I threw together this trip extremely last minute. My partner, Helena, wanted some quality time to herself before we had a couple of crazy weeks of family coming to visit followed by a ton of travel. So on Friday night, I started searching for reasonably cheap last-minute direct flights from Miami on Sunday or Monday to interesting places I’ve never been. I narrowed it down to Cancun or Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Being that it was Spring Break and not being a particularly party person, I opted for the Cayman Islands. And I had read the internet there was decent for a small island because so many businesses do financial transactions out of there. I used Google Flights and booked the trip through American Airlines. Interestingly enough, it had me book the flights separately as it was about $40 cheaper that way.
The airport is pretty small and caters to a lot of private aircraft, but there are regular passenger flights going in and out daily. Terrifyingly enough, the week I was there was when they grounded all the 737MAX’s and I thought I was going to get stranded because GCM is one of the destinations American Airlines flies their 737MAX’s
This should probably go without saying, but you’ll want to have some cash with you because their airport doesn’t have an ATM and the taxi drivers only take cash. There is a local currency, but they readily accept US dollars as well. I stupidly didn’t bring any cash, but I told the taxi driver that and he agreed to drive me to an ATM first for a “good tip” and he wouldn’t count it as two trips. The trip from the airport to my hotel on 7-Mile Beach was $18+tip.
Because of my last minute preparation for this trip and it also being pretty peak season of Spring Break, my hotel options were limited. They were a fair amount of apartments being rented as hotels, but most of them were a bit secluded and I hadn’t planned to rent a car (partly because they drive on the left side of the road and that terrifies me) and a lot of them had complaints about the internet. As I planned to work a fair amount during the trip, I stayed clear of those. I finally settled on the Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman as it actually had a lot of compliments about the wifi on their Trip Advisor page. I’m not much of a Jimmy Buffet fan (but I do enjoy a good Cheeseburger now and then). The internet did indeed work pretty well. I got an average of about 10Mbps down and up. Not bad for a little island that only has 2 undersea fiber lines connecting it to the internet! I did experience some occasionally flakiness/slowness, but not enough that my ability to do work was impacted.
The resort sits near the south end of the famous Seven Mile Beach (which is actually closer to six miles) so it’s close to kind of the downtown strip, but not directly in it. You can easily get a taxi to wherever you need and if you do any kind of activity like SCUBA or snorkeling it seems like most of the companies have small shuttle buses that will come and pick you up. They also had a rental car service right on the resort if you planned to do any longer day trips.
Since it’s a Carribean island obviously a lot of the things to do on the island are going to involve the ocean. They have a famous stingray experience where you get to snorkel or scuba with flocks of stingrays. I was told by some other hotel guests that the Cayman Crystal Caves are stunning. Diving and snorkeling are very popular there. There are literally over 365 diving sites… so many diving sites that you could dive for an entire year and not repeat one. Many of those sites are shallow enough that they make for great snorkeling sites as well. The water on the west side of the island is so calm and has crystal clear visibility.
I dove with Red Sail Sports as they had a discount with my hotel and offered a free shuttle to the boat pickup. The boat was a small catamaran picks you up at the Westin Hotel (planning on staying there next time!). There’s no dock needed as the water is so calm and so they pull up right up on the beach. Entry is a breeze too because
Now that I’ve discovered this hidden gem of an island only a puddle jump away from Miami, I’m sure I’ll be returning in the near future