Known for its white sandy beaches, duty free shopping and some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman sees about just under 2 million cruise ship passengers every year.
Located on Grand Cayman, George Town is the capital of the Cayman Islands and the second most popular port destination on Western Caribbean cruises.
Grand Cayman experiences warm weather year round – the average hovers around 85°F (30°C) with the coldest month being January at 77°F (25°C). However the Cayman Islands are located in the middle of the Hurricane Belt making the islands a target for hurricanes from June to November.
Currency: Cayman Dollar, US Dollar
Primary Language Spoken: English
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Grand Cayman?
The Port of George Town is located on the west side of Grand Cayman and all cruise ship passengers arrive via tender (smaller ferry boats used to shuttle passengers to the port).
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get ashore and tenders dock at one of three terminals – the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, the North Terminal or the South Terminal. The majority of tenders dock at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
You can double check the cruise ship schedule for your day in Grand Cayman here.
From the terminal you can either meet up with your tour guide (if on a prebooked shore excursion) or walk into town – the shopping district is located nearby.
Getting Around Grand Cayman
The port area is very walkable with multiple things to see and do close to port, however if you are taking an excursion or want to visit popular attractions, you will need to get there by vehicle.
Taxi / Taxi Van – There is no shortage of taxis around the port terminals. Taxi rates are fixed by the government and rates are available from the taxi dispatcher located at the front of the cruise ship terminal. Taxis and taxi vans do not have car seats or booster seats. Most attractions and points of interest are close to the cruise terminal so if you are OK with holding your children in your lap like the locals do, it might be easier to take a taxi than renting a car.
Car Rental – Car seats are not available in taxis or taxi vans so if you require one for your child, your only option is to rent a car and request a car seat. While it’s recommended to book your rental in advance (especially if you require a car seat or booster seat), there are a few car rental companies within walking distance of the cruise terminal for those wanting to book the day of. Driving is on the left side in the Cayman Islands.
Bus – Licensed minibuses provide public transportation on Grand Cayman and can be identified by their blue license plate. All buses must display the government-authorized fare table and riders can expect to pay anywhere from $2.50 to $5 USD each way.
There are 9 different routes with many popular tourist attractions along the way. Using the bus to get around Grand Cayman is recommended if you’re not in a rush to get to your final destination. While service is reliable, it requires some patience waiting in the hot sun for the bus.
If you’re looking for a particular attraction or activity, the following might be helpful:
- Hell – Route 2 or 3
- Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery – Route 1, 2, or 3
- Governor’s Beach, Seven Mile Public Beach – Route 1, 2, or 3
- Rum Point Beach – Route 6 or 8
You can also check the bus schedules here.
Walking – If you’re not interested in visiting a tourist attraction or the beaches, you won’t need transportation to explore around the cruise terminal. There are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants within walking distance.
Kid Friendly Beaches in Grand Cayman
There are many wonderful beaches to choose from in Grand Cayman and all are open to the public including those directly in front of resorts.
Here are our top kid friendly beaches for cruise passengers:
Seven Mile Beach – Seven Mile Beach is Grand Cayman’s best-known beach and most cruise passengers head here whether they’re on an excursion or on their own. There are plenty of restaurants and water sport equipment rental vendors along the beach so you’ll have plenty to do and to eat during your visit.
Seven Mile Beach is divided into several different public beach areas – all of which are family friendly. Here are the ones we recommend visiting:
- Governor’s Beach – Head hear if you want to snorkel as it is home to one of the better snorkeling sites on SMB. There’s also a shallow reef here too.
- West Bay Public Beach – West Bay offers families a glorious white sandy beach, clear blue water and plenty of shade to rest under. Bathroom and change room facilities are available for those who need it.
- Public Beach / Calico Jack’s – Located near Calico Jack’s Bar & Grill on West Bay Road is Public Beach. This beach features cabanas, a children’s play area, bathrooms and showers, climbing walls, and inflatable floating trampolines in the water (during high season). If you’re looking for some time out of the sun you can walk around the area and look at the many resorts, hotels and shopping centers that surround it.
Smith Cove – This is a smaller beach located in a residential area that is popular with locals teaching their kids how to swim. There are picnic tables, bathroom and shower facilities and plenty of trees at Smith Cove. There’s some rocks beach goers can jump off of into the water and plenty of fish to see for snorkelers. There are no restaurant or food vendors here so you will have to bring your own snacks and food to Smith Cove. Visitors have commented about the number of roosters and chickens that roam freely on this beach so be prepared to share the sand with them!
Rum Point – If you’re looking for a beach away from the cruise crowds you might want to consider Rum Point. Located on the north side of Grand Cayman and 10 miles from George Town, visitors can spend the day napping in a hammock, relaxing in a beach chair or snorkeling in the shallow calm water. Restroom facilities are available, several food and drink vendors are on site as well as a kiosk for booking boat or water sports excursions.
Starfish Point – Calm and shallow crystal clear water makes Starfish Point is an excellent choice for families with young children. You’ll find the water in most places does not get more than a foot deep making it great for toddlers and young kids. There’s some shade if you need a break from the sun and plenty of starfish to see. Be careful when picking them up as they should not be taken out of the water.
You can get to Starfish Point by car or taxi and spend the entire day here but many cruise passengers choose excursions or tours that combine a visit here with Stingray City.
Top Activities & Attractions for Families in Grand Cayman
There are countless kid-friendly activities and attractions in George Town, Grand Cayman – many of which are centered around the water.
Cruise ship passengers can expect to spend up to 8.5 hours ashore on Grand Cayman and it’s fairly easy to see several of the following family-friendly attractions during your Grand Cayman visit:
Stingray City – Stingray City in the Cayman Islands is a truly unique experience not to be missed. You’ll be taken by boat to a sandbar in the North Sound where the water is only about 3 feet deep and crystal clear. There are about 130 southern stingrays who visit this area and you’ll be given food to hand feed them.
The stingrays are quite gentle and just swim around you hoping for a few morsels of food. This is one of their natural habitats and it’s an amazing experience to be able to interact with these magnificent creatures. Make sure you have an underwater camera so you can capture it to show your family and friends back home. Recommended length of visit – 1 hour or more
Star Fish Point – This is a great place to take younger children as the water is only about a foot deep. Imagine your toddler’s excitement though when you find red starfish in the water which they can pick up and hold as long as they keep them in the water.
This secluded public beach is absolutely beautiful and the water is very calm so it’s also ideal for snorkeling if you have slightly older children. A lovely place to spend a few hours with your little ones. Recommended length of visit – 1 hour or more
Atlantis Submarines – If your kids have ever wanted to ride in a submarine, then this is definitely the place to do it. The Cayman Islands are known for one of the best diving sites in the world and as you descend to about 100 feet or more in the submarine, you’ll understand why.
You’ll see an amazing underground world filled with tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. You might even see an octopus or a turtle. For those a little more adventurous, there’s even a night tour where you can view the depths with the help of the submarine lights. Recommended length of visit – 2 to 2.5 hours
The Jolly Roger – Take your kids on the daytime cruise aboard the Jolly Roger for some hearty pirating fun. The crew are all dressed as pirates and are great with the kids, even putting them work on the ship or making them walk the plank. The cruise leaves from George Town and cruises along 7 mile beach. There’s even time to do some snorkeling and older kids will enjoy jumping off the ship into the warm tropical water.
For the adults, there’s also an evening cruise where you can indulge in rum punch which flows freely and lots of laughter as the pirate crew entertain you. Recommended length of visit – 2 to 2.5 hours
Cayman Turtle Center: Island Wildlife Encounter -The turtle center is a great place for your kids to get up close and personal with turtles of all sizes including giant green turtles. They can even hold the baby turtles and swim with young turtles and tropical fish in the snorkeling pool.
There are also other creatures at the center including alligators, sharks, barracudas, lizards, geckos and a variety of different birds. Plus your kids can cool off in the large pool area which has waterfalls and a fun water slide. Recommended length of visit – 1.5 to 3 hours
Kittiwake Shipwreck & Artificial Reef – If your kids are old enough to dive, then the Kittiwake Shipwreck is a must do. It was sunk in 2011 and opened up so there are lots of swim-throughs. In fact you can swim right through the entire length of the ship. The ship is still intact enough that you can see a lot of its interior.
Snorkeling around the ship is also possible as it’s not that far beneath the surface so you’ll see some interesting sea life as well. Recommended length of visit – Half Day
Cayman Crystal Caves – Situated under lush tropical rain forest, the Cayman Crystal Caves are absolutely amazing to see. Formed over millions of years as rain water dripped through the limestone ceilings, the stalagmites and stalactites are absolutely astounding. Guides tours lasting about one and a half hours will take you through the forest above before descending into the three caves which have been opened to the public.
Along the guided tour, your and your kids will learn about the history of the area as well as the plants and animals that inhabit it. It’s believed that hundreds of years ago, pirates used these caves as hideouts and that there could even be pirate treasure hidden within their walls. Recommended length of visit – 1.5 to 2 hours
Hell – This small town located on Cayman’s west side is an interesting place to visit. You can buy souvenirs from Hell or send a post card to friends and family from the post office. There are several shore excursions and tour companies that combine a visit to Hell with the other attractions mentioned above. Recommended length of visit – 30 minutes
Where to Get Free WiFi in Grand Cayman
Free Wi-Fi can be found in many places in Grand Cayman.
There are several tour companies at the cruise terminal that offer free WiFi connection for cruisers wanting to check their email or catch up with friends and family at home. It be hit or miss depending how many people are connecting at a time.
Most restaurants and cafes near the cruise ship pier offer WiFi connection for their guests as well.
Cruise passengers visiting Seven Mile Beach can also use WiFi networks at restaurants around the hotels.
Looking for more info on Caribbean Ports of Call? Visit our Port Guides page to check them out.
More About Caribbean Cruises with Kids:
- Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Cozumel, Mexico with Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Falmouth, Jamaica with Kids
- Which Caribbean Itinerary is Best – Eastern, Western or Southern?