What Should I Do in Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos?

Offseason and offbeat is the Caribbean I like. My favorites so far are Dominica and Saba.

I just booked a 3-day swing through Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos. A night and most of a day in each, separated by a Miami transit. A Citi ThankYou award on AA for 28k points at 1.6 cents/point with my Citi Prestige card EWR-GCM, PLS-EWR and in between a British Airways award for 9,000 Avios since GCM-MIA-PLS would have added $450 and thus cost many more points with Citi.

Other than a dip in Stringray City I haven’t set on a plan. Pre-LASIK I dimly saw manta rays in Pohnpei and excited to see the stingrays.

What should I stay/do/eat in each? Given the short time I won’t be able to do any activities that require full-day trips or additional flights. And how about for readers with more time when they visit?

See my take on other Caribbean Islands:

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  • Darren

    2 musts for Cayman are a drive up to Rum Point (including lunch at the north side Cafe) and a swim at Smith Cove (just south of downtown). Enjoy!

  • Miles Whip (@mileswhip)

    In GCM you must go eat dinner at Calypso Grill, a bit out of the way but definetly work it. Get the sticky toffee pudding for desert (may be my single best plate of food…ever). Stingray city is definitely fun, but I think you will have some time constraints. I did Captain Crosby and mid size catamaran with only a handful of other people. He is a cooky and fun guy and will have you singing to his guitar beats in minutes. Enjoy, if you need any other recommendations let me know.

  • Richard

    The beaches and the water of Grand Cayman are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. If you want to swim with the fishes go to Governor’s Beach (swim out to the second marker) on 7-mile beach and they’ll be surrounding you. Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park is especially nice. About 60 acres of tropical flora and fauna that is truly beautiful to see. String-ray City is a must if you have the time. We went with Dexter’s Fantasea Tours for his trip on his trimaran. If you happen to pass Carey’s Black Coral Clinic you should stop for a few minutes. “Doc” Carey is the quintessential island character that will regale you with entertaining stories. His shop, in addition to having hand-made coral jewelry is lined with jars and jars of marbles and hanging from the ceiling is his attempt to break the Guinness World Record of most thongs collected (you just have to see it). Definitely a unique experience.

  • AlohaDaveKennedy

    Dive. These are diving, not hiking, meccas. Unlike Saba and Dominica the sights to see are mainly underwater. There are no submarines at these islands, so you need to put on your fins and tanks.

  • It will be interesting to see what your readers come up with. The only thing we do when we visit these islands is go snorkeling. I honestly don’t think that they are worth a visit unless you go for snorkeling/diving. Just my opinion, of course.

  • Ha, ha, Dave, great minds think alike! We posted the same thing at almost the same time!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @AlohaDaveKennedy – have not learned to dive though love to snorkel, got a new, cool mask at Decathlon in France that going to give a whirl.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Miles Whip – driving over to Stringray City looks to take about an hour, so I see what you mean, I booked at the Holiday Inn which is on the north of the island, not 7-Mile Beach, they claim to run people straight across to Stingray City, might save time though no idea yet the cost.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @plane2port – so far all GCM, could it be the chain hotels, which PLS lacks? Even Choice lost their PLS property and everything is pricey, $150+ for even basic places.

  • Robert P

    In the Turks and Caicos you just chiil, ride a bike and keep a lookout for Jo Jo the dolphin. Even though it is British is feels more like Miami that Barbados.

  • RebekahRosanna

    I’m in Grand Cayman right now. You should have been here 30 years ago. Just did Sting Ray City yesterday. Awful. The water is green. They take you down, sit you down and give you chum. Thirty years ago, the water was clear, there weren’t a lot of boats, You got turned lose to swim among tons and tons of sting rays. Oh well. Seven Mile beach has become indistinguishable from any other island resort (or even Florida or Georgia or South Carolina resort). Algae is growing on the reefs from over fishing. Reef life has really diminished.

    With a three day trip even to just one island that give you time for maybe one day of diving, unless you arrange things well. For Sting Ray City you could probably dive within 12 hours of flying, but anywhere else, you need not to fly within 18 hours of your last dive.

    I’d just scope out the island, see where you want to stay when you come back. But if I were a diver, I’d skip Grand Cayman these days.

  • Jon

    I’ve been to PLS many a time… Robert is right it is much more chill. For someone who has never been there before I would recommend taking a half day boat tour (you will go w/ a group of about 15), they will take you out snorkeling, you can dive for your own conch shell and then they will cook it on the beach for everyone. Little Water Cay is also a great place to visit. The fish fry in children’s park (I think on thursday nights) is also a great local event.

    Hope this helps!

  • T&C is great but it is a chill at beach and snorkel or scuba place. I like Grand Turk even more but as it is even more laid back but it doesn’t should like you have time for that. I would plan to snorkel a lot unless you have time to take some scuba lessons prior or when you get there. Either are great. You can also walk for miles on the beach.

  • Mark

    We own a condo in Turks and Caicos. I love to dive there. My wife doesn’t dive, so she goes to the spa. My wife enjoyed the undersea explorer submarine, where she could “snorkel without getting wet”. The half day snorkel trip Jon described is fun, every snorkel boat seems to do the same trip. Little Water Cay is beautiful. You can also snorkel right off the beach at Coral Gardens and Smiths Reef. Smiths reef is much better. There are many great places to eat, one of our favorites is Magnolia overlooking the marina at sunset. You can find a lot of information about T&C at http://www.wherewhenhow.com/ and https://www.visittci.com/providenciales.

  • If you are not doing anything around sunset try to see it from the beach. Grand Cayman had really beautiful sunsets while I was there.

  • Dennis

    For Grand Cayman…for the budget minded:
    —Smith’s Cove: Small beach used mostly by locals with great in-close snorkeling. It’s just south of George Town.
    —Lunch at Calypso Grill: Way more reasonably priced than the expensive dinners. And get the sticky toffee pudding…there’s no chocolate in it but you’ll swear there is! Oh, and show up late for lunch (1:30pm-ish) and hang around as the chef will likely toss the fish trimmings into the water so the nearby tarpon will eat it up. Good free entertainment.
    —Dinner at hole-in-the-wall “Heritage Kitchen” in West Bay off north end of Seven Mile Beach. Reasonably priced and dinner for one feeds two. You can eat outside at a picnic table or on the seawall across the road near the ocean. Menu is a chalkboard that changes nightly depending on what was caught. Always a non-fish item on the menu too though.
    —Lunch at Sunshine Grill…must get the combination fish tacos (3 types and they pick them).
    —Buy a soda or drink at the beach side bar at the Ritz-Carlton…then hang around on their beach for awhile.

  • Dennis

    Stefan – Hol Inn in Grand Cayman isn’t too far from Seven Mile Beach. The island is very narrow on the NW side and you’re on the east edge of it while Seven Mile Beach is on the west…maybe 1/2 mile. And unless the Hol Inn has moved then the boats to Stingray City primarily leave from very near where you are. The front desk folks should know.

  • It’s been quite a while since I was in the Cayman Islands… and I think I was 10 when I was there, but I remember that I absolutely loved the sea turtle farm.