Grand Cayman Cruise Port
Where is Grand Cayman?
The three Cayman Islands are located in the middle of the Western Caribbean. Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands. Located just south of Cuba, the Cayman Islands are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The population is just over 60,000.
Cost for the day on Grand Cayman
Shuttle to Coral Beach – $10
Bus – $5
Snorkelling – $25
Drink – $16
Total – $56
A short walk from the tender dock is Harbour Drive, the island ring road that is lined with stores, restaurants and shopping malls. The first sign that the island is British is the traffic cop who is dressed in a white shirt with epithets, black trousers and shoes, and a white peaked hat. The traffic he is controlling all have their steering wheels on the right side and they drive on the left side of the road. Be careful crossing the streets. Many non-English tourists look the wrong way then step out into the road only to be hit by a vehicle cruising along the road at the same time.
Leaving the embarkment area there are many transportation vendors standing with signs for last minute tours and for rides to 7-mile Beach. The rides are vans that hold 10 passengers. The fee is $5 per person to Coral Beach, the start of 7-mile beach. For a dollar more the van will take you to the Public Beach half way down the beach.
On entering Coral Beach, packs are checked to ensure there is no outside food or beverages coming in. The expectation is that you will buy your food and beverages from them. They offer change rooms, washrooms and showers. Beach loungers are available for $12 per person. We opted to walk along the beach towards the Public Beach.
7-Mile Beach is a crescent of beautiful sugar sand covered with beautiful clear water. Voted one of the top ten beaches in the world it is 5.5 miles not 7 miles as the name suggests. The beach is lined with a mixture of private homes, condos, and hotel resorts. We walked close to an hour on the gorgeous hard sand admiring the beautiful water view.
As the sun got too intense we cut through the Westin 7-Mile Resort to the ring road. One of the staff members directed us to the bus stop across the road rather than taking a $25 taxi fare back to the centre of Georgetown.
The buses in Grand Cayman are actually family vans with Public Bus written on them. They have two front doors and a sliding side door. The cost to go back downtown George Town was 2 Cayman dollars per person. A Cayman dollar is equivalent to $1.25 USD. The ride back into town was $5 USD ($7.75 CDN) for the two of us.
The buses are air conditioned. The person closest to the sliding side door assists in opening and closing the door as people exit and enter to sit on one of the three regular van seats. The people were all friendly and chatty so we all had a good time talking to each other. We loved getting the low down on the island from local residents going about their daily routines.
You can take a public bus all around the island. The island has two separate sides. The Western side is the modern side. The other side is the old side. The van buses all end up at the bus depot where you can catch another bus that will take you to the last stop of the East island. Here you catch another bus that goes around the West island. The homes are traditional. The roads are narrow and curvy as they follow the property lines. This side is also the windy side of the island with a large bluff overlooking the ocean. Our time at port was only 6 hours so unfortunately we did not have time to go exploring the island.
The driver dropped us off and pointed out the way to Eden Rock where there is some of the best snorkelling on the island. It is a short 10-15 minute walk from the cruise ship terminal along the ring road to Paradise Restaurant and Marine Park. Just past it you can see an inflatable water park on the water. They rent snorkelling equipment at the stand attached to the restaurant. An inflatable life vest is compulsory to use their facility that rent for $10. A complete rental of vest, mask, snorkel and fins is $25 and you can also buy fish food for $5. There is a change room and lockers available and they take credit cards.
As soon as you enter the warm water after descending one of two sets of stairs, you are face-to-face with huge Tarpons that are 5-8 feet long with large black eyes. Swimming between them are numerous small colourful fish. The water is only 6-8 feet at this spot.
I swam out to where a diving boat was moored above Devil’s Canyon. The floor of the ocean is clear from 30 feet above. There is a canyon created by round solid masses of old coral. I could see several scuba divers swimming below. The diving area is a large area and is roped off.
Across the Harbour Drive there are all kinds of the usual shops including a local craft market under a tent. Right across the tender docking area is a mall with free Wifi. There were more than a hundred people sitting on hall benches throughout the mall staring at their smart phones and tablets.
Most shop items are priced in US dollars. The prices were normal prices for the islands and other tourist locations. Restaurants prices are expensive for simple foods like burgers and sandwiches. They charge Cayman dollars which is 25% more than the US dollar. A Pina Colada costs $9.95 Cayman dollars. There is a 15% tax and a compulsory 18% tip added. The total came to $16.50 USD ($22.50 Cdn). Lunch for two with drinks would be over $100. Best to eat on the ship.
We enjoyed our afternoon on Grand Cayman. We enjoyed walking the beach and our little bus adventure back into town. The people we talked to were friendly and accommodating. The snorkelling was good. I would have liked a full day so that we could explore more of the island. I would give the visit one thumb up and would like to return for a longer stay