The Cayman Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean and British overseas territory of the United Kingdom. It consists of the three islands Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac that are a paradise for divers due to the surrounding coral reefs. But there’s more to this Caribbean treasure than meets the eye.
The Cayman Islands are no islands at all
Well, yes and no. Although on the surface above water the three islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac may appear as separate islets, they are all part of one gigantic underwater mountain – the “Cayman Ridge.” This mountain has a height of over 7.500 meters (~24606 feet) from the ocean ground, and its “mountain tip” above sea level is at the east end of Cayman Brac with a height of only 46.6 meters (~153 feet).
Ready for a treasure hunt?
The infamous pirates of the Caribbean Henry Morgan and Blackbeard (Edward Teach) are believed to have operated in Cayman waters in the late 1600s, especially on the islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Up to this day, people rumor that there might be several hiding places for the pirate’s treasures around the Limestone caves on Cayman Brac.
Left side, please!
If there’s one typical British thing that the Commonwealth of England made sure of that even their overseas territories keep on doing, it’s driving on the left-hand side of the road. So, if you plan on visiting the Cayman Islands and rent a car for your trip around, keep in mind to stay on the left!
Welcome to Hell!
Ready for a trip to “Hell”? The “Hell” we’re talking about here is a place on the West Bay at Grand Cayman. It’s a fascinating formation of short, back limestones roughly the size of half a football field. Although, as a visitor, you’re not allowed to directly walk on the limestones, there are several platforms on which you can enjoy the magnificent view.
Around 60,000 people of ~130 different nationalities live on the island, including Caymanian, Jamaican, British, American, Canadian, Filipino, South American, Australian & Kiwis, South Africans, and French. This multiculturalism is reflected in everyday life and brings various restaurants, music styles, etc., to the island.
Underwater Fairy Dust
Grand Cayman is not only home to “Hell,” as we mentioned above, but also the best place to experience one of the most popular nighttime activities for tourists and visitors. “Bio Bay” (for “Bioluminescent Bay”) is an artificial bay on the Northside of the island. The high concentration of bioluminescent plankton at this highly protected place is so rare that the magical glow at the bay seems out of this world. For anyone visiting the Cayman Islands, this is one of the must-do activities on your trip.
Again, the place we’re mentioning here is also at Grand Cayman: Stingray City. Located at ~25 miles (~40 kilometers) offshore the island, this group of shallow sandbars is home to Southern Stingrays. Compared to other wild stingrays in the ocean, those Southern Stingrays are considerably different in their behavior so that people can interact and even pet them. Therefore, the place is a popular tourist attraction for people looking for an exciting experience visiting the Cayman Islands.
3 Islands, 365 Dive Sites
Scuba divers, listen up! Whether you’re a pro, amateur, or a beginner, the Cayman Islands offers a wide range of various diving sites for all its visitors and diving enthusiasts to enjoy. In 2008 the Cayman government launched the “Dive 365” initiative to show the islands’ immense number of diving sites. To be precise: 240 diving sites at Grand Cayman, 65 around Cayman Brac, and 60 at Little Cayman. Pretty impressive.
Although the Cayman Islands are British Overseas territory, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, their official currency isn’t British Pounds (GBP) but the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD). It’s abbreviated with either the typical $ sign or, alternatively, CI$. The US dollar is also widely accepted across the three islands.
Living Natural Treasures
The myth-enshrouded treasure of Henry Morgan and Blackbeard mentioned above isn’t the only riches you might find on the Cayman Islands. However, if you’re interested in some genuine rarities, you only have to look around. The Cayman Islands, especially Grand Cayman, have such extensive biodiversity that it even surpasses the Galápagos. To name only a few of those living natural treasures:
- The Blue Iguana (which was saved from extinction by an extensive breeding program).
- The Red-footed Booby (a large seabird).
- Several species of bats (which are not only native mammals but only considered “keystone species” to the islands’ balanced ecology).
- The endemic Ghost Orchid (the rarest orchid in the world).