Who doesn’t love a warm weather vacation?! One of our absolute favorite destinations with or without kids is Grand Cayman Island, the largest of the 3 Cayman islands. We absolutely LOVE it! We’ve visited at least 8 times in the last 10 years.
You may have heard about their famous beach, 7 Mile Beach. This gorgeous stretch of white sand is surrounded by great restaurants, beautiful hotels and crystal clear water. As it is a public beach, you can walk along it regardless of which hotel you’re staying at. We always stay along 7 Mile Beach as it’s convenient to all the great restaurants and attractions and the beach is truly exquisite. The sand is soft, and the clear blue water is flat and calm, making it ideal for families with young children. Even at night the kids can swim in the ocean while we enjoy a sunset cocktail.
Watersports: Scuba diving and snorkeling are among the most popular activities on Grand Cayman. The island is famous for its coral reefs and underwater walls. All of us except Little, who is still too young,are certified divers. If you’re interested in diving while on Grand Cayman, we cannot recommend Off The Wall Divers more highly. If you’re not a huge fan of snorkeling or diving, not to worry because there are a number of other super cool activities. You can easily arrange wakeboarding, parasailing, paddle boarding, jet skis and all the other typical water fun. They’ll even take a 3-year old up on the parasail!…and in the Caymans, these activities are regularly supervised by the authorities.
Cayman Turtle Farm: A great experience especially for younger kids. Here you’ll see thousands of turtles from just hatched to 500+. You can get up close to the turtles with their touch tanks AND turtle wading pools. The kids couldn’t get enough of it. There’s also a fun water slide for kids within the farm so you’ll want to have everyone dressed in their swimsuits and sun shirts. I would suggest bringing towels, or else you’ll find yourself buying them there.
Stingray City: Forget petting a single stingray in a touch tank. At this shallow snorkeling area, you’ll be able to pet a few dozen while wading amongst them. There are a number of charters and tour companies that visit Stingray City. We like to ask our hotel to charter a fishing boat for so we can fish on our way out to stingray city and the nearby Starfish Island. At Stingray City, you’ll be able to get in the water with your kids and feed the stingrays some squid treats. In full disclosure, I tend to “freak out” when in the water with them so I typically stay on board the boat under the pretense of being the family photographer and send my “I’d do anything” husband. Of course, my kids have totally figured me out but there we go.
Starfish Island: Not far from Stingray City is Starfish point where kids can touch and play with Starfish!
Rum Point: This is a fun day or half day trip. It’s a great beach (public) 30 minutes away from Seven Mile Beach. Once there you’ll enjoy some time relaxing in a hammock, playing on the beach and snorkeling. You’ll also eat a delicious grilled lunch at their beach shack restaurant! Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreens, hats and swim covers. Check with the hotel to make sure you’re not going to Rum Point when the Cruise Ships are in port.
Submarine Tour: For anyone who doesn’t dive but is curious to experience the underwater world first hand, this tour is for you. You can choose to do the daytime or nighttime tour. We chose the nighttime excursion and brought all the kids. It was so much fun especially for Little & Middle who are always so sad that they are too young to become certified divers. Both of them are so curious about sea-life, and this was the perfect way to satisfy their curiosity and give them a dash of adventure. You’ll take a quick ferry ride out to the submarine. Once the hatch is closed and you begin your descent the reef will come alive.
Little Cayman: This is the place to go to get away from everything. It is a 30 minute flight on Cayman Air from Grand Cayman and absolutely worth it if you want some old-school alone time with your family. Think world class snorkeling/diving, catching hermit crabs, and some quiet space to read a book. There is only one restaurant, The Hungry Iguana, but it’s pretty darn good. (And the beer is ice cold). Where to stay; High end, The Club At Little Cayman for 3-bedroom villas. Moderate: Paradise Villas for 1 bedroom villas.
Where To Eat: Grand Cayman has some of the best food in the Carribean so be prepared to indulge!
Calypso Grill– This is my favorite restaurant on the island. It has that Island vibe that I love so much when I’m on vacation. If you go, you must make a reservation and request a table outside on the water. It’s super casual and always filled with happy vacationers. The crispy mango shrimp is top notch.
Casanova By The Sea: Delicious Italian food in a family friendly setting. You can request a table outside on the sand. While you wait for awesome Pizzas and pastas, the kids can walk along the beach and collect shells and climb the rocks.
Blue: This is Eric Ripert’s restaurant in The Ritz. He is the culinary mastermind behind Le Bernardin in NYC. Simply put, Blue is a temple for seafood lovers. Prices are steep, but if fresh fish and good wine are your thing then you don’t want to miss this.
Seven Restaurant at The Ritz: This is a great steakhouse also located within The Ritz Carlton. Steaks, chops, and fresh fish are all divine. The staff is super accommodating so don’t hesitate to ask for anything. They’ll also set up a private beach dinner for you and your friends either with kids or without. I highly recommend it.
Pappagallo: This is my kid’s favorite restaurant. It’s a super fun Italian restaurant for all ages. You walk across a bridge with tons of tarpons that they can feed, and they have parrots in cages that they can walk around and visit. The food is superior but doesn’t quite rival Chicago’s best Italian. Still, the experience is quite lovely, and the kids are guaranteed to have a good time. For any high-rollers out there, they have a helipad and you can get a helicopter tour of the island and land there for dinner. Crazy I know, but it’s been done…
The Wharf: I’m not recommending it based on its food (I won’t say anything more), but it’s a great place to get the kids an early dinner outside by the water while you enjoy a cocktail. The view is exquisite. More importantly, the restaurant provides fish food so the kids can feed the tarpons, and there are tons of them!!! Just be aware that it’s pretty touristy.
The Brasserie – One of the newer restaurants on the island and a welcome addition! Yes, you have to overlook the fact that it’s in Georgetown (where the cruise ships dock) among office buildings – but don’t let that fool you – it’s great. They have an on-site garden where they grow their own organic vegetables. Brasserie also runs two of their own fishing boats so you know the catch is always fresh.
Luca: Contemporary Italian menu served on a canopied patio or in their sleek inside dining room. While good for lunch or dinner, Luca is famous for its boozy Sunday brunch. Luca is located at the Carribbean Club, which is great with the kids, so we do come here quite often.
Where To Stay:
The Carribean Club: Just down 7 Mile Beach from the Ritz, you’ll find this hidden gem. This is where we stay when we bring the kids. You can reserve a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom villa with a full kitchen and covered patio. We like to be on the ground floor as the club is small enough that even Middle can run back to the room by himself from the pool. He could never do that at the larger Ritz. The Caribbean Club has a pool, housekeeping service, and poolside service, but the full suite of services are definitely less than the Ritz. Nevertheless, we love it here. (I just sneak next door for my massage!)
The Ritz Carlton: The Ritz Carlton is known for service, so it’s no surprise that they’re a great place to stay. It is a large sprawling hotel that is very spread out, but it’s services and amenities for families are so good that you’ll quickly forget. Its right on 7 Mile Beach, so it’s location is perfect. They have a small waterpark in the back that is a great option for kids 10 and under.
Enjoy this piece of paradise!