Stingray City

stingray82b7Just about every tour boat operator offers snorkel trips that include Stingray City. This world-famous attraction is located at a shallow sandbar in the North Sound on Grand Cayman. Dozens of Southern Stingrays gather there hoping for handouts of food from tourists on visiting boats.

The congregation of rays is believed to have started due to fishermen cleaning their catch in the area and discarding the entrails into the water. It was later realised that people would pay to come there to observe the rays and even get in the water and interact with them. You should be careful if you handle them, as the sting from their barb can be very painful. Fortunately, stings are extremely rare.


Boatswains Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm –
Admission: Adults US$18-$45, Children 5-12 yrs US$9-$25, 4 yrs & under FREE

turtle-farm82b7The turtle farm began in 1968 as a research facility and developed over the years into a thriving tourist site. Visitors would come there to observe the turtles and have their picture taken holding one. The facility was largely destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and was redeveloped later as Boatswains Beach on the land side of the road, making it less prone to damage by future hurricanes.

The facility includes a shark tank, aviary, turtle breeding pond, artificial swim lagoon with waterfall, restaurant and gift shop. Visitors are still able to handle the turtles and observe them in their various stages of development. Each year the facility releases turtles back into the waters surrounding the islands in hopes of sustaining their population in the wild. Turtle meat is very tasty and has been eaten locally for hundreds of years. The facility breeds some turtles that are destined to show up on the menu of locals restaurants.


National Museum –
Admission: Adults US$8, over 55 yrs US$6, Children 6-12 yrs US$3, under 6 yrs are FREE

museum_182b7Established as a place of learning and enjoyment, the Cayman Islands National Museum provides residents and visitors with a rich understanding of the Caymanian heritage through its exhibits and special activities. The museum is dedicated to the preservation, research and dissemination of all aspects of the Caymanian heritage.

The building that houses the museum was once used as the court house and what is now the gift shop was once George Town’s first post office. After years of planning, artifact conservation, and exhibit design, the Cayman Islands National Museum opened to the public in 1990. Hurricane Ivan damaged the building badly in 2004 and it did not re-open until repairs were completed in 2009.

The history of the museum’s collections dates back to the days of Mr. Ira Thompson who, in the 1930’s, began collecting Cayman artifacts as a hobby. In 1979 the government purchased Mr. Ira’s collection and it became the nucleus of the National Museum’s collection. Today, the museum’s collection contains over 8,000 items ranging from tiny coins to a 14-foot catboat, to natural history specimens and rare documents.


Botanic Park –
Admission: Adults US$10, Children 12 and under are FREE with parent

blue-iguana_182b7Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Grand Cayman Botanic Park in 1994. Located on Frank Sound Road in the district of North Side, the 65-acre Botanic Park is about a 45-minute drive from George Town. An attraction for the whole family, it is an important example of the Cayman Islands’ commitment to the preservation of country’s diverse flora and fauna.

In 1995 the Park became the home for the National Trust for the Cayman’s Islands’endemic Grand Cayman Blue Iguana captive breeding program. The program has brought this magnificent reptile back from the brink of extinction, thanks in large part to the efforts of Fred Burton, the program’s director. You should expect to see at some of these magnificent reptiles during your tour of the facility. They will allow you, if approached slowly, to get close-up pictures of your encounter with them. The park comprises, in part, a Floral Colour Garden, Heritage Garden, Woodland Trail, Lake and Virtual Herbarium. Because the park contains natural swamps and ponds, do not go without mosquito repellent, especially during the summer months.


Pedro St. James –
Admission: Adults US$10, Children 12 yrs and under are FREE with parent

pedro82b7Built by William Eden over 200 years ago, this national historic site is known as the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands. Though often referred to as a “castle”, the structure which was built in the late 1700s was actually a Great House and was lived in by the Eden family who farmed the adjacent land.

Over the years the structure was used as a courthouse, jail, Government Assembly and restaurant. On December 5th 1831 it was the venue for a meeting where the decision was made to form the first elected parliament. On May 3rd 1835, Robert Thompson who was sent by the Governor of Jamaica, held court at Pedro St. James to issue the proclamation ending slavery in the British Empire.

Over the years the structure was partially destroyed by hurricanes and fires and was eventually purchased by the Cayman Islands Government in 1991 for development as an historic site. The renovation of the structure and development of the site was completed in 1996 at a cost of approximately US$10 million. In addition to the great house, the complex also features a multimedia theatre which details the history of the building, as well as a gift shop and visitor center.


Motor Museum –
Admission: Adults US$15, Children under 12 yrs US$7.50

motor-museum82b7The Cayman Motor Museum is a private museum owned by businessman Andreas Ugland. He created it to house his large collection of exotic, rare, and classic motorcars and motorbikes which number over 80. The museum is located at the northern tip of the district of West Bay.

Included in the collection are an 1886 Benz, a 1905 Cadillac, the original “Bat-mobile”, an exact replica of the “Bat-cycle”, the 1956 Daimler DK400 which was Queen Elizabeth II’s first limousine, nearly a dozen classic Ferraris, Maseratis, Corvettes, and Jaguars. You’ll also see Rolls-Royces (including a 1930 “Phantom”) and Bentleys (including Sir Elton John’s 1963 classic).

Cayman’s cultural past is also on display at the museum through a collection of magnificent paintings, rare photographs and local artifacts. A gift shop offers visitors unique auto memorabilia and souvenirs.


Kittiwake –
Admission: Snorkellers US$5 per day, Scuba divers US$10 per day

The Kittiwake was a Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue ship in service between 1945 and 1994. The ship was involved in the recovery of the Challenger Space Shuttle after it exploded and fell into the sea in January 1986. The Kittiwake was responsible for recovering the so-called “black box” from the ocean floor.

In 2010, ownership of the decommissioned vessel was transferred to the Cayman Islands government and it began its journey to what would be its final resting place, the crystal clear waters off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. It was sank on January 5th 2011 and currently rests upright in just over 60 feet of water.

The ship now serves as an artificial reef and is home to hundreds of fish and marine animals. The Kittiwake ship wreck is a private park and attraction that is managed by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and visitors to it are required to pay an entry fee.

The video linked below is hosted on YouTube and was filmed by Elly Wray with intro shots by Alex Mustard on January 15th 2011.