Caymans islands

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Cayman Islands @ Hervé Bré EnezGreen
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The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory composed of three islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman which lies in the calm, turquoise waters of the western Caribbean. The archipelago stands out for its exotic landscapes and also for its excellent level of comfort.
Thanks to its beautiful and pristine beaches, stunning underwater landscapes and a multitude of water activities, the destination is very popular for family holidays and lovers of diving and snorkelling.

Geographical strength of Cayman Islands

Located 800 kilometres south of Florida, between Cuba and Mexico, next to the island of Jamaica, they are among the cleanest, safest and easily accessible archipelago of Caribbean destinations.

Small seaside paradise, Cayman Islands consist of three separate islands: Grand Cayman – on which is the administrative capital George Town – , Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

The three islands have an extensive communication network, tourism and transport infrastructure well developed, state of the art medical facilities – rare on the Caribbean islands – not forgetting, of course, easily accessible financial services.

Grand Cayman, the main tourist destination with its capital Georgetown, is now one of the leading financial centres of the entire Caribbean region with over 500 banks and 30,000 registered companies. Grand Cayman stands out also by its excellent restaurants whose food quality and diversity of choice – from Indian dishes up Italian specialties and is esteemed especially for the wide variety of local fish specialties.

Far away from mass tourism, Little Cayman has only 70 inhabitants and is a perfect destination for off the beaten track travellers. The tiny island is famous for diving and for its sanctuary of wild birds and iguanas.

Finally, Cayman Brac has a natural reserve home to a multitude of parrots with bright colours, and is renowned for the unique and breathtaking flora of its coastal area.

More than 56,800 people live on this dependent territory of the British Crown.

English is the official language of the Cayman Islands and the first primary language spoken at home in 2010 by 90.9% of the population of the islands is 48,924 people, followed by Spanish. English is the local Creole Cayman.

Must Visits in the Archipelago

Stingray City, the most popular attraction of Grand Cayman, offers to swim among stingrays, it is possible to approach and feed them. If the experience is captivating, there are definitively too many visitors at the same time.

For families: on the beach of Boatswain, the Boatswain's Beach Turtle Farm Grand Cayman, is worth a visit to discover the turtle species inhabit the Caribbean waters.

Cayman Brac is the meeting place for nature lovers who come to observe over 200 species of birds.

Little Cayman, located just 8 km from Cayman Brac, is ideal for solo escapades or scuba diving and snorkelling addicts.

Beach lovers will be delighted in the coast of the Cayman Islands, with palm trees and pristine white sand beaches in turquoise and transparent waters. Off the coast of Grand Cayman range from beautiful coral reefs.

Environmental Issues

The archipelago is a sanctuary of rare animal species, some of which are endangered. An inland as in marine parks, many tourist activities offer to discover the local flora and fauna. The Cayman Islands are characterised by a high concentration of protected nature reserves in a small area and therefore there are a lot of eco-friendly outdoors activities.

For conservation reasons, it is strictly forbidden to touch the coral reef at the risk of incurring a heavy fine of up to $ 6,000; So it is highly advisable to touch coral eyes during your dives or snorkelling activities.

Marine parks, environmental areas and animal sanctuaries have been established on the islands to ensure that the natural treasures of the Cayman are preserved for future generations of locals and visitors.

Conscious of the need to protect the rich biodiversity of their seabed, the authorities implemented a series of environmental laws to ensure the sustainability of their natural environment. Here is a brief summary of marine conservation laws in the Cayman Islands:

  • Damage to the coral via anchor or chain or any other means is prohibited ANYWHERE in the waters of Cayman.
  • Buoys have been installed to the attention of boaters around the islands.
  • No taking of any marine life – alive or dead.
  • No taking of any corals, sponges, etc. in Cayman waters.
  • Wearing gloves while diving or snorkelling in Cayman waters is prohibited.
  • The export of live fish or other marine life is prohibited.
  • Fishing with nets, poison or other harmful substances is prohibited.
  • It is forbidden to throw anything in the Cayman waters.
  • The export of conch shells and black coral or requires a special permit issued by the Ministry of Environment.

The Cayman Islands are turning to sustainable tourism

Cayman Islands Environmental Project for the Tourism Sector (CEPTS) will also focus on the exploration and investigation into Green Globe destination certification for Little Cayman. Little Cayman, predominantly dive tourism-oriented, is virtually car free, a sanctuary for birds and wildlife, and also houses the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s (CCMI) largest research center.

The Cayman Islands private sector partners are doing their part to lead the way in sustainable practices in a variety of different ways, from individual program offerings to the greening of the dive industry:

  • CCMI has recently published the free ‘Green Guide to the Cayman Islands’, a booklet which informs visitors and Caymanians alike on the threats facing Cayman’s marine environment, along with steps they can take to protect it. In addition to the Green Guide, CCMI also hosts its ‘Dive with a Researcher’ program at the Little Cayman Research Center. The program gives divers an opportunity to become more knowledgeable about coral reef conservation issues and efforts while helping collect and archive data with CCMI’s researchers during dives.
  • Cayman Diving Lodge will be an entirely eco-conscious luxury diving resort constructed to green standards, and operating as a fully sustainable operation from the ground up.
  • Cayman dive operator Ocean Frontiers is working to make Cayman’s dive industry carbon neutral within five years, beginning with their existing carbon neutrality.

The Cayman Islands Brewery has constructed a sophisticated waste water treatment, ensuring that all excess grain and yeast goes to local farmers. Management is currently working on a plan to make the brewery generate its own power.

Economic Context

Historically, the Cayman Islands are a tax haven. February 8, 1794, the Caymanian assist at crews of ten merchant ships among which was the HMS Convert. The ship had hit the reef and ran aground when the sea was rough. The legend says that King George III, promising never to create tax, rewards the islanders for their generosity, because a ship carrying his own son, Prince William, later William IV.

The Cayman Islands have no direct taxation and have become important as an offshore financial centre and a tax haven. Tourism is the islands’ other main source of revenue. There is little agriculture, and most of the foodstuffs for the islands are imported. Industry is confined to construction and food processing. The standard of living on the islands is generally high, and the per capita income is the highest in the region.

The Cayman Islands were classified as a flag of convenience by the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Events not to miss

Carnival Batabono and carnival of Bachanal and the celebration of the pirates passage in Grand Cayman (the feast of the Pirates Week).

Arawak peoples are the original inhabitants of the Cayman Islands. They then practiced agriculture, fishing and gathering. They also produced highly decorated and colorful typical ceramics. The Arawaks were always very attentive to the refinement of character, beauty and art. They lived in harmony with nature.

Today, the culture of the people of Cayman Islands is a mixture of local tradition with American and British influences. Through festivals and events, culture of the archipelago is strongly suggested.

Historical Foundation

The two smaller islands of Cayman were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503. Sir Francis Drake explored the area in 1586 but it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that the Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British and administered by Jamaica after 1863. Then in 1959, the islands became a territory of the federation of the West Indies and when the federation was dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands decided to remain a dependency of Britain.

They are therefore today a separate Crown Colony, while Jamaica has become a Commonwealth realm.

Informations pratiques

Can we cross cayman?

The current name of the islands comes from Amerindian origin to designate the famous animal dreaded but long ago that these creatures have left the islands.

What is the best time?

The best time to visit Cayman Islands is from December to April, when average temperatures are the most pleasant around 24 °C and humidity at its lowest level. Very warm, tropical climate throughout the year. High temperatures are moderated by trade winds.

Diving safety

The George Town Hospital also has a two man, double-lock decompression chamber staffed by trained operators supervised by a physician experienced in treating diving-related accidents.

Transport network

By boat

Dozens of cruise ships anchor in George Town from Monday to Saturday.

Private boaters entering the Cayman waters should have to go to the port authorities in George Town for customs and immigration.

By plane

The Owen Roberts International Airport receives flights from North America and the United Kingdom.

Each island has an airport. Cayman Airways Express, a subsidiary of Cayman Airways offers a near-monopoly service between the three islands.

By car

Driving is on the left. Visitors must obtain a temporary licence from their rental car agency (CI $ 16). The driver must be at least 21 years old to rent a car in the Cayman Islands, and the assurance of some rental agencies do not cover renters under 25 years old; check ahead with your rental company.

Iguanas have right of way! Be careful not to offend these endangered creatures.

Two wheels

Bike, scooter and motorcycle rental are available on all three islands.

To know and respect

The lifestyle in the Cayman Islands is a mixture of local tradition with American and British behaviour. At the dress code of the Cayman Islands, the swimsuits are not a problem on the beach or cruise ship. However it is recommended to dress more formally in the city and in the restaurants even close to the beach.

Taxes & Service Charges

10% government tax applied on room tax plus 10% service charge. 10–15% on food and beverage but for parties of 6 or more a 15% service charge will be automatically added. Otherwise gratuities are not added automatically.

Good Deals

If you want to enjoy the best rates, it is advisable to plan a trip in early spring (March) and summer (July-August), when hotel rates are up to 50% cheaper.

Grand Cayman is known for its duty-free (between brand clothing, handicrafts, jewellery, etc.).