Beach vacations are the stuff family memories are made of. Picking the right beach is everything. I want a mix of wide open beaches, opportunities to explore nature and the chance to submerse myself into the chill island ambiance. Oh, and I want it to be convenient, safe and clean. Not too much to ask! Grand Cayman has all of this and more. It's the perfect spot for a family beach getaway. If you are planning to head to Grand Cayman with kids, I've got some great activities for you. Here are my top four activities you can’t miss on Grand Cayman.
Grand Cayman Island With Kids
1. Stingray City
2. Camana Bay: Shop, Dine and Play
3. Ferry to Rum Point
4. Take a Class: Cooking Class and Photography Class
There's really something for everyone on Grand Cayman. But first, let's talk a little about the place itself. Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands. From NYC, it's about three hours away (Jet Blue and Cayman Air fly direct). They are still deeply tied to the UK (and they drive on the "other" side of the road) with a international culture. You'll meet locals who have been transplanted from all over. Fly into the capital, George Town, and then grab a ride to your hotel. For me, the new Kimpton Seafire was home base - more to come on that soon.
The beaches are long, clean and full of sea life. Jump into the aquamarine blue waters just about anywhere and you'll discover a world of breathtaking fish and other sea life. Tourism tends to be on the high end on Grand Cayman. There aren't a lot of low-budget options, making this a favorite for honeymooners and families with a substantial vacation budget.
Families that head to Grand Cayman come because they know they are going to get a gorgeous experience. The economy is strong and development is being handled responsibly to spread the wealth among the locals. You won't find shanty towns, and poverty is not the norm. I felt good on many levels giving them my vacation time and hard earned money.
Now you know WHY to go, let's talk about what to do when you get there.
If you have a friend who's experienced Grand Cayman with kids, you're likely to have heard of Stingray City. It's one of those iconic animal encounters that can't be over-hyped. It's simply one of the coolest water encounters.
Red Sail Sports picks you up in their shuttle and brings you to their dock. From there, you'll hop on a catamaran to set sail. Our captain motored us out - pick from the shaded cain area or set up on the top of the boat - either way it's smooth sailing with a super friendly crew.
Once anchored in Stingray City, we were given some brief instructions on how to cuddle a stingray and then the capable crew set out to help facilitate the encounters.
There's nothing forced about it. The stingrays came right on up to us. Yes, they are looking for food, but it's all quite harmless. For decades this one community of rays has developed a co-dependent relationship. They let us hang out with them, we give them food.
It works. And you know what else works? Letting kids get excited by nature thanks to first-hand experiences. Plan your visit: Our tour was 3.5 hours. Prices start at $85 for adults. Photos are extra. Book your trip at https://www.redsailcayman.com/stingray-city. Trip departs from Safehaven dock. FREE transfers are available from the following resorts: Westin Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Beach Resort and the Seafire Resort & Spa.
Every great resort town needs a home base; gathering spot for cultural activities and a spot to bring the community to life. Camana Bay is this place for Grand Cayman. Spread over 650 acres, Camana Bay is a waterfront development for visitors and locals alike.
To get the lay of the land, I started my tour of Camana Bay from the Observation Tower, one of the tallest structures on Grand Cayman. The 75-foot Observation Tower offers 360º views across Seven Mile Beach George Town and beyond. From this birds-eye view, you'll appreciate all the island has to offer.
It's not only a great place to take in the views, it's also a work of art. The tower is bedazzled with spectacular mosaics. The mosaics represent real underwater photos and are comprised of more than three million Venetian glass tiles imported from Italy. Plan your visit: This free attraction is open from sunrise to 10pm.
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Where to Eat in Camana Bay
Brunch at Karoo: Sip some bubbly as you enjoy fresh-off-the-grill goodies. I loved the shrimp kabobs and couscous, my daughter noshed on a tasty burger, fruit and corn.
Asian at Mizu Asian Bistro: I loved my special soft shell crab roll (pictures above). The seaside location is ideal for getting into the island vibe. If you can score the Teppanyaki table (where they put on a show while preparing your Asian meal) do it! I'm told it's the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.
Gelato & Co: I see myself as a bit of and ice cream aficionado. I've made it a mission to sample cool treats around the globe. Who would have thought some of the best gelato I've ever tasted would be found so far from Rome. This is the real deal.
Camana Bay is 100% family-friendly. There's plenty of shade and wide pedestrian walkways with ample room for strollers. Most of the dining is casual and welcomes families. And if the kids need to run around, well that's all good. There are fountains, green spaces and hammocks for them to clamber on and burn off all that great kid energy.
Let the kids enjoy Summer Splash Saturdays while you shop In addition to the fountains, there's live music and great shops. As for shopping, we loved the Little Angels kids shop and the companion adult stores Activ Angels and Sand Angels.
Parking is free and plentiful. Get more details and plan your visit here https://camanabay.com/things-to-do-grand-cayman/
Ferry to the Kaibo
From Camana Bay, hop on the ferry for a quick 20 minute ride to Kaibo. From there rent a bike or get a shuttle to Rum Point. Pick up your snorkel gear from Red Sail Sports (ours were about $15 for the day; and they do have kids' sizes). Right off the shore you can snorkel out and see all sorts of sea life.
We collected a village of sea snails, hunted for sea glass, built castles and had an all-around amazing time at the beach. This is a social beach. Expect your kids to strike up a conversation with some new friends and start playing together. There's plenty of shallow water for little ones to explore and there are food and drink options right on the beach.
Get your braid on. Be sure to stop by Audrey's booth - it's $3/braid and a great souvenir. It took about 15 minutes to get these braids in and my girl was so thrilled. Plan your trip: Details on the Ferry Ride here https://camanabay.com/cayman-ferries/
Take a Kid-Centric Class
Sometimes you might want to take a break from the beach, and Camana Bay is a perfect family resource. They have a modern cinema in town and a few great classes for the kiddos. Try the Shutterbugs Summer Camp or the Mommy & Me Cooking Class at Bon Vivant.
Picture This Studio offers a photography class for kids. The studio offers photography sessions, framing and camera sales, in addition to the classes. Check out their site here http://picturethis.ky/.
My daughter took a morning class that taught her about perspective and how to take action photos. My budding shutterbug thought the small personalized class was awesome and she came away with some great prints. The class is drop off and kids should bring a camera.
If cooking is more your speed, your kids will love the laid-back vibe of the Bon Vivant classes. 100% hands on, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. We popped into Bon Vivant (a luxury, kitchen equipment showroom and retail store in Camana Bay) for a one-hour session. We made mini lasagnas and a scrumptious mango cake.
The showroom has plenty of space in the back for your family to spread out and get cooking. Check the website for upcoming classes or reach out to them directly. Plan your class: Spaces are limited! Each group of 2 must consist 1 adult at least 18 years old and 1 child. Secure your space by calling Bon Vivant at 623 – 2665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready for you Cayman vacation? Which activities do you want to try when you head to Grand Cayman Island With Kids?