Grand Cayman

Additional Information

Find more Grand Cayman information on the sites listed below.

Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands at about 196 km² and contains the capital George Town. Towns on the island are referred to as "districts".

The island is a high-lying reef of "ironshore" (limestone fringes with numerous marine fossils), with a highest elevation of roughly 24 meters above sea level. There is no natural fresh water (lakes, rivers, etc) on the island, so any fresh water needs must be met by catchments or desalination of seawater. The lack of rivers does however account for the exceptional clarity of the sea.

The island was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 from September 11 to September 12. With Category 5 strength, Ivan passed within 30 miles of Grand Cayman, hitting it with winds over 180 mph (290 km/h) and gusts up to 200mph. The island reported no more than a few deaths - none directly caused by the hurricane - but over 80% of the buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed. Ivan was the worst hurricane to hit the island in 86 years.

The eastern side of the island is somewhat undeveloped, while the western side of the island, which holds George Town and the airport, Owen Roberts International Airport, is more developed. Fast food restaurants, night clubs and resorts can be found on the western side of the island. The eastern districts offer more restaurants specializing in native Caymanian cuisine.

The economy depends mainly on tourism - GDP is approximately 50% tourist related. Grand Cayman claims many other tourism attractions other than Seven Mile Beach. Grand Cayman is particularly well known for spectacular diving and snorkeling. The island features many reefs and walls, some of which can be accessed by swimming from shore.

The district of West Bay features a turtle farm . The majority of Green Sea Turtles are raised for their meat, the theory being that this eliminates consumption of wild animals. Some of the farmed turtles are released, and have good survival rates in the wild. The turtle farm also has several rare Blue iguanas and a caiman on display.

West Bay district is also home to a formation of limestone affectionately known to islanders as Hell. Merchandise "from Hell" can be purchased nearby.

Stingray City, located a short boat ride from the northern end of Grand Cayman, is a series of shallow sand bars where sting rays are found in abundance and visitors can feed, pet, and interact with the animals. The southern stingrays can grow to large sizes (100 cm or more in span) and are quite accustomed to being handled and fed. A trip from a local tour operator will usually include snorkelling in coral gardens before arriving at Stingray City.

In the southern district of Bodden Town is the historic house of Pedro St. James, considered the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands. It is also the oldest known existing stone structure on Grand Cayman, And Bodden Town was also the first Capital of Grand Cayman.

In the Eastern Districts of the island are the districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side. In the centre of the island (in North Side district) is the Mastic Trail, a hiking trail through old growth dry forests that used to cover the entire island. Plants and animals native to Grand Cayman, such as the Mastic Tree, Blue iguana, green parrot, and agouti, can be seen.

Grand Cayman is also the only island in the Caribbean to have an operational turtle farm.

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