Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Your guide to Caribbean family vacations from a husband-wife team of professional travel writers and guidebook authors.
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Family Activities in Grand Cayman
Cayman's most visited attraction is the Turtle
Farm, located on Grand Cayman in the town of West Bay.. Here youll
have a chance to get up close and personal with green sea turtles, viewing
them as eggs, hatchlings, and in various sizes as they work their way
up towards adulthood. Some reach 600 pounds, and can be viewed slowly
swimming in an open-air tank in the center of the farm.
The Turtle Farm is one of the Caribbeans most popular attractions for children. They can learn a great deal about these marine creatures as well as other wildlife found on Grand Cayman at this farm. The favorite part for children is the holding tank, where they can pick up a turtle. (A tip: Have your child hold the turtle vertically. As long as hes held horizontally, hell flap around and try to swim away.) This is a great place for some terrific vacation photos.
The top watersports attraction on Grand Cayman
is Stingray City, the place for your family to act out Jacques Cousteau
fantasies. Its an area where numerous operators introduce vacationers
to one of the most unique experiences in the Caribbean.
Following a short boat ride, visitors don snorkel gear and swim with the stingrays just offshore at several stops. Accustomed to being fed, the stingrays (which range in size from about one to six feet across) are docile and friendly, brushing against swimmers and even allowing themselves to be held and petted. About 30 stingrays frequent this area.
Even non-swimmers can enjoy the shallowest stop, the Sandbar. Use your own judgment on this attraction. Weve seen many school age children participating but you should realize that the rays are large and will come close and often brush against anyone in the water.
Theres no visiting Grand Cayman without
seeing what lies beneath the waters surface. But you dont
even have to get wet to enjoy the underwater sights of the Caribbean.
The Atlantis submarine, offers hourly dives six days a week. For
50 minutes, youll feel like an underwater explorer as you dive to
a depth of 100 feet below the surface. Its a unique opportunity
to view colorful coral formations and sponge gardens, and identify hundreds
of varieties of tropical fish. The submarine has individual porthole windows
for each passenger, plus cards to help you identify fish species. A pilot
and co-pilot point out attractions during the journey.
Although Grand Cayman has long been the home of the Atlantis submarine, it is also home base for the Nautilus. This 80-foot semi-submersible submarine, docked in George Town, has provided a one-hour tour to view the rich marine life of the bay. The sub goes out about three-fourths of a mile offshore offering visitors a chance to view two shipwrecks and to watch a diver feed a variety of tropical fish. Good for families with children and for anyone claustrophobic, travelers sit in a glass hull six feet beneath the surface but can go up on deck anytime during the trip. Guests can choose to go out for one hour, or to stay for an extra half-hour for snorkeling and swimming.
Another inexpensive option is the Seaworld Explorer, located next to Atlantis Submarine on South Church Street. Like the Nautilus, it is a good option for those who might feel a little claustrophobic about a submarine adventure (it does not go below the waters surface). Visitors descend into a glass observatory and view marine life as well as two shipwrecks. The Explorer travels to the Cali, a schooner that hit the reef in 1944, and the Balboa, a freighter from Cuba destroyed by a hurricane. Today the wrecks are encased in corals and filled with fish life. Seaworld Explorer tours last one hour.
Part of the same family of butterfly farms that operate in St. Martin and Aruba, this farm opened in 2003 showcasing exotic butterflies in an open-air, mesh structure. You'll take a guided tour of the building and learn all about the life cycles of the free-flying butterflies. The farm is a good bargain for visitors who are staying a few days: your ticket is good for your entire stay!
Outside the city of George Town, the population
is sparse and the atmosphere is rural. Located about 25 minutes from George
Town, the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, a 65-acre park filled with native
trees, wild orchids, as well as birds, reptiles, and butterflies. Here
our family enjoyed a self-guided tour and a quiet look at the flora and
fauna that make the Cayman Islands special.
From the North Side most tours travel to the
East End, home of the Blow Holes. Park and walk down to the rugged coral
rocks that have been carved by the rough waves into caverns. As waves
hit the rocks, water spews into the air, creating one of the best photo
sites on the island. Keep children back from the water's edge, however;
this is a dangerous area.
Cayman Islands National Museum
Just under 30,000 people populate the island, and almost half live in the capital city of George Town. Save a few minutes for a tour of the Cayman Islands National Museum on Harbour Drive. This excellent two-story museum traces the history of the Cayman Islands, including the islands natural history.
Back to Cayman with Kids