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The deep harbor of George Town, Grand Cayman sits on the calmer west coast of the island, the largest of the Cayman archipelago. This has historically made it a welcome haven for sailing ships that had braved the Atlantic crossing from Europe.

Since Britain took possession of the islands in 1670, George Town has grown to become the capital city. It’s now a global tax-free financial center, with a population made up of more than 100 different nationalities.

While the wealth of tourism and finance have seen George Town transformed, its historic heart remains. Behind the duty-free shopping in its colorful shops, there are many reminders of life in earlier times worth seeking out during your visit.


The National Museum

People exploring the National Museum in George Town, Grand Cayman

The National Museum

Overlooking Hog Sty Bay, the Cayman Islands National Museum is in the former Courts Building, dating to the 1830s. It houses almost 10,000 artifacts of historical, botanical, and cultural significance.

Highlights include a 14-foot traditional handmade catboat, once used to catch turtles and for inter-island trade. The boats won their name after a cat hid away in the very first one, built by Captain Daniel Jervis in 1904.

Your visit starts with a short film giving a lively overview of the island’s history. The importance of the turtle, the national symbol, is reinforced by the natural history section, not to mention the imaginative gift shop.

The National Gallery

White facade of the National Gallery

The National Gallery Photo by ARC Magazine on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

While obviously focusing on local artists, this small gallery also has some works by international names. However, it is notable Cayman painters such as Miss Lassie (Gladwyn K. Bush) and Bendel Hydes that are the highlights.

From folk art to digital installations, the gallery spans a large range. There is a thought-provoking element of social activism in many pieces.

The gallery has temporary exhibitions, lectures, and workshops throughout the year. You’ll also want to leave some time to explore the sculpture garden outside.

Heroes Square

Statue in Heroes Square, George Town

Heroes Square

Heroes Square is the centerpiece of a long-term plan to make George Town more walkable. The recent pedestrianization along Cardinal Avenue is part of that project.

At the square’s heart is a Wall of Honour featuring the names of notable Cayman Islanders. Statues include a Mariner’s Memorial and its companion Tradition by artist Simon Morris, showing a search at sea.

Notable buildings here include George Town Library, the 1919 Peace Memorial, and the Clock Tower. These are all the work of the Bodden Brothers, to renowned local architects, so look inside to see their distinctive roofs.

Fort George Ruins

Old cannon in Fort George Ruins

Fort George Ruins

While slightly underwhelming, Fort George is notable as one of the oldest structures in Cayman. It dates to around 1790 and was built of coral rock to hold eight cannons.

A vivid three-piece mural on the site depicts the fort’s history. It’s by local artist John Broad, whose Walls of History mural stands near Heroes Square.

George Town Step Well

The absence of rivers and any run-off is one reason why the ocean around Grand Cayman is so remarkably clear. But that lack of fresh water is a problem for anyone who lives here.

One solution in centuries past was to cut step wells into the limestone rock. You can see one from the 1700s on the George Town harborfront inside Bayshore Mall.

The well was probably used to fill freshwater casks for visiting ships. Along with water, these ships took on board turtles for fresh meat, later replaced with pigs, as recalled in George Town’s original name of Hog Sty Bay.

Things to Do in George Town, Grand Cayman

Hang out at Seven Mile Beach

White sands of Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach

You could spend a week in George Town without running out of things to do just on Seven Mile Beach, one of the best beaches in Grand Cayman. Running north from the capital, this long stretch of white sand and clear blue water is what the Cayman Islands are all about.

Water sports include paddle boarding, waterskiing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Snorkelers love Cemetery Reef, while divers should not miss the USS Kittiwake, a sunken former submarine rescue vessel.

If it’s not too hot, you might walk the length of the beach, or have a taxi drop you off somewhere. You’ll find plenty of eating places here from food trucks to high-end restaurants.

Photograph the Fish Market

Red Spot Bay in George Town, Grand Cayman

Red Spot Bay

On the seafront, opposite the Cayman Craft Market, is Red Spot Bay. This tiny beach has been used for years by young locals learning to swim but also hosts a wonderfully photogenic Fish Market.

For visitors, this is the perfect place to watch local fishermen clean their catches and to learn about the fish you might find on your restaurant menu.

There are plans to make Red Spot Bay more visitor friendly and move the fish market elsewhere. That would be a shame, as it has been an atmospheric waterfront feature for more than 50 years and is a lovely glimpse into local life.

Toast the Cayman Spirits Co.

Bikini Martini at a bar in Grand Cayman

Bikini Martini

The Caribbean and rum belong together. Grand Cayman has its very own distillery, where you can discover the island’s Seven Fathoms Rum.

The distillers here pioneered the modern use of underwater aging of rum barrels. This gives their rum a distinctive, complex flavor.

On a tour, you will learn more about the process and enjoy tastings. You might also pick up the taste for some new Caribbean rum cocktails, such as the Bikini Martini, a colorful combination of vodka, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and grenadine.

Admire Guy Harvey’s Art

Guy Harvey is one of the world’s best-known marine artists. From his studio in George Town, he produces sport fishing images that are sold around the world.

His top-floor gallery on Church Street is an essential stop for anyone who admires his work, or supports his conservation programs. As well as paintings, it offers prints in many different sizes.

Downstairs is a shop selling products such as shirts, hats, and mugs bearing his artwork. These make for distinctive and unusual souvenirs.

See the Bodden Roofs

White facade of Elmslie Memorial Church

Elmslie Memorial Church

Rayal and Roland Bodden were the sons of a carpenter who became self-taught architects and builders. They were likely descendants of Isaac Bodden, the first person of European descent born on the Cayman Islands.

The family were well-known local shipwrights and the brothers’ buildings reflect this. Roofs like an inverted boat are a distinctive feature of George Town’s Elmslie Memorial Church, Town Hall, Post Office, and Library.

The Elmslie Church, standing on the waterfront, was their first project. It was built in 1922 of concrete blocks after Rayal Bodden went to Jamaica to learn how to make them.

Exterior of the Peace Memorial in Grand Cayman

Peace Memorial

The Town Hall on Heroes Square is better known as the Peace Memorial. The small clock tower beside it is a monument to King George V.

Experience Stingray City

Boat tour in Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Stingray City

This is one of the best things to do in George Town, Grand Cayman and indeed, the whole Caribbean. Standing on a sandbar offshore, you can watch stingrays up close as they swim around you.

These elegant sea creatures first came here to feed from fishermen cleaning their catch. They are now used to humans and are harmless if you follow a few simple rules.

Go with a guide to learn all about stingrays and to rent snorkel gear for a closer look underwater. Seeing them “fly” around you is an unforgettable sight for anyone.

Snorkel at Smith Barcadere

Rocky shoreline of Smith Barcadere

Smith Barcadere

Smith Barcadere—also known as Smith Cove—is just five minutes south of George Town. It’s more rugged than Seven Mile Beach and all the more picturesque for it.

The cove is one of the best places to snorkel in Grand Cayman, with shallow water, well protected by ironshore (prehistoric coral reefs). These rocks attract plenty of sealife, while the shallows are perfect for beginners or children.

Clear waters of Smith Barcadere

Smith Barcadere

The beach itself is shaded by trees and is a good place for a picnic. There are a few restaurants, basic facilities, and several gift shops, including the nearby Pure Art Gallery.

Barcadere comes from the French word débarcadère (landing place). You’ll see several such places on Cayman once used for landing and launching boats.

Take a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour

People on a glass-bottom boat tour in Grand Cayman

Glass-bottom boat in Grand Cayman

The Caymans are noted for their crystal clear water and pristine coral reefs. Even if you are not a swimmer, a glass-bottom boat tour will always be among the most wonderful things to do in George Town.

Regular tours leave the Waterfront to cruise along Seven Mile Beach and explore the coral-encrusted wreck of the Cali, a freighter that sank in George Town harbor.

A popular stop is Cheeseburger reef, named for a nearby fast food outlet. Here, you can swim or snorkel even closer to Cayman’s amazing sea life.


Family eating at a restaurant in Grand Cayman

Restaurant in Grand Cayman

The George Town waterfront has many restaurants where the sea views are as much a draw as their menus. You’ll find everything from Italian to Indian cuisine, although spicy Caribbean food is an obvious draw.

Downtown, you’ll find higher end restaurants and places more popular for their quieter ambiance. And along Seven Mile Beach, the choice can seem endless.

Cayman Cabana

With its harbor views and cooling breezes, this Waterfront institution on Church Street is a great hangout. Its Caribbean menu includes favorites such as conch fritters and Cayman-style lobster.

The chefs work hard to use fresh local ingredients, often a challenge in the land-poor Caribbean generally. Eating at a communal table is part of the fun experience here.

Rackam’s Waterfront Bar and Grill

Another Waterfront favorite, Rackam’s is a great place for cocktails. Nothing beats that first taste of rum to tell you you’re back in the Caribbean.

The menu is heavy on fresh Caribbean seafood but also features perennials such as burgers and curry chips. Kick back, enjoy the sea view, and maybe feed the tarpon swimming in the sea outside.

Thai Orchid

This small, cozy, authentic Thai restaurant is in the Queen’s Court Plaza on Seven Mile beach. While it has a typical Thai menu, such as curries or Pad Thai, it rings up the changes with excellent sushi and sashimi.

For desserts, Thailand is left far behind, with a delightful sticky toffee pudding, bread pudding, and mousse cakes. Ask for one of Saladda’s delicious cookies to take away as a memory.

Chicken Chicken

Maybe the secret to success in a restaurant is doing one thing well. It’s an idea Chicken Chicken follows with its focus on “wood-roasted” Caribbean chicken and Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

You can add salads, home-made soups, and Cayman-style cornbread. You’ll find all this homely food on the Seven Mile Beach strip, attached to the West Shore Centre.

Levonna’s Kitchen

When you see a menu handwritten on a whiteboard, you know you’re eating fresh produce. Levonna’s menu changes daily but her kitchen is always a haven of hearty Cayman-style food.

Rice and beans on a platter

Rice and beans

If you have the taste for rice and beans, soursop, fried plantain or curry chicken, this is the place to go. The unprepossessing exterior of this wooden building on Walker Street hides some of the best food in George Town.

Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit

Family exploring George Town's shops

George Town

George Town has a tropical climate, with only a small variation in temperatures year-round. There is a hot, wet season from May through November, while December through April is very warm and relatively dry.

Late October to April is the ideal time to visit the Cayman Islands. Temperatures are in the mid-70s to mid-80s and there is little chance of rain. But essentially, there is no bad time to visit; the Cayman Islands is a year-round destination.

What to Pack

Family eating at a restaurant in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

The first thing in your suitcase for any visit to Grand Cayman should be your swimsuit. Although it’s easy to rent snorkel gear, you might prefer to bring your own mask.

Reef-friendly sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, and water-shoes are also essentials. A light sweater will protect you from the chill in air-conditioned shops or restaurants.

A waterproof dry bag is a good idea for boat and beach trips. Besides protecting your valuables from the sea, they also keep out sand on the beach.


US Dollars are freely accepted, as are credit cards. The official currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) and change is typically given back in that currency.

What to Buy

People exploring the shops in Downtown George Town

George Town

Cayman’s tax-free status means luxury goods can be much cheaper than at home. Popular buys include watches, jewelry, gems, and designer label clothing.

Caymanite is a rare semi-precious stone found only in Cayman. You’ll find it made into jewelry and carvings.

Paintings by local artists, ceramics, or hand-woven baskets are lovely souvenirs of a visit. You might also pick up Cayman sea salt, soap products, and local hot sauces.

People exploring George Town, Grand Cayman

George Town

Discover George Town on an unforgettable cruise to Grand Cayman. Browse itineraries on our website to plan your tropical escape.

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