Yello’s Bite-sized Guide to the Caribbean: The Cayman Islands
by Karen Rollins May 2, 2022
Yello knows the Caribbean! We are based in 20 countries across the region, and each one of them is quintessentially Caribbean while also offering visitors a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
Our British, French and Dutch colonial past can be seen in our food, art, fashion, music, and languages. Yet as a region, we are also slowly developing our own unique Caribbean identity based on our distinct geography, values, and experiences.
It’s time to appreciate our shared Caribbean culture and learn more about the islands in our region – let’s visit the Cayman Islands.
Constitution Day: First Monday in July.
Capital: George Town (Grand Cayman).
Background: The Cayman Islands consists of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Grand Cayman is the largest and most populous island. It is about 22 miles long and eight miles across at its widest.
The first recorded sighting of the Cayman Islands was by explorer Christopher Columbus on 10 May 1503. The islands were uninhabited except for wildlife, including iguanas, alligators (caimánes in Spanish), and turtles.
The first settlers arrived in the 1730s after the territory was decreed a dependency of Jamaica in the Treaty of Madrid (1670) between Great Britain and Spain. The earliest settlers were reportedly deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in Jamaica, along with British mariners and shipwrecked passengers.
A census in 1802 recorded the population of Grand Cayman at just 933. Around half were of British descent, and the rest were descended from enslaved Africans.
Getting around: One of the best ways to move around all the Cayman Islands is by car. Hiring a car is easy with rental companies situated close to Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman. Hiring a moped or bike is also an option.
Remember, the Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory, so driving is on the left.
If you want to island hop to either Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, you can charter a private boat, although this can be expensive, so shop around!
Must-see place of interest: The Cayman Islands National Museum is located on Harbour Drive in George Town. The historic building dates back to the 1800s and is Cayman’s oldest surviving public building.
The museum was established in 1979 to “collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit the natural, cultural and art history of the Cayman Islands”.
The site features a video room, natural and cultural history galleries, a children’s gallery and rotating exhibits throughout the year.
Must-do annual event: The Pirates Week Festival held every year in November is one of the most beloved and celebrated traditions in the Cayman Islands. The festivities are not only restricted to Grand Cayman, but also take place on the sister islands.
Events throughout this period include mock invasions by pirates along with ‘Heritage Days’ dedicated to the authentic traditions of each district. Spectators can also witness a series of parades and firework displays, street dances, costume contests, celebrations of traditional foods, music and much more.
Little known fact: The Cayman Islands are not islands at all. They’re part of a mountain called the Cayman Ridge which rises more than 7,500m from the ocean floor.
Motto: ‘He hath founded it upon the seas’.
If you would like to visit the Cayman Islands, please check the official Cayman Islands tourism website for the latest COVID-19 travel protocols.