Haggling is not an accepted custom in Cayman.
Dangers & Annoyances
Cayman is safer than many of its Caribbean neighbors, but the islands (Grand Cayman, in particular) have high rates of petty crime such as theft and vandalism. Be sure to take necessary precautions: do not leave valuables in your car or on the beach; avoid walking around alone after dark.
110V, 60Hz; US-style two- and three-pin plugs are used.
Embassies & Consulates
Citizens of the US should contact the embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Ambulance, Fire, Police||911|
Entry & Exit Formalities
One liter of liquor (or four liters of wine or one case of beer) and 200 cigarettes (or 250 grams of tobacco) allowed duty free.
All visitors are required to have a valid passport and a return ticket.
Not required for citizens of the US, Canada and most European and Commonwealth countries (except Jamaica).
Cayman is an extremely friendly, mostly informal place, with just a few guidelines to keep things pleasant.
- Greetings Always greet people with a handshake. Hugging and kissing is reserved for close friends and family.
- Addressing elders The most polite way to introduce or greet an elder is with a formal title and their given name (eg, Miss Vivine).
- Dress code Bathing suits are for the beach or pool. Anywhere else, it's polite to don a cover-up or other proper clothing.
- Nudity Strictly prohibited, including topless sunbathing.
- Tipping An integral part of the culture and economy. A service charge is often included in your bill, but otherwise it's essential to acknowledge your appreciation (of server, guide, porter, etc) with a gratuity.
Homosexuality is legal in Cayman, but the islands remain very conservative and discretion is advised. Same-sex unions are recognized for immigration purposes, thanks to a 2016 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Most hotels accommodate same-sex couples but any kind of public display of affection is taboo. There are no gay bars or clubs in the Cayman Islands, though OBar sometimes attracts a gay clientele.
Cayman has good web access. Most hotels and condos offer wi-fi, as do many cafes and public buildings.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service maintains a visible presence in Cayman, though the service has been the target of criticism for a lack of responsiveness to tourist concerns.
All drugs are illegal in the Cayman Islands, and drug laws are strictly enforced. Littering is also a crime that is punishable by fines (up to CI$500) and even jail time.
ATMs are widely available, dispensing both US dollars (US$) and Cayman Island dollars (CI$). Credit cards are accepted by most hotels and restaurants.
For more exchange rates, see www.xe.com
Restaurants A tip of 15% is usually included in the bill. If not, tip to that amount (or more, for exceptional service).
Resorts Often include a 15% service charge on the bill. Otherwise, tip $1 to $3 a day for housekeeping.
Tour Guides US$10 for half-day outing.
The following are standard business hours across the islands. Most offices and shops (and many restaurants) are closed on Sunday.
Banks 9am–3:30pm Monday to Friday
Bars 5pm–1am Monday to Friday, to midnight Saturday and Sunday
Shops 9am–6pm Monday to Saturday
New Year's Day January 1
National Heroes’ Day Fourth Monday in January
Ash Wednesday First Wednesday of Lent (usually late February)
Good Friday Friday before Easter
Easter Monday Monday after Easter
Discovery Day Third Monday in May
Queen’s Birthday Second Monday in June
Constitution Day First Monday in July
Remembrance Day Second Monday in November
Christmas December 25
Boxing Day December 26
Smoking is prohibited in all public places, including bars, restaurants, hotels, parks and public transportation. Some open-air bars and restaurants may offer designated smoking areas. In hotels, smoking is usually allowed on balconies and terraces, but not indoors.
Taxes & Refunds
There is no sales tax on the Cayman Islands (of course not, it's a tax haven!). There is, however, a 13% accommodation tax. You will also pay a vehicle environmental fee (US$4 to US$8 per day) and a licensing fee (about $2 per day) on vehicle rentals.
To call locally, just dial the seven-digit number with no area code or country code.
GSM cell phones are compatible with local SIM cards. There is also 3G service. The main operators are Digicel (www.digicelcayman.com) and Discover Flow (www.discoverflow.ky).
The Cayman Islands are in the Eastern time zone (EST) which is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight saving time is not observed.
Travel with Children
Cayman is a fantastic destination for families, with countless sights and activities to entertain the kiddies, and plenty of facilities to make life easier for their parents.
The beaches of Grand Cayman are perfect for children, with warm, gentle water and sparkling, white sand. Seven Mile Beach has the most facilities, including a playground, but any beach will do. Starfish Point is a giant touch tank, with countless sea stars just waiting to be discovered.
When your family needs a break from the sun, the Cayman National Museum features a multimedia presentation and kid-friendly exhibits on the islands' history. Crystal Caves is an awesome place for kids (and adults) to explore.
Your vacation in the Cayman Islands will no doubt be an active one, especially if you're traveling with children. The array of aquatic activities is seemingly endless:
- Stingray City Up-close interactions with stingrays, followed by a few stops for easy snorkeling.
- Spotts Beach Snorkeling with sea turtles is a treat, but beware of currents.
- Kayaking Kids will get a kick out of paddling around Bio Bay in Grand Cayman.
- Atlantis Adventure Explore under the sea without getting wet!
Condominiums are ubiquitous on Grand Cayman, so families can make themselves comfortable with multiple bedrooms, living space and kitchens. Alternatively, most resorts have plenty of rooms that sleep four people or more. Resorts and hotels also offer babysitting services or programmed activities for kids.
Many private developments are designed with families in mind, so you'll find that facilities are up to snuff in resorts, shopping malls and the like. The public facilities are also adequate, with public restrooms at most beaches. Changing tables are not uncommon.
Sidewalks are decent in George Town and along Seven Mile Beach, but practically nonexistent in other parts of the island, making it dangerous to walk with children or push a stroller.
Grand Cayman is a relatively friendly destination for travelers with disabilities:
- Many resorts offer accessible rooms, including the Ritz-Carlton and Sunshine Suites. Many restaurants and shopping malls around the island are also wheelchair accessible.
- Other services are available such as beach wheelchair rental.
- Accessible Caribbean Vacations offers sightseeing tours and snorkel excursions (including Stingray City) for wheelchair-bound travelers.
- Wheelchair-accessible activities include Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Cayman Turtle Center.
- Wheelchair-accessible boats and vans facilitate transportation and boat tours.
- George Town and Seven Mile Beach have well-maintained sidewalks, most of which have ramps. (Outside the capital, sidewalks are not common.)
There is one major challenge that wheelchair-bound travelers may face. The cruise ships do not dock at a pier, but rather shuttle passengers to shore on tenders. These smaller boats have ramps that allow wheelchairs on and off, but access may be prohibited by bad weather or other factors.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
In addition to the following options, Volunteer Me maintains a database of volunteer opportunities.
Blue Iguana Recovery Program Volunteers do hard labor at the Salina Reserve and Colliers Wilderness Reserve, including trail maintenance, fence building, nest digging and iguana counting.
Cayman Islands Humane Society This organization depends on volunteers to help out with dog walking, cat care, administrative support, event planning, fundraising and more.
Central Caribbean Marine Institute Sign up to the weeklong Dive on the EDGE, which involves identifying, photographing and cataloging different species of coral and sea life around Little Cayman.
National Gallery Support Cayman's most distinguished cultural institution.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation Divers and snorkelers can help protect the reef by participating in sea life surveys, including the Great Annual Fish Count (www.fishcount.org).
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The imperial system is used.
The Cayman Islands are friendlier to expatriate workers than most Caribbean islands. In fact, the majority of workers in Cayman are from somewhere else. There are a variety of work permits available, including a Temporary Work Permit (valid for three to six months). A Full Work Permit (good for nine years) can be difficult to obtain, as it requires sponsorship by an employer, who must demonstrate that no local people are as qualified for this job.
New Resident (www.caymannewresident.com) provides an excellent overview of the work permitting process.