George Town is particularly known for its underwater attractions and for its shopping.
George Town is very prosperous. In addition to being a popular
tourist destination, the Cayman Islands are a financial center.
There are some 250 banks registered in the Cayman Islands. This
does not mean that there are retail offices offering mortgages and
car loans on every corner of George Town. Rather, the banks are
there because the Cayman Islands are a tax haven.
This has spawned a thriving financial services industry, which is a major
part of the local economy. In fact George Town is the world’s
fifth largest financial center.
Speaking of money, the Cayman Islands has its own currency, the
Cayman Islands dollar, which is pegged to 80 percent of the U.S.
dollar. Thus, one U.S. dollar equals 80 Cayman cents. U.S.
dollars are widely accepted at that rate by local merchants. Most
major credit cards are also accepted.
The Cayman Islands are not completely independent but rather a
British Overseas Territory. However, since 1972 it has had its
own constitution. The highest official in the islands is the
governor, who is appointed by Queen Elizabeth II.
He or she presides over a cabinet, which has three members appointed by the
governor and five ministers who are elected by the islands
George Town on Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman
It is a moderate-sized town with quite a few shops and
Located 150 miles south of Havana, Cuba and northwest of
Jamaica, Grand Cayman is the largest island in the Cayman
Islands. The other two islands that comprise this group are
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The vast majority of the islands’
population, approximately, 40,000 people, live on Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Islands are primarily made up of limestone, the
remains of ancient coral formations. Indeed, the islands are still
surrounded by numerous coral reefs. As a result, the islands are
generally low-lying – – the highest peek is only 60 feet high – – and
there is little fresh water (the limestone is quite porous).
As noted earlier, Grand Cayman is renown for the undersea
world that surrounds the island. Coral formations abound and
are home to large populations of sea creatures. They are also
the site of numerous interesting shipwrecks. Furthermore, the
waters are very clear with underwater visibility ranging up to
120 feet, depending on the conditions.
All of this makes the Cayman Islands very popular for
snorkeling and scuba diving. However, you can also explore
the aquatic world without getting wet via tourist submarines,
semi-submersibles and amphibious vehicles.
One excursion that is very popular involves taking a boat to
Sting Ray City (not shown), where guests can snorkel and swim
in shallow water in close contact with numerous sting rays.
Many cruise passengers prefer to spend their
day at Grand Cayman at the beach. The
undisputed king of beaches on Grand Cayman is
Seven Mile Beach, a beautiful stretch of white
sand bordering turquoise water. It is a
well-developed area with numerous resort
hotels adjacent to the beach. However, it is
possible to find uncrowded stretches. (See our
article on Seven Mile Beach).
While water-related activities tend to
dominate, there are things to do on land.
The provocatively-named rock formation known as
Hell is a popular attraction. (See separate
page). So is the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm
(See separate page).
Most of the shopping takes place in George
Town near where the cruise ship tenders dock.
However, there are some popular shopping
venues outside of the capital such as the
Cayman Islands Rum Cake Factory.