This post is in association with Visit Cayman Islands, who invited me on a press trip.
Picture your dream email landing in your inbox. Is the subject line something like ‘Invite to the Cayman Islands’? Yeah, thought so. Recently I was somebody-pinch-me lucky to travel to the Caribbean with Visit Cayman and experience all that the island life has to offer. From mouth-watering seafood to crystal clear seas and warm, white beaches, there’s little that can’t be found nestled somewhere beneath a coconut-clad palm tree and a beating sun.
We spent 6 nights on Grand Cayman and 1 on Little Cayman; the two islands may be sisters but they couldn’t be further apart in both size and feel. Whilst Grand Cayman fits it’s name from sprawling beaches to bouji bars and swanky hotels, Little Cayman is probably the closest to ‘paradise found’ that I’ll ever get. Let’s put it this way: the population of iguanas is bigger than that of actual people, so much so that they have right of way on the road. Yes, singular.
The Caymans can be accessed by a direct flight with British Airways from London Heathrow, or with a stop over in America on other airlines. There’s a range of hotels on Grand Cayman, many situated along Seven Mile beach, priding themselves on delivering that special Caribbean hospitality. We stayed at The Kimpton Sea Fire Resort. Art Deco style rooms and large balconies sweep into reaching ocean views (every single room rate has a balcony and sea view!) and the large swimming pool and private beach is only a few steps from the expansive lobby. Oh, and they make the best Pina Coladas I’ve ever tasted. I’d go book for those bad boys alone.
We were lucky enough to dine at a new restaurant each lunch and dinner (pretty sure I needed rolling back onto the airplane home) and to try all sorts of amazing activities so I’ve rounded up my absolute favourites below.
The Best of Grand Cayman
My favourite meal of the trip was at Abacus near Camana Bay. The head chef (ironically from Brighton!) is a real advocate of the farm to table philosophy. They’ve got gorgeous tables shaded by palm trees, they serve a great Sancerre and the menu makes it really hard to choose just one dish. Except lots of fresh, garlicky seafood, juicy New York style steaks and experimental small plates.
Bacaro is an Italian cichetti restaurant with spectacular water front views. The menu is gloriously extensive; it’s the kind of place you want to take your friends and order one of everything. Stand out plates were the buffalo milk burrata ‘on fire’ (served with prosciutto, polenta, balsamic glaze, pepperoncino and charcoal bread), deep fried calamari and the duck.
Sunday Brunch at the Kimpton
Brunch at the Kimpton makes for a Sunday like no other (read: make no plans for the rest of the day.) When I say you can eat absolutely anything your heart desires, I really mean it. Switch from the sushi station to stacks of pancakes to my favourite: the pasta chef. “How does it work?” I asked. “You tell me what you want and I’ll make it!” He replied. I just about refrained from asking when he could move in. Oh, and don’t expect your prosecco glass to ever sit empty, or even half full…
Macabuca Tiki Bar and Grill
For a totally different, chilled out island kind of vibe head to Macabuca. Feast on the freshest calamari and drink fruity cocktails on the jetty before stripping off and hopping into the water.
Cayman Islands Helicopters operate chartered tours across the island and the surrounding bays. It was one of the single most spectacular experiences of my life. I was a bit apprehensive as I’m afraid of heights but if you want a distraction then a birds-eye view into crystal clear waters where you’ll spot sting rays and an abandoned ship wreck is about as good as you’ll ever get.
An afternoon on a Cayman Luxury Charters yacht ticks every box: sunbathe on the deck, snorkel around beautiful corals, make friends with the rays at Stingray City and jump off the deck into the blue depths below when you get too hot. This was one of my favourite afternoons and cruising back towards the island at sunset with salty hair and sun-warmed skin was one of those ‘lucky to be alive’ kind of movie moments.
Venture into the forest for a guided walk through the tropical trees before witnessing stunning cave formations. Crystal stalactite and stalagmite structures, formed by single water drops, make up these spectacular underground mazes, one of which is complete with a Harry Potter-esque lake.
For those who just want to relax
Sunbathe on 7 Mile Beach
Grab a lounger, some iced water and a good book and you won’t want to move for hours, except perhaps the occasional dip to cool off.
Visit the spa at The Kimpton
Let the experienced masseuses knead away the knots and strains of the long journey in the Kimpton’s oasis like spa. Afterwards, relax in the Moroccan-inspired tiled lounge and pool area.
If anything can top Grand Cayman it’s its chilled out little sister. Accessed by a plane smaller than most tube carriages, the Southern Cross Club features brightly coloured beach-front bungalows, hammocks to nap in, kayaks to explore in and the meanest rum punch. Step out of your room in the morning straight onto the sand and the only real question is: sunbathe or explore? Thankfully, time seems to stand still so there’s plenty of opportunity to do a bit of both. Kayak or paddle board to Owen Island to lie in the most transparent waters I’ve ever seen or embark on one of the clubs famous diving trips to play with the sea turtles. It’s the kind of place you never want to leave.