Fun can be the best type of stress relief and places that invite play like the Cayman Islands aren’t just enjoyable but can trigger the release of endorphins and serotonin—the body’s “feel good” chemicals. They can even reduce anxiety, boost our mood, and give us more energy, helping us to fully unplug and make the most of vacation time. From Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach and the epic rock climbing of Cayman Brac to Little Cayman’s secluded natural paradise and dive sites, travelers will discover ample opportunities to explore the islands (conveniently accessible via short inter-island flights on Cayman Airways). Here are some of the best ways to play and kick back:
Discover your personal paradise
Located on the western side of Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach ranks as one of the top stretches of shoreline in the world. Boasting sparkling turquoise water and soft white sand, this jewel of the Caribbean attracts leisure-seekers and adventurers alike. Take a stroll along the expansive public waterfront and watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand, soak up the sun on a lazy afternoon, or try your hand at parasailing, snorkeling, or scuba diving around Cemetery Reef.
Make an unexpected friend
For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a three to five hour boat tour of the sandbars of Stingray City on Grand Cayman. There you’ll come face-to-face with a friendly group of stingrays who have been cruising these waters since anglers began cleaning their daily catch here decades ago. Your guide will help you swim with, feed, and take postcard-worthy photos with the docile rays.
Dive into an adventure
With more than 40 operators, 365 dive sites marked with moorings, and high visibility year round, Cayman is a choice destination for divers seeking thrills, as well as a meditative retreat under the calming waves. Venture out to environmentally protected, healthy reefs, storied shipwrecks, and some of the most spectacular seawalls in the Caribbean, including Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Wall, a submerged mountain range that drops down an incredible 2,000 meters to the seafloor.
Check into world-class accommodations
Whether you’re looking for a penthouse with sweeping ocean views or the charms of a beachside bungalow, Cayman hotels and resorts each offer something special. Nature fans and those looking to get away from it all can escape to Pirates Point Resort on Little Cayman, an intimate property consisting of eleven rooms in wood and stone cottages, while Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa on Grand Cayman, a AAA Five Diamond resort, offers modern style at every turn. At Le Soleil d’Or on Cayman Brac guests can indulge in homemade wellness treatments and unwind on the 20-acre farm.
Visit a natural wonder
Want to go off the beaten track? Grand Cayman’s stalactite- and stalagmite-studded Crystal Caves are rumored to contain pirates’ treasure. While you’re unlikely to find any actual gold, the enriching experience in Cayman’s oldest landmark will likely be more than enough. After exploring the open-ceiling cave, the roots cave, and the lake cave—filled with pristine aquamarine water—your guide will take you on a walking tour of the surrounding lush tropical forest containing wonders like strangler trees, air plants, parrots, and bats.
Dig into the culinary scene
The Cayman Islands might just be the food capital of the Caribbean, and its restaurants have something on the menu to please every palate from fish fritters to jerk chicken. Head to Heritage Kitchen, a beloved slice of Caymanian heritage, for affordable authentic fare like fish fry, Caymanian style grouper, and coconut mahi-mahi with uninterrupted sea views of the sea. For fine dining, don’t miss Blue by Eric Ripert. Specializing in local seafood and boasting an impressive wine list that’s 700-plus bottles long, it ranks as the Caribbean’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant.
Swim with diverse marine life
Meet some of the most ancient animals on earth at Cayman Turtle Centre, a conservation and education facility that has released 34,000+ turtles into the wild to date. During your visit, you can interact with local species by snorkeling in a saltwater tank full of green sea turtles and tropical fish, feeding colorful birds in a free-flight aviary, and strolling down a tranquil nature trail full of butterflies.
Sign up with Cayman Kayaks for a nighttime tour of Bioluminescent Bay, one of a small number of locations in the world where you can experience this natural phenomenon. Board one of two eco-friendly options, a kayak or the company’s new electric-powered catamaran and watch the water—full of tiny microorganisms called pyrodinium Bahamanse—light up, creating a magical display.
Reach new peaks
Watersports may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Caribbean, but on Cayman Brac travelers can’t get enough of rock climbing on the unspoiled island’s 124 bolted routes. The ancient limestone cliffs are perfectly suited for beginners and experts alike, and due to the island’s under-the-radar reputation, don’t be surprised if you get this awe-inspiring landscape all to yourself. Challenge yourself by rappelling directly over the sea, navigate soaring peaks rising to about 140 feet in height on the northeast end of the island, or simply enjoy a nature walk on the rugged terrain.
Savor handcrafted spirits
The only distillery in the Cayman Islands, Cayman Spirits Co. produces the award-winning Seven Fathoms, the only rum in the world to be matured under the ocean. Made from fresh organic sugar cane from the farms of Grand Cayman’s East End, the young rum is anchored at 42 feet (or seven fathoms deep) where it ages while rocked by gentle currents and the consistent temperature of the Caribbean sea. Rum enthusiasts can visit for a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting handcrafted spirits.