The Cayman Islands is a very unique place, a British Overseas Territory, it's a safe, stable environment and a Duty Free island which means it attracts a visitor with a defined taste and palette. They enjoy the good things in life like stunning surroundings, comfortable accommodations, enjoyable amenities, beautiful beaches, interesting restaurants, great food, and spa services on hand when you need them! They like the laid back approach to life and embrace the opportunity to shake of their everyday life and exchange it for something more compelling... a beachside tropical island escape.
Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands in 1503. He named the islands Las Tortugas because of the abundance of turtles that inhabited the nearby waters. By 1530, the islands were being called the 'Caymanas,' which derived from a Carib Indian name for crocodiles, who were known to be abundant here at the time.
In 1794, one of the most famous local legends occurred. This was 'The Wreck of the Ten Sails'. As the story goes, a group of convoy merchant ships who were traveling from Jamaica to Britain ran aground on the reef at East End. The people of Cayman showed great courage in rescuing the shipwrecked passengers, as no lives were lost. One of passengers on the ship was Prince William of England who would go on to become King William IV. For this, as the legend goes, the Cayman Islands were granted freedom from taxation.
Although The Cayman islands were commonly regarded as a dependency of Jamaica, a need for self-government became critical, which leads to another important date in Caymanian history. In 1831, the people of the Cayman Islands, together with eight magistrates from Jamaica, formed a legislative assembly at Pedro's Castle (commonly called 'the birthplace of democracy') to allow the people to have a voice in the direction of the island.
The people of Cayman and the sea have gone together since the first settlements back in the 1700's. For many years, the main sources of income were turtle fishing or working on commercial ships. This is where Caymanians earned their reputation as some of the best seamen in the world.
After Jamaican independence in 1960, the Cayman Islands chose to remain as a British crown colony. In the years since, Cayman has become one of the world's leading financial sectors, as well as a top tourism destination in the Caribbean.
Residents of The Caymans enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Instead of casinos, fevered nightlife, and crime, Caymanians live in a stable community where education is highly valued and readily available. Generations of Caymanians have passed down music, folklore, rich customs and even a lilting 'sing-song' dialect that survives today.
The Cayman Islands consists of three islands. The largest and most developed is Grand Cayman, and its two Sister Islands are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which lie approximately 89 miles east-northeast of Grand Cayman and are separated from each other by a channel about seven miles wide.
approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles at its widest point, Grand Cayman reaches a maximum elevation of 60 feet at East End and occupies 76 square miles.
Covering 14 square miles, Cayman Brac is twelve miles long and just over a mile wide and has the most dramatic topography of the trio. Its majestic Bluff rises west to east along the length of the island to 140 feet at the eastern tip, ending in a sheer cliff. There are many mysterious caves carved throughout this awe-inspiring natural attraction.
Only 10 miles long and a mile wide, (10 square miles), Little Cayman is the flattest of the three Islands, reaching a maximum elevation of 40 feet. Its famous Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park has been called one of the world's best dive sites. Inland, the 203 - acre Booby Pond Nature Reserve is a RAMSAR site and nesting ground for the Caribbean's largest population of Red Footed Boobies.
The Reef's East End location puts you in one of The Caymans' most laid-back locales. This sparsely populated area is home to the town of Savannah, where you'll find a castle that is the island's oldest structure. Rumor has it that pirates built this fortress over two centuries ago. Nearby George Town offers premiere shopping with boutiques featuring Gucci, Fendi and other exclusive labels.
Please take note below of public holidays observed in the Cayman Islands. Caymanians love their traditions, so on these days you may experience certain festivities in the islands, such as parades, cook outs or exhibitions. For detailed information please view the event calendar on www.caymanislands.ky.
You will also find that most businesses and offices, such as banks, close for holidays, although supermarkets usually offer limited opening hours (closed on Sundays), and most shops located in George Town will be open, depending on the cruise ship schedule. Public busses run on a limited schedule.