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Grand Cayman (Photo:Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)
Grand Cayman (Photo:Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)

9 Reasons to Get Off Your Ship in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman (Photo:Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)
Grand Cayman (Photo:Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)
Contributor
Mikkel Woodruff

Last updated
Oct 23, 2023

Read time
6 min read

There is so much more to Grand Cayman than its turquoise waters and tranquil views. A staple of the Western Caribbean cruise itinerary, getting off your cruise ship going ashore reveals the depth of nature, arts, and culture that make this Cayman island a standout.

The are multiple reasons to go ashore when you cruise to Grand Cayman, whether you’re looking for a foodie adventure, a history lesson, or to learn more about the island’s flora and fauna. Grand Cayman’s small size makes all locations easy to reach in a short amount of time, meaning you can do it all in a day.

With plenty of experiences that are hard to find elsewhere in the Caribbean, you’ll surely want to get off the ship and explore.

Here's Cruise Critic’s top reasons to get off the ship in Grand Cayman:

On This Page

Visit One of Grand Cayman's Beaches

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman (Photo: mikolajn/Shutterstock)
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman (Photo: mikolajn/Shutterstock)

Grand Cayman’s beaches are evident as soon as the shoreline comes into view. With your cruise ship anchored attractively off-shore, a trip to one of these pristine beaches is in order – and there are plenty to choose from.

You’ll want to be sure to check out Seven Mile Beach, possibly the most famous beach on the Island. But also worth a visit are Smith Cove, Cemetery Beach and Rum Point – all of which appear on TripAdvisor’s list of 10 Best Beaches in Grand Cayman.

Go Straight to Hell

Hell is a place -- on Grand Cayman (Photo: CC Help Michell)
Hell is a place -- on Grand Cayman (Photo: CC Help Michell)

Walk around Hell Geological Site in Grand Cayman, a well-known small island attraction. The area of spiky, dark gray-colored rock formations that is humorously named “Hell” is millions of years old and only a 15-minute drive north of the cruise port. Sign up for a tour from the cruise port that combines a stop here with other activities, such as a rum tasting.

You can send postcards from Hell or buy souvenirs from the small shop next to the naturally formed attraction. The shop and neighboring restrooms are open daily from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, though the natural site is always accessible no matter the hour. A photo opportunity in this picturesque landscape is irresistible.

Explore Grand Cayman's Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Botanic Park presents the chance to see various tropical gardens in one location. The park is a 40-minute drive from where cruise ships dock in George Town. It’s also a great spot for bird watchers to bring their binoculars and delight in the park’s two-winged visitors; the onsite lake is part of a wetland that is a safe haven for aquatic birds.

Don’t miss the botanic park’s Heritage Garden, which showcases plants historically important to Grand Cayman. You’ll see a traditional Caymanian sand yard — few of which still exist — and an herb garden where you can learn more about the medicinal plants that Caymanians historically used to treat ailments.

Make a day out of being at QEII park with an additional exclusive experience. If you’re an animal lover, help support the National Trust for the Cayman Islands with a Blue Iguana Conservation tour. The tour is an additional cost, but it’s a remarkable thing to do if you’re traveling there to see the gardens. A morning tour to see the iguanas is perfect for cruisers visiting Grand Cayman for the day.

The trust helps preserve and maintain the traditions and cultures of the islands through education and conservation, which includes helping to maintain the population of this endemic reptile. The jewel-toned blue iguanas are a wondrous sight, and the tour will open your eyes to this interesting Grand Cayman creature as you help care for them and get to feed them. Advance reservations via email are required.

Harvest Your Own Honey

Explore the art of honey at Reagan's Honey (Photo: Cayman Beekeeping)
Explore the art of honey at Reagan's Honey (Photo: Cayman Beekeeping)

If iguanas are too big or reptilian for your liking, go small with a visit to the bees! Harvest your own honey on Grand Cayman and taste the liquid gold straight from the hive during Reagan’s Honey Beekeeping Adventure.

You’ll reach the meeting point for the beekeeping tour with a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise port. The two-hour experience requires a minimum of two people and has a maximum of four people, so you will receive your guide’s undivided attention. Suit up in a beekeeping suit for a striking photo opportunity, and inspect the hives as you learn about the baby bees, worker bees, and the queen bee.

Visit Stingray City

Stingrays at Stingray City in Grand Cayman Islands (Photo: Michelle de Villiers/Shutterstock)
Stingrays at Stingray City in Grand Cayman Islands (Photo: Michelle de Villiers/Shutterstock)

Perhaps the most popular excursion in Grand Cayman is a visit to Stingray City. It’s a ten-minute taxi ride from the cruise port to this area, which is a group of sandbars with an abundance of stingrays. Dive into the shallow 3-foot depth water as you get up close to these magnificent fish. Many tour options to this location include transportation from the cruise port and lunch.

Take in Grand Cayman's Perfume Lab

Tap into your sense of smell during your day in Grand Cayman with a visit to Cayman Perfume Lab, which is only a ten-minute walk from the cruise terminal.

Smell is one of the five senses that impacts memory-making so creating a signature scent from your time there will be truly special.

You’ll recall your Caribbean cruise long after you have left Grand Cayman every time you wear the cologne or perfume you create with an expert mixologist who guides you through the process. You can also buy pre-packaged colognes and perfumes there that were made by Caymanian experts.

Go on a Cayman Island Foodie Tour

Go rum tasting in Grand Cayman at Cayman Spirits (Photo: Cayman Spirits Company)
Go rum tasting in Grand Cayman at Cayman Spirits (Photo: Cayman Spirits Company)

So much of a culture is tied to its cuisine. If your sense of taste is one you want to exercise in Grand Cayman, consider delving into the local culinary scene with a guided food tour that includes a private guided tour of the National Art Gallery.

The Cayman's Classic Food Tasting & Cultural Experience picks you up at the cruise terminal making it easy to say yes to this 3.5-hour excursion that includes breakfast and lunch.

When recalling your Caribbean cruise after your vacation, you’ll be able to tell friends and family about the things you tried during the tour including Caribbean curries, patties, Tortuga rum cakes, and Caribbean-flavored gelato.

Visit Grand Cayman's Pedro St. James

The National Historic Site of Pedro St. James on Grand Cayman (Photo: Pedro St. James)
The National Historic Site of Pedro St. James on Grand Cayman (Photo: Pedro St. James)

Pedro St. James is a National Historic Site on Grand Cayman. The 18th-century, three-story home has been a jail, a courthouse, a restaurant, and a Government Assembly building over the years. In a true juxtaposition of the purposes of the home, originally built with slave labor by an Englishman, it was also the site where the proclamation ending slavery in the British Empire was issued in 1835.

Today, the Cayman Islands owns and operates the home as a historic site; don’t miss the Stamp Room, featuring rare postage stamps from the island’s history.

Guests can visit for a low entry fee and sign up for a guided tour or enjoy a self-guided option. It’s a short 15-minute drive from the cruise port, and you can combine it with an onsite Cayman Spirits rum tasting and lunch. Advance reservations are recommended to dine at Thatch and Barrel, which uses local ingredients in its island-inspired dishes and is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Shop for Local Wares on Grand Cayman

If you want to bring home some souvenirs from Grand Cayman made by local artisans be sure to stop by the Cayman Craft Market in downtown George Town, which is conveniently just a 5-minute walk from the main cruise terminal area where the ship’s tenders disembark passengers ashore.

Though cruisers initially notice the attractive sandy beaches and blue waters of Grand Cayman, a deeper look reveals that there is so much more to explore and learn about within the island’s coastline. Cruisers will delight in this Caribbean destination and look forward to disembarking their cruise ship to explore for a day in this tropical port.

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