Travelling with kids can certainly be a challenge. Fortunately, at the very heart of the Cayman Islands are attractions and activities designed to enrich the family fun experience. Here, your family will be charmed by our history, engage in our rich local culture and take a walk — or swim — on the adventurous side of the Islands.
Up Close with Nature
The Cayman Turtle Farm is one of the longest-running attractions in the Cayman Islands and is definitely worth a full day’s visit. Here, the history of turtle farming in the Cayman Islands can be learned while the family feeds mature green sea turtles or you can take a photo with a youngling, a one-year-old turtle. But the fun does not stop there. You can also stroll through the free-flight bird aviary, tickle a starfish in the shallow-water touch tank, snorkel the salt-water lagoon or take a walk down “Cayman Street” and witness local elders make toys and braid thatch ropes.
For more fun with nature, explore the caves at Pirates Caves or visit the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park for an informative tour through the colourful flora and the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, dedicated to the protection and reproduction of Grand Cayman’s endangered blue iguanas.
For a taste of nature’s bounty, a number of farmers’ markets occur at varying locations and days of the week. Visit the Farmers’ Market at Camana Bay on Wednesdays, the Fresh Market at Reflections Food-for-Less on Fridays, the Market at the Grounds in Lower Valley on Saturdays, and the Green Market at Plantation House Organic Gardens in Bodden Town on Sundays. Each offers a unique experience, an opportunity to explore the flavours of locally grown produce, interact with residents of the islands and sometimes purchase handmade art and crafts. Pick up a few mangoes, naseberries and other exotic fruits and head to the beach like the locals do.
The sun, sea and sand combination is always a favourite activity for children of all ages. With beaches practically spread along the shores of all three islands, this is an activity you could do just about every day without complaint. Do not miss Seven Mile Beach (West Bay Road), Rum Point (North Side), Spotts Public Beach (Spotts), Barcadere Marina (George Town) or Owen Island (Little Cayman).
Talk to anyone who has ever snorkelled or dived in the Cayman Islands and they will tell you that bliss exists where the alluring blue and green hues of the water meet the rich underwater wildlife beneath the surface. So don’t hesitate — go ahead and grab snorkel gear from your resort or condominium and hit the beach.
For a new spin on the entire snorkel and dive experience, try Snuba at Sea Trek. The guided underwater tours of the Wreck of the Cali and Stingray City use the Sea Trek helmet diving system, which allows you to breathe normally through an air line and does not require dive certification. Younger kids can also enjoy the underwater adventures when you book a submarine tour with Atlantis Adventures or Nautilus Undersea Tours.
Above the surface, discover the intricate wildlife habitats between the mangroves and along the shoreline with a guided tour with Cayman Kayaks and Cayman Sea Elements. Venture out to Stingray City and The Sandbar for an up-close-and-personal encounter with the gentle southern stingray or swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove or Dolphin Discovery Grand Cayman. The Red Sail Sports banana boat ride is also a good laugh for all.
If you would prefer to stay dry and do not want to miss out on the fun, enjoy the view aboard a private yacht charter with Cayman Luxury Charters or a pirate cruise with The Jolly Roger. Kids and adults alike can walk on water — quite literally — when climbing into an inflatable Wowball* and the “Green Monster” water-slide at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is sure to keep the kids amused while you grab a bite to eat.
Sports and Recreation
The Black Pearl Skate and Surf Park is the second largest purpose-built skate park in the world. One half of this attraction features concrete slopes for skaters of all levels; the other half is an artificial freshwater wave surf park. Instructors are on-hand to provide lessons, and equipment for both facilities is available for rent.
Hop in a go-kart for a ride in the fast lane with Cayman Karting* or take a step back in time at King’s Sports Centre with tenpin glow bowling and in-line roller skating. Then slow things down a bit with an entertaining round of miniature golf or fly a model aeroplane or helicopter with the Cayman Islands Model Flying Association.
A cool stop for car lovers, Cayman Motor Museum* in West Bay has a stunning display of Ferraris, Jaguars, Bentleys, the original Batmobile and a replica of the first vehicle driven in the Cayman Islands, a 1905 Cadillac.
Recreational parks abound on Grand Cayman and are open to the general public free of charge. Kids young and old explore their boisterous side while climbing jungle gyms and swinging to new heights. Popular parks include the Dart Park (South Sound), Scholars Park (West Bay) and the Airport Park (George Town). Pick up lunch at a nearby restaurant and make a day of it.
For a break from the sun, enjoy an indoor-playground facility such as Kidz Zone* or Smyles*; the combination of jungle gym equipment and arcade games makes both facilities suitable for children up to 13 years old. Play Away!* Caters to families with children aged 12 months to 5 years and offers a space where kids can get creative and be inspired.
The history of the Cayman Islands entails legends of pirate invasions; royal ship wrecks; an industry built on seafaring, turtling and thatch-rope making; and strong ties with neighbouring Jamaica. Delve into these tales of times gone by and visit the many historical sites dotted around Cayman.
At the centre of Hog Sty Bay, George Town, stands the Cayman Islands National Museum. This dwelling of artifacts and historical specimens is housed in one of the few remaining 19th-century structures in the Cayman Islands. It has served as a jail, a courthouse and even a place of worship. The National Trust for the Cayman Islands also serves as a beacon for local history and heritage, offering daily and weekly visits to many of Grand Cayman’s historic sites, including a walking tour through central George Town. They also offer bird-watching tours, island information and helpful advice for must-visit family attractions.
The birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands, Pedro St. James, is another great attraction to learn about the early history of the Cayman Islands. The historic home is perched on the edge of a limestone cliff where a dramatic view of the ocean can be enjoyed.
If you are visiting Cayman Brac, the Cayman Brac District Administration Office offers a free guided tour of the Islands’ major attractions. Little Cayman visitors can tour the island at little cost with The Little Cayman National Trust.
Art and Culture
Paintings, sculptures and other art can be found in the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, but the real treat for families are the art classes held on Saturday mornings. All supplies and equipment are provided, all you have to bring is your imagination.
Pick up a framed photograph, painting or a piece of Caymanite jewellery made from a local artist at the Cayman Craft Market in George Town. Jams, jellies, pastries and a wide assortment of other surprise bargains can also be found at this daily market.
This charming town is a crowd-pleaser. Attend one of the free nightly events, let the kids play in their water features, bring a packed lunch and picnic along the water’s edge or in one of their cosy pavilions, climb the Observation Tower for a panoramic view of Seven Mile Beach, or drop in on a storytelling or craftmaking session ideal for younger kids.
You can also catch a flick at one of the six screens at the Hollywood Theaters at Camana Bay, where the latest in new movie releases are featured and matinees start around noon.
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Published: Skies Magazine, September 2012
Editor’s Note: *now closed