WHAT TO TAKE
Considering the size of the islands almost everything you could possibly want or need is available, so bring your flexible friend. The main things to remember are: beach paraphernalia, swimwear, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Unless you are planning to attend a particularly smart event the dress code is smart-casual with an onus on 'wear what you feel comfortable in'. It is a good idea to pack a light sweater as indoor restaurants and bars can blast the a/c. All sport supplies are catered for on the island and the dive shops are particularly good.
WHERE TO STAY
You could be excused for thinking that a stay on Grand Cayman will cost you a fortune. With the dramatic increase in the opening of luxury hotels and condos over the past few years there are, indeed, fabulous places to stay, be it for a vacation or on business. The accommodation, facilities and service match anything you can find anywhere in the world. But there is also a wide selection of modern and well-equipped accommodation to suit all pockets, from guest houses and condos to villas and cottages where you cater for yourself.
Look to stay on Seven Mile Beach and you'll pay a premium for the fabulous views and central position. Move out of town and the price goes down but considering you are never far away from a beach or fabulous dining opportunities, being a few miles away from the George Town and West Bay Road scene is not a problem. Condos, resorts and apartments can be found strung all along the fabulous coastline so if you just want to relax somewhere quiet and take the occasional cool dip in the sea or pool you'll have no difficulty in finding your little bit of paradise. Whatever your budget, there is somewhere for you to stay and enjoy the Cayman experience.
HEALTH & SAFETY
The Cayman Islands are safe and relatively crime free; take the usual precaution against opportunist crime and you will have a safe and happy holiday. There are very few 'touts' that will try to coerce you and as the expression goes, 'the natives are friendly'.
A mandatory Government room tax of 10% is standard and is added to your room charge. A departure tax of CI$20.00 or US$25.00 per person is normally included in the cost of your airline ticket. Otherwise, the Cayman Islands do not have: capital gains tax, Corporation Tax, withholding tax, property tax, payroll tax, or income tax payable by employees.
FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS
For a family vacation, it would be hard to make a better choice. There is a huge range of activities for everyone to enjoy and the safety, both on and off the water, will ensure you have a hassle-free vacation and be able to relax and reconnect as a family. Most of the hotels and condos can arrange child-minding services enabling the adults to have a late (or romantic) night out, safe in the knowledge that the children are in capable hands.
MONEY & CURRENCY
The Cayman Islands operate a dual-currency; the Cayman Dollar (you will see it written as C.I but the banking code is KYD) and the US Dollar. The two currencies maintain a fixed rate, $1 Cayman Dollar is worth $1.20 US or $1US is $0.80CI. Both currencies are valid everywhere on the three islands, although change is usually given in C.I. currency. The US dollar is accepted throughout the islands and as an example, a US$20 note converts to CI$16. Banks do NOT give a better rate of exchange and the rate does not fluctuate! MasterCard, VISA and American Express cards as well as travellers checks are widely accepted. Canadian dollars and pounds sterling can be exchanged for CI dollars at local banks. Automatic Teller Machines accepting VISA and MasterCard with Cirrus affiliation are located at most banks and at the airport. Regular banking hours are 9:00 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Cayman Islands are in the Eastern Standard Time zone year-round and do not observe Daylight Savings Time. We are 5 hours behind Greenwich Meantime.
Most restaurants require shoes and shirts, and shorts instead of long pants are generally acceptable. Some of the upscale restaurants may require slacks for evening dinner. Please do not wear bathing suits or "skimpy" beach wear beyond the beach or cruise ship. Note that there are no nude beaches in the Cayman Islands and that public nudity and topless bathing are prohibited by law.
The Cayman Islands use the same electrical standards as the USA - 110 volts, 60 Hz. Most of our electronics and appliances are imported from the USA, and any travel items such as blowdryers, electric razors and travel clocks will work.
LIQUOR LAW - DRINKING AGE
The legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages on the Cayman Islands is 18 years. A licensee may lose his license or be fined for serving alcoholic beverages to any underage person.
GRATUITIES & SERVICE CHARGES
Many restaurants will automatically add a charge of 15% to your total food and drink bill. In this case tipping is not required and you should check your bill before leaving extra. This 15% is not a legally enforceable charge and may be declined by you if you feel that the level of service received was unacceptable. Your food and beverage server receives only a portion of the gratuity, and you may tip them extra at your discretion.
The piped water in the Cayman Islands is completely safe to cook with or drink. All hotels and condos and most restaurants and private homes are connected to the city water supply. The water is originally pumped from the sea and then purified by reverse osmosis.
IMPORTANT CULTURAL INFORMATION
Christian ministries founded much of the culture of modern Cayman and the islands retain a distinctly Christian ethos. While holidaymakers will always be welcomed to these shores, drugs and weapons of any kind are not tolerated. Get caught with narcotics and your stay here will not be the one you had in mind. Women are required to wear a top to sunbathe and please respect your host nation by wearing appropriate clothing when walking around the streets of George Town. Would you really wonder around the central business area of your hometown in a string bikini with a soggy towel draped around your waist?
Traveling alone is a viable option here and will enable you to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.