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General Information on the island of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


The three Cayman Islands comprise Grand Cayman, largest and most populous, plus the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, about 89 miles east-north-east of Grand Cayman and separated from each other by a channel about seven miles wide. Total land mass of all three islands is 100sq miles.
Grand Cayman is 76sq miles, being 22 miles long and eight miles at its widest point with a maximum elevation at East End of 60ft.

Cayman Brac is 14sq miles, being 12 miles long and just over a mile wide. It has the most dramatic scenery with a majestic bluff running the length of the island, including many mysterious caves.

Little Cayman is 10sq miles, being only 10 miles long and a mile wide, but has a world famous dive site and nature reserve.

The three islands are limestone outcroppings - the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends west-south-west on the Sierra Maestra range off the south-east part of Cuba to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize.

The islands lack rivers or streams because of the porous nature of the limestone rock. This lack of run-off gives the surrounding Caribbean Sea exceptional visibility, often over 120 ft.

Between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica lies the deepest part of the Caribbean, the Cayman Trough, which is over four miles deep. South of Cayman is the Bartlett Deep where depths of over 18,000ft. have been recorded.

All three islands are surrounded by healthy coral reefs which lie at the top of dramatic walls and drop-offs close to shore, creating ideal conditions for diving and sportfishing.

Cruise ship passengers land at either the North or South dock terminals, both at the centre of the George Town shopping district.A taxi stand is located at both terminals.

In the event of rough seas on the west coast, ships use the alternate anchorage at Spotts Bay on the south coast of Grand Cayman, about a 15-minute taxi ride from George Town. Seven Mile Beach is three miles from the George Town cruise ship terminals.


Introduction to Grand Cayman tours

Scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, beaches, shopping, good food, relaxation and financial investing are the main attractions of the Cayman Islands. If you are interested primarily in water sports, beautiful beaches and exploring duty-free stores, you'll enjoy the Caymans.

Though most travelers know the Caymans as a premier scuba-diving destination, they actually have several different identities. What you see depends on what you're looking for.

Cruise-ship passengers go to Grand Cayman as a stopover with a long and beautiful beach, lots of water sports and a bustling city.

George Town - full of duty-free shops, galleries and lots of cellphonet-toting offshore bankers.
Get-away-from-it-all vacationers look away from the hubbub of Grand Cayman and go to see the two "sister islands" of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac - places where there are only about four activities and one of them is sleeping.
And, of course, divers and snorkelers look to the ocean, where they find some of the best underwater scenery in the world - huge coral formations, steep drop-offs, excellent visibility, lots of sealife.

No matter what kind of traveler you are, you'll likely find the Caymans a stress-free place to visit. Crime is relatively rare. Islanders are friendly, speak English and enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. And the beaches are wide, sandy and fringed with palm trees.

Columbus discovered the islands in 1503, naming them Las Tortugas because their only inhabitants were turtles. By mid-1500s they were known as the Caymanas, the Carib Indian word for crocodile.
They were frequently visited by ships, including pirates, in the 1500s and 1600s but the first settlers didn't arrive until 1655 - deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army that was then capturing Jamaica. Later arrivals were also from the British Isles - England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Slaves of African descent also played a role in the islands' development, though the Caymans never became rich plantation isles like others in the Caribbean. The slaves were emancipated in 1834 after which some escaped slaves from other New World areas settled on the islands.

Today, tourism is a large factor in the economy of the Caymans. More than half a million people visit each year - 80% are from the U.S. and Canada but lately more Europeans.
The other big business is finance - the Caymans are among the favorite offshore banking locales in the world. Over 500 banks are based there, holding over US$463billion in assets.

On paper, there are about 34,000 registered companies who take advantage of the favorable tax status offered by the islands. The government opened a stock exchange in 1997. The Caymans remain a British Crown Colony, with a governor appointed by the British monarch, though the islands retain a largely autonomous legislature.

Most Caymanians live on Grand Cayman, the largest island, which is 480miles/770km south of Miami and 180miles/290km north-west of Jamaica.
The two smaller islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, have very little development and small populations. Often referred to as the 'sister islands' they are grouped together with the closest, Little Cayman, lying 70miles/110km north-east of Grand Cayman.

Facts At A Glance
Official Name: Cayman Islands.
Capital: George Town, Grand Cayman.
Population: 37,700.
Language: English.
Climate: Tropical, semi-arid.
Economy: Banking, tourism.
Government: British Crown Colony.
Religion: Protestant, Roman Catholic.
Currency: Cayman Dollar (CI$). 100 cents = 1 CI$. U.S. dollars, major credit cards and travelers cheques widely accepted.
Time Zone: Eastern; 5 hours behind GMT. Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Telecommunications: Excellent. Area code is 345. No city code needed.
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles AC.
Airport Departure Tax; Yes

Best Time to Grand Cayman

East winds moderate temperatures, making the climate pleasant year round. Average daytime temperatures range from the mid 70s to mid 80sF/23-30C but climb into the low 90sF/32-35C on occasion during the summer months.
Rain falls primarily during hurricane season (July-November). The wettest months are September-November. The best diving conditions are in the summer (warmest water, best visibility and calmest seas). No matter when you go, a sweater may be needed in the evenings, or a windbreaker for boat trips.

Random stuff
Grand Cayman is reputed to be the world's greatest offshore financial centre with more than 690 licensed banks. Only eight of them are retail banks providing standard check and savings accounts.

It claims to be not only the birthplace of modern scuba diving but also to have the most fantastic spots to pick from with over 200 sites and dive depths down to 120ft with remarkably clear visibility.

It has the world's only commercial green sea farm where giant turtles and terrapins are bred.

It has one of the most varied populations in the people-rich Caribbean. About a third of its 34,000 residents were born in 113 different countries and its workforce represents 78 nations, mainly the USA, UK and Canada.
The Wreck of the Ten Sails Monument - at East End on Grand Cayman - honors those Caymanians who saved the lives of British sailors who ran aground on the reef. For their bravery, King George granted the Caymans tax-free status forever.

It is estimated that each stingray at Stingray City is worth about $250,000 to the local economy.

There are more than two dozen kinds of orchids growing in the Caymans, including five found nowhere else in the world. Some are reportedly so small they can't been seen without a magnifying glass.

The Cayman parrot and the endangered blue iguana are unique to the islands. An iguana breeding program has been initiated by the Cayman Islands National Trust, which is having a positive effect. The population of green sea turtles has also risen thanks to the success of the turtle-breeding farm.
The Caymans currently have the most severe penalties for cruise-ship pollution in the Caribbean - up to US$500,000.

Each October, the Caymans celebrate Pirates Week, in honor of the nation's folk heritage. Best part of it is the Pirate's Landing, which kicks off the festivities. Boats cruise the harbor flinging water balloons at each other. On shore, pirates capture the governor and lead a parade through the streets of George Town.
Another big event on the islands is Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, held at the end of April. It attracts anglers looking for blue marlin, blackfin tuna, yellowfin and other sport fish. Prizes include US$250,000 for the biggest Atlantic Blue Marlin. Biggest yet caught weighed 584 lbs/265 kg).

Public Holidays: New Year's Day (1 Jan), Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Discovery Day (third Monday in May), Queen's Birthday (first Monday after 15 Jun), Constitution Day (first Monday in July), Christmas Day (25 Dec) and Boxing Day (26 Dec).
Cayman Islands


Center of the Caymans' tourism industry and home to the major travel attractions, the Grand Cayman capital, George Town (pop. 14,000), is the hub of the islands and the main business center. Ample duty-free stores and souvenir shops.
You don't see the steel-and-glass skyscrapers found in many of the world's financial centers because there is a height restriction of five storeys. But you do see plenty of modern buildings, with a few vintage structures sprinkled in between.

Grand Cayman Restaurants
The choices for food are plentiful in George Town - more than 60 restaurants and snack bars offer everything from elegant fine dining to fast food. All are relatively expensive.
Jamaican influence is readily detectable in traditional Caymanian dishes spiced with jerk, curry and other hot seasonings.
Fresh seafood is tops. Try a serving of lobster or fish complemented by breadfruit, yams, cassava, rice and peas and other West Indian side dishes. Turtle steaks, which taste similar to veal, come from the local turtle farm. Conch is served marinated, stewed or frittered. Finish your meal with a wide slice of Key lime pie or a hunk of rum cake.

Grand Cayman Shoping
Shopping Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Most close from noon on Saturday. Some open until 9pm weeknights. All closed Sunday, except restaurants and dive shops.
Prices can be a bit high. There are no Caribbean open-air markets but most shops sell local crafts and products, including crochet work, paintings and sketches of Caribbean scenes, thatch work, pepper sauces, Caymanite (the islands' semi-precious stone), jewelry, sculpture and wood carvings.
Antiques and treasure-coin jewelry costs high-dollar.
Grand Cayman also supports a number of fine art and gift shops.
You can watch expert flameworkers make all types of glass artwork, from small trinkets to


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