Location: Cayman Islands
Surrounded by crystal clear waters, the Cayman Islands emcompasses three islands in the western Caribbean Sea.
What is Cayman known for?
Anyone in business or finance will know that the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory is one of the leading Offshore Finance centres in the world, offering a tax neutral environment with no corporation, income, inheritance, capital gains or annual property taxes. Because of this, the Cayman benefits from a world-class infrastructure, plus a safe and stable socio-economic status for Caymanians and ex-patriates to thrive and enjoy. What isn’t well known is that Cayman as an off-shore jurisdiction champions tax transparency and co-operation and leads the field globally in AML standards.
We would have to ask over 2.5m visitors a year to find out what brings them to our sunny shores, as we must be doing quite a few things right! Not only is Cayman well connected: only an hour flight from Miami, 3 hrs from Dallas or Atlanta, and less than 4 hrs from Chicago, New York/Toronto and mostly daily flights from 24 gateway cities across North America, the Caribbean and London Heathrow. Cayman is possibly the safest of all the Caribbean islands, with miles and miles of pristine sandy beaches encircling and calm blue waters which are remarkably clear – The Cayman Islands are also renowned for their scuba diving, we are fast becoming the foodie capital for the region, with thanks to the late Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert spearheading the annual Cayman Cookout, as well as the established Taste of Cayman and were the first island to successfully host Kaaboo arts festival this year. Another unknown fact is that the Cayman Islands boast more bio-diversity than the Galapagos Islands-who knew?
In brief; ‘world-class with a relaxed, tropical vibe’. As a small family of three islands with Grand Cayman very much the big sister, there are no indigenous Caymanians, when the islands became inhabited over the course of a couple of hundred years the islanders were reliant on seafaring, fast forward to modern days Caymanian’s are largely well educated and travelled, off-shore finance and its associated industries have added to an already diverse population which is approaching 68,000. Despite our wealth, we are grounded and down to earth, we like to live in a fully inclusive society with a high standard of living #caymankind, and if you walk into a bar you’ll just as likely sit next to a funds lawyer or a dive master and you won’t be able to tell them apart!
Grand Cayman is a highly liveable island year round, supported with first rate amenities such as communications, schools, medical facilities which attracts qualified workers, their families, lifestyle refugees and retiree’s. Residents of Cayman all share a love of the outdoors, especially the water either be under or over, if we’re not playing one of the many sports here, we’re watching it together albeit supporting our home team, whether you come to Cayman as a family, a couple or single you will be welcomed as we all were when we first arrived. These warm welcomes can come in the form of a beach walk, barbecue gathering, a day fishing on the boat, or an invitation to join one of the service clubs/charities here.
Our ‘winter’ between Thanks Giving and Easter is certainly our busiest season, with cooling breezes you can turn off your AC, open up the house and maybe even wear a sweater in the evening. Somehow, even without snow we make Christmas especially festive for our families and visitors. To kick off the season we hold an evening Parade of Lights where we decorate our boats and light a 50ft tree in Camana Bay, and the Ritz-Carlton showcases a life-size (and edible) Gingerbread Cayman style cottage. Following British tradition, we celebrate Easter as with the Friday and Monday as public holidays, as well as the Queen’s Birthday. Cayman’s carnival – Batabano is in-keeping with our Caribbean roots and very un-British, we suspect that Her Royal Highness would not be amused!
Cayman is blessed with an endless summer climate, even in our rainy season we typically only get a shower before the sun comes out ☺ With that brings out an array of fabulous flora, and of course mango mania eschews. In the fall, we are invaded for seven days of the Pirate’s Week Festival by hordes of real life wannabe pirates from all over the world!
Places to explore in Cayman?
On land - Pedro St. James or Pedro's Castle is the oldest existing building in the Cayman Islands. Located on the south coast of Grand Cayman Island, the manor is a reconstruction of an original 1780 plantation house, during full moon the tide rises high enough to fill a secret rockpool.
At the beach – Spotts Beach, a palm-lined beach offering picnic tables, a tranquil vibe and amazing snorkeling opportunities, the best chance of spotting a turtle.
Underwater - The ex-USS Kittiwake is an Ex-US Navy ship. She was sunk on 2011 off Seven Mile Beach to form an artificial reef and shipwreck attraction for scuba divers and snorkelers to visit and enjoy.
What would be better than a B&B? Luxury Cayman Villa’s fabulous properties - experience the most exclusive collection of luxury vacation rentals in the Cayman Islands, or stay at the new Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, their first international property.
We agree with Trip Advisor – the top tourist spots are: Stingray City where you can swim with wild stingrays in the protected waters of the North Sound. Enjoy all that Seven Mile Beach has to offer on land and water, as it’s west facing the sunsets are spectacular. The Crystal Caves in Northside, which are a set of enchanting connected caves, some of which feature crystal clear pools of fresh water.
Treasures can be found in Cayman’s capital, George Town such as Artifacts specializing in shipwrecked coins and antique maps, Goodness is a boutique for locally crafted and inspired gifts, you can buy fresh fish at Hog Sty Bay right from the fisherman. For the big spenders, George Town has the authorized Rolex, Cartier and Breitling dealers at Duty Free prices! Camana Bay has superb shopping, as part of the new urbanism movement the European style pedestrianized streets in this mixed-use, multiphase ‘town centre’ have residential apartments above them, with commercial buildings surrounding them all meshed with green spaces and lush landscaping in between.
Back in the day, Cayman’s architecture was very simple and limited by the lack of natural resources, that being said there are still many 100+ year old examples of these flat fronted, ironwood frame with wattle and daub walls and silver thatch palm (our national tree) roof, facing the road and not the sea there might be some decoration to the porch. Nowadays, our Cayman style has evolved and expanded exponentially to be even more storm resilient – we build above and beyond Miami Dade standards, exclusively in some form of concrete which is almost always insulated to maximise energy efficiency and in some cases to LEED certification standards. So, now there is no one style but there is always an emphasis on balancing out natural sunlight and shade, indoor/outdoor living, and hurricane resilience with refined aesthetics.
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