingrays from the dryness of a glass bottom boat.
Those who don't want to go to a beach or get wet might consider an island tour. This excursion usually stops at the Cayman Turtle Farm, the only commercial sea turtle nursery in the world. It also stops at Hell, a post office in the middle of a large rock formation. It's fun to send a post card back home with that postmark!
Grand Cayman is also one Caribbean location where you can ride on a semi-submarine. This shore excursion also gives participants the opportunity to see the undersea area around Grand Cayman.
Another Grand Cayman shore excursion is guaranteed to make you sweat. Kayaking along the sensitive coastal area enables participants to see the extensive mangrove communities, shallow sea grass beds, and coral reefs. What a tranquil way to see the varied coastal ecosystems of Grand Cayman!