Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

The charming Cayman Islands continue to be a coveted Caribbean getaway for both adventurous and more immobile travelers. Cayman is an undeniably cosmopolitan place – nearly half the population is from somewhere else – but its rich local culture is alive and well, especially in Bodden Town, East End and Cayman Brac. Explore the North Side and the Sister Islands to discover lush forests, diverse birdlife, mysterious caves and untrammeled beaches. Under the waves lie amazing underwater walls and accessible shipwrecks.

Some two million tourists visit the Cayman Islands each year. Most of them are cruise-ship passengers, who spend a few hours shopping, sunbathing or swimming with stingrays, before pulling out of port. Others hunker down near Seven Mile Beach, enjoying their all-inclusive resort on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful stretches of sand. And a lucky few venture further.

Dive in. It takes only a small sense of adventure to uncover Cayman’s greatest treasures – the warm hospitality and the fantastic natural phenomena above and below the sea.

Gorgeous barrier reefs call to divers as the rum punch calls to the beach bums. Honeymooners hike through the 200-year-old Mastic Trail as parents take their children for interactive swims at Stingray City. Whichever way you choose to mellow out, the Cayman Islands can oblige.

The Cayman Islands are an archipelago of three islands, lying 90 miles south of Cuba. The largest, Grand Cayman, is full of gargantuan resorts with all-inclusive options, perfect for those who prefer pre-planned itineraries and don’t mind sharing the sights with cruise crowds. For freewheeling vacationers, the less-traveled Cayman Brac and Little Cayman offer some of the best diving in the Caribbean.

In 1503, Christopher Columbus was making his fourth and final voyage to the New World when winds blew his ship off-course. It was then that Columbus first happened upon two islands that he would name “Las Tortugas” inspired by the many turtles that inhabited the seas. This pair would become the sister islands of Cayman.

Years later, a map was drawn showing all three islands in the area with the name “Lagartos,” meaning alligators or large lizards. By 1530, the trio was called the “Caimanas”— derived from the native word for the crocodiles that used to dwell here. The name “Caimanas” evolved into Cayman, and we’ve been calling our islands that ever since.

The earliest settlers arrived in the islands around 1658 as deserters from the British Army in Jamaica. The first colonists were named Bodden and Watler – with fishermen, slaves, sailors and refugees from the Spanish Inquisition soon to follow.

Today, the people in Cayman speak a British form of English with its own Caymanian flare. In fact, each district has a different dialect. We also have a rich heritage of rope making, with strands braided from our national tree, the Silver Thatch Palm. And, as you would expect, the customs we hold in the highest regard come from our maritime past, right up to the catboat races we host every year.

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