Visitor FAQs

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Airport

The airport on Grand Cayman is located 1¼ miles (2 km) east of the center of the capital, George Town.

ATMs

ATM machines are available throughout the island and may be found at banks, supermarkets and service stations. Fees will vary and you may want to check with your credit card company and the local bank that owns the machine to ask about their charges.

Banking

Unless you’re Canadian, you probably won’t see any familiar banks as there are no US retail banks represented. Retail banks include:

Typical opening hours are Monday to Thursday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and on Friday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Some banks offer extended closing hours (up to 6:00 pm) through the week at select branch locations. Cayman National Bank has limited Saturday banking services at some of its locations.

Bugs/Mosquitoes/Sand flies

The Cayman Islands has an aggressive program for combating mosquitoes which has proven very effective since its inception. However, if you are visiting during the rainy season which runs from May thru November it is advisable to bring some kind of bug spray or a skin lotion containing an insect repellent such as DEET. Mosquitoes are the more prevalent pest and usually feed at dusk and dawn. You are more likely to be bitten during these times and should consider staying indoors during that first hour after the sun has set if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to insect bites.

Seemingly microscopic flying bugs known as sand flies come out at sunset and are particularly drawn to the scalp. They are able to penetrate patio screens and you might consider using the time immediately after sunset to dine inside in order to avoid them. The same repellent used for mosquitoes will also be effective against sand flies.

On August 8th 2016 the first case of Zika virus being transmitted locally was recorded in George Town, Grand Cayman. However, there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in 2017 and just one imported case, in early February. Therefore, effective July 28th 2017 the Cayman Islands has been removed from an American advisory list that warns travelers where there is a risk of local transmission of the Zika virus. Visitors can now come and not worry about contracting the virus.

Courtesy Buses/Hotel Shuttles

Hotels and condos are not permitted to operate a pickup service for their guests at the airport. However, some hotels and condos will reimburse you for the cost of your taxi fare.

Credit Cards

All the major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) are accepted at most tourist related businesses and at many others as well, including restaurants, supermarkets, service stations, retail stores, etc. You may be asked to show a picture ID when using your credit card.

Crime and Safety

You may have been told that the Cayman Islands are virtually crime free but unfortunately this is not the case. We have our share of crime in all categories and you should not assume any different. Secure your valuables at all times. Never leave valuables visible in your rental car, even if the doors are locked. If visiting the beach, don’t leave your valuables in plain sight. Also, don’t assume that someone else is going to watch them for you while you’re having a swim. Don’t go to sleep with your windows or doors open or unlocked, especially if your room is on the ground floor. Avoid walking alone on the beach after 10:00 pm, and don’t accept unsolicited rides from strangers at any time. Be safe by being smart!

Currency

The Cayman Islands has its own currency, the Cayman Islands dollar. However, US currency is accepted everywhere and there is generally no need to exchange your US cash for Cayman dollars. At the local exchange rate, which does not fluctuate, US$100 is worth $80 in Cayman currency. Please note that when you make purchases using US cash, most retailers will give you back change in Cayman dollars.

Departure Tax

Effective January 1st, 2013 the international departure tax for visitors traveling by air is US$37.50 and this tax should already be included in the price of your ticket. Children under the age of 12 are exempt.

Dialysis

The Dialysis Unit at the government-run hospital in George Town serves locals and visitors, including cruise ship passengers. It is open Monday to Saturday and accommodates up to eleven (11) dialysis patients at a time. To book dialysis treatment while visiting, please contact the dialysis unit at (345) 244-2624 or (345) 244-2769.

Drinking Age

The legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages in the Cayman Islands is 18 years. Please don’t drive a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages as it is considered to be a serious offense, with no exception for visitors.

Drinking Water

The water supplied to most guest accommodations is completely safe to drink, right out of the tap. Our piped water is produced by reverse osmosis with the source water coming from the North Sound.

Driving

We drive on the left, and you’ll probably not need a visitor’s permit to drive here, just a valid licence from your own country. Click on the car rental link at the top of this page for more detailed information. Seat belts are required by law for those seated in the front of a vehicle, and children should be secured in car seats or booster seats as appropriate for their age.

Drugs

There is zero tolerance for the use of controlled drugs in the Cayman Islands. This includes crack/cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, etc. Utensils (such as a crack pipe) specifically used in the consumption of controlled drugs are also illegal. Arrival to the island wearing clothing such as a t-shirt or hat/cap with images of illegal drugs (such as the leaf of a marijuana plant) is also not allowed.

Electricity

The Cayman Islands operates on 120/240 volts at 60 cycles, the same as in the US. All electrical items from the US such as laptops, hair dryers, cell phone chargers, etc., will work in the Cayman Islands. The wall outlets are the same configuration as in the US, so no special adapters are needed.

Emergencies

You should call 911 for all emergencies. The number for non-emergency calls to the police is: 949-4222.

Firearms/Guns/Ammo

Possession of an unlicensed firearm or ammunition (even a single cartridge/bullet) is a serious offense in the Cayman Islands and usually attracts a long prison sentence and large fines. If you have ever travelled with guns and/or ammo in your luggage, you should check to make sure that it is all removed before travelling to the Cayman Islands. Visitors who inadvertently bring firearms or (more commonly) ammunition into the Cayman Islands are typically fined rather than imprisoned, and a fine in the range of US$1,000 should be expected.

Gas/Filling Up

Gas prices will seem very high to our US visitors, but maybe not to our UK and European visitors. The high fuel prices are the result of shipping costs and import duties/taxes. The local pumps dispense gasoline in Imperial gallons, which is the equivalent of 1.2 US gallons. The current lowest price (December 2019) for self-serve regular (87 octane) is CI$4.08 per Imperial gallon at ReFuel across from the Airport Post Office. They also offer an additional savings of CI$0.20 per gallon for cash purchases made on Sunday.

Gay and Lesbian Visitors

The Cayman Islands welcomes all visitors regardless of their sexual orientation/preference. Gay and lesbian couples should expect to enjoy their vacation free from discrimination. Excessive displays of affection by any couple, of any sexual orientation, is not encouraged.

Gratuities & Tipping

Many restaurants will automatically add a 15% service charge to your bill but some smaller establishments may leave it to your discretion. In many instances a space will be left on the bill for you to add a tip, in addition to the standard gratuity. However, you should not feel pressured to go beyond the 15% service charge. If your server has provided you with exceptional service you may, completely at your discretion, opt to give them a separate tip.

Grocery Stores

There are several large grocery stores where you are likely to find most of the items that you would have available in the US. There are also many specialty items from the UK, Canada, and Asian countries. Most grocery stores open from 7:00am until 11:00pm and are usually closed on Sundays, but will usually be open on most non-religious public holidays. (Grocery stores are usually closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.) There are 3 major grocery stores along the Seven Mile Beach corridor, one at each end, and one in the middle.

Hitchhiking

While it is generally safe to hitchhike, women in particular should be careful of accepting rides from strangers, especially at night. Accepting unsolicited rides is also discouraged.

Internet Access

Most rental accommodations provide free high-speed wired and/or wireless internet service to their guests. And, with fibre optic internet service now widely available, speeds of up to 500Mbps (megabits per second) are offered by some providers. However, speeds in the 10Mbps-25Mbps range are more common in rental properties. A few properties do charge for internet service and you should check when making your reservation if this is an important consideration for you.

Language

While English is the official language of the Cayman Islands, you will probably hear it spoken in unfamiliar accents by locals. And, on such a small island, a surprising variety of dialects also exist. For example, a person from West Bay may speak with a distinctly different accent than someone from East End. A common twist of letters is the use of the letter “W” in place of the letter “V” when speaking. “Very” becomes “Wery” and “Vehicle” becomes “Wehicle”, etc. Listen closely and you’ll probably understand what they’re saying.

Metal Detectors

You may use metal detectors on beaches in the Cayman Islands although you should expect to find mostly modern coins and probably no buried treasure. It is possible that you may find pieces of jewelry lost on the beach, but these should be turned in at one of the police stations, noting the location where the item was discovered.

Nude Beaches

There are no nude or topless beaches in the Cayman Islands. While you may occasionally see a female sun-tanning topless, this is against the law and is generally discouraged. Wearing “skimpy” bikinis when not at the beach may be frowned upon by some people and it is advisable to wear a wrap or shorts when walking through public areas.

Parking

Hotels and condos do not charge guests for on-site parking while staying at their properties. However, some properties may include parking charges as part of a daily resort fee. Some condo developments have parking below the main building with elevator access to the rooms. There is limited public parking in downtown George Town, especially on days when cruise ships are in port. While wheel clamping is illegal in the Cayman Islands, you should respect private parking lots and spaces or you might return to find your car blocked in. There are currently no parking meters in use in the Cayman Islands.

Pets

Dogs and cats must be at least ten (10) months old to be allowed entry into the Cayman Islands. An Import Permit application for dogs and cats must be completed and submitted with an official health certificate of the pet(s), a rabies laboratory titre report and the processing fee for the import permit. Please visit this link for more information. Please note that some properties will charge fee for your pet to stay on the property with you. Ask when making your reservation.

Phone Calls/Roaming

Be sure to check with your cell service provider to understand your roaming charges. Some rental properties will have Vonage or a similar service at no additional charge, but it might be a good idea to buy a MagicJack to bring with you. Most rental properties won’t charge you for local calls, with hotels and guest homes being the possible exception. The area code for the Cayman Islands is 345 and we have the same numbering system as the US, Canada and the rest of the Caribbean.

Pre-Booked Tours

All of the cruise ship companies will encourage you to pre-book your snorkel trip or island tour/excursion ahead of your arrival. Please be aware that you will probably get a better deal if you do some research ahead of time and book it yourself. The cruise lines keep the majority of the cost of the excursion and pay the tour operator a portion, usually much less than 50%. Similarly, stores recommended by cruise lines are simply those that pay a hefty marketing fee to the cruise line to promote them. Their product is usually no better than those sold at stores that are not recommended and that do not pay the marketing fee.

Public Holidays

The Cayman Islands usually have 11 days per year that are designated as public holidays and they include:

  • Christmas Day (Grocery stores are always closed)
  • Boxing Day (Some grocery stores may open)
  • New Year’s Day (Grocery stores are always closed)
  • Good Friday (Grocery stores are always closed)
  • Easter Monday (Grocery stores are usually open)

The table below shows the 2 remaining public holidays for 2019 as well as the 11 public holidays for 2020:

Wednesday
December 25th
Christmas Day
Thursday
December 26th
Boxing Day
Wednesday
January 1st
New Year’s Day
Monday
January 27th
National Heroes Day
(Fourth Monday in January)
Wednesday
Feb 26th
Ash Wednesday
(46 days before Easter Sunday or Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent)
Friday
April 10th
Good Friday
(Friday before Easter Sunday)
Monday
April 13th
Easter Monday
(Monday after Easter Sunday)
Monday
May 18th
Discovery Day
(Third Monday in May)
Monday
June 15th
Queen’s Birthday: (Actually born April 21, 1926)
(Usually on Monday after second Saturday in June)
Monday
July 6th
Constitution Day
(First Monday in July)
Monday
November 9th
Remembrance Day
(Second Monday in November)
Friday
December 25th
Christmas Day
Monday
December 28th
Boxing Day

If Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the next regular weekday is designated as a public holiday. If Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, then the following Monday and Tuesday are public holidays, and if Christmas Day falls on a Friday, then the following Monday is a public holiday, in each case resulting in a 4-day break. In such instances, grocery stores will usually open on the Monday and Tuesday with limited hours. Retail banks are always closed on public holidays.

Resort Fees

Some properties charge resort fees which are fees of up to US$50.00 per day covering internet service, parking, beach towels, etc. Ask when making your reservation. Some hotels also offer day-only room rates for the convenience of cruise ship visitors.

Room Tax

There is a mandatory 13% room tax added to published rates for rental properties in the Cayman Islands. This tax is collected when you pay for your room/condo and is passed on to the Cayman Islands Government. Most hotels and condos will also charge a gratuity of between 5% and 10%.

Smoking

Smoking in public places is prohibited by the Tobacco Law 2008 and Regulations 2010. Indoor bars and restaurants, office buildings, businesses and other enclosed areas are smoke-free inside as well as up to 10 feet from any entry, exit or other opening. For outdoor bars and restaurants, a no smoking area must be designated. A public place means any place, including a workplace or public conveyance to which members of the public have access, whether or not a fee is charged for entry. The law describes an “enclosed place” as a place which has a full or partial roof with at least 50 per cent of its sides covered with walls, windows, blinds or curtains. Anyone who smokes in a public place is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2,000 for their first offence and up to $10,000 for the second offence. However, since its implementation there has been no known case of anyone being prosecuted under this law.

Sunscreen

You are advised to bring sunscreen with you. The SPF will depend on your individual skin tone and desired level of tan. Please note that if unprotected your skin may burn, even on cloudy days. The maximum protected time that you will have in the sun with any level of SPF is two hours, because that’s how long the sunscreen ingredients hold up. SPF 30 protects against about 97 percent of UVB rays and anything higher than 30 increases that protection only marginally.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available throughout the island, including of course at the airport. The most popular type of vehicle used as taxis are the mini-bus type and which typically carry at least 8 passengers.

Television

Most rental accommodations will carry the TV channels that visitors from the US are familiar with, including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, FOX NEWS, CNN, HGTV, Disney, HBO, ESPN, etc.

Time Zone

The Cayman Islands are UTC -5 which is the same as Eastern Standard Time in the US. However, as we do not observe Daylight Saving Time, in the summer months we are one hour behind EST which effectively makes us the same as Central Standard Time during that period.

Vaccinations

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises all travellers to the Cayman Islands to be up to date on all routine vaccinations. The local health authorities would also make the same recommendation as we are free of diseases such as measles and would like to keep it that way.