Sometimes, attractions are touristy for a reason. On Grand Cayman, kitchy fun is alive and well, and well worth a place on your itinerary. The key is to augment these activities with downtime the local way…chilling on a beach house porch, taking a walk through town, or going for a sunset swim. Here’s what to do on Grand Cayman with kids (and where to stay to escape the tourist traps).
Seven Mile Beach
Obviously, the top activity you’ll want to do on Grand Cayman is enjoy some beach days. Popular Seven Mile Beach lands on ‘best beach’ lists every year, and it’s easy to see why. The epitome of a tropical paradise, it stretches along the western side of the island with seemingly endless white sand and caribbean-blue sea. It’s a public beach, and does get crowded, but the calm water with very few waves makes it great for families with young kids, and the abundance of casual beach-side dining and beach bars makes it easy to grab lunch during your beach day.
You may roll your eyes at the pointlessness of it, but kids will want to send a postcard from ‘hell’, the natural limestone wasteland on the island. This tourist attraction will take you a few hours max (probably less), but it’s a must-do, because you won’t be able to avoid seeing the cheesy advertising for it everywhere. There are two viewing platforms–you can’t walk out onto the limestone, so this will not take long–but the prime reason for going is to head to the post office adjacent to get your mail stamped from ‘hell’. Other than the cost of mailing your postcard, ‘hell’ is free. To get there, head to West Bay, at the far end of the island.
The gorgeous Mastic Trail earns ‘tourist attraction’ status only because of the large numbers of guided tours walking along it. You can do it by yourself for free, however. The trail is 200 years old, and winds through native vegetation, including a mangrove swamp and two million-year-old woodlands. Kids have visions of prehistoric periods swimming in their heads as they walk, adding to the mystique and adventure of the attraction. The path is gravel, and mostly flat, and good for all ages. To get there, drive 15 miles east of George Town in central Grand Cayman.
Any and every dive shop on the island will take you to Stingray City, as well as every cruise ship shore excursion, making it the king of tourist attractions on the island. Should you still go? We say yes…like ‘hell’, it’s so heavily promoted, your kids won’t let you skip it. And it’s fun…very fun. The snorkeling offers amazing interaction with stingrays, but also time viewing underwater corals. Stingray City is located on a sand bar only three to five feet deep, making it very do-able for families with younger kids. Plan to spend at least a half day on this activity, and to drop some cash. Adult pricing starts at $39 each, and kids $30 each.
Cayman Turtle Farm
Once you’ve gotten your fill of stingrays, head to the Cayman Turtle Farm for some turtle love. This attraction has more of an ‘animal theme park’ vibe than conservation center, but they do have a lot of educational programming and opportunities to interact with animals. There’s also dining on site, snorkeling, a waterslide, and the island’s largest pool.
Vacation tip: Unless staying at a major hotel along Seven Mile Beach and booking excursions exclusively through a tour company, you’ll need to rent a car on Grand Cayman.
Where to stay:
You’ve got your tourist attractions lined up, and now you need a place to stay that will take you away from the bustle of the island and all the other visitors. Luxury boutique hotel Cotton Tree is amazing, with a very private, very quiet handful of bungalows nestled in a lush, garden setting. Once on Cotton Tree’s property, the rest of the island falls away; families can feel island life in a more organic, local way with full kitchens and homemade baked goods, front porches, walking paths, and a semi-private pool area. Cotton Tree is located at 375 Conch Point Road, Grand Cayman.
This post was written in partnership with Alamo Rent A Car. All opinions are our own.